Relax ... Mathematics hasn't changed at all

Mar 25, 2008 5:00 PM

The Undeniable Truth by Rob Singer |

I’ve heard it come my way hundreds of times over the years: "Rob Singer must have re-written the math books, because what he says he does and how he says he does it just doesn’t add up."

So what we have here are people who say they know what they themselves are doing, but have no idea what it is I do – which, of course, is clearly evident. Yet they continue to criticize.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on here. I win approximately 85 percent of all my sessions and I’ve played 330 in about 10 years time. I employ five separate Play Strategies (single-play/multi-strike/five-play/Romp-Thru-Town, and an advanced version of RTT called ARTT). I play the latter two of them most of the time these days.

Yes, when I lose it’s usually a large amount, but I’ve won a net profit of just over $855,000 since I began playing them.

Almost all of my play is on what the video poker "experts" call negative expectation (-EV) games, i.e., theoretically less than 100 percent payback even when played perfectly – and into infinity. What the critics don’t understand is how –EV games can turn a profit, because on paper and into the theoretical "long-term" (whatever that may be) they can’t get it to add up.

To further confuse the issue, while others label the games I play as negative ones, they play the same ones. Only this time, they claim they’re positive for them.

How’s that done? Because the expert-play crowd chooses to toss in all the slot club benefits in order to "create" something they believe is positive. Not so with me. What cash I win from the machines is the only measure of my success, as it should be for everyone. All the other fluff is welcome, but meaningless.

Understandable? Certainly. Remember, I spent over six years as an optimal video poker player. At the time, I too was blinded by what was going on. Optimal play dictates making very few if any errors in holds, and that just doesn’t happen. In fact, play even 30 minutes straight and your mistakes start to climb. So what do you think happens as these players sit and pound away at their machines for hour after hour after hour?

At the end of the day, optimal play is simply only a state of mind rather than a reality to those with an open mind. And its theory is based on beating the casinos at their own game – the math. How many local and Strip resorts have you seen close their doors because of "optimal play"?

Better yet, how many actual & verifiable optimal video poker player barrings have you read about? Further, have you seen a reduction – or increase – in slot club promotions over the years?

I think you get the point by now. The casinos live by the math, while optimal players live and die by the math. Most of them die a slow death. I knew that and completely understood that back when I was losing all the time as an expert math player. Yet, I just didn’t want it to be so. Funny how being so compelled to play all the time does that.

Luckily, however, I woke up, and in 1997 my personally developed single-play strategy that encompassed the essence of what successful gambling is really all about, was put to the test in the casinos. Proper bankroll, iron clad discipline, a structured pre-set/goal-oriented game plan before going in, strong determination to see it all through… and what others don’t want to believe – a solid (but not complete) baseline in the math.

Although I’ve had thousands of players come to me for advice on what it takes to do well in video poker, there remains those who just can’t accept it as being so. One recent detractor said "Rob wants us to believe he somehow changes a –EV game to a +EV game, and mathematically that can’t be done".

My response? He’s absolutely right – I change nothing. What I do, however, is measure my game EV not by the theory of it all before playing, but against how I actually did on the game once my session is over. After all, someone who sits at a 98 or 102 percent game is only there for so long. They’re never going to even come to within a fraction of a percent of the play necessary for those figures to become valid for their session.

So is 98 percent truly a "negative" game? Hardly, and logically, there can be no other conclusion. Similarly, about 5 percent of my holds are what I call "special plays that deviate from optimal strategy." This is done in order to take maximum advantage of those opportunities that present themselves and to achieve good fortune from multi-option deals, which underwent in-depth risk analysis for short-term play years ago.

Critics say "Those special plays only make the game more negative." Yet what they fail to accept is that anything can happen at any time, and I assure you, it does. The math play may be the only play to make if you were to see that particular deal a million times in a session, but once or twice or even a dozen times today is reality. And, reality requires one be able to adjust. That’s exactly what my play strategies have accomplished.

So in summary, does consistent winning at video poker over the years require only 100 percent games? Never, and that’s only a myth created by those who want a reason to validate the fact that they play far more than they should. Are we lost if we don’t play every hand perfectly? Ha! You don’t want to play every hand perfectly.

And what about all those slot club and marketing extras? Are they really needed in order to manufacture a sure-fire winner? Let’s say this: Advantage players do. I don’t.

Who ya gonna call?