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Against all odds

Oct 18, 2004 11:25 PM

By Rob Singer

Few things in life can be more versatile, have more variety, or be the cause of greater anxiety than the game of video poker. We’ve all seen many, many strange hands pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and if it weren’t for the fact that we were in-process of winning or losing our hard-earned money, these anomalies would appear as common as any occurrences as we surf the Internet.

Because of our interest with individual hands as we gamble, some deals and draws are very hard to forget. That’s why I’ve chosen to share every oddity I can remember in my column today, and as you read on you may recall something quite similar happening.

”¡ Four Of A Kind Anomaly: There was a trip to Las Vegas in August of this year where I won only $30 and could not continue to play because of a commitment. I had been down more than $2,000 at one point, but three quads (4-of-a-kind) at the $1 and $2 levels brought me back. What was strange about this, however, was that all three quads were 3s — and each one was DEALT! Two of them were on $1 Bonus Poker, and the third was on $2 Double Double. And it was dealt with an ace kicker — entirely at the Hard Rock.

”¡ Five-Play Draws: Occasionally I like to play my five-hand strategy, and when I’m on a recreational trip, I enjoy playing the game at the 25¡ level for fun. Recently, while I was waiting for a friend to come back down from his room at the Las Vegas Hilton, which was bought by Resorts International, I sat down at one of the seemingly few video poker machines in the casino that had ticket-in/ticket-out technology. I put in $30, and one hand produced a deal of four clubs. Drawing for at least one flush in order to get my money back on the hand, none appeared. That’s not very unusual, but on the very next hand four clubs appeared once again. This time the draw yielded five flushes — the first time I’ve ever seen that out of thousands of hands in the past.

”¡ Multi-Strike Poker Quads: On a visit to the Rio in Las Vegas, I was training a fellow player on my Multi-Strike play strategy. He chose the 50¡ Bonus Poker game. After some lousy deals the bottom line finally dealt a winner — four 2s for 200 credits. What comes up on the second line deal? Four 2s again for 400 credits! The third line has an insignificant deal, but it did have a pair of 2s. So what final hand does the draw yield? You guessed it — four more 2s for 800 additional credits. At this point you couldn’t believe the looks on our faces as the top line showed a valueless deal, but it did have a lone 2. What would YOU keep at this point? Right, we kept the 2, and the thing spit out two more for trip 2s and a total hand win of 1,520 credits. My student had to cash out, as neither one of us could take any more of it. This has to rank up there with one of the strangest wins I or anyone else will ever see.

”¡ Holding A Lone Kicker in Double Double Bonus Poker (DDB): I remember a few years back at the old Reserve (now Fiesta Henderson) at that bank of dollar DDB machines with the progressive meters that seem to hit the royal quite frequently. I was not having a good session on dollars playing my original Play Strategy, so on a nothing deal I opted to hold the 2 kicker "just for kicks." Almost unbelievably, four aces rolled out for a $2,668 win. Also odd is at that bank, the aces with the kicker progressive seems to hit less often than the royal — at least every time I’m there. Even now.

”¡ Back-To-Back Royals: There was a time I hit a $5 progressive royal on the bank of $5 Bonus Poker machines at The Venetian. I ALWAYS quit when I reach my goal and go home immediately. Almost always, anyway. This time, while I was starting to get paid while sitting in the seat next to my machine, someone who wanted to play was badgering me into moving even after I politely said I would as soon as they finished paying me. Out of instinct, I put $100 into the second machine with my free hand, and I got a $20,000 royal out of it on the very first hand. I took some cursing from the would-be player with a great big SMILE. Then I left.

”¡ Double Trouble With Double Down: Ah, the famous double down option — the one where you can take a 50-50 chance of doubling a win, but they’ll never let you try to get a lost hand’s money back. It seems to pop out of nowhere at times. At the old Regent (now the Rampart at J.W. Marriott) in Summerlin, after a $2,000 win I reached for my bag for my ID and accidentally hit the YES on the double down question — one that never appeared on non-taxable wins. Although I argued and got nowhere, I lost the $2,000. Several months later at Harrah’s I hit four aces with a kicker on their $2 DDB game (a $4,000 win), and in an excited frenzy this time I mistakenly hit "Yes" again! This time I won the dumb bet and walked out with a pile of cash, but I did not enjoy my ride home. My extreme discipline had a melt down and I could not forgive myself.

”¡ Serious Button-Pushing Error: Oh no, this one REALLY gets me whenever I think of it. At a $10 DDB machine at the Hard Rock, I was dealt 3-3-3-3-X. Like an amateur I held all five cards for $4,000. I don’t know what happened, and my request of the attendant to show me what the next card would have been was handled properly: "You don’t really want to know. Pretend it was not a kicker." I persisted and he refused. Thank you, sir. Now I carry on believing the kicker was not there, but I still kick myself about it now and then.

”¡ Straight Flush Mush: It seems everybody hates straight flushes — not because of the win they represent and certainly not for their beauty on the screen. It’s the fact that they pay a seemingly paltry 250 credits on most games — and for all that work! Yet I have seen two of them in three hands. Both were dealt, but my eyes played tricks on the second one as I thought I was looking at 3d-4d-5d-6h-7d. After I hit, 6h came out. What would that do to you?

Most of us could go on all day long about what we’ve seen and the crazy plays we’ve made. This is a listing of the oddest of the oddest as produced by me. On one hand they do seem very unusual, but when you think that we’re dealing with computers, then it’s understandable that anything can and usually does happen at any time. I guess that’s one of the reasons why the game continues to be interesting to me.