A short-term strategy that works

March 05, 2008 7:00 AM
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The Undeniable Truth by Rob Singer | In the world of video poker – and gambling in general – anyone who believes there is only one way to win either will lose interest quickly, or watch the losses mount.

Case in point: The self-proclaimed video poker gurus believe in playing as computer-perfectly as possible for as long as you can. But if the losses mount, they don’t suggest trying a different modus operandi – instead, they suggest you adopt a new perception of what you’re doing.

For instance, they’ve loosened their approach as to what constitutes a positive expectation game in order to fit their scenarios.

It used to be that the game’s theoretical payout was the determinant for playing. Then they threw in cash back from the slot club. And as time moved on and the casinos either lowered those pay tables or removed some of the machines, the gurus were humbled even further in order to keep their products moving off the bookshelves.

Now we see where tournament percentages, free rooms and food, shows, and even smiles from casino hosts count toward a game’s overall return. If a positive math model can be fabricated out of any intangible, you can count on these "experts" to use it to justify continued play.

In my first book, "The Undeniable Truth About Video Poker," one of the points I make is that when all the good machines are gone, I’ll still be playing. That’s because I rarely play what the other guys describe as a positive game.

Casinos have no need to remove these type of games because they allow the needed profit take from the play they get. Many of the higher-pay table games have obviously been taken away simply because business dictates higher profits – and not because a group of a few hundred advantage play enthusiasts beat the heck out of them – as we so often hear in sales pitches and confidence-building statements.

It is because of these facts that I developed several different short-term strategies for myself to profit from and for others to learn by.

The basic rules are extremely simple, and the basis of these rules is rooted in denominational progression – but ONLY as you lose. The game is played mostly on Bonus Poker and betting maximum credits.

Using a start at quarters as an example, if the first hand is a win or a push, I play again at the 25˘ level. On the first losing hand, I switch to 50˘. Here, a push means try again, a win of two pair or better means I go back to quarters and start again, and a loss means I go to dollars.

I keep playing the progression to the top level until I either win a small pre-set goal and individual session goal, or I attain my overall session goal – which allows me to go home. Assuming the $5 game is my top-level denomination, and I do not win a hand or have enough winners to get me to the amount of money needed to start back at quarters, I’ll play until 100 credits are gone and then I will switch to a more volatile game such as Double Double Bonus or Triple Bonus Poker Plus. I will keep at this game until a winner or winners come along that either gets me back to quarters, or allows me enough to win my session goal.

I tested my newest strategy in seven small sessions at a tribal casino here in Scottsdale. I went 7-0, and the wins totaled a modest $650. Shortly afterwards, I visited Laughlin for a professional go at it. Because my bankroll requirement is always three times 400 credits of the largest denomination I intend to play ($10 machines in this case), I brought $12,000. Then the fun began.

I played at the Edgewater because the River Bar has 25˘/50˘/$1/$2/$5 games, and all are 8/5 Bonus Poker (payoffs of eight credits for a full house and five for a flush). To play the $10 games I had to get up and walk over to the high-limit area. My goals were $25 per mini-session and $200 per individual session. I wanted to win $1,000 as my overall session goal, after which I would go home.

The final result was four sessions won, and a profit of $9,100.

The strategy recognizes that at any given time during play on the more volatile games at the top level, large winners can occur. This proved to be true as I hit four aces on one hand at the $5 level at a payoff of 400-1.

Since the strategy was so successful, two days later I decided to try again in Laughlin. This time I only wanted to play to the $5 level, so I took along $6,000. I played at Ramada Express, Edgewater, Colorado Belle and the Flamingo. I went 7-for-7 with a profit of $10,700.

As with any strategy, this one is not for everyone. Why? Because it requires a whole lot of denomination-switching, and most people just can’t wait that long in between hands. That’s where discipline comes into play: You either are committed to win or you are not. There is no grey area in gambling, and video poker is the most unforgiving of all casino games.

But the strategy is highly flexible for players of all bankrolls, as any multi-denomination game all the way down to pennies can be used. And contrary to some critics, it is not a boring way to play the game. I enjoy every minute of it – including the wait as I switch between denominations. Ask the Edgewater bartenders!