Give new systems a chance

February 26, 2001 7:42 AM


Before my first column was published, three critics wrote to say they were unhappy to hear I was the new video poker columnist for GamingToday.

It’s common for criticism to surface after any article is written, but it doesn’t usually happen before a word has been penned!

In any case, here’s a closer look at their concerns and whether or not they withstand scrutiny.

One reader wrote: "His theories seem bizarre at best."

That’s a common response from those who don’t really know a writer’s background. My theories about so-called "expert play" are based on seven years experience. The fact that someone has found a different way to approach the game in a consistently successful manner should not be blindly dismissed without the proper knowledge. Open minds equal progress and knowledge.

Another had this to say: "I was shocked to see you give space to Rob Singer, someone who is single-handedly setting out to undo the efforts of many writers to educate players about how to play video poker intelligently."

Those writers who sell their philosophy that the math models guarantee you will win if you play over an indefinite period of time are the exact reason I began to speak up. Similarly, I intended to inform the public that following such long-term strategies could inadvertently lead to compulsive gambling problems.

Intelligent players who understand math as a baseline approach to a casino game of chance played in short-term bursts surely should also know these probability theories and expectation calculations are certainly educational, enormously interesting and irreproachable. That being said, it must be known that winning will come only with extreme luck. Actual play is so different from daydreaming at home. The biggest theory of all is that anyone can play even close to the perfection required to beat the machine at its own game.

A fellow author, whom I was pleased to meet, wrote: "He uses a progressive betting system, a variation of the infamous Martingale system, in which he goes up after losses. All knowledgeable gamblers know this is one of the most dangerous systems around."

This is the biggest fallacy about my play strategy. It took nearly three years to develop. While it does incorporate stepping up at certain points, it is the result of a combination of both winning and losing hands — not the case in using Martingale at a table game. My game can easily sustain 15 or more losing hands in a row several times each session. Try that in a blackjack progression!

The critic is correct in that it is a dangerous system, which is why it does not apply to my game. Other than that, I’d say she hasn’t a clue — at least until she better understands my methodology.

I field many such questions and comments each week. I understand my views have been unpopular with the "established" names in the video poker industry, principally because they’re not used to being questioned. That time is over. Now all players can decide what’s right for them without being constantly preached to in confusing mathematical dialogue.

You will never see me say it’s fine to take a $6,000 loss today because I’ve earned a few hundred bucks in cash back or a bunch of comps. Clairvoyance is not a part of this game. And I will never put being a good player before being a lucky one. Common sense is a very big part of this game.