Turning myths into poker truth

Oct 14, 2003 2:16 AM

If there’s one identity video poker shares with reality, it’s that nearly everyone who’s had something passionate to say about the game is basically still being heard from today.

Why is that? Simply because the early birds took advantage of the game’s basis in mathematics. Because so many players could easily be led into believing that the math doesn’t lie, they then became misled into believing they could beat the computers through a whole lot of classroom-type skill.

And you know what? Every guru has jumped onto that train. Except me. I’ve fortunately able to step back and take a common sense look at the whole picture that few others, if any, can.

Along this runaway train’s path there’s been a number of myths that seem to evolve and appear over and over again. That’s where I come in.

If it were not for me the train would continue running over players, taking their wallets along with any self-esteem, then without compassion, send them back to their nest for the sole purpose of coming up with more money.

So let’s take a look at some of the myths, which drives the steam engines that power those trains.

Video poker machines were invented for people to enjoy playing and have a lot of fun. Wrong. Smart players know how to turn the tables on the casino and actually do all that. But the fact remains ”” the machines were put on floors solely to separate you and me from as much of our money as possible. Period.

Slot Clubs were developed as a result of the cries of players who demanded more value for their money. Wrong, again. And this is one of the two most misunderstood concepts involving the game. Slot clubs were a casino invention, created to cultivate slot customers and bring them back into the fleecing pens.

Casino promotions are there as a thank-you to players. Sorry. Are you addicted to multiple-point days? Do you get sweaty hands when you hear about "Double Royals in 24 hours?" Do you find yourself dreaming about quad card-of-the-day bonuses? Then you need to rethink your game. There is one and only one truth to casino promotions: They are for the sole purpose of taking more of your and my money.

If players choose to put most of their play on negative EV machines, they will more than likely lose over the long-term. Uh-uh. Once again, you’ve been incorrectly listening to the ramblings of those who promote math models and probability theory. The game is simply a short-term affair each and every time you play it. Playing with discipline while setting goals and sticking to them allows any player to beat any machine anywhere. Anything can happen at any time, and if you don’t give it the opportunity to, it usually won’t.

Playing positive EV games optimally does not guarantee a player will ever win. Correcto-mundo! But it is right to so many people for the wrong reason. This statement is a favorite caveat some writers like to use so when players who buy their video poker products lose their savings, they can say "I warned you." The plain truth is, advantage play is not a lock for profit, and almost every player who follows this method does not win.

There are hundreds of professional video poker players that not only win, but they are continually showered with casino freebies and gifts, cash back, attention from VIP hosts, and unending food and show offers. Right and wrong. I don’t doubt there’s a faction who, because of their daily play, believe they are professionals (although when confronted they suddenly claim to be serious recreational players), but in reality there are few if any at all ”” and I think we all know that to be the case. It turns out this "hundreds of professionals" statement is used by those who have a sales interest in getting as many people as possible to believe in this myth. Yes, video poker is big business.

Finally, the game of video poker is at least 80% skill with the remainder being luck, and the more hands you play the more skill has to do with winning. Wrong, dead wrong! Although I repeat this all the time, it can never be said enough: Each deal is only the result of luck, either good or bad. Each hold is common sense, i.e., involving some skill. And every draw is solely based on luck, once again either good or bad. Whether you are playing the first hand of your life or the seven millionth, every hand is a separate and individual occurrence having absolutely nothing to do with what has happened before. Understand that, and you’re on your way to turning at least one video poker myth into a truth.