Gaming trips: My year for not living dangerously

Apr 15, 2008 7:00 PM

The Undeniable Truth by Rob Singer | In any gambling career, players always experience that one year where everything just seems to keep falling into place.

There are also the not-so-great years where nothing works no matter how hard you try. In my particular case, I experienced the latter from 1990-1996 as an optimal-play-only video poker player.

I changed over to my own personally developed play strategies in 1997 and ever since have been a very profitable winner. I’m talking only from the machines. This year, however, my career has stepped outside my best expectations.

I didn’t plan my fourth trip of 2008 until the last minute, deciding to take a break and play in Laughlin for a day-and-a half.

My favorite machines hands down in Nevada are the 5-level, $1-$25 multi-gamers in the high limit room at the Aquarius. They have an excellent selection of full-pay and other games across the board, including the three games most important to my ability to win consistently: 8-5 Bonus Poker; 8-5 Super Double Bonus Poker; and 8-5 Triple Bonus Poker Plus (called Super Aces on these machines for some reason).

In there it’s clean, roomy, not too smoky or crowded, and I’m very comfortable playing in that type of environment. Add to that the non-glare screens along with above average seating, and you have what I consider as close to perfect as a video poker player can find.

I took a rather high bankroll of $50,000 because I wasn’t sure which of my strategies I would play when leaving home. I chose the 5-level Advanced Romp-Thru-Town, which I stuck with the entire time I played on the trip.

As I began my play one of the employees came over to remind me that since $500 in comp dollars is the highest I could get to and that I was already there, I would not be earning any more from this play. My response was "I’m here for the money and comp dollars (while welcomed) mean little to me."

The lady was perplexed and I know why. Losers play for the points, winners do it for the money.

My plan was to play for $500 mini-wins with an overall win goal of $5,000 for the visit. It’s aggressive for my style of play but because I was doing well so far this year, I felt good about it. On the first session, however, I hit a roadblock: I lost $10,000 with no cash-outs.

Session No. 2 began in similar fashion, as just over $3,000 went with no return. Then it all changed. Four 9’s on the $25 Super Double Bonus Poker gave me a win of about $3,200. The next round I hit four Aces on $10 Bonus Poker (BP) for another nearly $4,000. I cashed out just over $750 in profit twice with full houses on $25 BP. On $25 BP I hit four 2’s for $2,800 more. My final round was Royal Flush No. 2 of 2008 on $2 BP for $8,000.

Overall I was up about $9,700 so my trip win goal was met. The next morning I went to the Edgewater to meet the two players coming in to watch me play a few lower limit, 5-level sessions on 25¢-$5. The first ended with four 2’s on $5 DDB for $900 profit. The second saw four Aces and a kicker for $9,600.

Quite the training session.

This trip provided me with a clean $20,200 net profit in a total of five hours of play. Yes I got some cash back, I stayed for free and ate for free – and who knows what kind of gifts I’ll be showered with down the road, if any. But none of that has anything to do with winning money at the machines. For the year I was up over $78,000 in just three months with infrequent play. All four trips have yielded 5-figure incomes – very unusual for the amount of play I put in.

Trip No. 5 was a week later and was supposed to be toned down significantly because I was meeting with four different sets of players interested in learning the ropes of winning. What I forgot was that I had promised one group to play several Advanced Romp-Thru-Town sessions to the $25 level. As much as I didn’t really want to go that high any more in 2008 because of surpassing this year’s win goal, I always do what I say.

Over three days and with almost $40,000 in W2G’s culminating with a $12,000 4 ACES hit on $10 TBP+ at South Point, my net profit was exactly the same as the previous trip’s $20,200 – this time mostly with other players watching over my shoulder. I had played too much for my taste lately, but the surreal results seemed to keep me going. The trip had turned into more than training.

Then it happened. Everyone was gone and I was feeling a video poker player’s high – meaning it was danger time and I shouldn’t be playing any more for at least a month. But emotion and greed took over as I chose to play one more session: My single-play strategy as going for a minimum $2,500 win. I was bankrolled and prepared to play right on up to the $100 level if necessary.

I think I knew what the result was going to be from the start. Between Sam’s Town ($1/2/$5) the Monte Carlo ($5 & $10) and the $25/$100 games at Wynn, I dropped $18,500 after all my cash-outs were counted when the bath was over. Still, I netted an overall $1,700 win for the trip, but I didn’t deserve it one bit.

My response to my lapse in discipline? No play other than free-play until June, and nothing higher than $2 for the remainder of the year. It makes no sense to give the casinos a chance at the nearly $80k.