Don’t spend too much time studying strategy

Feb 19, 2002 4:04 AM

Okay. How many of you pull out the books or fire up that computer before coming to Las Vegas for an assault on the video poker machines? Or rather, how many of you would even want to bother with this type of frivolity in the weeks ”” or minutes if you’re a local ”” prior to sitting down in front of the game that usually has your number? And cutting through all the BS, does anybody really ever do that? Before we go any further, the computer programs on video poker available today are really good tools for learning the basics of the game, and the people responsible for their development have done us all a great service. I myself have derived much knowledge from using them. However, utilizing them as a tool for learning basics is one thing. Expecting to perform computer-perfect because you own such a tool is something else.

Perhaps you’ve been caught up in such nonsense if you’ve been reeled into joining one of those video poker groups promising new horizons only if you dig down deep to “contribute to the cause,” or have been mesmerized by the egos of those who constantly feel the need to reinvent themselves. But if you truly are interested in learning how to win much more often than not, don’t be surprised if you won’t have to pay a dime for information, are not required to read concocted columns based on arrogance, or learn that you can win any given session on a machine offering a 98 percent pay table just as easily as on one paying 101 percent over infinity. And most of all, you’ll never have to listen to someone rant about how all comps are “free and so easy to obtain” when the authors of this babble are really only experts at how to enjoy the $1,300 room, a $300 tuna sandwich, and that simply fantastic $75 gourmet iced tea. Ever pay $550 for a free slot club jacket? You know what I mean.

I’m not going to tell you there’s a way to consistently win if you do not want to prepare for your gaming. But there is a big difference between wasting time practicing video poker on your home computer ”” expecting to perform near-perfectly in all your play at casinos because of it ”” and simple preparation for what you about to try and do. When players are told that studying and practicing to learn the mathematics of the game is the way of the pros, maybe it is for a select few, but we’re never really told of the many dangers most regular players who play the game have to eventually face. Many people are mesmerized by the simple belief that it’s possible to win as the professional video pokers say they do, and they can see no further than the clear but elusive dollar signs. The curious part about all of this is that some of the experts may write that they file as professional gamblers, but in reality they are more marketing rep than video poker player. In my mind, a professional gambler makes at least 90 percent of their income from the game.

That’s my opinion, but what makes more sense?

If you wish to be a consistently successful player, you first must understand that you can never be satisfied with a losing session. So many times we read about how it’s OK to lose thousands today or this week or month or whatever, because the machines played were “advantage” machines, and if they were a good play today they’ll be a good play tomorrow. That’s nothing more than applying antacids to a bellyache ”” and at the same time it’s an attempt at stabilizing credibility of both products-for-sale and reputation. A player’s results over the course of a year have little meaning if most of the sessions are losing ones ”” unless extreme and unusual luck is realized. In time, more and more players will finally realize this.

At the end of the day you want to win ”” every day. And while the world of gambling is equated more with losing than winning, playing video poker with the proper approach can be very successful. Think about it. You have your choice of machine. You play when and where you choose. You may take as much time as you like. And few even bother to look at what you’re doing. I’ve taken advantage of all this, incorporated strict discipline, proper bankroll, money management, denomination progression, mathematics, determination, and plain old common sense to create a very successful play strategy. Comps are fine, but if you’re controlled by thinking that they are the end-all, your garage sales will soon culminate by your actually selling the garage. And studying? Well, I’d rather win, and I learned how to change the minuses to pluses five years ago.