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Finding the right mix
of luck and skill

Apr 8, 2003 1:00 AM

Watching video poker players can be fun. For instance, many times I’ve witnessed, as I’m sure you have also, the rubbing of the screen in a circular motion by beleaguered gamblers, or their incessant tapping of the screen. It’s like the person studied witchcraft and has finally found a use for the skill.

Others try to invoke divine intervention via rosary beads just before hitting the draw button. I’ve always thought that to be shortsighted ”” especially on the multi-plays since the deal is far more important than the draw.

And then there’s the player who refuses to look at the screen while drawing to a hand, apparently with the hope that the happy music will start playing.

When I see such entertainment, all I can figure is that most of these players spend a lot of time placing their trust in the hands of another power.

To most of us who are serious players, however, there are only two methods that work ”” luck and skill. That then brings up the debate over which plays a bigger role in determining whether you win or you lose.

While for years the math people have been saying it’s anywhere from 80%-90% in favor of skill, I remain 100% certain that a player will only win because luck plays at least a 90% role for every video poker player everywhere.

But lately something predictable has been happening. More knowledgeable players are telling the community that it takes skill and determination to learn to play the game properly, but they would never experience a winning year without luck.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that common sense has finally been given its due. Now let’s hope there’s not too many players left out there who believe they can outperform, outsmart, and outplay a very perfect video poker computer.

In retrospect, I really don’t see where the confusion lies. Even if you were a robot-like, master of the game, what really does that guarantee? This crazy idea of theoretically earning X amount per hour because you may know 2% more perfect plays than the next guy is just that ”” theory. If you happen to read about someone claiming to be doing so, you’re reading the words of a dreamer. And if it were true, over-inflation of comps, gift value, and good times play a major part in it all.

One way to settle this is through self-admission. In the end just before you step into your final resting place, would you rather have been a good player or a lucky one? Would you rather have spent the majority of your final years inside casinos being led around by your slot club card while chasing tiny theoretical percentages, or played when, where, why, and how YOU wanted to ”” quitting while ahead most of the time?

These are the questions that winning video poker players like to hear and like to answer ”” and losing players criticize or shy away from. Learning to gamble properly is based on being good at what you do. Winning at gambling is simply a matter of luck, and how you choose to react to it. Why else do you think they always wish you, "Good Luck!" There’s no future in someone wishing you good theoretical advantage or good permutations and probabilities. You can bet on that.