Taking video poker show on the road

Jun 11, 2007 3:02 AM

If you’ve followed some of my articles in the past then you know what a big fan I am of playing video poker all around the great state of Nevada — and Nevada only. I know other locations in certain parts of the country offer fair games, but when you live right next door to the original why bother going out of your way to play?

One of the most important parts of my play strategy is a very strong and strict adherence to discipline. A good measure of that ability is in living nearby what are very often spectacular Indian casinos — but never being drawn in to play their machines.

Why? I question their games’ fairness based on a history of failed attempts at getting to the bottom of who really regulates them and how, so I simply will not challenge their machines.

Since I became a full-time professional player in 1999, I’ve come to learn the enjoyment of what a leisurely trek across Nevada has to offer. Yes, from the Colorado River to Lake Mead, through a serene Walker Lake and on up to beautiful Lake Tahoe, it’s not much of a stretch to believe that time stops just for you on such a ride.

A few weeks ago I made that journey (as well as a side trip to San Francisco) in my new Corvette Z06 — in my opinion the only way to do it, and something I paid for with nearly every penny I won from the machines in 2006.

I have, however, already turned over the keys to my son’s family, who’s in his second tour of combat duty in the Middle East. It is, without a doubt, the very least I can do for him in return for what he is doing for all of us.

Typical of most of my Nevada trips, I left on an overnight drive to Laughlin. Since I’ve already met my 2007 win goal and all I’ll do now is play in lower denominations for entertainment, I walked into Harrah’s and sat until the 25¡ machine gobbled up my $60.

Actually this isn’t surprising. Other than one magical night recently, almost every time I’ve played at a Harrah’s property this year I’ve not done well. And horror of horrors”¦ I had no players card with me on my big winning night nor did I have one tonight!

No trip up north is complete without a stop at the Death Valley Nut & Candy Company in Beatty. First there’s the gasoline, but I’ve always been a fan of exceptional black licorice and one of the offerings they have is the best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world.

After a relaxing lunch and 3-hour rest at Walker Lake, I arrived at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe for a needed meal, sleep, and to pick up $250 in cash that was offered with the stay. I chose to use that money to play the quarter and 50¡ games, and as usual with no goals or reason behind playing, they eventually got it all back. And to think I used to play like this all the time from 1990 thru 1996.

I went to San Jose to visit an old friend from my working days, then spent several nights in San Francisco. Instead of driving down the coast like I originally had planned I went back over towards Reno and went back through Las Vegas.

As I stopped by the Aquarius for dinner I realized something. I had just driven 800 miles without resting, and I felt like I was 25 again. Good thing though, because the car I was driving isn’t comfortable to sleep in at ANY age.

After the meal I went to the slot club to pick up $115 in cash back I had coming, and yes, I put every penny into another machine. Ahead $275 at one point I kept on playing, just to get that old feeling back from the way it was in the early nineties.

Normally after meeting a yearly win goal trips such as these are only to scoop up the free cash and leave with it. But this trip was for another reason, so the "free" cash took second fiddle to the ride.

It also brought back not-so-fond memories of how playing video poker used to be”¦ of how I played through winners until I lost what I had with me. This time it was all in fun, but back then it was not. Thankfully, I’m no longer the long-term "expert" I used to be.