Winning can be easy!

Jul 1, 2003 3:28 AM

All too often, whenever I write about how I used to fail at the game of video poker but was able to turn it all around, people have continued to write asking how that was possible.

To begin with, based on the many nebulous reports and hidden-agenda type publications that I read, I have no recourse other than to believe I’ve been more successful at the game than any other player.

Why, and how can that be? Just reason it out. For one thing, I have no need to come out tooting my horn when the big hits are made. I tell everybody everything all the time ”” good or bad. I’ve spent many hours on many trips to Nevada just to meet with and advise other players at my own cost, and my website has and will always be totally free in every way.

I post all of my play strategies (single-play, multi-play, and multi-strike) readily available for anyone to copy, ask questions, and learn.

Unlike others, I do not charge a cent for suggestions, answering questions, or helping people understand strategies.

I look forward to reading about players who win and have had luck shine down upon them. I know what it’s like to lose.

I’ve received much e-mail ever since I wrote a review praising Bob Dancer’s book "Million Dollar Video Poker" as the best all-around book on the subject that I’ve read. The title itself suggests incredible riches (to the typical video poker player anyway) obtained from a game few will ever beat.

The book was enjoyable and loaded with interesting playing as well as life experiences, but the final word on success it was not. After all, is career success packed into one fabulous day, a week of wonder, a great month, or half a year of winning ”” other than winning Megabucks or Powerball?

Certainly, we’re all envious of and happy for this author’s red-hot lucky streak, and his dedication to the game itself as well as the video poker business is really second to none. However, it didn’t come without lengthy stints at the high limit machines. And were they played before, and just as importantly ”” are they still being fed?

I’ve been around this game long enough to know what winning can do ”” especially to a player who is able to walk into a casino every single day ”” and I really have no idea if such a streak was preceded by the good times or is continually being augmented by further success. But I do wonder.

I’ve always seen that those who live by computer-perfect strategy tend not to claim superiority after some short-term luck. A bit contradictory?

In my case, I have never had a problem telling anyone how I lost nearly $250,000 from 1990-1996 while playing the long-term strategy that I was taught to play. And it was no one’s fault but my own for allowing myself to be led down the wrong path by those who probably knew more than they were telling us during that timeframe.

But in 1997-1999, as a part-time serious player, in 2000 and 2001 as a full-time pro, and again through today as a part-time player for profit, my net win is just over $541,000 (without cash back, which I don’t consider money won).

Sure, my 13-year profit is only about $191,000 — or an average of close to $14,500 per year. But who wins in this very unforgiving game or, more important, what other player has found a way to consistently beat the machines at a time when every guru is crying about pay tables and cash back?

I already see the questions flaming forward. Why do I only play part-time now after such claimed success at the game?

Number one, I’m not near retirement age, and I think it’s important that since I am able to, I do my part in helping America fight off and defeat terrorism. I don’t believe in sitting around in some comfortable chair in Hollywood or anywhere else, proclaiming to know more than our government about foreign affairs, while ready to accept another brutal and cowardly terrorist attack (as long as it doesn’t hit home) and write it off as "we drove them to it, and I’m sure if we just ask them nicely to stop — they will".

Also, unlike many others blinded by the money that will never be theirs, it’s just not a good fit for me to move to Nevada. I know my limitations and I admit them. The weekly trips to and from Las Vegas, Laughlin, Lake Tahoe and Reno have been fun, but again, I know my physical limitations.

All in all, if you desire to join the pro ranks in v-p play, you need to make the right choices. Sure, it’s a thrill hitting a huge royal. Yes, it’s probably nice to brag about all the freebies you’ve been given "just for playing."

But if you truly want to experience success, read this column again. If you still believe it’s full-speed ahead on the optimal play boat — with planning, short-term goals, and proper-bankroll-be-damned, then I say good luck to you in every way.

Skill has never and will never overcome luck. Preparation and luck work hand-in-hand. As a video poker player, you probably know that by now, but you tend to forget as you walk through those enticing casino doors. I don’t.