High-limit machines can be ... frightening!

February 26, 2002 6:04 AM
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Many people always wonder why there are so many $10, $25, and $100 video poker machines in a number of casinos around Nevada. After all, even when the casino is so crowded you can hardly move around on the floor, the high-limit areas continue to have mostly empty seats. So what then is the purpose of having these beasts?

To begin, the game of video poker is not usually played by the well-to-do on a regular basis. The machines are almost exclusively frequented by working class Americans either on their way home from work or by those looking for something to do. Visitors who play are usually in search of a giant unexpected jackpot, in search of a cheap vacation, or in the very least hoping to get their room and/or several meals comped for their efforts. While some may play in high-limit areas, it’s likely to be after hitting a royal flush on dollar or $5 machines ”” and only for a short while. After all, who wants to see their fun-filled jackpot disappear before their eyes in no time at all? But there are some who like to and are able to give the big machines a shot on a regular basis, however it is always only a matter of time before they are beaten back into reality. And in my case, where high-limit machines are penciled in as a strategic part of my play methodology, I will play them only when necessary ”” which, thankfully, is not often.

During the time I like to call the helter-skelter years (1990-1997) of my computer-perfect, expert-play strategy, I became so frustrated with that system letting me down time and again that I sometimes took my game into the high-limit areas looking for an instant cure for my losing ways. Although I did have some luck at the $100 machines, overall it was a very stupid thing to do ”” and I don’t need to tell you why. These days, unless a player is earning a million dollars or more at his or her day job, I look at even intermittent play in high-limit areas as a very unintelligent approach to playing. Think about it. Players lose all the time at lower levels. Why do you think the $10 and above machines were put in the casino? Yes, to drain wallets quicker, accounts faster, and to build profits within as little floor space as possible.

These days ”” and since I was astute enough to wake up in early 1997 ”” I rarely visit those machines any longer unless I have to as part of my play strategy. One of those instances was just a few weeks ago. My play had taken me through the $5 machines with just two cash-outs, and after the $10 machines I was down a dismal $6,860. After getting beat up by the $25 and down a whopping $15,610 with still no quads at any machine for the session, I did what my strategy calls for and sat in front of a $100 Bonus Poker machine for only the second time in five years. I may be calmly writing about this experience now, but I was anything but relaxed when I was there. I was looking at a possible $45,000 loss before I quit for the trip, and even though I have prepared a gambling bankroll that can withstand it, I hate to lose any amount of money at anytime!

This particular trip was a prime example of why my play strategy was developed as it was. Recognizing that some type of good luck is almost always present at one time or another during anyone’s trip or session, when it comes along, if the player is capable of reacting in the proper way, one can leave a winner over 90% of the time. This time I finally hit a quad (four twos for $20K), and because I had to progress to $100 BP I was able to attain my trip goal of at least $2,500 profit ($3,200 this session) and immediately leave for home. After being a loser most of my session, one simple hand made me a winner”” and it was a hand which is not really all that difficult to get. Critics say I set myself up for a possible big loss. I maintain that if I had merely stayed at dollars all day I would have been down several thousand dollars even after my winning hand. The point is, I don’t regularly play at these levels, and I’ve only had to do so 1/60 of my sessions (2 out of 120 trips). Nerve-racking? Yes. But the $100 machines are an integral part of my being able to consistently win, with their 4:1 ratio over the next lowest ($25) denomination. And always doing what you say you are going to do without hesitation is the ultimate key to success. Set stop limits? ”” then stop. Set walk limits? ”” then walk. Live the dream. Either that, or you can do what too many others do ”” put one big smile on the casino manager’s face and live your own nightmare.