The best playing strategy? Cash out early!

Mar 20, 2001 7:12 AM

So often, we’ve been told there’s no difference if we play multiple sessions of one minute, 1,000 hours non-stop — or even forever — that expected results will always average out the same. How very wrong.

There’s no arguing each machine records the play it receives from all players in that manner, for the sole purpose of the casino is to measure their profit take. But individually, we have the ability to make a choice when we play. We can do what we want, play however much or little that we want, and we can cash out whenever we want. Unlike the player who tries to chase a small win percentage playing expert math strategy over a long and arduous time, true consistent winning players use their ability to choose.

I’ve found great success following this advice in my play strategy. Why? It was modeled after my own circumstances and style. It incorporates one of the most easily understood concepts: cashing out when ahead at certain points. Critics maintain it doesn’t matter if I cash out whenever I’m ahead 40 credits or not, or whether I continue my play that moment or come back for more the next day.

They say my results will be the same over time no matter when I play, and I should expect to lose since I don’t play expert strategy. But their probability curves are unable to pick up the actual effects of interrupted play, and how it relates to the ultimate individual goals of the player. Once again, they only look at the game as an exercise in theories and expectations. It is not.

To illustrate this, let’s all step up to the plate, so to speak. You’re on a major league baseball team, and you’re a slugger like Mark McGwire. The team’s long-term goal is to win the pennant. They count on you to hit as many home runs to help them attain that goal. But you have another agenda. You have a personal goal of becoming the all-time leader in the category of home-runs-per-time-at-bat percentage, and nothing will stop you. You’re determined to achieve this plateau regardless of the criticisms.

It’s Game 1 of the season. You hit a home run in your second at-bat. Then you hit the showers. In Game 2, you smack a homer in your third at-bat. You again head right to the showers. Game 3 shows a 0-4 effort, but in Game 4, you again pop one in your second at-bat, then take yourself out of the game. You hit none in Game 5, but blast a tape-measure job in your first at-bat of Game 6. You immediately show up in street clothes on the bench. You continue to play that way for the rest of the season.

What happened? First, you’ve achieved your goal of becoming the all-time leader in home run percentage. Why? Simply because you quit when you were slightly ahead every time. Critics complain that you gave up the opportunity of having multi-homer games, which might have helped the team more. You argue that if you were greedy for hitting a greater number of home runs, you’d have likely not reached your personal goal. You played it safe. You overcame the mathematical odds by not looking at your game long-term — not getting as many at-bats as possible throughout the year.

So, too, is the game of video poker. You can go home a winner most every session if you want to, or you can play as much and as often as humanly possible, chasing a dream few if any ever attain.