Try to like poker

Dec 28, 2004 2:31 AM

As part of staying on top of things in the video poker world, I spend time lurking on some video poker message boards. Some of these boards have people who take the game very seriously. Many of these people love to get into the finer details of the math behind the game. They want to analyze every penalty card situation. They scoff at the notion of ever playing a game with less than 100 percent payback.

After a while, I have to remember that these message boards do not reflect the opinion of the masses of people who play video poker. I certainly won’t condemn anyone for wanting to play a video poker machine with greater than 100 percent payback. But there is more to the game than pure mathematics. In the end, there has to be a certain amount of enjoyment of the game or there really is no point to playing. There are a handful of professional video poker players who, in order to meet their quota, need to play a certain number of hours on machines with high paybacks or quite frankly, they won’t earn their full paychecks. For this select group, enjoyment may not be paramount, just as not everyone will enjoy their jobs on any given day.

Most people play video poker as some form of entertainment. It might be a honeymoon in Las Vegas or a day trip to the Indian casinos in Connecticut. If you don’t like epic films, you’re not going to go see a 3-hour movie about the life of Alexander the Great. So why would you go play video poker if you’re not enjoying it? The fact that it’s a casino game that provides the player a reasonable chance of winning simply cannot be enough.

This doesn’t mean I’m advocating playing any old machine that tickles your fancy. Some variations of video poker have paytables that leave little chance for winning, and I have a tough time imagining anyone who can enjoy a casino game with little or no chance of winning. On the other hand, you don’t have to spend your entire vacation looking for the one machine with the highest payback in the city. It also means if you enjoy playing a variation of a game with a .5 percent lower payback than another variation that bores you, it’s okay. Also, if you prefer playing in a casino that offers other benefits you find enjoyable while paying a slightly lower payback on your favorite game, that’s okay, too.

Again, I don’t want anyone to think I’m advocating playing poor paying machines. In the end, playing lesser paying machines WILL cost you some money. You simply have to decide if the amount of money you will be giving up is worth the enjoyment you’ll get relative to playing a better paying machine you don’t enjoy or playing in a casino you don’t like as much.

Also, it’s my belief that if you don’t enjoy the game or the surroundings, you will be less likely to learn the proper strategy which means you’ll make more mistakes on the higher paying machine which will make it not so much ”˜higher’ paying. In similar vein, you’re not as likely to learn what to expect from a game you don’t enjoy, which will lead you to get frustrated and stray from proper strategy. When all these items are factored in, the higher paying machine may not be higher paying at all!

Of course, whatever game you choose to play, I strongly recommend that you DO learn to play proper expert strategy, and learn what to expect from the game, which in my opinion, will increase your enjoyment of the game.

I’d like to wish all of you a great holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!