You can learn a lot from your dreams

October 29, 2007 11:57 PM
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In a couple of weeks, I’ll be traveling to the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to it, except for one small thing. I hate to fly. I don’t know what it really is. Maybe it is the fear of crashing? Maybe it is sitting still for 5+ hours, which I don’t do well. Maybe it is sitting in a seat that can’t possibly be meant for a guy who is 6 feet tall? Maybe it is wondering which city my luggage will wind up in? Maybe it is all of the above?

Mostly, I think it is the boredom. Nothing exciting ever happens. I never meet anyone interesting. I was telling a friend this the other day, and he told me the same is true for him too, except for this one time, when he met someone very interesting on the plane ”¦ sort of.

Sort of? He went on to tell me the story.

He was sitting at the window seat on a five hour flight from New York to Las Vegas. He had never been to Vegas and really wasn’t much of a gambler. He had taken some generic gambling book out of the library to help him navigate the casinos. Halfway through the book, he muttered to himself that maybe he should just stick to slots. They were easy and what was the difference which game he played.

As soon as he finished his comment, he heard the gentleman in the aisle seat say that there’s a BIG difference between slots and virtually every other game in the casino. This caught my friend a little off-guard as he could’ve sworn he had the row to himself when the flight took off. Maybe this guy was stuck in a middle seat and moved to the open aisle seat.

My friend looked at the gentleman, who had blondish-gray hair, appeared to be in his 60’s and looked somewhat scholarly, and asked him what the difference was. Doesn’t it all come down to luck?

The gentleman chuckled a little and said that most of life is luck, but luck does seem to come more often to those that are prepared to receive it. You can sit down at a slot machine and rely completely on luck. Maybe you’ll win millions. But, more likely, you’ll sit down at a machine in which after two or three hours, your bankroll has been eaten up.

Or you can sit down at a game like video poker, where by using the right strategy you might be able to find a machine paying 99.5% and have a good chance of winning, or, if you lose, at least you’ll have some bankroll left over for the next night.

My friend looked at the guy and said "Aren’t video poker machines the same as slots?"

Not at all said the man! First of all, the paytable of every video poker machine is on the glass. From this, we can know the exact payback of the machine because they use a random deck of cards that have to play just like a real physical deck of cards.

Slots may be ”˜random’ but what you see is not really what you get, because not every symbol has the same probability of turning up on any particular reel. So, when we choose a video poker machine, we can make sure that we choose the RIGHT video poker machine.

Of course, to earn the much higher paybacks of video poker, you have to learn not only WHICH games to play, but play using the right strategy. At this point, my friend was a bit befuddled. What type of strategy is there for video poker, he asked the gentleman?

Well, it is only a five hour flight, but the gentleman gave him a quick course in basic strategy. In the end, play the hand the way that maximizes the expected value (EV).

After some more conversation, the captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker: "Radar shows some turbulence up ahead. We’d like to ask everyone to return to their seats and put on their seat belts."

No sooner did the captain finish that the airplane seemed to drop at least 100 ft. in a split second. My friend was startled and bit horrified as the oxygen masks dropped down. After putting his mask on, he turned to the gentleman to make sure he was okay.

But the gentleman was no longer in his seat. My friend was about to get up to look around for him, when the captain’s voice came on over the loudspeaker again, "We have begun our descent into the Las Vegas area. We should be arriving shortly." At that instant, my friend woke up in a sweat. It had all been a dream.

I looked at my friend with a puzzled look and said, "You’re telling me how you met someone interesting in a DREAM on a flight to Las Vegas?"

He said, "Well, that’s why I said ”˜sort of’. After I woke up, I looked around and I didn’t see the guy, so I figured that I dreamed him up. But, then I looked down at the seat he was sitting in, in my dream, and there was a copy of Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas by Lenny Frome, and it was autographed! So, did I meet him or not?"

I guess anything is possible on Halloween.