Getting the proper slant on video poker

March 19, 2002 1:57 AM
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There’s no doubt about it. Whenever I write an article discussing what people really go through when they play ”” rather than what a computer analysis says they are supposed to experience ”” it ruffles some feathers. This week I’ll review a few of the comments I’ve received as well as what I see goes on out there on several of the chat rooms that talk about video poker and gambling in general.

1.         Some of the experts and others have told me or commented that it is impossible that I’ve won 119 out of 124 sessions playing professionally. I understand where they’re coming from. When I use to play as they do, I also lost more than I won, and the last thing you want to hear is someone else’s machine playing that Royal Flush tune, or read that someone is actually having success playing this game. Disbelief is common among gamblers, because most gamblers are also experts at fabricating stories.

2.         I do not use a slot club card any longer when I play for profit. Of course to a video poker player, that’s a mortal sin. I take a lot of misguided flack on this one. Although no one will argue that the card is the casino’s most profitable marketing tool and their most formidable weapon, most will have a heart attack if they look up and notice their reader say “REINSERT CARD!” I blame that on one or two talking heads around town that tell players to play for the points, play only during promos, and play as long as your bankroll will hold out in order to “reap the benefits” of the slot club. On one forum, I recently read about a famous player grumbling about wasting $7,000 that they really couldn’t afford while chirping about receiving double points in the process. And this was far from the first time. Such are the ways of the foolish. This is to me the true 8th wonder of the world. On the other hand, I’ve always said that for those who do not allow their play to get out of hand and/or are not infatuated with multiple point days, special bounce-back cash deals, or do not have a financial problem with paying $85 for a turkey burger, using a slot club card does make some sense ”” albeit many times in an awkward kind of way.

3.         Lots of people who join chat groups on the game do so to gain insight or share information. One of the main topics seems to be why so many of the members are into royal flush “droughts.” Because they are told a royal cycle is theoretically about once every 45,000 hands, complaints abound when these folks go 150,000, 300,000 or even more hands without one. I’ve got news for you, people. Have you gone 100,000 hands without a royal? Well, the machine you sit down at next doesn’t know that, doesn’t care about that, and you or that machine may never hit another royal again! Do you think you’re due because the math models say you are? Then you should have gone to Disneyland.

4.         Almost everyone ignores this, but Video Poker is one of the more unhealthy ways to spend your time. Why? The experts teach us to play long and often on so-called “advantage” machines. Yet most or all of these experts hate to be around smoke, or their spouses hate to be around smoke. But the fact is there is no smokier a place to be than inside a Nevada casino. And the further off the Strip you go (to the casinos with those 100%+ EV machines), the denser the smoke! How contradictory is that? In addition, what about being plopped down in front of that computer for so many hours a day — or even for most of your waking hours if on vacation? Can you picture yourself sitting on those type stools at work? And you know the buffet is about 3,000 calories over your limit”¦but there you go again! The bottom line is that the game is a severe compulsion for those who struggle with these issues - but always seem to lose out to the lure of the machines. And this is but the tip of the iceberg. Similar to ”˜penalty cards’ while playing video poker, few if any really know how to handle any of it.

5.         We’ve got people running around town telling everyone how they play hours a day, run into horrible losing streaks into five figures, yet they’re always spotted waiting in slot club lines to pick up that free deck of cards or logo fanny pack. These same folks criticize me for driving five hours to LV, playing sometimes less than an hour going for my $2,500 win goal, then turning right back around as soon as I’ve accomplished that and drive home. Anyone understand this?

6.         I’ve seen a ton of chat recently where players seem incredibly concerned over whether they are going to play a 98.9% game, a 99.8% game, or a 100.7% game. Then they study it, practice it - and just as the sales pitch predicted - they sense they are now experts ready to take on and defeat any computer. Here’s a challenge for these worry warts. Next time you come to town, pick a game you’re really not all that familiar with — then play it. For the few days you play it, think you’ll win or lose any more or less because of all that? Do you think you’ll be any more or less lucky? Same thing with the locals. If you’re playing for a per-cent or two, and your head is large enough to believe you play at a perfect pace while being incapable of distractions, why waste your time? If your whole life is based on small percentages rather than knowing how to take advantage of situations unfolding before your eyes, and you have this uncanny ability to perform life’s tasks perfectly, may I suggest something more suitable and rewarding for such a talented individual?

Although this was just a taste, the flavor is there. No matter how much we all know about why the casinos continue to profit and grow, some will never come to grips with this plain and simple fact: It is luck that dictates whether we win or lose. The mathematicians say it’s the tiny percentages that are suppose to make winners out of those who are capable of playing like robots, but in the end everyone truly believes it’s luck that rules the day — to the tune of at least 90%. After all, the deal you just got required how much skill?