Look for balance in video poker sessions

September 24, 2002 6:04 AM
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   It wasn’t that many years ago that the pioneers of video poker play began telling us the ins and outs of how the game should be played. Although none of them could foresee the incredible popularity of the game as we know it today, the basic mathematical principles on which it is based and was taught has not changed.

   What has changed is the type of games available, the proliferation of slot clubs, and the genre of how-to-win writers.

   Video poker is becoming the No. 1 choice among those who gamble all around this country, and since gaming revenue accounts for more than double all other forms of entertainment in the U.S. combined, it is now a very serious business.

   So how is it that players can be misled? Well, there’s basically two major methods that are taught on how to play the game these days: The expert’s computer-perfect optimal-play system, and my simpler Play Strategy.

   Most mathematical models approach the game from a long-term strategy point of view. While I don’t adhere to it exclusively, it is a very important part of my overall Play Strategy that has allowed me to win a very high percentage of my sessions.

   Many players have much trouble believing my results, but it works for me and that’s all that counts. My responsibility does not stop there, and neither does anyone’s who has something to offer to the gambling public.

   I believe anyone who writes about this very habit-forming game must be open and readily accessible to those who read either our direct statements or are influenced by that which we imply. While I firmly stand by the fact that I was never educated properly about the pitfalls of trying to and expecting to win a tiny percentage over an indefinable long run from reading and studying all that was available, it was 100% my fault that I allowed myself to be misled.

   Similarly, those who choose to follow my method are just as likely-and maybe even more so-of losing more than they thought possible without the proper education and ultimate understanding. A video poker writer’s first goal should be to not mislead any of his or her readers through rules or implications, and to always be truthful in what they know and in what they believe to be the case. But are we actually doing that?

   It’s no secret how I feel about expert strategy play. I believe the more you play the more you lose, and in order to win anything one must be exceedingly lucky.

   I do not consider any slot club benefits other than cash back to be of any value. If you can’t afford the expenses associated with serious play then you shouldn’t be playing. If you get excited about piling up more slot club points than your neighbor then you are involved in a vicious cycle with very possible consequences.

   I spend the better part of my weeks answering e-mail questions on variations of how my strategy may work for other’s individual circumstances, bankrolls, desires and discipline levels. I spent much of 2001 making trips to Nevada giving seminars and private lessons to those who asked-giving up much of my professional play to do so.

   Yet, I’m rarely comfortable with all this, as I know how casino action can take over even the most positive-minded gambler. One key to my play is in always doing what you say you are going to do before going into the casino. Those who do, usually win. Those who do not, usually lose. I cannot put it into simpler terms.

   The bottom line is responsibility. Desperate players are easily misled-always looking for a magic cure for those long losing streaks that seems to end too far apart. Writers have to be more clear to their readers without putting product sales before good intentions.

   While I levy criticisms on the more established writers of the game for not telling the entire story as learned from my past experiences, I at times find I am also guilty of coming up short with those whom I discuss my Play Strategy. If our common goal is to help others be more successful and get more enjoyment out of the game, we should all take the time-every time-to do the right thing.