When do you move up in denomination?

Jul 31, 2001 1:48 AM

In recent months several people have asked my opinion about if and when video poker can become more than a small problem to the regular player who seemingly has it all under control. Well, anyone can change, but from my own experience in the past, the game can have a peculiar effect on especially those who want their friends, family, and even the public eye to view them as successful and non-wavering in their playing habits.

One of the most common examples of this behavior can surface when a player hits a royal flush at their normal denomination ”” or maybe several royals ”” and begins to feel invincible. How many of us have then had thoughts of going to the higher denominations expecting to see another of these “easy” winners pop up, simply because after one is hit, the cockiness sets in? Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with having that feeling - as long as we let it pass. Let’s take a good look at why.

You’re a comfortable die-hard dollar player, and this month you get three royals. Then you begin to ponder your past. You realize you have 45 royals over the last two years, but like most regular players, all you really have is a collection of W-2G’s, and your year-end results make you wonder why you spend so much time in the casinos rather than at something productive. So now you figure it’s time to give those high limit machines a shot. Your rationale is plain and simple: you’ll take half of the last royal payout and put it into the $5 machine, thereby giving yourself a chance at some meaningful money along with the real rush you believe you need at this point. And although that little voice in the back of your mind is saying you’ll likely regret the move, all you can visualize is the big payday. But what you fail to realize at this critical moment is the fact that once going there, the nature of gambling rarely allows this type of player to ever go back.

Why is this? Why doesn’t $5 a hand satisfy this individual any longer? For one thing, once you step up, your original denomination ”” the one which you should still be playing ”” becomes boring. After all, a $20,000 royal is serious money. But the true reason is in the thrill of the play. No longer does $125 for a four-of-a-kind get you excited. The satisfaction is lacking when you think about a straight flush only paying $250. And what good is a measly $4000? The gray skies set in, and you are no match for the ensuing bad weather.

But what if you do hit that big payday? Even more bad news. While you’re up there in the clouds somewhere bragging about all your prowess, your mind is compulsively telling you that it’s ok to give the $10 machines a go. Soon you’ll find yourself at the $25 games, and finally the $100 machines. Thank goodness for this type of player that it goes no higher. Hitting royals at these levels is great, but it won’t last ”” and you know that. But the damage has already been done, and for many there is no way out.

Video poker was meant for the regular player to have fun, if nothing else. Taking these “shots” is intriguing and sometimes profitable, but in the end you’ll almost always have to answer to a higher authority ”” your own conscience. So is it really worth taking shots outside your normal limits when gambling? No, not if you respect yourself, and not if you dislike wearing a sign on your back that says “Kick Me, I’m Stupid!”