Put everything into perspective

Feb 27, 2007 1:01 AM

As I sat down to write this article, I was interrupted by my newborn son. He arrived just over a week ago. He’s a very cute kid. I know, I’m biased. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong, either. I’m sure I’m not the only person who reflects on life when his child is born. This past week has been full of deep thought.

Like many other writers, I write my weekly column and discuss many of the finer points of gambling. I’m sure for the most part, I sound very serious when I write. It is almost as if the world is coming to an end if you play the wrong strategy or pick the wrong game.

This really isn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong. The math is very important, and if you want to maximize your expected value and give yourself the best chance to win, you’re going to play the right games and you’re going to play the right strategy. These are the first two "legs" of my father’s three-legged stool for expert strategy.

The third leg of that stool is knowing what to expect. This is the part of the process that tells us not only how we can expect to do in the long run, but a lot of the details of what will happen along the way.

Once you know what to expect, the decision is yours as to how to proceed. You can choose to play poorer paying game or you can choose to play incorrect strategy because you have a hunch — as long as you understand what playing in this manner is likely going to do to your bankroll.

I’m not advocating that anyone play less than full-pay machines or play their hunches.

However, there is another item that needs to be added to that three-legged stool. Rather than another leg, I chose to add the cushion on top. This is what makes the whole process comfortable — you have to ENJOY what you are doing.

There are very few professional gamblers out there. When I say professional, I mean people who are counting on their gambling winnings as a form of salary, in order to pay their bills — 99.9% of the players in a casino are recreational players.

That is, they are there to have fun. If you were not having fun, why would you come to the casino? Obviously, winning is more fun than losing, but even in losing, there must be entertainment value. With the exception of some positive video poker machines, the games are created so that in the long run the casinos win.

Players play in hope that they will be one of the winners, but so long as you’re going to play a game with a negative expectation, you can expect your results to be, well, negative.

So, you better at least have some fun while doing it. If you and your wife want to have a simple dinner, see a movie (with popcorn), you can expect to pay at least $50-$75. Would you go to a lousy restaurant if they had a scratch of ticket in which you might win free movie passes?

I doubt it So, when it comes down to it, you don’t mind spending money for entertainment, but you want to enjoy it when you’re doing it.

This means that above all, you need to pick a game that you enjoy. Video poker is simply not for everyone. Maybe you prefer Three Card Poker or blackjack. Or perhaps, craps or Pai Gow Poker is your thing.

Some of these games have higher paybacks than others. I would still suggest that whatever game you choose that you find out the right strategy and find out what to expect to help guide you. If you decide to play a hunch, at least know when you’re doing it and what it may cost you.

Now that I’ve said that, a few of you may be asking, "but, what if I prefer to play slots?" There is always an exception to the rule. If you like playing slots, I would suggest you read "Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas" and learn why you should break the slot habit.

To help you out in this regard (and in honor of my son’s arrival at 8 pounds, 11 ounces), we’re selling "Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas" for $8.11 (includes postage and handling), which is a discount of nearly 20%. If you’d like to order a copy, send a check to Compu-Flyers, P.O. Box 132, Bogota, NJ 07603