A healthy approach to playing video poker

Apr 3, 2001 9:42 AM

   Have you ever looked around at all your fellow players banging away at the machines and wondered how important their health is to them? Not financial health, although that may be a contributor in one way or the other. Actual physical health. Just how healthy (or unhealthy) are video poker players as a whole, and how important is it to them and their favorite casino game?

   Quite a few video poker players living in gambling towns commonly sit at machines for hours every day — more than eight hours at times. Similarly, serious players, regular visitors and even the jobless go on video poker binges. They may spend the better part of three days looking for their royal flush. Most of us who play the game may be able to understand why this is done, but the flip side of the story is what I really want to discuss.

   Whenever I glance at the casino floor, the first thing that jumps out at me is that most of the patrons smoke. Try to find a non-smoker who plays at a bar. It’s not much different on the floor, either. Regardless of the known dangers, chain-smoking during play is more prevalent than anywhere I’ve ever seen. It certainly doesn’t make any sense, especially if they want to live long enough to spend any jackpots they may be lucky enough to win — and hold onto.

   Nothing even comes close to giving players the staying ability to play on and on for hour after hour other than being in good health and caring about it. Think about it. You sit for hours mesmerized by light and sound. You move only your arms and hands. You sip drinks. Then you may go eat more than you should. Soon, you’re right back at the machines for more play.

   It’s not too difficult for either fatigue or that queasy, zombie-like feeling to set in. Go on a losing streak — something really easy to do — and your sleep may suffer. The bottom line is, your chances for success are seriously diminished if chasing a winner is more important than staying healthy.

   My approach to this issue is straightforward. Since I gamble for a living, which includes making the round-trip drive from Phoenix many weeks of the year, I have to stay in the best shape possible. Similarly, since my strategy dictates leaving town immediately after reaching a certain profit goal at any time of the day or night, I must be able to have the necessary stamina. Daily workouts and four-mile jogs are routine. Sensible eating habits, a little alcohol and, of course, no smoking are key items of my strategy to continue to win.

   Most players don’t take such a serious view of the game.

   That’s fine, as long as they do what they feel is best for their own requirements. But no matter how often or where you play, we all need every advantage we can scrape up to have a fighting chance of winning. Being and staying healthy is one way to do that.