Short-term strategy in a long-term world

May 7, 2001 3:55 AM

If you’re going to play video poker, I have to assume you would like to win something. In order to attain that goal, there are only two ways to approach the game: Long-Term Strategy, where you would play as long, as often and as fast as possible during each casino visit, while trying to be computer-perfect in your draw selections. Comps, cash back, gifts, points, special-event invites, machine selection, and recognition all play a role in whether you feel you are successful by the end of the "term" (I’ll use infinity, because no one yet has produced an accurate definition). Your goal is not necessarily to win more sessions than you lose, but to chase a tiny win percentage by the end of your term, which is the result of a combination of all the above items. You have the advantage of flexibility - to apply whatever value you choose to all the slot card benefits you’ve received from your play. You are also able to explain away losing sessions - large or small - by claiming the mathematics of the system "guarantee" your overall play, and you know you’ll be alright in the long run. Hmmm”¦

Clearly, the above scenario is vague, dangerous to your financial health, and is not what the majority of gamblers would want as their ultimate goal. Yet for years, we’ve been told it is the only way to win - the only way to obtain that elusive advantage over casino odds. Although it defies logic, it sells. As strategies go, it hides behind the irreproachable theories of math, but its main flaw is in assuming perfect computer vs. perfect computer play. Unattainable by any human, it is also capable of causing the normal player to spend far more hours at the machines than they are comfortable with. Certainly, this system has few benefits throughout the "long term" if any at all, and the casinos welcome these players with open arms.

Now let’s turn to Short-Term Strategy - in other words, how I believe every person alive really plays - whether they are willing to admit it or not. Whenever anyone goes to a casino, their goal is to always leave with more than they arrived with. It’s human nature, and the definition of why we gamble. Explaining away losing sessions with double talk is simply not an option here, as losing is the same as failure. It also does not shy away from the fact that luck is the main reason anyone who has a winning session does so. My particular strategy recognizes that most of our daily luck in the casino is bad, but when the good variety does comes along, it is looked at as an opportunity to leave a winner. Understanding and being able to take advantage of such opportunities remains the only method ever known to win on a consistent basis.

Although the resident "experts" criticize my play strategy, many of their former followers continuously trade stories with me on their newfound success using a variation of what I’ve taught them. After all, who wouldn’t want to go home and count $50 or so profit in their pocket most every time they play, rather than have to shuffle the bills around once again? And it has got to make sense to every player that it is far more important to quit at whatever win goal they’ve set, rather than to play on and on seeking those slot club benefits that the casinos tempt our weaknesses with. Look back over your own playing career, and you’ll see what I mean. Haven’t you helped build enough of those tall buildings?