Pressing your luck isn’t the answer

Jun 10, 2002 10:20 PM

We see it happen all the time: Players get lucky, they win a jackpot, and although that little voice in the back of their minds is telling them to quit for the day and go home ”” they stay on for hours as they give it all back. This does not happen all the time, but it is far more often the rule than the exception.

Let’s take a snapshot of a casino: 85 percent of those in the picture have been or will be ahead at some point during their play, yet 90 percent of them will go home a loser. It’s not that players don’t know when the optimal point is when they are ahead, because no one is able to determine that. But it’s the Âí­nature of the beast, and why casino gambling is far and away the largest entertainment business in the country.

But let’s look at this from another angle. Let’s say every gambler in that picture set a reasonable goal at which to quit based on their bankroll and the game they were playing. And most importantly, let’s assume every player in this casino has the discipline and determination to always do what they say they are going to do.

Few players have or will ever fit the above scenario. It’s the key factor I teach all the time, yet it is no big surprise that the casinos I’ve approached asking them to allow me to hold public classes have consistently turned me down. What they look for is for "students" to come in, then hang around and play for as long as their bankrolls will survive. Since I teach that this system not only fails most everyone who tries it, and it has the very real potential to make gamblers play far more than they ever really should have, it makes perfect sense that any responsible casino manager would never want me to spill the beans on his watch.

One of the more recurring criticisms I hear about my Play Strategy is this: They wonder why it is that after I win my goal each week I immediately drive back to Arizona until the next week. Currently, at 128-6, many disbelievers ask, "Why don’t you just start up another session after you’ve won"? "Certainly, two wins is better than one each week, is it not?"

The answer to this is very simple ”” but simple only to those who understand the entire scope of what I’m after in my play. A large sum of money is risked each time I play professionally. While I have a very reasonable chance of winning, there’s always the chance of losing some of it ”” or in an extreme circumstance that has yet to occur ”” all of it. Any gambler knows there is no such thing as a sure thing. Since my Play Strategy is based on a common sense approach, there’s no reason to step outside that ring.

But more to the point: This is my main source of income, and I want to get home and share it with my family as soon as I can. The backbone of my Strategy relies on a very strict following of the rules on which it was developed. One of them is to play in an alert status.

I play a mix of expert plays along with special plays that deviate from that, and they are extremely important to the outcome of my session. The concentration required is immense, and playing multiple sessions would many times be counterproductive to my goals.

Another is to get much enjoyment out of each win, and to immediately take that with me on my comfortable drive home. This part is a direct derivative of atoning for my seven years of expert play strategy that saw me lose nearly a quarter million dollars. Nothing I’ve done in video poker has ever been more satisfying than the day in late 2000 when I drove out of town after passing my lifetime losses in winnings. The only other event that may come close is if I am ever lucky enough to realize my professional goal of winning $1 million, upon which I will immediately move on to something else. I’m currently at about 40% of that goal ”¦ but it’s out there and I’m patient.

Not many players ever have luck pressing it. It takes willpower to resist the casino "incentives" to keep playing. Plus those theories about EV return are hard to resist. But players must be able to recognize when it is time to quit. After all, there’s always the opportunity to return. And it’s better to leave on a good note, which makes returning that much more fun.