What does it take to be an expert?

Mar 12, 2002 5:41 AM

What does it take to really be one of the experts at the game of video poker? A voracious appetite for the game? Not in my book. There’s a lot more healthier ways to pass the time. A consistently lucky player? No, anyone can have long lucky streaks ”” and most of them are bad. How about a mathematical genius? Well, if that were the case, there’d be thousands of them flocking to live in Las Vegas every month. In fact, there are only a handful of players that actually call themselves “experts” ”” and even fewer who truly are.

Without hesitation, I’ll go as far to say that there is a distinct difference between being an expert at playing video poker, and simply being a video poker expert. In my own case, because I soundly know the mathematics of the game and put in the time and expense of studying and practicing how to play computer-perfect strategy, I considered myself a video poker expert for the better part of seven long years. The problem is, I incorrectly was led to believe that following the rules would allow me to win. I was, like so many even today, lured in by all the products and publications available, promising a rewarding pastime if I would transform myself into a computer whenever I played. I believed the gurus not only won, but they took the casinos for all the free food, rooms, and gifts that they could get their hands on. It was quite the picture that they painted, and it was 100 percent my fault that I fell for the enticing bait. Learning the basics of the game was certainly the right thing to do, but that next level is like going from the earth to the moon ”” and how many people do we know have done that?

I learned my lesson, and I learned it well. I found that being a video poker expert merely meant you knew what theoretically could happen according to formulas and computer models in a computer vs. computer environment. What I really wanted to become was an expert at playing the game ”” as in human vs. computer. And that’s exactly what I’ve done. It was only through a complete refocusing of my sights along with an open mind that I was able to finally accomplish what it was I set out to do.

An expert at playing video poker not only understands and respects the mathematics of the game; this person is capable of demonstrating uncompromising willpower and extreme determination of purpose. Such an expert is also uniquely aware of all aspects of the gaming industry, casino operations and goals, the video poker business, public opinion and chat, and has the right contacts in the right positions to obtain the facts when needed.

Now that I’ve been on both sides of the track, I have a better idea how the current crop of “video poker experts” are able to remain popular. Everybody likes to hear how easy it all is. Rosy pictures sell ”” both products and reputations. Not a bad idea either ”” until players finally realize they are the reason the casino industry is constantly growing.

Surely, the vast majority of video poker players do so for reasons other than becoming experts. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything. In time, I believe the portion of the playing public whose goal it is to become serious players will recognize this. Remember, it’s not just a game ”” it’s a gamble. Everyone can’t become an expert, but not everyone wants to be. And everyone should be fully prepared regardless of the intensity in which they plan to approach their game. I learned this late”¦but not too late. It’s your call and your call only ”” help build the building, or become an expert at playing the game”¦for money and fun.