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How (and why) to play new Multi-Strike poker

Jan 20, 2003 11:51 PM

Other than single-play and five-play Bonus and advanced Bonus video poker games, I¡¦ve had little interest in other games that hit the casino floor.

Jacks or Better is extremely boring, progressive royal or not. Deuces Wild in any format puts me to sleep with all the "little winners" that could have been big ones on a normal machine. And it¡¦s nearly the same with Joker¡¦s Wild.

But game manufacturers aren¡¦t just sitting on their laurels, especially with the huge base of video poker players that is growing all the time.

In recent years we¡¦ve seen Five Deck Frenzy come and go with maybe a half dozen players interested in the game. Spin-Poker, Double-Pay and a few other quasi-real looking games have hooked only a few players. Chase The Royal hasn¡¦t had the impact it was supposed to have.

However, all of the multi-plays have enjoyed enormous success, even though I have no idea of the attraction to a game that quickly fills in 10, 50 or 100 tiny hands on a screen that was made for one. But video poker players are not to be questioned. They are the heart and soul of a casino¡¦s profit taking, and once they get started they basically cannot be stopped.

The most recent new game being introduced is Multi-Strike Video Poker. I don¡¦t know how long it will be available, if it will become popular, if it will become a regular game at most casinos, what denominations it will be offered in, or what the pay tables will look like.

But one thing I do know ¡X I am going to attempt to develop a winning Play Strategy for this game. Without running the numbers or having played it in a casino as yet, it has all the markings of a game that was made for the savvy player who has the proper bankroll, the discipline to make the correct plays, and the ability to set goals prior to playing and leave the building once they are attained.

My limited exposure to Multi-Strike Video Poker on my home computer has shown me that this game will become popular to those who don¡¦t mind spending a fair amount of cash before hitting one of any number of big winners ¡X and then quitting.

If you are down $600 and suddenly win a thousand, why keep playing? Whether it¡¦s positive or negative return with cash back and all that other stuff, who can argue with taking a $400 profit home to the family? Yes there¡¦s a few who will, but then check their gambling resumes and you¡¦ll get the point.

Multi-Strike is a unique multi-line game. Yes, you pay 5 credits for each line, but you have to "earn" the right to play the extra hands one at a time ¡V although you pay for them whether you get to play them or not. That¡¦s 20 credits per game.

The plus side? Line 1 pays the normal pay schedule. Line 2 pays two times, line 3 pays four times, and line 4 pays eight times. In order to play the higher lines you must either win the preceding hand or be lucky enough to see the "Free Ride" symbol show up in your hand.

Let¡¦s say you¡¦re playing Multi-Strike, 10/7 Double Bonus. Should you alter your strategy? My guess is that the math people will steadfastly hold to expert play only, while stating that the longer and faster you play, the sooner you¡¦ll experience the inexplicable long-run. And that teensy-weensy winning percentage that¡¦s suppose to come with it.

Of course, you can¡¦t make any mistakes along the way or your dreams will abruptly come to an end. My initial thinking is naturally different, because I play to win money at the game rather than seeing how much I can soak the slot clubs for while telling myself that they¡¦re not watching.

The first strategy change I¡¦d make is on line 1. The real purpose of this game is to get to the higher levels. Thus, it makes sense to get a high pair any way possible, and toss the opportunities for straights and flushes as often as you can. If you like optimal play there¡¦s always the next 3 lines for that. Similarly, any two pair on line 1 that includes a high pair should be tossed for the chance of turning that high pair into a quad.

On the next three lines, however, that¡¦s not the case. And it all will change if the "Free Ride" card shows up on the deal. There¡¦s a lot of interesting twists to the game, and usually only the adequately bankrolled will survive. It is not a game for taking chances, or for those who don¡¦t like to see 1000 credits disappear before their eyes. You either play to win or you don¡¦t.

Why does it seem to be such a good game to play at this point? Well, you need not be a scientist to see that any quad on lines 2-4 pay big. Get a royal on line 4 and get paid 32,000 credits. This is a game where luck is less of a factor than on any standard game. The skill here involves identifying your best chance for climbing the ladder and getting an opportunity at the higher lines. Since you never know when and where the free ride will appear, you have to be ready to change your hold if it does.

Sure, there are people who¡¦ll claim that the only way to play any game is computer-perfectly. There¡¦s some who will be moaning about 20 credits required for play, yet they have no problem pumping in the big bills for 10 or 50-play machines.

And there¡¦s certainly players who¡¦ll say they wouldn¡¦t play it because they¡¦ve gotten a taste of the $25 and $100 machines, and they¡¦re unable to get a thrill at lower levels any longer.

There¡¦s all kinds of players out there. But if you simply take this game at face value, you¡¦ll find it¡¦s a whole lot of fun, and if you approach it with a short-term winning play strategy, you have a good chance of walking in your door at the end of your play with a feeling others have yet to discover.