Avoid the losing cycle!

June 04, 2002 9:10 AM
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Talk to anyone who has ever played video poker and you’ll always hear stories about how they could kick themselves for not quitting a machine or session when they were ahead. You may have said the same. Stuff like "I was so surprised to hit that royal on my second hand, but I would have gone home with a nice profit if I just knew how to stop." Or "I played for two hours and was getting killed, when all of a sudden four aces with the kicker lined up and I was ahead $550. I feel sick that I didn’t walk out of the place then and there."

How about "After that dollar Royal I felt like I was having a lucky day ”¦ if only I were able to keep away from the $5 machines when that happens."

There’s all kinds of sad stories out there about not being able to quit. The fact is, because of the magnetism of the game, very few players will learn how to be happy with what was won ”” and leave the casino. When they get behind they try to catch up. When they win they want to win more. And it’s all part of what makes casinos tick. For instance, if anyone has even the slightest inclination of leaving with the casino’s money, they have to fight through a gauntlet of multiple point promotions, the second royal jackpot, free drawing tickets and any other device that is meant to keep the players in their seats for as long as possible.

But the bottom line is that most players don’t even need this type of encouragement to play longer. Video poker in itself is the casino’s No. 1 reason for non-stop gambling, while at the very same time it’s a rare day to find any player who will ever admit to it being that way.

So how is it possible for the player to get an edge on such an addictive game that nearly has players proclaiming how they’d sooner have their teeth pulled than leave their seat without a profit? The answer is it is very difficult ”” almost impossible ”” but there is one for those who want to learn to be in control while involved in casino action. Anyone can do it ”” but few will ”” simply because it is not the natural thing to do while playing. I have become proficient at it, yet I was all of the aforementioned and more a number of years ago.

The first issue you have to deal with is that it must be clearly understood the casino always holds the edge over individual players mathematically, whether or not you are playing a game that advertises a greater-than 100 percent return.

You must remove from your mind the fact that a slot club card will somehow make up for all your losses by showering you with gifts, cash back, mailers, and special attention from the VIP offices. It is a casino invention, and would not be there if it were not a very profitable tool.

And you must finally come to grips with the fact that the more you play the more you will lose. There’s nothing wrong with going into a casino, setting a $25 win goal, and leaving when you reached it. Would you rather go home or to your room with a $300 loss? If you think that’s not easily explained to someone interested in your results, try telling yourself why you didn’t stop after you finally got ahead! You will start to understand what loss goals are comfortable for you ”¦ that it is not necessary to go in with $200 and play until you lose it all. You will also see that it indeed is possible to hit it big even though you have cut your playing time down.

There is nothing magical about the game of video poker. You are always at a disadvantage. No one can predict at which point during their play he or she will be optimally ahead. All the cries I here from a handful of others about a dozen hours of play at a single machine being the same as 12 sessions on different days are exactly right ”” that is unless one understands the essence of short-term, goal-oriented strategy. Therein lies the clue to consistent winning. Therein lies the reasoning behind my 95 percent win rate. Human beings do in fact have capabilities that greatly transcend any mathematical probabilities. It’s called achievement. After all, if you were trapped in unfamiliar territory with seemingly no way out, would you rather have a mathematically perfect laptop in your hands as a solution-maker, or the computer on top of your shoulders. Now apply that theory to the simple game of video poker. You’ve just moved up to the next level.