Man vs. machine!

Apr 25, 2005 4:18 AM

This ought to be fun — telling the truth about these two games at the same time even though I’m only an expert at one. But I don’t need to know the game of blackjack inside-out in order to be able to know why it’s such a popular game in the casinos, or how it stacks up against video poker. The analysis comes easy; but the truth will hurt some.

Naturally, that blackjack advantage shows up for them on paper in the form of a long-term math model. The claim is that with basic strategy the player is at a .5 percent disadvantage, but add in card counting and the tables are then turned. The problem is this: This winning theory assumes flawless play achieved through making robotic-like decisions, being able to constantly utilize undistracted card counting techniques, and because casinos frown on counting cards — never being detected when the count favors the player.

It is, at best, an exhausting effort offering little chance of success or meaningful, consistent profits.

I’ve never played BJ professionally, in fact, when I do play it I’m only looking for a momentary diversion from my game of choice. I’m just not comfortable watching half of those at the table guzzle liquor while they and others ignore common sense warnings and puff smoke.

Hopefully, you’re starting to get the picture. Nothing’s easy in gambling — least of all, being a consistently successful BJ player. The game’s not there for our entertainment, folks! But why go onto video poker? Can it possibly be that the casinos have made a huge mistake when they install greater than 100 percent machines, and/or offer all those beautiful cash awards, comps and gifts that drive this percentage skyward?

How’s this for a reasonable opinion: Maybe, just MAYBE, these players finally figured out, after losing more than they could handle, that the casinos ALWAYS hold the advantage over every player who walks through their doors, and that the math models and probability theories are just that — THEORIES — best fit for classes on gaming intelligence than anything else.

Similarly, there’s another point that solidifies my opinion on BJ. There are a whole lot of gaming sites out there and/or gaming businesses either run by or owned by what we’re told are ex-BJ ”˜pros’. A quick check of the majority of these sites, and I find a myriad of Internet Gaming ads — complete with bonus money pop-ups and other irritating animations.

One hand tells us to use the system the site or business is selling: So-called mathematically sound betting principles where the player can win with flawless play over an inexplicable amount of time.

However, the other hand is pushing playing on unverifiable sites, where no serious player in their right mind would ever risk a dime! Now to some I might be considered as being born yesterday, but to most, does that not say to you what it screams out to me — that gambling under ANY so-called mathematically sound system just didn’t make it, so why not turn to a gaming business that focuses on the sales of such a system?

Now back to video poker. Is it really a better game with better opportunity than blackjack? One thing cannot be argued: Because of the tracking system casinos have implemented through the use of their slot club programs, video poker players get far more comps and freebies than do table players. And they like it. Just listen to any player brag about all the invites and gifts they keep on getting as long as they keep on playing.

Like any serious gambler, early on I looked at the prospect of playing BJ for a living, but eventually came to the sound conclusion that the effort was too tedious, the potential profit and rewards too little, the lack of privacy while playing too annoying, and subsequently the opportunity for being tossed and/or foiled (by multiple decks with auto-shufflers) too real. It just didn’t make any sense.

How many people really play the game for a living, anyway? No, I don’t mean "play the game, and oh, by the way, run a web site that sells all kinds of trinkets and ads and/or run a gaming business, too.". I mean "DEPEND ON PROFITS FROM PLAYING THE GAME AS YOUR PRIMARY MEANS FOR MAKING A LIVING."

I think you get the point.

No, I’m not criticizing those who are doing their best trying to make a living out of the gaming business. Hey, we have the same type of thing going on in the video poker world. But when we writers try to get through to other interested players, I’m saying it’s a good idea to tell the WHOLE story so they might not get the wrong impression.

My site actually does that in a no-nonsense format from top to bottom, and it does so WITHOUT begging for your credit card at every turn of the page, or bombarding you with a single irresponsible on-line casino ad.

Video poker can be a source of great income, but not if you choose to follow the long-term/optimal-play strategy you see readily available wherever fine paraphernalia is sold. Theories are theories and reality is reality. If you’re a regular player, I’m sure you know that all too well by now.