The plain fact is there’s been a complete disconnect between theory and reality in many of the video poker guidebooks — not in the tools themselves, but in the explanations and expectations surrounding them.
I believe players learn through reading about other people’s experiences rather than from a conglomeration of practice hands that are served up with theory grounded in mathematics.
Will these hands ever show up on my machine? Will I remember the computer-perfect play if and when they do? How do I know without a doubt that making the best play will not stop a giant winner from showing up? And will I ever get to play long enough for any of it to make any difference anyway?
All good questions, and there’s all good answers out there for those who understand the true difference between playing for profit and playing for a grade.
To illustrate part of what I mean, I’ll take you through my second session of 2003, when I traveled to Las Vegas to play at the Palms resort and Sam’s Town in early January.
Arriving on a Tuesday morning at around 4 a.m., I didn’t expected many players. Actually, there was less than that.
I always start on dollar Bonus Poker (100 credits) and cash out every time I reach a profit of at least 40 credits. That happened twice for 40 and 65 credits before I lost the 100. When I went to Double Bonus (300 credits) my very first hand was four 4’s, so my Play Strategy tells me to go back to BP and start again — with a total of $400 pocketed profit thus far.
Winning’s all about goals, as well as having enough discipline not to be taken in by all the temptations the casinos have to offer. If you worship those things and go to sleep at night dreaming about them, you’ll never learn the art of consistent winning.
Back to my session: Two hands into BP I hit a hand that I haven’t seen in professional play for at least seven months — a straight flush. I then had one more 40-credit cash out (ticket-in, ticket-out at the Palms, thankfully) before I lost the 100 credits.
Then after a full house a few hands into DB for a profit of $40 more, I lost a quick 300 credits. I was up $320 and decided to change venues over to Sam’s Town to play the $2 game.
On BP I cashed out three 40-credit winners before going to DDB. This time on my third hand I was dealt four 3’s, and I couldn’t get the kicker. Still, the $800 got me back to dollar BP with an overall profit of $1,130 at this point.
This time I breezed through my $400 in credits without even a FH. On the $2 game I hit four 5’s on BP, then four 3’s again on DDB and again with no kicker.
The quad 3’s were due to one of my special plays that deviate from expert strategy: Dealt two 3’s, two 8’s and a 9 — because a FH would not have allowed me to move back to $2 BP — this is an instance where I always go for the special quad, and I hit it!
Many times I don’t, but the few times I do more than atone for committing a guru-like sin. I’m back to being up $1,170. Without going on and on, I ended up on the $5 machine with four 3’s with the kicker this time and an overall win of $2,555 for the session.
One very lucky hit, a structured progression, an understanding that anything can happen at anytime — especially when working within the advantages of deviations from expert play — and the discipline and ability to just get up and go home upon reaching a pre-set goal, all contributed to that week’s success.
Did I utilize optimum play? Absolutely. In this type strategy, playing every hand computer-perfectly puts the goal-oriented, short-term strategist at a disadvantage. I play to win today, and I believe I fail in the game whenever I lose a session.
So if we all play only in short-term bursts, why don’t they just add up into one long-term session? Simple. Theories, probabilities, and mathematical samplings are fine measurement tools for those tasks not performed by human beings. But when we become involved, it all changes. We all have our limitations. We all have imperfections. And we all have the ability to make decisions based on emotion.
A long-term type player is never in the same state of mind or body twice. One-thousand different sessions means 1,000 different temperaments, 1,000 different drive-levels, and 1,000 different feelings (ever hear of that?).
Just make sure you’re playing for yourself, you’re playing to win and you’re disciplined enough to follow your strategy to meet your goas.
At the end of the day, setting goals and sticking to them is the only way to win many more sessions than you lose. Remember, only the very fortunate win, with any strategy. If you are able to apply that logic to short-term type play, you’ll sleep a whole lot better every time you hit the video poker machines. And only then will you see what I mean.