Video poker fares well as travel partner

Jul 24, 2006 2:43 AM

Taking vacations in the summertime as well as in the dead of winter is a big deal for me and my wife Cindy. Luckily, we make the same trip twice a year because it is exactly what we both enjoy doing.

The beautiful and tranquil Oregon Coast is our destination, we always drive, and there are many stops in California and Nevada along the way. Even though I estimated the fuel costs to be about $650, I’m a for-profit video poker player who only plays for goals, and on this trip, I would simply play for the gas and call it quits.

We began by driving from Phoenix through the desert to Harrah’s Rincon in San Diego — a very comfortable stopover. I had a free night there, but I am not a player unless I’m in Nevada.

The trip started out ominously, as within four minutes from home a rock came out of nowhere and put a massive spider-like crack in the middle of the windshield. So this time as my wife slept, I chose to break ranks and play $200 trying to win just ten bucks. I ended up losing $110 of it — so much for a good start.

We spent the next day at a favorite beach north of Malibu cooking, swimming and picnicking, and the following day traveled to the Edgewater in Laughlin. This place has been a nemesis of mine for three years with several big winning sessions and many losing ones, and this visit was no different.

I dropped $670 playing simple expert strategy on dollar Double Bonus only. Not smart at all, and I was drifting further away from my overall win goal. My only excuse was that I was on vacation. It was fortunate that Cindy slept through that one, too.

In the morning we took the familiar drive to Las Vegas and checked into multiple hotels in order to get as much of the mail-offered cash, gifts, and comped meals that we could cram into the next couple of days. While my wife relaxed and was pampered at the Rio’s spa, I lost $200. Sound familiar?

That evening we went over to Green Valley Ranch to have dinner with some friends, but only after I fulfilled my promise to take my wife out to see the spectacular new Red Rock station.

She took a liking to the Cabo bar, so we sat at a 25¡/50¡/$1/$2 machine and played a limited 200 credit/denomination Romp-Thru-Town strategy.

It was a good choice — we hit two of those elusive straight flushes on $2, and a royal on dollars. A profit of $3,850 for maybe an hour’s play got us back on track.

Later in the day she told me I needed her as a good luck charm if I wanted to continue winning. So we headed over to Sam’s Town where I’ve had exceptional results all year. Again, I told her I would only play under one of my structured and very strict strategies, and she would have to endure. We then began a session of romp thru town on $1/$2/$5 at 100 credits Bonus Poker/300 credits on Double Double Bonus Poker. I finally felt comfortable once again.

It didn’t start off so well, as we quickly fell behind $1,850. Then four 2’s hit for a profit of $125. Since my goal was a simple $100 we were successful, and my suddenly confident partner decided we should try it again. This time it took a little longer, but when four Aces with a 4 kicker arrived on $5 for an overall profit of just over $9.000, it obviously was worth the wait. The bank would see us in the morning before we left for up north.

The drive from Las Vegas to Lake Tahoe is hands down the most relaxing in the entire world. Excellent high-speed roads, very little traffic, spectacular views all the way, and many interesting little stops that chronicle the state’s unique history. We had planned on stopping at Walker Lake for a picnic, but as we drove down towards the tables we were greeted with billions of dragonflies. We found another place, fast.

I played helter-skelter video poker at Harvey’s, Harrah’s and the Hyatt where we stayed, and as is usual when playing without a plan, I dropped about $1,400. All was forgotten over the next five days as we enjoyed a peaceful rest at Cape Kiwanda on the Northern Oregon coast. They do have several popular Indian casinos in that area, but I had zero interest in paying them a visit.

After a few interesting days walking the Wharf in San Francisco, we made it back to Las Vegas. This time the main purpose was to get some friends from Phoenix hooked up with some free rooms. I had the usual array of free cash and other stuff to pick up, and my wife wanted to see the South Coast for the first time.

She commented correctly about how similar the place was to the Suncoast. The meal at the seafood bar was great, the movie DaVinci Code was even better, but it all came at a cost of $3,200 because I couldn’t hit a thing playing another Romp strategy. Advantage, Southcoast.

And to think I complained they didn’t have any $5 machines when they first opened.

I lost some more at Sam’s Town after dinner that night, but video poker is an interesting game. The next day we went to the Galleria on Sunset for some shopping, then stopped at Sunset Station to play one more romp before we left. A quick $100 disappeared on dollar Bonus Poker, and I was preparing to put $200 into a dollar Super Bonus Poker machine when Cindy said "You don’t want to play here — it’s too smoky. Let’s go in there and see what it’s got."

In "there" was a high limit slot room, and I left it to her to choose a machine. To our right was a dollar Double Double Bonus game with a lousy pay table but had a progressive Royal at $8,150. She wanted me to play that one, so that one it was. Three hands into it I hit the Royal. Who’s the expert here anyway?

The trip ended with my taking home a profit of $15,150 from gambling — although I only played just under seven total hours in 16 days. Now that’s an unusual amount I agree, but it’s been the norm in 2006 in what has been an exceptionally lucky year for me.

I did get off my discipline track some since I only set out to win $650. But that’s what happens when you are with someone and you gamble. Things change rapidly because of other’s wants and needs. In this case I seem to have had the right person with me — as has been the case for the past 28 years.