Six great years writing about video poker; thanks

Sep 15, 2009 5:00 PM
Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome |

Chance favors the prepared mind.

This cryptic statement can be interpreted a variety of ways. I take it to mean both that luck will help those who help themselves AND that a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt even those that are fully prepared.

To me, there is little doubt that this phrase, credited to Louis Pasteur, applies to the world of casino gaming. On the one hand, you better not rely on only luck when you head to the casino. On the other, no matter how prepared you are, a little luck isn’t going to hurt.

This phrase can be very true in life as well. You see, this week marks six years since I began writing for GamingToday. For the first few months, I wrote my column every other week and since then, my column has appeared every week. Unknown to most is that it took an interesting act of serendipity (i.e. luck) for this ever to occur.

After college, I spent 15 years developing computer systems. First I worked for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and then I toiled for a major corporation in the health care industry. I loved what I did, but after all those years, it got a bit boring.

In the traditional corporate world, I felt that I had accomplished about all that I was going to. I had helped completely re-design my system, was made a Senior Director and had a staff of about 40 working for me. Maybe it was just burnout from all those long hours. It was time for something new, but what?

I had worked with my dad, Lenny Frome, since I was about 14 years old. I’ll never forget the strange looks I got from my teachers in high school when I asked to borrow the school computer (a DEC PDP-8) to analyze blackjack.

At the time I decided for a career change, I had been analyzing casino games for nearly 25 years, even though I was in my 30’s! But, living in New Jersey, exactly how was I going to get a foothold in the gaming analysis world? My dad’s name might open some doors, but most of those doors were 2,500 miles away in Las Vegas.

Then I got a call from my mother, who in turn had received a call from a friend of hers from Las Vegas, Dom Tucci. He called to tell my mom that the recent issue of GamingToday had mentioned my father. He sent her a copy of the article, and she sent it to me.

In reality, it wasn’t an article that mentioned my father, it was one of my father’s old articles, now entitled ‘vintage Lenny Frome.’ It was gratifying to know that several years after his passing, his articles were still timely enough to be re-printed.

I contacted GamingToday, and thanked them for continuing to publish my father’s articles and asked them if they were interested in new articles, written by me, as I was entering the field. It took a few days until I heard back, at which time, I heard from Dave Stratton, who replied with a resounding "Yes." Lady Luck had definitely smiled on me.

But the story doesn’t end there. My goal was not to write a column on gambling. I enjoy doing this, but quite frankly, there isn’t much money in it. My goal was to use my computer and math skills to analyze games in development. Eventually, I might write some booklet or books on some of the newer ones (I eventually did for Three Card Poker and Four Card Poker, and hope to someday get one out on Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker), but the real money was as a consultant for game developers. Writing for GamingToday was a great way to get my name out there, but I wasn’t there yet. Lady Luck smiled a second time.

Within a few weeks, I received an e-mail from Paul Meyer, then president of Shuffle Master. He read my column and liked it, and asked me about their new game, Four Card Poker. A few weeks later, I wrote a column about it, replicating on my own the original math done by Stanley Ko. Shortly after that column, Paul put me in touch with Roger Snow, then the Table Games manager for Shuffle (and now a VP there), and the rest is, as they say, history.

It wasn’t some great marketing plan that I put together that allowed me to go from ‘big systems developer’ to gaming consultant/analyst. So, as I pat myself on the back for what I think have been six good years, I’d like to thank some people for their assistance. Thank you to GamingToday for publishing my dad’s articles long after he had passed away, and for taking a chance on this "newbie" back in 2003. Thank you to Dom Tucci, for picking up the phone and calling my mom about the article. Thank you to Paul Meyer, for noticing my first column and putting me in touch with Roger Snow. Thank you to Roger Snow, for giving me a chance to show you what I can do. Thank you for giving this "prepared mind" a little bit of luck to get it all started.

You can try out your strategy by playing our video poker game.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Elliot Frome