Root for the Razgus!

Jun 19, 2006 3:41 AM

It is mid June, so it must be time to root for the Razgus. Who roots for Razgus, you might ask? Why would anyone root for a hand which requires you to throw out all five cards and have an expected value of about 30 cents for every dollar wagered?

Well, no one roots for THOSE Razgus! I’m rooting for my son’s little league team, which is called the Razgus! It’s playoff time and we’re defending our championship from last season.

Unlike the major leagues, each spring we get a new bunch of 10 or 12 kids to turn into a team. For the past three seasons we’ve made it to the championship game, and each time, it’s a complete surprise to the other coaches.

Each year, to get to the championship game, we’ve had to knock off the team that had the best record in the regular season. What’s the secret to our success (and what does this have to do with video poker)?

The answer to both those question is that we play for the long run. While every other coach leans heavily on that one top pitcher, we spend the regular season (all of 10 games), grooming multiple pitchers to pitch two or three good innings.

So, when the season begins, the other coaches are worried about winning each game while we work towards winning a championship. When the playoffs come, we have 2, 3 or even 4 pitchers ready to go. The other team has one ace, and a bunch of guys who have some raw talent, but little experience.

We, on the other hand, bring in a new fresh pitcher who is very accustomed to throwing late in games when it is all on the line. He may not throw as fast as the other team’s ace, but he’s a lot better than their No. 2 pitcher. Next thing you know, we’re raising the championship trophy.

So, where is the parallel to video poker? Well, you can play video poker with the goal of winning each and every time you play. In prior columns, I’ve covered how if you start with a large enough bankroll and set your target win level low enough, you can easily win 70, 80 or 90% of your sessions.

The problem is that your losing sessions will be of a much greater magnitude than your winning sessions. In the end, you won’t win.

The goal is to be a winner in the long run. Would you rather win 40 out of 52 weeks out of the year, but realize when the year is up that you lost money? Or would you rather win 20 out of 52 weeks out of the year and realize at the end of the year, you’ve won money?

Would you rather go 10-0 in the regular season only to lose in the 2nd round of the playoff, or would you rather go 5-5 in the regular season and win the title?

Nothing can change the fact that when you’re done playing, the expected value of ALL the hands you played (whether it’s been an hour, a day, a week or a lifetime) is equal to the sum of the expected value of EACH hand as you actually played it. Believing anything else is believing that 1 + 1 = 3.