Playing for aces is playing to win

Jun 2, 2003 11:56 PM

It’s been a while since I last wrote about why four aces can, if treated properly, make a video poker bankroll. So, with all the current games offering bonuses for the aces, it deserves a revised look.

In each of my play strategies (single line, five-play, and Multi-Strike video poker) that have been so successful for me, they are all built around making extra attempts to hit four aces most of the time. Why? Because it is such a powerful hand, and an ace is such a powerful card. Already I can hear the critics buzzing around in a hapless chant, so let’s silence them before they get out of control.

Regardless of whether I’m playing any of my three professional strategies, or if I’m doing a romp through town, aces is the name of my game in one way or the other. Why? Because Bonus Poker pays 400 for the hand, Double Bonus Poker ”” 800; Double Double Bonus Poker ”” 800, or 2000 with the 2, 3, or 4 kicker; Triple Bonus Poker ”” 1200; Super Aces Bonus Poker ”” 2000; Super Double Bonus Poker ”” 800; and Triple Double Bonus Poker ”” 800, or 4000 with the 2, 3, or 4 kicker.

Some people ask me why I didn’t choose the standard 9/6 Jacks or Better (JB), or one or more of the full-pay deuces wild games to develop a play strategy around.

One reason is boredom. JB becomes monotonous after five minutes, and unless I hit a straight flush or royal flush, there’s not much excitement or financial movement in my favor.

Deuces wild offers even less. There’s a whole lot of small winners, few large ones, and the constant irritation of seeing what would have been session-changing natural winners on the advanced Bonus Poker games count only as the equivalent of playing a few more hands.

Certainly, four deuces is a big winner, but so is it on the games I play ”” along with 3’s, 4’s, and in some cases J’s, Q’s, and K’s. Clearly, there was no way to develop a consistent winning strategy with any of these other games.

Time and again I’ve been labeled a fraud, crazy, or unknowledgeable for my approach to winning with aces. Many times I hold a single ace when it is not the mathematically optimal play for believers of long-term strategy. But it is the optimally best overall play in short-term strategy ”” a concept few if any programmers have yet to comprehend.

In simple terms, if you play only FPDW, how many times have you held a lone deuce and ended up with four of them? In my strategy, sure, many times I could have been better off not holding a lone ace. But in doing so, I’ve witnessed four aces several times, four aces with the kicker several times, and one Royal Flush.

And all but one were above my baseline denomination of dollars. Since I am usually in the position to quit and go home after such hits, there’s no giving any of it back. I constantly wonder where I would be without giving such powerful hands the opportunity to show, and where I’d be without the discipline to just get out with the money.

An extreme example of where holding a single ace that was not the computer-perfect play was experienced this year at a Strip resort. On $5 Super Aces Bonus Poker five-play, I had the choice between holding a pair of 7’s or an ace. I needed a hit of about $7,600 to reach my profit goal and leave for home. It’s always possible to get a quad ”” and two on an outside chance ”” by holding a low pair.

The way my strategy works, if I were so lucky as to get two quads ($2,500), that would not have sent me home ”” or even back to my base 25¡

denomination. But four Aces would do it all. So I held the Ace, and on the fifth line three more Aces showed for a $10,000 hit.

Very unusual, but I’d have never seen the win unless I was able to think beyond how the casino expects a player to. They deal only in the long-term. Thus, they want every player to place bets thinking in long-term methodology. Huge advantage to the casino — that is, unless you are capable of thinking around all that.

Do I recommend we all go out and play for Aces as I do? Yes and no. I’d never advocate it until and unless interested players had the consistent discipline and determination to make the correct short-term plays each and every time.

Beyond that, it falls into the personal preference category. Do you want to win or lose? Are you comfortable and happy with your results attacking the casinos with long-term, computer-perfect play, or do you want a whole lot more for you efforts and time?

And do you have the proper bankroll to progress in denomination after losing 2,000 credits? But one thing I can assure each and every player: It’s far more fun and a much more interesting way to play the games the casinos offer. If advantage play is the name of your game, think about Aces, and then think about putting the plus on your side of the equation at least 80 percent of the time for a change.