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Win with patience
and will power

Feb 9, 2004 11:45 PM

If there’s one thing I’ve been taught throughout my lifetime, it’s how to wait ”” in lines, for answers, for people, etc. That is one of the main reasons why I’ve become so successful when playing video poker.

Certainly, accepting the fact that beating the game consistently is not a matter of skill ”” but rather taking complete advantage of the good luck that comes your way ”” is something classroom-type educators of the game have a difficult (but not impossible) time coming to grips with.

Yet while they’re spending their time studying, practicing, worrying about the level of skill they possess, and looking for theoretical 100.7 percent games instead of knowing how to be comfortable with one that calculates out to 97 percent, I simply wait and allow the machine to deal out the luck that is or can be the session/fate-determinant for every player alive.

There was a time last year when I revised the use of my Play Strategies to incorporate more of my Romp-Thru-Town style of play instead of using the standard strategy I developed in 1996. Since I had another income I no longer needed to win at least $2,500 on average for each trip, and I wanted to have more fun and less stress playing. My Romps, Multi-Strike, and at times Multi-Play Strategies give me that. But there would be times when I’d play my original strategy in order not to lose any of the abilities I had acquired in doing so. My latest trip to Laughlin and Las Vegas was one of them.

Because I’ll never do the drive from the Phoenix area to Nevada when everyone else does, I left at 10 p.m. on a Friday night. Upon arriving at the Ramada Express in Laughlin around 12:30, I grabbed a seat at a dollar 8/5 Bonus Poker game. An added bonus for playing at Ramada is being paid triple for four 7’s, but for some reason I haven’t seen them in my last 11 visits ”” and this time was no different.

Having had only two cash-outs of 40 credits or more during my play on $1, $2, $5, and $10 machines (from two non-special quads) I left losing exactly $5,000. A surprisingly nice round number for mentally keeping track of; yet the result was obviously irritating.

But I still had $12,200 of my on-hand bankroll to take to the higher-limit machines in Vegas, and as I always have in the past, I continued on without concern for what had already happened. The only way to truly beat this game is through a combination of pre-set goals, planning, proper bankroll, and determination.

I hadn’t played this strategy in months ”” and that little voice in the back of my mind was constantly reminding me of a $33,960 loss sustained on one such trip in early 2003 ”” but I live my life by always doing what I say I am going to do. Quitting was not an option.

At the Mirage, $25 Bonus Poker was another 100-credit loser. But my first hand on Double Double Bonus was a dealt full house for a cash-out of $1,000. Within the next five minutes I was dealt two 3’s, and the other two popped out on the draw. No $10,000 kicker, but my session was suddenly over and I could once again relax. As is customary with me, I took the cash, got into my car and drove home ”” stopping only for gas and some rest ”” something

I definitely needed at this point.

If this $2,850 win taught me something, it was that I really don’t miss the high-stakes play. What if I did not meet my win goal on the $25 game? Well, if my bank were still open I’d have gone over to withdraw funds to play the $100 machines, and quit after that — win or lose. If not, home a loser I would go. And that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to be when you play within a strict set of rules. Waver on any single item and you will never be successful.

These days I prefer the lower limit play of my other strategies. And that’s really the way it should be for most normal video poker players. Regular people who play just don’t have the money to properly play at over-their-head limits. If you have a tendency to get a bit cocky after hitting royals and nearly every time feel it’s worth taking a shot at the higher limit games, you do have a problem likely requiring professional help. On this dangerous road, one lucky hit will become a curse sooner than later, and you’ll eventually pay the price.

The reason to progress is one fold and one fold only: When the big winner DOES come, your increase in denomination has prepared you to actually win something instead of being just another 400 credits (in this case) for the game you’re playing. In the case outlined here, if I had settled down into long-term strategy play on a dollar-only 10/7 Double Bonus positive expectation game, when the four 3’s arrived I would have been down over a thousand dollars even AFTER the hit. That and a dose of plain old common sense should awaken everyone.

Winning video poker play requires patience — and plenty of it. Waiting for a big winner can be exasperating at times, and on this trip it was no different. After all, four 3’s really isn’t a THAT huge of a jackpot.

But because of the preparation in my game, when it did arrive, it sent me home. In other words, I took complete advantage of the hand in two ways: It paid a large jackpot because of my progression; and I was able to simply get up and go home upon payoff. Determination does that for me. My wits were stretched, but my mind was prepared. Video poker is such a game. You have to be ready for the games it plays with you.