Play for quads
and play to win

Dec 2, 2003 5:24 AM

Whenever I talk to players about video poker, I like to ask them what it is that they believe can make them a winner. By far, the most common answer revolves around getting a royal flush. Of course, the problem with that is in how infrequently they appear on our screens.

I recognized that in the mid 90s, and went on to adjust my game to become a successful endeavor accordingly. That has not occurred with the majority of players, however, and they still cling to their dreams of seeing a royal flush every time out.

There’s one position that is unwavering: Those who play to the math expecting some sort of overall teensy weensy lifetime win to be compiled just as they step into the grave, rely on royals to see them through all the minutia of their play. They remain so mesmerized by mathematical formulas, probabilities and models that if a theoretically positive game ever surfaced that had only one winning hand paying a huge jackpot for the royal, they’d triple mortgage their homes just to take a crack at it.

All of my Play Strategies revolve around NOT hitting a royal, but in going for quads. And the higher they pay, the more the strategy is adjusted towards sniping for them.

This I figured out just prior to going on my current seven-year winning streak. Most experts and serious players agree that it’s great to hit a quad, but to them it’s merely a tool in which to keep playing until they lose their entire bankroll or hit a royal.

It is true my Strategies also go for the royal more often than optimal play does (while the other guys seem satisfied with a handful of high pairs, trips, and full houses here and there), but it is also true that I quit and go home whenever I hit them — with pockets full of money.

Those who for some reason believe Full Pay Deuces Wild is the game of champions really have only quad deuces to shoot for. That, my friends, is why the game is not played by anyone serious about winning reasonable money. It is a fun game, but its enjoyment curve rapidly drops off the chart literally as the clock ticks. If it were not for Bonus Poker and all the advanced versions of this game, I would no longer be playing video poker.

Some people analyze the heck out of every available game with computer programs. I chose to utilize the far more advanced computer attached to my neck to understand that games paying out super jackpots for quad Aces, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, or even K’s, Q’s, or J’s should be played with just that in mind. I developed my Strategies around these winning hands, and making these changes in short-term, goal-oriented strategy clearly puts game EV much higher than that what is experienced in the world of the computer-perfect, long-term play strategist.

Nothing is that easy, and I don’t want to give you the impression that all you have to do is keep pairs or one high card and always go for the quad. About 95% of my plays are in fact computer-perfect, so in case you didn’t know, you first have to understand the basics of playing poker against a very perfect computer.

The money comes with setting goals and never deviating from them — while you gear the "special plays" around attaining those goals through quads (or any other winner) when required. You must also have the proper bankroll to comfortable lose in case you DO lose — as you climb up in denomination awaiting that quad that almost always makes a show. And along the ride you may just happen upon a royal.

Most players don’t and won’t approach the game in the manner I do. For one thing, they haven’t the discipline I’ve trained for in my working career. I don’t believe you’ll ever meet a more determined or driven person. I’ve saved a gaming bankroll aside from my personal accounts for this, and I put in a whole lot of time in developing a way to beat the game on a consistent basis.

But I also have a fault, and it is that I cannot live nearby a gambling town. That’s because I readily admit I have a tendency to be a compulsive player, and even if I won on my mini romps around town, I would likely play far too often to keep any winnings.

Strong discipline helps, but there are always challenges in daily lives where temptation has the opportunity to slip through those momentary cracks. I simply choose not to let that happen. And that is as much a part of my overall Play Strategy as is my quest for quads.