Can you win playing jacks or better?

Jan 4, 2005 2:43 AM

I suppose there’s been more written about jacks or better than any other game in video poker. But to me that’s always been a problem, because while many writers have chosen to do their stories about this original video poker game, no one has ever ventured to go past the basics, past the pay basic nine-credits-for-a-full-house/six-credits-for-a-flush pay table designate, past the basic optimal strategy for the game (assuming, of course, you play it every day for the rest of your life), and past the basic fact that it is readily available everywhere. So once again, welcome to the truth about yet another side of video poker.

Sift through virtually every self-proclaimed "guru’s" columns and it’s a certain bet you’ll eventually come across at least one article every few years that talks about this very simple game. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen where it’s calculated out, in nine/six format, to return 99.54 percent to those who both play the game throughout infinity as well as play it mathematically flawlessly. (Note: Whenever I say "flawless" there’s always the cover-the-butt guru comment in their next article saying how ”˜close-to-perfection’ is good enough. Only problem? That nebulously lowers 99.54 percent to who knows what! And they NEVER get past that point.).

Right off the bat that begs two questions regarding the common sense aspect: First, who’s going to either want to or be able to play it THAT LONG; And secondly, who out there can play ANY game perfectly for 30 minutes, let alone forever? I know, I know, you’ve all been told that it’s very possible to play the game perfectly because of its relative simplicity. Let me guess who told you that, what products they were selling, what appearances they wanted you to attend, or how much they charged for videos of themselves spewing their nonsense.

But the rhetoric doesn’t stop there. The so-called "experts" have an obligation to explain just how it is they are recommending this game when by their own admission, no one can possibly ever come out ahead playing a game under 100 percent payback. And here’s where the amusement goes into high gear. As predictable as a sunny day in Arizona or Nevada, you’ll always see where you’re told only to play the game where there’s a combination of cash back, bounce back cash, comps, gift giveaways, tournament invites, cash drawings or free logo yoyos that, theoretically as well as very creatively, calculate out to at least .47 percent — thereby putting the game "over-the-top" and "guaranteeing" the player will win. When? Well, by the time they step into their grave, of course! You didn’t think it meant today, did you?

OK, now let’s get to the truth. The fact is, the game of jacks or better is about as boring a casino game as one can find. I don’t know about you”¦ wait a minute”¦ I do know about you! I know how tired and restless a player gets as they pound away at the game for even 45 minutes. What are you trying to get? Yes, of course — a royal flush, right? Why? Because there just isn’t any other winning hands worth your time on the game, unless you consider the elusive and under-paying straight flush as something exciting to shoot for.

And what happens to the player who decides to put in a three-four hour session at the game? First of all, it’s a miracle if he or she can stay awake past an hour during this massive waste of time. Then for those who do, let me guess how much of that zombie-like feeling you drifted into after only two hours of play. Sound like a ton of fun yet? HaHaHa”¦ We’re just getting started!

What about the REASON you came in to play video poker today? What was the goal anyway? Well, if you’re like 99.99 percent of players everywhere, you had no goals other than to walk out with some extra money in your pockets, and maybe a few comps, a little cash back, and as much attention and recognition as you could muster up from those fabulous casino hosts along the way. Here’s where those video poker "experts" reel you into their webs with the confidence-building that’ll make you want to go back for even more abuse — to both them and the casinos — as soon as possible. Even if you lose $400, you somehow painted a picture that made you believe you’ve been successful simply because you’ve earned comps, you’re getting a small amount of cash back, you’ve received endless smiles and stimulating chat from your host, and you supposedly had a "good time doing something enjoyable." How about giving me - and yourself - a big, fat break!

The fact is, when you play jacks or better with ANY available pay table, you have a slim to none chance of walking out a winner. So how often do you get to see a royal flush? Think about it. That’s the times you will win, and, barring extreme luck with quads, the ONLY times you will win. Now think about the immensely boring time you’ve spent at the machines inside the very unhealthy atmosphere of a casino, the mistakes made that you knew about as well as the ones you have no idea you’ve made, and all the other interesting games you passed up because someone made you believe you could achieve on a video poker computer what they did on a piece of paper.

Have you woken up yet to the reality and truth about this game? From the thousands of e-mails I get every year, I’d say people are listening, understanding, and want to hear more about my message of truth. I’ve been more successful than anyone else who plays or played the game, and in turn I charge nothing to chat, advise, or meet with players whenever possible — and all at no charge — which for obvious reasons others won’t and can’t do. So when you have the urge to play jacks or better and actually believe you can be a long-term winner of the game just because you’ve manufactured a greater-than-100 percent math model out of thin air, think about the truth you read today.