Chat rooms can help poker players

Jul 23, 2002 3:46 AM

Whenever a subject pops into my mind that I want to learn more about, the first thing I do is hit the Internet. What a great tool. Anything anyone could want is right at their fingertips. If that’s not enough, firing off e-mails shares tons of information and answers many questions.

This is something I am very involved in, because players send me at least 35 messages a day ”” and I answer every one of them. It’s something I like doing, because unlike so many of the others who claim to be experts, I’ve seen the game for many years from both sides of the tracks. It’s one thing to play the game while wishing you could do more than collect slot club points, status and gifts. It’s quite another to have been there, done that, and now do what no one else has ever done ”” win consistently and often. People are interested in that ”” and rightly so. Chat forums are one way to disseminate information. Private e-mails is the other.

My unique position in all this has caused some commotion amongst the two main video poker chat groups (both on yahoo): vpmail and vpfree. But the real confusion lies in why there are two of them instead of just one. The chat content is essentially the same, except that vpmail charges a fee while vpfree lives up to its name and does not. Further, many of the same members belong to both groups. Since they were formed on the basis that some type of mathematical skill is required to supposedly beat the video poker computers over an indefinite period, my common sense approach to these incredulous theories has led to my being banned on vpmail and not being welcomed in my present form on vpfree. Actually, I’ve been told that even the mention of my name on one of them is not allowed. Yet the anomaly is that hundreds of their members write to me every month ”” asking questions and forwarding me posts that may have seemed a little odd to them. A bit strange, yes. But I always have time to help those who care to take the blindfolds off. Kind of brings back memories of "Banned in Boston." People just want to know more.

Many of the famous names in the game regularly contribute to these boards. Reading the posts at times becomes very tedious ”” and terribly annoying. The math folks revel in the trading of statistics, math models, and probability theories while discussing losing streaks, royals, and the never-ending topic of EV. Educational? Definitely, if you don’t doze off as you read them. Helpful? That depends. If you’re in a college-level video poker class and you’re cramming for a final, read all you can squeeze into your all-nighter. But if you think any of this gold-plated information is going to make one bit of difference while you’re sitting at the machines, you are sadly mistaken.

Yes, if you follow what they say, it will make you feel like you’re doing the right thing. For many, that’s all they need in order to feed their habit, but guess how much that’s worth! Unfortunately, video poker is a very unforgiving game, and whether or not you believe you always make what you’ve been taught is the correct mathematical play, it will clean out your savings account faster than a bank robber. But if you are intelligent enough to understand the fact that luck is at least 90 percent of the game, simple common sense will always prevail. Where’d all the skill go? It’s still there ”¦ it’s just that luck has such an overwhelming presence inside casinos.

So why is it that I am banned from directly chatting on these two groups? Let’s look at it this way. Have you ever sat with three of your friends or family members who all play video poker, and told them why they are losing? And raising the stakes a bit, what happens if you then announce that you have finally found a way to win on a very consistent basis? What you have really done is strike out on two pitches. First, losers hate reason and common sense ”” especially those who subscribe to the long-term, expert-play theories. They know the numbers add up perfectly in their computers at home, but why can’t it work the same in the casinos? And most of all, they are so used to the famous names claiming to make a killing at the casinos as well as soaking them for as many comps, gifts, and status as possible that the whole discussion is nothing less than a royal irritation.

If that’s not enough, try telling this agitated group you no longer lose, and it is only because you have rejected the computer-perfect play baloney and put in the time and expense of developing your own short-term, goal-oriented Play Strategy! The result? It’s been very interesting. Any loser who is hurt or bothered by it will NEVER believe there is anyone out there who really does win. Then there’s the 1 percent or so who throw insults my way, or say incorrect statements about me or my views and/or Strategies only because I cannot come on and defend myself. But there’s another side to all this. While the groups are controlled and run in a certain manner, a good many of the members who make up these groups chat with me quite often about strategy and whatever else they’d like. I find this very complimentary, because what they are looking for is an alternative opinion and a more reasonable way to approach the game.

Regardless of how the two group’s founders react to me, I really must say that if you play video poker with any kind of passion ”” or plan on playing ”” you really ought to join one of them. Although some may readily delete the statistical posts, you might learn something new from them that will help you understand the game a little better while making it more fun. Yes, there’s lots of trivial chatter that goes nowhere, but there’s also tons of valuable information transfer that you really cannot find anywhere else.