Streaks can make or break, or not!

Apr 29, 2003 3:12 AM

All too often we read about how certain strategies are capable of guiding a player to the promise land of winning.

My own Play Strategies for single-play, multi-play (5-play) and the new Multi-Strike video poker games ”” while very successful for a dedicated player like myself ”” are just as much a prelude to disaster without the proper understanding, preparation and discipline.

In either case, however, it is not the lucky winners or slot club cash alone that shapes a player’s fate. It is the frequency of winning and losing streaks ”” and our reactions to them ”” that will ultimately decide whether we are having fun or not.

Streaks in life are commonplace. Nothing lasts forever, and in video poker, those famous words are as dreaded as they are exciting. Ask any player, even ones whom you think never lose.

"Out of sight; out of mind." We’ve all heard that before. What we rarely think about however, is how very poignant those words can be to the video poker player’s jackpot winners.

Why? Because a big winner today may have put me ahead, or it merely may have helped me attach a respectable tab to my overall efforts.

But as sure as any huge winner is capable of building a euphoric sense of confidence for us all, it’s usually each hand played afterwards that generates a much more realistic yet depreciating feeling of invincibility about the whole situation.

One of the most common ways to understand how streaks work on players is through reading what experts and others write about. The one problem? We have no idea whether we’re getting the entire story or not. So player A is mired in a terrible 18 month losing streak? Well, what’s his or her playing style? Are they comfortably playing within their limits, or are hard times ahead because of incredibly bad judgment? And what’s the overall deal with the player ”” have big winners in the past bankrolled the current streak, or does the player here simply have ”˜"Born To Lose" tattooed on their forehead? Perception is important to those who read the authors of video poker, but it also guides players through streaks of their own.

We all hear our fellow players say how they just can’t seem to get ahead no matter what they do. One of the more truthful quotes from a video poker husband-wife team I heard seven years ago in Laughlin was "We live in Las Vegas, we’ve been losing for 34 years, and we’ve had to downgrade our style of living every passing decade."

Why did I believe them? Because I was a player who couldn’t stay away from the casinos just like them, and I was always playing the game just to see if I could get ahead by some murky but tiny percentage presumably before I took my very last breath.

I only hope they finally used the computer you’re using right now, the one behind your eyes, similar to how I did as I figured my way out of that rut and into a new world of exciting, short-term, winning video poker play.

I never really quite know what to believe when I read or hear about great winning streaks, because unless it happens to us we just don’t know. But I do know how to apply common sense.

First, losing streaks are much more common than winning streaks, and long or multiple recent losing streaks will wipe out most players who previously said they’ve been winning for years. Video poker is an extremely streaky proposition.

A main advantage my Play Strategies is that, while prone to what some would call streaks, they last only as long as the session does. Even if I win a dozen trips in a row (which has happened), each short-term session contains the bounds of winning or losing. The next session is a totally separate entrepreneurial challenge. Win or lose, it has nothing to do with the last session, nor with any yet to come.

While streaks clearly dictate how most players will fare in their battle with the video poker machines, they barely affect my overall yearly results one way or the other.

Where it used to be that I’d be heard saying "Gee, I can’t wait for luck to turn my way," I now see how luck is present in nearly every session played by every player every day.

Most just haven’t figured out how to react to it yet. And for them, until they do, streaks will continue to define the results of their play.