Winning can't be marketed

March 11, 2008 6:00 PM
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The Undeniable Truth by Rob Singer | It amazes me how much the majority of video poker players are controlled by simple marketing movements from the casinos.

Casino gambling is big business. While every rational player knows that nothing is ever simply just "given away," they act as if it is.

Right now it seems there’s a "points war" going on. Local casinos are stretching their limits to see how many customers will fill their seats to play for long hours. While competing casinos all over town offer from 5x to 10x points, players are in a frenzy over it.

Why? Well, if you’ve been tuned in to what the game’s math geniuses have been saying lately, you’d see that all these points help them create their "good plays" out of guru-thin air.

Ten years ago most math experts and famous names claimed they would never play any game that wasn’t greater than 100 percent stand-alone without slot club value thrown in. Today they’ve obviously changed their tune in a big way. After all, you can’t blame them. Can anyone simply walk away from this game?

As a result, casinos are having a field day with advantage players everywhere. They’re so easily roped in with huge point multipliers. Who can say no to a new T-shirt that’s worth a hundred bucks? Have you ever indulged in the $350 breakfast buffet?

All this has to do with whether or not a certain advantage-player segment of the gambling world believes a machine is "playable." There’s a big outcry over this issue right now. The never-say-die math people are ever-so-dearly clinging onto their sacred machines by creating extra value out of what the slot club provides. However, many see straight through that kind of useless baloney.

And, they write to me.

These are players interested in winning money instead of measuring their thrills by how many points they accumulate. So just what does a machine being "playable" actually mean? I used to have trouble with this because in the simple sense of the word all machines are playable.

Over the years, the term has been more closely associated with whether or not someone who only plays according to long-term theory would sit down at the thing and have at it. Yes, as odd as it sounds, 99 percent is not "playable." However, 100.5 percent is.

The two games that are staples to my play strategies are 8/5 Bonus Poker (BP) and 8/5 Super Double Bonus Poker (SDBP). BP does not come any higher and is about a 99.2 percent game. SDBP does come in 9/5 format at 99.7 percent. It is rare and very difficult to find in the denominations and at the resorts I usually play at.

I don’t know or care what the percentage is for the 8/5 version. Say, for argument’s sake it’s 99. These games are "playable" to me and I play them even in 7/5 version if nothing else was available.

Those who live and die by the math shriek at the very thought of that, and one of the main reasons why there’s such a boisterous criticism of my trip results whenever I post them.

"No one can ever win on negative EV games" is the cry of the hour. "But if the game were positive, you’d probably win"!

At the same time, advantage players have been in an uproar over the reduction of their best pay tables almost everywhere over the past five years. But as much as they’ve always been headstrong about never playing anything below 100 percent, to their credit they’ve adapted.

It’s actually worked out better. Now, by applying slot club "value" they have the upper hand in determining just how much they need all their benefits to be worth in order to proclaim another winning year! God Bless America.

I’m constantly arguing with them over what really constitutes winning. To me, using cash back, gift value, comp value, theoretical tournament value (win or lose) or any of the loyalty program extras is not money won.

Tell me – are all those accumulated miles from your frequent flyer program a result of any gamble? How about all those hotel chain points? And what about the yearly cash back and/or reward points you receive from one or two of your credit cards? Did you do any gambling to get any of that? Do you report any of this as income?

Then how in the world can slot club value be reported as winning? Slot clubs are the fiercest form of casino competition for their customer base. They’ve been so successful taking the players’ minds off of winning money.

One of the main reasons I win often is because I am not affected one bit by slot club marketing. I play what, when, where and how I want. The clubs have zero control over my play. You will never see me rush into town to scoop up 10x points. And though it impresses the heck out of those wondering how to posses rock-solid discipline, most are probably somewhere between the anxiety and anticipation of the promotion they’re headed to.