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Shrinking tables!

Aug 5, 2003 3:04 AM

These days, looking at the pay tables on video poker machines is hardly a bowl of cherries. Go to the beautiful mega-resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and you’ll get nothing but a pounding headache.

I have yet to figure out just why it is that every single one of these giants continue to snub the local players’ request that a decent selection of positive EV video poker games be available. In fact, few if any have anything that even comes close to reasonable.

Sure, I play on and off the Strip, but it’d sure be nice to see better pay tables up and down Las Vegas Boulevard. But let’s get past this frustration for now. Let’s take a trip downtown and see what they’ve got.

Okay, I know there’s a few places carrying greater than 100 percent video poker in smaller denominations ”” and call me spoiled if you’d like ”” but the only casino I’ll go to there is the Golden Nugget.

Yes, I’m a fan of Las Vegas nostalgia and all that, but I have more of a keen interest in the days the Rat Pack roamed the Strip, or when Elvis proved he was King night after night at the International. Since I’m always a visitor, there’s no way I’m treating myself with much less than the best ”” and downtown the GN is easily the class of Fremont Street.

It was the weekend before the Fourth of July, and I was in town for several days of not a lot of play, but for several private seminars and other meetings. On Thursday night I met with a first-time player at the Golden Nugget bar sitting just adjacent to the slot club.

The first thing we took care of was getting him signed up for his slot card. I certainly would have suggested that step, but he immediately went at it as if his financial life depended on it ”” which caused the red flag to go up right away.

Of course, I spent three minutes telling him why those cards almost always become more addictive than the game itself, and not to think of the thing as the end-all. Typical of almost ANY video poker player however, the advice went straight through that hole in his head as he began quoting what he’s read that others say ”” which was confirmed the moment he inserted the card and it didn’t promptly take.

Already he was cussing out the slot club ”” completely unfounded as he discovered ”” once he put his card in the correct way. I found this both annoying and comical, as I was concerned that his commitment to winning some money would instantly be overcome by a mission to pile up the points.

We walked over to the quarter side of the bar, but he said he wanted to only play dollars. Naturally I had no problem with this since it’s not my business to know his financial situation. It’s much more important they understand the strategy I play, how I play it, why I play it that way, what games I play, and to understand they must practice in casinos at lower denominations as well as comprehend that the game is grounded in mathematics.

I also drilled into him that although cash back and all the other club benefits are nice, successful players do not count those items towards any type of profits made or reduction in losses. They don’t have to. He suddenly seemed attentive, and I saw hope.

We sat down to begin play, but the machines at this bar seemed a bit odd. The Double Bonus games were a very poor 8/6/4 ”” the same as Double Double Bonus (which has the bonus for the kickers on special quads).

Then all I could see was that the game I wanted to start him on ”” Bonus Poker ”” was probably a similarly lousy 6/5. But not only did they have ACES Bonus Poker, both Bonus games had the exact same pay table of 8/5 ”” a rather rare find in itself since ACES pays an additional 4,000 coin jackpot for the proper sequential spelling of A-C-E-S.

The whole pay table scheme seemed strange. I’ve never seen a combination of such terrible paying Double Bonus poker teamed up with both full pay Bonus Poker games! So we started play on the ACES Bonus game ”” a choice that was really a no-brainer.

Once he got the hang of the holds, he was having fun. But it all ended in a positive kind of way when he hit A-C-8-E-S for $400, but if the 8 didn’t get in the way, it would have been $4,000. That upset him so that he had to quit.

Quitting is good when ahead, but not being happy with a win is not. So many people take the wrong attitudes into play today that the casino managers are licking their chops. Some win and try to win more, some chase miserable losers far too long, and others say it’s OK to lose today because they somehow know they’ll win tomorrow.

The only way to approach this game is with a winning attitude. I want to and usually do win something nearly every time I play ”” never being too greedy for my own good any more (like I used to when I lost regularly). Why give yourself a huge chance at failure once you’ve put some profit dollars into your pockets?

I teach that a player can win with any pay table with the proper bankroll, if he comes in with a plan, and if he sticks to it. But when there’s such an anomaly of pay tables such as at this bar, it makes no sense to chase your planned profit on a DB or DDB game with such a large deficit. Plenty of people still do. Let’s hope it’s not you.