Critics seldom
step up to
the challenge

Feb 27, 2006 3:25 AM

Throughout the years as a professional gambler who plays only video poker, there have been many times that the gurus, the famous names, mathematicians, programmers, and relative unknowns have either challenged me with a bet on my winning record, or want to prove their off-the-cuff assertions about me in the form of a public bet. And their approach is always the same.

I realize how frustrating it must be for some people who either sell, cling to, or live a mathematical life to handle the message that it doesn’t take classroom theory, math models or probability calculations to understand and beat the game of video poker.

But what perplexes me is in how they have such closed minds about the fact that I have indeed found a way to consistently make profits playing my way on mostly what they like to call "negative EV machines."

For starters, I don’t play to casino whims. Promotions are not my game, especially the ones that so-called "advantage players" flock to every week.

Now, these are the same misled players who not only can’t conceive of my winning to my play strategies — they won’t hear of it under any circumstances.

One such player blinded by his own self-confidence-building fantasy is a local guy, a six-month snowbird who is a retired programmer from Minnesota. His name is Dick, and he and I have had an ongoing Internet debate for several years now about my strategy and his involvement in the game.

Based on my discussions with hundreds of players who’ve moved to Las Vegas, most of them believed they were mathematically capable of beating the machines when they hit town. It was not odd, however, that almost every single one proclaimed some other reason for making the move — weather, taxes, retirement ”¦ you name it.

Yet in their private disclosures after they’ve come to me for advice when video poker didn’t pan out, nearly all of them admitted in shame that they actually did move to Las Vegas just to be able to play the video poker machines.

Their most common proclamation at this point? "I’m a video poker junkie" or "I’m so addicted to the game that I just can’t stop playing" or "It’s so hard to turn down the promotions, and usually I simply deposit all my money and more when I go to them."

Yes, it really is a serious issue, but my friend Dick isn’t at the point of disclosure just yet. In fact, although he says he plays almost daily, he is in denial about what it is that he actually does.

Last time I checked, video poker machines were gambling machines. But not to him. He says "I am NOT a gambler; I only play when there’s an edge!"

Nonetheless, his issues with me are several. He calls me a liar and a fraud because he does not want to accept that I win as I say I do, and he claims it’s mathematically impossible for me to do so.

Of course, he does say that there’s a "possibility" I "could" do well because of the progression and that I have not yet run into the string of devastating losses that are bound to appear, but after over 250 sessions that’s nothing more than wishful thinking and he knows it.

Either way, he slipped out of a bet with me to provide accurate and indisputable proof that I have indeed won, by saying I could have concocted it all up by losing regularly, while re-depositing cash stored away from a heist or two of criminal activity after each session. Please permit me to laugh!

The most recent fiasco involved his proclaiming I lied about my education and lied about having worked worldwide for years. I offered to prove all of it to him with official documentation on a local radio program I can have airtime on — for $5,000 — so what’s his escape? He says "You can produce any of those documents on a $100 printer!" So I offer to verify my diplomas and history of passports with him at the proper agencies afterward, and he walks away from the challenge red-faced and worried.

But it’s not over with Dick. Next he quickly changes the wager to meet in a game of tennis for $5,000, which was expanded to include bowling for another $5,000.

Back and forth we went, and at the end of the day he never would appear to face me on the radio show. He seemed pretty sure of himself from the safety shield he finds hiding behind his computer! I finally agreed to the tennis and bowling, but the tennis match had to be at $10k. That’s all he needed for one last loophole. It was $5k or nothing with him, and I should have known.

I know I’m going to run into this type of scrutiny from time to time from someone who probably has very poor luck at the machines, and obviously cannot control their play. Otherwise they’d be able to make bets materialize once or twice after continued slander.

But I know better now. My play is and always has been focused in the casinos, and these unknowns who have a problem with me are going to pop up now and then. What they don’t count on is my smacking them back down.