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Taking advantage!

Jul 22, 2003 2:52 AM

There’s a bit of an attitude floating around Las Vegas these days, and it all has to do with those so-called advantageous players.

Advantage video poker players pride themselves on keeping each other abreast of what’s happening at all the casinos around town that may lead to a slight advantage. And guess what? There’s no way in the world I can find fault with that. Why shouldn’t any gambler want to know where his or her best "chances" are on any given day?

Now the problem. Advantage players think every announced special was designed to do nothing but put money into their pockets. And as often as these players are slapped back into reality with huge losses, their one positive trait is in their ability to shake it off in anticipation of the next promo awaiting on the horizon.

One thing’s for sure ”” I am no advantage player. You’ll never see me scouring every article and paper in town looking for announcements, multiple point promotions, or stupid specials of any kind. I believe all that does is showcase certain player’s weaknesses as they desperately search for ways to "get even" when they know they can’t. But I won’t walk away from an advantage situation either ”” assuming I’m lucky enough to fall into that scenario.

My attention was recently brought to a local paper’s article depicting how (what they called) an "advantage player" was detained and chastised by a casino for allegedly playing a dollar video poker machine and getting rewarded for wins based on playing a $100 game at the grand opening. OK, I know what you’re thinking. How could anyone be able to do that? Those $100 tokens mechanically don’t fit the routing system of a dollar machine.

Next issue: Who would employ a floor person in the high limit area that wouldn’t immediately be red-flagged by thousands of dollars of taxable wins that for some reason didn’t require a W-2G? There’s more, but it doesn’t make sense to continue. The bottom line is I had to consult a video poker forum in order to find out what this article was really trying to tell us. Why, I don’t know.

Once the smoke had cleared and the truth revealed, I understood. It seems this gambler simply found himself playing a $5 video poker machine that accumulated points ”” and cash back ”” at 20 times the normal $5 rate. So why is he labeled an advantage player? Well, from what I’ve read, they make it seem like he runs all over town chasing every lead searching for machines with anomalies such as what he discovered at the northwest Las Vegas casino.

But then common sense begs to ask: "If it was opening night, how could he have known in advance that this machine was programmed incorrectly? Wouldn’t these scouts grab the advantage all for themselves? Why let Joe Blow get all the profits? Yes, you’re right ”” there definitely is something fishy about all this.

I don’t doubt that this fellow did experience what I’m finally told he experienced. But is he truly an advantage player because of this episode? I think not, and for good reason. Even though I would never welcome the tag of advantage player to my name, there’s no way in the world I’d walk away from such a find as our friend discovered. Who would?

The first thing I’d say after pinching myself is "These bazookas have no idea what’s going on here, and I’ll simply put the cash in my pocket before they know what hit them."

But this guy was unlucky, unlucky enough to hit a $20,000 royal flush and go home $17,000 ahead after losing an initial $3,000. Let’s see why.

We’re told he had a $10,000 cash back balance upon leaving, and he returned another day to try to collect it and he never could. But my question is, if this is a true advantage player, what was he doing leaving such a positive play just because he hit a royal? Does not the computer-perfect/optimal play crowd teach to never leave a "good play" until your bankroll runs out or mommy calls? After all, 110% is 110%, is it not, and can you just imagine the theoretical income/hour that’s being earned here ”” regardless if he were to lose every penny by continuing to play? How many times do we hear it’s OK if you lose if it was a "positive play?" Explain that, Einstein. Again, I smell a rat.

So here we go once more. Those who believe in long-term strategy have a hero, I clearly explain it away as just another player interested in going home a winner in the short term, and I’ll again be criticized for more common sense by those who just can’t find a consistent way to win. Good thing there isn’t many of them.