If you must, try this Multi-Strike strategy

Dec 5, 2005 11:53 PM

Here they come again — the same old stories about playing every video poker game mathematically correct on every hand. Such scenarios seem to be a staple for those whose lives are controlled by theoretical situations.

But if you’re reading this column then you’re obviously part of a group of the more intelligent players around. You aren’t one of those misled souls who simply accept classroom theory, and here’s why: you want to win and you want to win every single time you play!

But just how does one go about having that kind of opportunity when playing a relatively new game like Five-Play Multi-Strike Video Poker, which can cost the player a ton of money in very little time.

Well for starters, disregard the make-believe. Forget about how it’s okay to make phantom bucks on positive EV plays even when you lose. And most of all, listen to what I have to say.

On my site www.vptruth.com I include the correct strategy for playing Multi-Strike Video Poker (MSVP) that will make you money more often than it will not, and you will be consistently ahead if you understand and follow it.

I do not, however, incorporate the strategy for the Five-Play version because I do not recommend playing it unless you have a significant bankroll and can absorb huge losses in between huge wins. To me, that is not smart gaming, and I like to teach players how to win money on a consistent basis.

Typically, the type player who takes shots at Five-Play MSVP is one who has become bored with the action on the single-play version — which automatically sends up a red flag. On the 25¡ game, it’s risking $25 per hand. That’s simply out of reach for under-control quarter players —although in video poker there are not many who can be labeled as such. And at the dollar level, you’re putting up $100 a hand. For a dollar player? Think about it.

But for those who must chase this wild game, be advised that the strategy for playing it varies from the strategy for playing the single line version, which already differs from standard video poker games.

There has been several printed strategies put out by the math people on MSVP, but ho-hum, guess what? Most of the strategies say to make the optimal mathematical play — you know, as if you were going to see each dealt hand ten million times during the session. Here’s a hint: If you expect to win, don’t do it!

Instead, use your head right along with me. You have up to four dealt lines of hands, and each line can play up to five hands. So, 100 credits get you going at max bet.

Line no. 1 pays 1X; line no. 2 pays 2X; line no. 3 pays 4X; and line no. 4 pays 8X.

So what’s your goal? Right! You want to get to the 8X pay line, and you want to be able to play as many of the five hands at that level as you can. Pretty basic so far, right?

Now comes the common sense portion. I’m not going to go into all the intricate plays that can help make this game a winner, but you can always e-mail me at [email protected] or [email protected] with any particular questions or comments. I do not advise playing this game unless you are very comfortable with your knowledge of how to play it and play it well.

What is your goal on line no. 1? To play it mathematically correct in order to get the most credits won? Absolutely NOT! Your single, mandatory goal is to get as many winners out of the five hands so you can play that many hands at the more lucrative second level.

You’re going for a simple 5-credit win for each hand. Therefore, inside and even most outside-straight draws are a BIG mistake on line no. 1 — regardless of the pay out. The same with most flush draws.

Why? Ask yourself this question: If I get two straights for a total of 40 or 50 credits, is that better than having three winners of jacks or better for 15? Not on your life! Line no. 2 is awaiting, and three opportunities at 2X is a whole lot better than two.

But what about the deal on line no. 2? Is the same policy followed? Not always. Here the rate of pay for the flush and straight become more important, but they still aren’t THAT important.

You have to remember that you first and foremost, on mediocre hands, want to have the opportunity to get as much of your original 100 credits back as you can.

Now onto line no. 3. At 4X, we’re talking about some serious change on most winners over two pair. Here’s where the savvy player knows when to keep two pair on the advanced Bonus Poker games (where two pair pays 5 credits) vs. when to go for the special quad.

You don’t do it on every hand, but there are times when it’s done. The pay out for the full house has something to do with this decision, as does where you are at in terms of your overall win goal for the session.

At line no. 4, this is where the truth is told. Play all hands here mathematically correct, and I advise NEVER deviating from optimal play at this level. Because of the potential huge payouts, for the player who came in with a win goal and hits it, the session will end with a fat wallet.

But it also spells doom for most players, because most video poker players neither have goals nor discipline, and they really shouldn’t be playing. For these poor souls, a big win only means they can stay on playing and hoping for more big wins, or it can mean a trip into the high-limit room. Both are mistakes, and both are the signs of problem gambling.

Of course, the game you’re playing and even the denomination in relation to your gambling bankroll has an effect on how I recommend playing the hands. And it IS a fun game if you’re not playing for real money. You can go to www.5pms.com and play it absolutely free. That’s what I do when I’m looking for entertainment. You’ll never see me play this game in any casino. It just doesn’t make sense.