Beware the risk in video poker

Mar 6, 2001 7:41 AM

How do players really know if they’re playing within the correct denomination for their own particular circumstances and lifestyle? And how much of their assets is the correct amount to risk in quest of those not-so-frequent winning visits to the casinos?

Both questions are tough, but there are several answers that aren’t laced with what is most common for players: a confusing array of calculations along with an explanation of unrealistic bankroll requirements.

Most video poker players fluctuate their levels, something they rarely plan on doing as they prepare to go into play. Name someone who hasn’t heard — or even said — something like, "I’m strictly a quarter player" or, "I’ll never play the $5 machines. Too rich for my blood!" People mean these things when they talk to others outside gambling venues, but don’t expect to hear the same claims as they look for a lucky machine. Motivation, excitement, anticipation and humiliation all play a part in the decisions most gamblers make while involved in casino action — usually resulting in the right choice for their favorite casinos and the wrong choices for them.

If you feel safe playing nickels, stick with that feeling. It’s there for a reason — and not just a prop allowing you to advance to quarters if you hit a jackpot. If you play quarters, don’t let their proximity to the dollar machines throw you off. At the dollar level, resist the urge to "give the $5 machines a shot" whenever you get hand paid at least $4.

Unless you’re doing this for an income supplement or a living, you have no real reason for risking more than you should. Remember, most of you are in the casinos for entertainment, where playing and/or winning is only a part of that goal. Step up to a play level when your bankroll doesn’t really fit in, and you’ll usually flirt with financial ruin. It’s not that hard to understand why.

Many people say they play at one level to hit a jackpot so they can advance — if only for a little while — to a higher denomination, where they might hit something they feel really will make a change in their lives. Beware! Even if two jackpots are hit in this manner, the only way it will change your life for the better is if you completely stop playing.

What usually happens to folks who are very lucky on any given day, week or month? First, the casino owns them in a sense that they did so well, they feel very lucky playing there, and they’re treated with respect. Roping them back in with promotions and gifts is not necessary, because they’ll return on their own anyway, banging away on the higher limit machines as if there were no tomorrow. But what about the casino? Do they really want this type of lucky player coming back? Shouldn’t they exercise their option to bar them from playing? Friends, let’s get real. The bottom line is, the casino knows winners who play a lot at any skill level will for that reason alone put it all back in — and then some. Don’t believe me? Then stand at the corner of Tropicana and the Strip for a moment, and wonder just how it is the most beautiful and spectacular hotels in the world are all within immediate sight!