Join the poker revolt!

Jul 3, 2006 4:53 AM

It’s the Fourth of July, a day to celebrate Independence. It’s a day to celebrate America. What better way to celebrate than by breaking free from the tyranny of slots and make video poker, America’s National Game of Chance.

My father, Lenny Frome, started this campaign nearly 20 years ago. There is little doubt that we’ve made a lot of progress as video poker continues to grow in popularity. But there are still WAY too many of those slot machines around to declare victory just yet.

Of course, the irony is that the title is America’s National Game of CHANCE, which would seem to favor the slots. After all, slot machines are 100% chance or luck. You could walk up to a bank of 10 identical slot machines and each one could be programmed for a different payback, and you’d have NO way of knowing which is going to pay higher or lower over the long run. Of course, in any short span, any of the machines could prove to be a big winner. Again, it is ALL luck.

Video poker on the other hand is not all luck. While there is no doubt that in the short run there is a component of luck, the more you play, the more the math will take over. This is not just theory, this is reality.

But, for video poker it goes way beyond just this. If you see a bank of identical video poker machines, with the same paytables, then you immediately know that they all have the same payback and it doesn’t matter which one you sit down to play.

Sure, some of them will appear to be hotter in the short run, and this involves an element of luck, but if you’re someone who plays video poker several times a year, this component of luck will mean less.

This is because there is an element in video poker that does not exist at all in slots. It is the element of skill. Every time a player is dealt the five initial cards, he must choose which of the 32 ways to play the hand.

Frequently, the decision is obvious. Sometimes, it is more challenging. Do you hold the low pair or the 4-card straight? What about the high pair and a 4-card flush? Should you hold a 3-card straight?

In order to maximize the payback of the video poker machine, a player needs to play these hands according to the way that has the highest expected value. The expected value is the amount the player can expect to have returned to him if every possible outcome is considered.

The good news is that the player does not need to memorize the expected value of every possible hand, but rather the relative rankings of the expected value. This is what teaches the player to keep the 4-card straight instead of the low pair, but to go for the 4-card flush instead of the low pair.

Naysayers have long scoffed at the notion of playing hands based on expected value. In reality, however, this is what makes a player keep the obvious hands as well.

Why does a player keep a three of a kind instead of a 3-card straight flush? Because he can deduce that the three of a kind has a much higher expected value than the 3-card straight flush. Just because this particular situation is intuitive and others requires a computer to calculate does not make one more correct than the other.

If you’re prepared to hold trips instead of a 3-card straight flush, you should be just as prepared to play every other hand based on which has the highest expected value.

These components are what truly make video poker, America’s National Game of Chance. There is an element of luck. There is an element of skill. And, in the interest of fairness, everything is out in the open and known.

The paytables must be shown on the machine, so a player is able to determine the payback of the game and use the proper strategy for that paytable. Video poker combines fair play with skill and luck to create a gambling experience that simply does not and CANNOT exist for slot machines.

So, on this July 4, declare your independence from slot machines, and make video poker, America’s National Game of Chance.

As a special offer to GamingToday readers, in honor of Independence Day, we will be offering a FREE copy of Lenny Frome’s Video Poker: America’s National Game of Chance with every order of Winning Strategies for Video Poker for $15.95. Just mention the Independence Day offer and send your payment to: Compu-Flyers, P.O. Box 132, Bogota, NJ 07603.

In the meantime, have a Happy Fourth!