Don’t live and die doing the math!

Aug 24, 2004 6:17 AM

As video poker’s popularity in Las Vegas casinos continues unabated, the debate rages on about which strategy is more reliable — long-term or short-term.

As a proponent of the latter, I’ve always stressed the "hit-and-run" technique — play until you reach a modest goal of winning 40 credits per machine, then move on.

Conversely, long-term strategists live by the math and die by the math. These so-called experts say they expect to lose many more sessions than they win while chasing that tiny win percentage that rarely surfaces. It is a study in pure illogic.

So, rather than being satisfied with a modest, short-term win, those who subscribe to long-term strategy believe that it is much better to travel than to arrive.

While I play unrelated sessions every time I take a trip to Nevada, these folks believe they are in some sort of continuation zone, where the in-between is not only ignored but is labeled non-existent.

There is nothing wrong with a desire to play only those machines with a theoretical return of over 100% (calculated over an infinite number of games). In fact, it’s the smart thing to do for any of us if we can find these rapidly disappearing games.

But no one is going to sit for the duration, waiting for a theoretical advantage to manifest itself.

A very significant aspect of playing long-term strategy is how it treats royal flushes or any other large jackpot. Hit one and if you waste time your celebrating, you are said to be losing money. Get up and go home, and the experts criticize you for wasting your time when you could be playing deeper into the term.

Why is this? Because these strategist like to think they are making a fixed amount per hour of play, and every hour away from the machine is non-productive. Does this make sense? Not to me, it does.

If the experts are to be taken literally, and if royal flushes pop up once every 40,000 hands or so, why not use your time at home more efficiently? Simply buy one of those video poker computer programs, play about 39,000 hands risk-free and if you do not see a royal flush, rush to your favorite casino. Certainly your chances of hitting a royal have now increased! Can you see how silly this proposition can be?

That is why I developed my strategy solely around the short-term. When critics say my many short-term visits will add up to the long-term, they neglect to realize the difference between simple short-term sessions and goal-oriented short-term strategy.

If pre-determined goals are set and then reached, all previous play is expunged as I head into a new session. There is no need to dwell on yesterday, and no need to worry about tomorrow. It is as steady a system as I’ve seen in the world of gambling.

One of the key traits of playing this strategy is that the player never gets bored. Playing for and reaching relatively easy goals is as good a feeling as there is in professional gambling. Knowing that whenever a royal flush appears (and they do appear!), your goals are immediately surpassed and it’s time to go home for the week can be extremely satisfying.

I compare it to reading about video poker. Do you want experiences, new ideas, reasonable advice and sensible criticism, or are you satisfied reading articles filled with difficult practice hands, laced with confusing mathematical methodologies and capped with the endless tooting of the horn. I chose the fun way. You can, too.