What does it take to be a video poker pro?

Jun 4, 2001 1:23 AM

One of the more flattering terms for anyone who puts a respectable amount of time and effort into their work, is being referred to as a “professional.” It really doesn’t matter what you do. If you’re a leader in your field or successful at what you do, then you are a professional.

Before I became involved in gaming, I always ignored, scoffed, or laughed at anything I glanced at that made any mention at all of “professional gamblers.” Like the terms, mountain-valley or jumbo-shrimp, it just didn’t seem to be a reasonable phrase. Now that I’m solidly involved with the video poker aspect of gaming, aside from very few exceptions, I have little change in those feelings. In fact, knowing what I now do about those who have always tried to be idolized by the masses in this game, my feelings are stronger than ever.

What qualifies one to claim professional status in the game of video poker? For starters, a keen understanding of the game, it’s mathematics, its available variations, pay-tables, etc. You also need to have expert knowledge in what casino business is all about, how casino hosts operate, how casino managers think, and an awareness of not only all the tools available on the marketplace, but what their actual purposes are. And of course you must win, not due to a few lucky large bonus hits, but win on a very consistent basis. Any professional who relies on obscurity over time or something “spectacular” happening tomorrow, might as well be throwing money into the wishing well. There is absolutely no way you can claim to be a successful pro if you do not or are not able to take home steady money.

Since I came onto the scene with my book last year questioning the validity of long-term expert play strategy, several of the famous names have subtly changed their publicly perceived professional status to a clear “recreational,” “part-time,” or “educational interest only” status. Some have not. But the common thread here seems to be in self-marketing for recognition purposes, and the selling of video poker tools, with the intention of somehow turning the buyers into better players, and therefore winners. This practice has been ongoing for years. I still see big buildings going up. And people are not quitting their jobs to play video poker full time. You get the picture.

Where do I fit into all this? My status is that of a professional gambler who plays video poker for profit. Although I wrote a book in order to get my views and experiences out to the public, I’m not in the video poker business. I do not take advantage of the theories of mathematics to gain publicity, notoriety, or an increase in sales of cleverly devised items in order that I may gamble more often than I should. I simply tell readers why they do not and cannot win using a computer-generated system, and what steps I took to be able to overcome the house advantage on nearly every casino visit.

Is what I do a lot of fun, or is it a lot of work? Both. I wouldn’t drive to and from Nevada nearly every week if I didn’t enjoy my work. But that’s just what it is - work. It’s a job, and when I reach my goal, I’m just as happy as you are to get in the car and go home. The casinos aren’t fond of that policy, which is exactly why I rarely use slot club cards any more. I used to pay $300 for a buffet and $900 for a room. That didn’t make sense back then, and it doesn’t make sense now. I approach my field as I believe a true professional would any endeavor, one goal, gobs of determination, and the desire to be the best at what I do. No more excuses, no disoriented predictions based on math theories, and no nonsense. As Frank Sinatra once said, “I Did It My Way!”