No slots!

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I rarely drink (alcohol) when I gamble.

While I consider gambling a form of entertainment and thus there should not be a problem mixing the two, I also realize that there can be a fair amount of money on the line. The games I play tend to be ones where strategy is critical.

Thus it’s necessary to be as sharp as I can be when playing. I do realize that there are plenty of games where the strategy is fairly simple so a drink or two will probably not cause the player to go off track.

I can’t imagine how many drinks it might take to get a player to forget the strategy for Three Card Poker (Q-6-4 or better – play!).

I had to chuckle this morning when a friend sent me an article describing how New Jersey approved adding to slot machines the ability to order drinks. No more flagging down a cocktail waitress. Just hit a button and put in your drink order.

Based on what I just said, this really shouldn’t bother me. After all, with slots, there is no strategy to mess up. You can have a blood alcohol level of 0.00% or 0.25% and it won’t change the outcome one bit.

I remember reading last year that the average slot machine in the state of Nevada paid back about 92.8 percent last year. This is the average! This is below what probably any and every video poker machine paid back.

And, if there was a video poker machine paying below this amount, at least the player would know it by looking at the pay table. With a slot machine, you wouldn’t know if you were playing one of the ones above or below the average.

Maybe the guys who came up with this idea just figured that the people who are playing slot machines could use a drink or two to forget how much money they are throwing away.

Of course what bothered me the most about this story was that it wasn’t clear if the reference to ‘slots’ included video poker. It is definitely one of my pet peeves that people use the words ‘slot machines’ interchangeably with video poker.

Yes, video poker machines and slot machines are found in the same area of the casino. Yes, video poker machines and slot machines essentially look alike, in that they are in the same type of cabinetry.

Yet, would most people consider a video blackjack machine (they are tough to find nowadays) to be a slot machine or simply a video version of a table game?

There’s an old saying that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. In the case of video poker, it may look like a slot, but it definitely does not walk like a slot or quack like a slot.

In other words, besides the cabinetry, they have little in common.

Video poker is just a video representation of what could otherwise be a table game. When I go into the casino and walk around, I know the payback of every table game in the place. All I have to do is look at the pay table and I know that the payback is completely known.

The same is true of video poker. There is only one game in the casino where you don’t and cannot know this information – slots.

I don’t know if this new ‘enhancement’ is meant for only slots or for slots and video poker, but I’m guessing it is for both.

I hope that video poker players will remember that in order to focus on the second leg of Expert Strategy (knowing the right strategy) one must not only know the strategy but have their wits about them to recognize the hands and actually play the right strategy.

For slot players, I guess all I can say is that drinking and playing slots is at least better than drinking and driving. I hope no one is out there drinking and driving and for a good New Year’s resolution, I’d strongly suggest you give up slots.

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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