Video poker reigns in player popularity

Feb 12, 2002 3:37 AM

Being the fastest growing and most popular casino game around the world, video poker has attracted a strong baseline of gamblers ”” from professional players to those who belly up to a casino bar machine for the very first time. I estimate millions play the game in this country alone, while it’s nearly a national pastime in Australia.

Why the popularity? For one thing, it’s a very addictive game. It takes hold of many players before they realize what’s happening. Those who heretofore were reluctant to play in a live game of poker because they either had to interact with others or stare at some unsavory looking character across the table have found that video poker fits their discerning needs.

Compared to other games of chance in the casino, video poker has several advantages over its counterparts. Play blackjack or any other table game, and you’re constantly under scrutiny from the pit. But anyone from any walk of life can sit at a machine ”” and hardly a head will turn. Find a comfortable seat at any table game, and you never know what type of irritating player will sit next to you. And if you’re a traditional slot player, you not only give up freedom of making decisions at the game you’re playing, you’re almost always gambling with a game having worse odds than any video poker machine.

Having the ability to constantly move around from machine to machine without talking to a soul and without having half a dozen eyes on the floor watching the player is important to me. Video poker offers a quiet individuality not found elsewhere in the casino, and played correctly with the proper plan it is a beatable game. Yet, no other method of gaming offers a better opportunity for players to obtain comps, offers, and special deals ”” especially for the not-so-highly-bankrolled player.

Just look around any Nevada casino. Table play is there; race and sports books are there; keno and slot machines are there. However, the number of video poker machines on the floor dwarfs them all. Why? Simply because those who desire to play nearly every day enjoy gambling on their own ”” on a game that allows decision-making, that’s available in lower denominations, is capable of making a few bucks last a long time, and where they can earn enough free food and beverage that they rarely have to directly pay for any meals ”” although in reality there’s millions of $400 club sandwiches “given away” every year.

With game popularity also comes a variety of methods for others to make a buck. Video poker actually has turned into its own form of business in recent years. Experts advertise products that are supposed to teach players how to win, while most of the time the money merely goes from one pocket to the other ”” and then into the machines ”” with winning remaining an elusive dream at the end of the rainbow for both buyer and seller alike. I prefer to let the player make a choice between their method and mine or any other, and I teach how to once again enjoy the game. And I most certainly advise how very dangerous chasing points, playing for comps/cash back/bounce back cash, or trying to attain certain status levels is for those who have a problem controlling how they play. Although few will admit it, the majority of video poker players do struggle with these things. Remember, it’s not just a game, and it is compelling and exciting to play. Its attraction is unique, and it will grab you faster than any other instrument in the casino arsenal. So be careful ”” and most of all, play with a plan, and never ever chase the bait casinos place on their hooks, or believe the game is beatable with little or no luck at all.