Quitting canoften jump-start your play

Jul 9, 2007 4:42 AM

One of the things video poker players never think about when they discover the game is when and if they’ll ever quit playing, or making major changes in their play.

In my particular case — and surprisingly enough in many, many others’ cases of those whom I’ve spoken to over the years — the first experience with the game produced unexpected good luck. What that translates into for most folks is a thirst to come back for more, and that’s exactly what I did.

Yes, that first thousand-dollar royal flush with my first ten bucks certainly hooked me all right, and little did I know what lie ahead. All I knew is I wanted to play.

I studied expert strategy, practiced expert strategy, and meticulously coordinated all my casino visits so as to extract as many of the "free" extras from them as I possibly could in order to maximize value. I felt my optimal-play life was off to a fantastic start.

But after several years of watching reality set in — and watching my savings dwindle — I came to the conclusion that I really didn’t know what I was doing.

Year after year for over 6 years I lost an average of $40,000/yr. playing optimal-play video poker. I never lost anything I couldn’t afford, but it was a waste nonetheless.

After taking the continual beating one might conclude that it was time I quit for good. That would be the right conclusion, however, video poker does not allow one to simply walk away. That’s something I never saw when I started, and it was totally unlike me to miss it. For the first time in my life I was not in control of what I was doing, but at least I knew why.

So I was off and running with trying to develop my own playing strategy that would allow me to win, allow me to enjoy what I was doing for a change, and would allow me to spend more time home with my family than inside casinos banging away at the machines like some sort of zoned out zombie.

Now, almost 10 years later, I can look back at my failings and just shake my head in disbelief. But I can also be happy that I had the determination to turn the addiction to play optimal-play video poker into a controlled, structured type of play that has me well on my way to attaining what seemed to be the unattainable years ago.

Everything’s done on my terms or they don’t get done. I now can sit at a bar and watch games or talk to the bartender all day or night without having to play a single hand. I can spend a weekend in town, see shows and have great dining experiences without the slightest urge to ever play. And the best part? When I’m home I’m home, and I have no desire to get to Nevada any longer just to play video poker, and when I do go to play it is work and nothing more.

The game has been good to me over the years and I intend to quit playing on a positive note. Most regular players stop playing the day they pass away. In other words, the casinos controlled them from the day they started playing until the day they died. Not so with me.

I often wonder what path my play (on non-play) would have taken had I not hit that Royal Flush at the Gold Coast with my very first roll of quarters and my very first video poker experience in 1990. My guess is I would have just shrugged off the machines as I did the slots, and figured all I’d do is lose money playing them. Lucky for me I hit it!