Playing online poker can be a crapshoot

April 02, 2002 5:12 AM
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It’s been a while now since those with an addiction to video poker have been able to dig themselves a deeper hole by playing the games offered up by offshore, on-line casinos. In the privacy of their own homes ”” or, gasp, on their work computers! ”” growing numbers of gamblers have been able to further inflict pain upon themselves and those close to them, simply by clicking their funds into the pockets of people who have no concern with any problems this type of gambling may cause. For those caught in this gauntlet, it’s further disturbing to realize these players either have no idea or have blocked from their minds, the fact that the USA does not regulate any of the games ”” because they are not legal to play in this country! Tell me, if you ran an offshore ­­on-line casino, and most of your customers were resourceful Americans, how would you order your software to be programmed? If you’re one of those who claim “the games have to be fair or nobody would play them” think again. Then go check your bank account.

On a higher note, I’ve been reading quite a bit about what’s going on lately within the Internet gaming community. It’s very pleasing to see the credit card industry in process of putting a halt to their banks allowing players to continue making deposits for such foolishness ”” if only for their own protection. Nonetheless, on several online forums that I read and sometimes write on, it’s like a circus watching guilt-­­ridden on-line gamblers scrambling around in a feverish frenzy begging others to show them a way around the credit card issue. Some people just can’t let go. At the same time several of our gaming magazines are covered with on-line casino ad from front to rear. My advice for these publications is to go back to conventional advertising”¦ soon.

If all that’s not crazy enough to deal with, it wasn’t too long ago that the next off-the-wall video poker offering was made  ”” 100-play video poker. I’ve never played it and never will, but I’ve watched many players put in $100 and get wiped out playing pennies. I’ve seen them get a number of royal flushes along the way. I’ve seen huge numbers of winning hands. But for some reason, players just can’t seem to leave these machines until they’ve lost every penny. Bully for the game manufacturer. Bully for the casinos. But all this bull is only because those who play these things have absolutely no plan before they sit down ”” other than to lose what they started with.

So if you’ve been clever enough to get by the first two mockeries of the game, welcome to Chase The Royal video poker. In this new game, players can choose between 3-play, 5-play and 10-play, and between several of the more popular games. The pay tables are not favorable to begin with, but whenever the player receives a pair of K’s, Q’s or J’s on the deal, he gets the chance to dump the hand for three cards to the royal. There’s a bonus of some sort for hitting a straight or flush when you do this, but this just adds to the ridiculousness of the game. Is this a positive EV or negative EV game to the experts? Who cares? Go ahead and play it and see what I mean.

I can’t fault game developers for trying, because there’s always a large group who will play their games (with the exception of the late”¦ but unfortunately not late enough”¦ five card frenzy video poker game). As a professional player, I thought it was going a bit too far when 10-play came out. But multi-play games (10-play and less) can be fun if you know how to play them without letting them play you. In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time developing a winning Multi-Play Strategy while studying all the multi’s, and it turns out the only consistently beatable game is the 5-play version. However, I really don’t think there’s a substitute for what a player is capable of getting out of a plain old-fashioned single-line game. Computers are a powerful tool when we use them. It’s when they use us that we are never prepared for what comes next.