Win without hitting royal

Sep 18, 2006 4:19 AM

When you sit next to someone who proclaims "We’ve been losing for 34 years and even though we play four days a week, we’re lucky to have seen an average of three royals per year," you wonder if it’s for real.

Then you remember it’s the game of video poker they’re moaning and groaning about, and suddenly you feel a rush about the reality of it all. It happens more often than any of us think.

Just a few weeks ago I sat with someone I’d never talked to before in Las Vegas. He said he and his wife moved to town in 1991, and both were avid video poker players. And, as is common amongst locals, nickels is their game. Regardless, he complained that his wife only hit about 10 royals since that time while he’s managed only one. Really?

But why would someone lie or exaggerate about losing?

While the theme of many losers seems to be the lack of royals, others’ woes appeared to be a lack of self-discipline and basic intelligence. So many players believe in going up in denomination after hitting a jackpot because a famous name or two write about winning fantastic amounts (naturally, without ever telling anyone about losing fantastic amounts) after taking shots at higher denominations after hitting a royal or two at their regular play level.

Misleading? Certainly. Dangerous? Absolutely. But this is gambling, and the unforgiving game is video poker. The fact is, more people lose their bank accounts by blindly climbing up in denomination after receiving a confidence-building jackpot than in any other manner.

Basically, the royal flush is an extraordinary event — or at least it should be. When recreational players unexpectedly see one (which is really the only way any of us do) they sometimes jump out of their shoes in excitement.

And why not? When I see one I get up and go home an automatic winner or I begin a brand new session aiming to win a certain amount a second time (immediately, or next month if I so choose) so I can quit once again.

But not so with "advantage" players. They see these big hands as just another winner in the monotonous string of hands they play, and those credits translate into more play for many more hours. Going home with a profit means absolutely nothing to them.

So is it possible for a player who plays any of the Singer Strategies to win without hitting royals? Yes, I win all the time without hitting royals, and yes, hitting royals simply means I will win more than I would have without them. It is all a matter of how you treat them once they arrive.

The bottom line for most video poker players is they NEED the royals to make their financial lives survive — especially if they play on a regular or every day basis. The problem for many is they’re just too anxious to give it all away while taking a shot at higher limits because someone wrote they did so successfully.

I’m not going to say I would win as often as I have without the royal flush. But life is a lot better because of them. This year for instance, I’ve got five royals, and I haven’t played anywhere near the theoretical number of hands that I’m told is required to make them happen like that.

But that’s how the game goes. While many people just can’t hit the big hand, others hit them all the time.

Yet one thing’s for sure after all is over: Most people will not win anything without them. Except me, but I’m not out there thinking I can hit them back-to-back or making the mistake of going after pot shots after hitting one. That’s the difference, and that’s how you remain winner.