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My analysis is in having fun

May 20, 2008 7:00 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome | A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a game inventor who wanted me to analyze his new game.

We went over the details of his relatively complex game. As most inventors are, he was very confident about his game’s potential success. Near the end of the conversation, he said something that I thought was funny. He told me that after I was done analyzing the game and it became a huge success, I had to promise to not write a book about the game telling everyone how to beat it.

I found this funny for two reasons. The first is that none of my books (or my father’s books) tells anyone how to beat a game. Each of our books in the ‘Expert’ series teaches a Player about the basics of the game. It walks through how the game was analyzed mathematically, which in turn leads to how the strategy was developed to maximize the overall payback of the game.

In almost all cases, the payback is below 100 percent. This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose every time, but it does mean that you will lose in the long run.

However, the Player really has few alternatives. He can choose not to play at all, or he can play some other strategy which will simply result in him likely losing even more money in the long run.

Since it is my belief that gambling is a form of entertainment, most Players are willing to accept a certain amount of lost money in exchange for the entertainment value. Using Expert Stategy is a very good way to minimize the amount of money lost and to give yourself a fair shot to win in any given session, which can greatly enhance your enjoyment while being entertained.

There are, of course, a few versions of video poker that have paybacks over 100 percent. These are games that the Player should win at in the long run if he uses the proper strategy. Even with these, however, it may be a stretch to say that you will really "beat the house."

The margins are still relatively low and, given the volatility of video poker, you still need some luck to stay on the positive side of things. For the most part, if you get your fair share of Royals, you’ll likely be a winner.

There are some professionals who have made some nice money by seeking out these games and playing them with the same effort the rest of us take our day jobs (or at least hopefully do!). The recreational player may play enough hands to likely be a net winner, but I’m still not convinced you can say you’re beating the house in the manner this inventor seemed to be meaning.

The other funny aspect of what this inventor said to me is the notion that somehow published books hurt the game. Where would video poker be if my father had never written about it? I’m not even sure if the game would still be around if he hadn’t.

Games with complex strategies need the people who analyze them to explain to the Players some idea of how to play. If you play video poker expertly, you can play at 99.5 percent.

If you read a book on the game and absorb most, but not all of it, you might play at 98.5 percent. If, however, you choose to play by pure intuition, there is a good chance you’ll play at 95 percent or less. This increases the house advantage substantially.

If writing a book and publicizing the strategy for a game would cause every player to play expertly, I could see where this might harm a game’s prospects. The reality, though, is that only a small portion of Players take advantage of the right strategy to earn the full payback.

This is what allows the casinos to offer the high paybacks that they do – because they know that this is not the real payback they will earn from the combined experiences of all players, but rather it is the maximum payback the best Players will earn over the long run.

If you need any proof of this, just take a look thru today’s GamingToday and see how many casinos advertise in a magazine that gives away free strategy for how to ‘beat’ their games.