Video Poker my way: 7 observations

Sep 25, 2007 1:15 AM

Every once in a while it helps to stop for a bit, take a step or two back, and look over some of the very interesting events that occur with the game of video poker.

After all, WHO doesn’t play it? And, where can’t you find it these days?

Because of that, I wanted to put down some of my thoughts, ideas, comments and open opinions on some of what I’ve seen happening in the video poker world lately. Even if one or more of them don’t affect you directly, I think you’ll find the majority interesting.

1. This is currently a hot topic: There’s a new game in town called Guaranteed Play Video Poker. If you haven’t yet heard, it’s a game whereby the player purchases X amount of hands to play at their choice of denomination for Y amount of dollars. The credit meter starts out at zero and goes negative or positive depending on how lucky you are. You may cash out at any time, but any remaining "purchased" hands are forfeited.

I went out to Red Rock Station to view this game, watching quite a few people play. When it first arrived, as I suspected, the game right away was not meant for winning players. To begin, the game is almost impossible to accurately analyze. It’s a constant moving target so anyone who plays not only has to rely on pure luck, but guess when to quit. That puts it out of range for my liking and lands on my list of gimmick games only on the floor to make extra money for the casinos by tempting clueless players to give it a shot.

2. Remember when I talked the Wynn people several years ago into putting in pay tables that were more locals-friendly? Well, those machines are now gone, and they are lowering lots of other pay tables. But it seems the Wynn slot club marketing has changed some. Locals report getting more lucrative offers and promotions for their level of play, unlike out-of-towners. It’s not a bad strategy since it’s well known that many players will simply "create" good plays wherever they like to gamble. Oh well, I’ll just play down the street.

3. Who says positive EV video poker is going the route of the dinosaurs? Has anyone checked out Stations, Sam’s Town, Palms, around Las Vegas, or the best pay tables in the state at The Edgewater in Laughlin lately? There are many more in addition to those. What truly confuses me is in how most of those machines have more empty seats than not whenever I walk by them. I guess hypocrisy rules.

4. Big kudos to the South Point for recognizing their error in suddenly cutting off their Free Gasoline Card promotion prior to many retrieving their cards near the end of August’s cut-off date. Seems someone hastily chose to do that because they ran out of plastic cards. Complaints came in. I discussed it with them and the next day I received a call from one of their Directors saying they ordered more cards. Everyone would get exactly what they had earned through their play in addition to the promotion continuing on through its original Aug. 31 expiration date. They did the right thing. Players both appreciate and remember that kind of response.

5. Whenever Harrah’s properties do something good or bad, you can be sure video poker players will comment. There’s been a huge cry about how they’ve slashed their pay tables, and I wouldn’t expect the corporation to care much. Players could stay away but they don’t. Even the most dedicated to positive play video poker are still manufacturing "good plays" out of lousy games.

In addition, Harrah’s has outsmarted tons of players with their slick slot club program — Total Rewards. It’s much more than enough to make them look the other way when moaning about pay tables. Those who hold their Diamond Card status (and there are a huge amount of players at that level) look at various properties’ Diamond Lounges as the benefit of benefits. After all, video poker players are absolutely feverish in their quest for free food and drinks to soothe their losses. Harrah’s now seems to be doing some belt-tightening on that benefit too.

I have a Diamond card and visit all the Diamond Lounges quite often. I don’t eat the food, but I’ll relax with a drink or two now and then, comfortably watching sports or the people watching them. In fact, as you read this I’m leaving for an 18-day cross country tour of a good majority of the Harrah’s properties. Like them or not, Harrah’s knows how to treat its Diamond members.

6. People always ask me how I can feel safe or comfortable carrying around sometimes tens of thousands of dollars in Las Vegas and other Nevada cities. It’s simple. No one knows what anyone has in his or her bags at any time, and I always valet park. That why I’m not wandering through lonely parking lots and garages exposing myself to unnecessary risk.

7. I also get asked if I take the cash or a check when hitting larger jackpots. For me it’s cash only! Hey, if I want the casino to take my check they want ID’s with all kinds of personal information and a major credit card, etc. That’s just for a courtesy check cashing. So when they ask me why I don’t want a check, I simply tell them I couldn’t do it without first running their Dun & Bradstreet. Then I’d still need to see and copy a major bank card. Cash always shows up real fast.

Video poker and all that it entails can be a fun, rewarding activity for those who know how to do it right. But you have to keep it in a controlled balance in order to experience the positive aspects offered. Play too often (players know when they do that, believe me) and it’ll take a bigger bite than you’ll likely ever know.

Keep things in perspective and you can both make a good profit and reap the many benefits that are a part of it all. I’ve seen it from both sides.

I like this one better.