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Make a choice: Winner’s Camp or Writers Cramp

Oct 22, 2002 12:59 AM

   Video poker players have always had decisions to ponder, choices to make before going into the casinos. Any choices they may have had prior to their heart-pumping trip through those casino doors have gone south — and their money is likely soon to follow.

   So what’s a player to do? How can they combat such a force which, along with enticing yet very purposeful slot club promotions, has no trouble at all in pulling players into seats at the machines.

   Well, for years everyone interested enough in the game and caring to see what’s out there has had only one direction in which to turn. It’s what I call “Writer’s Cramp.” And it has been surprising just how little this “choice” has improved or even been expanded upon — if at all.

   Although the Cramp Camp is loaded with those who make a living of re-hashing that which has previously been published, the foremost writers in this field do have something to say that has had a major impact on how the game is played today.

   For example, many players better understand the game’s mathematics because of them — although most have yet to comprehend it is luck along with an individual’s short-term preparedness that determines the outcome of any session. I myself utilize expert play as one of the six equal parts of my winning Play Strategy that has been so successful for me. And we have writers today who put an interesting twist on what we have been told over and over again in less interesting terms.

   Basically though, unless game manufacturers create new and exciting games to play, don’t count on there being a whole new outlook being written about by someone who claims a video poker player can outplay and outlast a video poker computer.

   What do I mean by “Winner’s Camp?” Certainly, it is a very small group, and most who are in it belong for only a very short period of time — and usually because of a recent jackpot. What I hope will happen in the future is for more players to follow a structured method of play such as I do — not exactly as I do, because I realize others do not play professionally — but by setting irreversible goals, not playing until the proper bankroll is in hand, learning expert play to the best of their ability, and incorporating the discipline to do all they say they are going to do before stepping foot inside the casinos (at the very least).

   And here’s a tip: It’s going to happen. People are tired of losing to the tune of theoretical long-term play. The concept certainly sells. Just take a look at the gadgets, publications, pamphlets, and information-for-pay web sites that are out there for novices and dreamers alike to spend their money on. But I get nearly 40 e-mails a day asking question after question about what it really takes to consistently win — many from those in groups started up on the long-term expert-play concept. The frustration is apparent.

   I believe there is one single aspect that differentiates the two Camps: Winning. It’s no secret that the Writer’s Camp is typically made up of those attracted to the commercialized part of video poker. Most members are published, and most sell a myriad of other paraphernalia to go along with that. Some sell memberships to their web site chat rooms. Still others claim to have been professional gamblers in the past, but now, however, are solely involved in the business end of gambling.

   Maybe it’s that they finally know a little more than they are willing to say. Occasionally we’ll hear of a gathering of this camp, which aside from the advertised purpose, I suspect is mainly for confidence-building and back-patting.

   A little confusing? You bet. This camp, with some small exceptions, is very clever in its marketing abilities. After all, what player could argue with the mathematical probabilities, trigonometry calculations, computer models, and claims of the authors?

   What they didn’t know was that I could, I did, and I have little trouble standing alone on the other side of the tracks. The one difference? In 1990 I let “them” choose for me. In 1997 I actually made my own choice. Now my train is going somewhere that I planned on going.