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‘Keep it simple, stupid’
applies to video poker!

Jul 27, 2004 1:13 AM

Video poker is a game of luck. If you have good luck you will win; if your luck’s bad you will lose. That’s all there is to it.

So, why do so many "experts" try to portray it as a game of skill, often citing math models that assure us of success, providing we play a billion hands or so? Other than to promote their books and tapes, I have no answers.

Of course, if you want to be a successful player, there is a lot more to the game than just following the course that luck sets forth. You must have a plan with goals and you must not deviate from that plan; you must carry the proper bankroll; you must never go to the ATM’s or casino cage to sign up for credit or to cash a check; and you must have the discipline and determination to follow through on everything you said you were going to do.

Nevertheless, "experts" constantly tell players that they must learn the proper strategy, contained, of, course in their tapes, books and magazines.

I wonder why these folks try to make the game so difficult?

Poker is not a complicated game. Lately we’ve been watching on a number of channels how popular the World Poker Tour has become. Many times during the games, the computer calculates a win possibility percentage for each remaining player as the cards are flopped. Do the players know this percentage, and do they even care? Of course not, and if they did, it would take much of the fun out of the game for them and us. Yet many times it is the non-projected winner that wins the hand — simply because he or she used their human ability to overcome the computer odds.

Such is the game of video poker. Approaching it from a mathematical standpoint slowly but surely takes all the fun out of the game. Just as in live poker, we crave the ability to make up our own minds as we strive to attain goals.

Some people (mostly critics) tell me the overall method in which I play cannot be called reasonable. After all, I drive back and forth to Nevada from the Phoenix area almost weekly, at times I check into a hotel and leave a few hours later after reaching a goal, and I usually carry a lot of cash with me.

All this is coupled with my play strategies, but these folks like to say I just don’t know what I’m doing. I guess they think I should get roped into casino promotions and should sit for hours in unhealthy environments chasing book theories as I pile up the points. Give me mercy!

Video poker is, to me, a very easy way to make a living. No, I don’t sell this and that and require people to pay for my time, and I have no need to give speeches at Indian casinos or be paid to sponsor cruise ship tours.

Driving to and from Nevada casinos each week can wear people down. It’s partly because of the traffic, has something to do with the unforgiving hot weather, the expense may get to a few, you have to have the time and you have to feel comfortable doing it. My approach conquers all of that. I almost always drive overnight when the traffic is nearly non-existent and the weather is beautiful; the gasoline expense is negligible compared to my overall win goals; I will not fly since I’m then on someone else’s schedule; I only use a rental car on these trips in case something happens so I’m not bogged down with repairs when I get home; and time is not an issue with me.

It’s always nice checking into a hotel after a 200-300 mile drive (or 800 in the case of a trip to Lake Tahoe/Reno) but when I win shortly thereafter, it’s so much nicer checking out knowing I’ve reached my win goal.

Some may not think that’s comfortable, because I may have to stop and take several naps on the way home. But it is exactly why I live a healthy lifestyle. There no way I could do such a thing if I were as unhealthy as most of the people I see playing the machines in the casinos.

Video poker doesn’t have to be difficult. If it is, then you either don’t mind losing or you’re doing the wrong thing by playing it. It’s part of the common sense needed to be successful at the game.