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Coinless poker makes winning easy (really!)

Oct 23, 2001 2:50 AM

It must have been about six years ago when I was in one of the Dakotas, I believe, where the video poker game in the bar I was visiting was not allowed to drop coins. If you won ”” which was a rarity ”” the bartender would cash out a slip of paper you received from  the machine, at your leisure.

It was irritating to me at the time. I was wondering if it was all some sort of scam, which of course it wasn’t. It was simply the law up there. But as with most things in life, what goes around comes around.

Last year I had my first professional experience with coinless machines at the new Suncoast in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas. The only problem was I never got to see what it was like receiving a ticket for my winnings and the fun of cashing it in, because after losing $400 on dollars on a dollar machine with very few winning hands, I hit a hand-pay, taxable jackpot on my last credits after switching over to the $2 games.

After this unusual session, I do what I always do whenever I attain my trip’s profit goal ”” I immediately get in the car and drive home a winner.

I’ve since seen coinless machines in a few casinos around town, but Terrible’s hotel/casino on Paradise and Harmon seems to have been the first to configure all of its video poker machines with the new ticket system. After checking out this twenty-first century idea for about an hour, I knew it was for me. Because my play strategy calls for a multitude of cashing-out (whenever at least 40 credits are won) at any denomination, a fistful of tickets is far better than several buckets of coins.

My hands stay clean, the noise is greatly reduced, and it’s just a lot more fun. The only problem is that the machine’s developers did a little extra thinking before they put this idea into production. Any of the tickets can then be put right back into any other coin less machine for play, and unless you have the discipline to get up and leave as you reach certain pre-set win goals, you’ll experience the pain of losing to long-term strategy. It’s exactly as the casino expects, and exactly the road most players follow as they chase elusive jackpots or those tiny win percentages that never ever surface.

I’ve asked around to see if and when other casinos were going to go the coin-less route. Some have already implemented the system into some of their games, some say it’s in the works this year or next, while others favor keeping the coins clinging into the trays. I assume they mean the noise attracts onlookers ”” which it doubtlessly does ”” and therefore switching over may be detrimental to business.

Going coinless also requires a lot less work by the floor people. As a player I look at it as not having to bother them as often, while having a bit more privacy in what I’m trying to accomplish. They look at it as a way to reduce the number of jobs ”” and they are probably right.

I expect the concept will catch on at a better than average pace this year, as the machines become more and more popular with the regular patrons at each casino. Can they make it any easier for us? Sure. I wonder how long before there’s a slot to insert your debit or credit cards? But wait a minute! Before they do that, you might want to change your video poker study habits from mathematical fantasy to discipline. You’ll get more tickets that way.