The changing face of
video poker, oh my

Nov 1, 2004 11:29 PM

I just can’t help it. I want to teach so many other players out there how to have a better chance of winning and have more fun playing video poker, that holding anything back about how I do it would be counter-productive. While others are reading mathematical fantasy books delineating probability theories about the game, practicing endlessly on home computers in order to become "like Mike," nervously scrambling around the house looking for their colorful array of slot club cards and those infamous laminated strategy cards (or overly-priced drink coasters as I prefer to call them) or worrying about whether the last casino they played in "cheated" them out of 250 points — I simply go about winning in a most unconventional sort of way: I win a little ”¦ or a lot ”¦ and then leave.

Think about it. The next time you go into a casino, take a good look around. How many ATM’s do you see ”¦ and why is there seemingly always lines at the things? You think winners are using them just to add to the wad of cash in their pockets? Or maybe it’s just people willing to pay up to $4 a pop for a quick twenty bucks — happy to see a machine in the place finally pay off.

Still wondering where all the winners are? At any given point in time, if you were able to go up and talk to every gambler in a particular casino, you’d find that a very high percentage of them have been or will be ahead while they are playing. Not so amazing, however (and this is the reason for all the beautiful buildings casinos are housed in) is the fact that a very high percentage of those winners will LEAVE the casino as losers! And why is this? Simply because few go in with pre-set win goals or stick to them if they do, and even fewer can put a stop to the action with all the excitement going on around them.

What I do when I talk to other interested-in-winning players is always go over the ground rules first, with a clear understanding that no one rule is more important than the next. Proper bankroll adequate enough to see you through progressions in denomination as well as game volatility, pre-set unwavering win and loss goals, extreme discipline to always do what you say you are going to do, iron-clad determination and a solid knowledge of the game(s) you are about to play. I’ve been doing this since 1997, I’ve profited (directly from the game, WITHOUT adding in comps, cash back, gifts, or casino host smiles) over $600,000 since then (OK, so it’s not a million bucks in six months ”¦ but then again, we don’t live in a 6-month world, do we?) so those who choose to listen to me will and do see an improvement.

When I started to play back in 1990, game technology compared to today’s was in the dark ages. Now, touch screens, ticket-in/ticket-out (TITO), multi-plays, multi-denominational,and multi-game machines are virtually everywhere. In most cases of technological advances, they are made in order that the businesses/casinos take in more revenue and profits from their customers, and with all these new video poker machines they have certainly accomplished that goal.

But almost like a touch of magic, these new machines have made my Play Strategies so much easier that you’d think I designed all of them just so I could take advantage of them. Because I progress in denomination, change games often and cash out very often, I couldn’t have thought of a more appropriate wave of technology to come along that would assist me in my play. No more grabbing at trays full of filthy coins and waiting in lines to cash them in. No more wondering why if there’s a one-coin discrepancy it’s always in favor of the casino. No more constantly moving around from machine to machine to change games or denominations. And the most important aspect by far? I’m now able to spend far much more time at my home in Arizona.

Whenever I come across a casino where I like to play and find a mix of TITO and coin machines, I ask why. Mostly I’m told that there are still a lot of players who like the feel of playing with coins. Say what? That kind of reminds me of watching games in sports books while seeing several gamblers walking around with a pencil in one hand, a racing program in the other and a bill being held in their mouth between their teeth. Yuk!

I’m not unlike others who like to spend time in casinos to enjoy all the amenities they have to offer. The exciting atmosphere, the drinks and food, the women, the music and all the sports are more than enough to keep anyone occupied for many long hours. But that’s only when I’m there for recreation. When I go in for a profit-making session, none of that affects me in any way — at least most of the time. There is one and only one way to play seriously, and that’s to be able AND willing to turn off any and all of the casino manager’s distractions.

At the end of the day, who really wants to spend long hours inside any casino when they don’t smoke? And come to think about it, there’s another of my requirements for being a successful casino gambler. A player MUST wear total confidence on his sleeve if he expects to win consistently. That requires a good amount of self-respect. Generally, smokers have none.

The final part to the puzzle relating to this is the overall health and health habits of a player. I believe anyone who desires to win must do more than guzzle alcoholic drinks, slam down several servings at the buffet or define the better part of their day as sitting at video poker machines. I myself spend several hours a week PREPARING for my video poker sessions by exercising, walking and doing whatever I can that my body will allow at my age in order to feel good about myself. I eat sensible, and although I take up to two alcoholic drinks a day because I believe what I hear in medical reports, you’ll never see me abuse that in a casino.

Some people may be confused over my position on being healthy in order to play well. It’s very simple, though. People who feel good about themselves will have the confidence to feel good about what they’re doing, and they will possess much more discipline and determination in order to do what they said they were going to do. Self-respect breeds self-confidence. Self-confidence usually breeds success. Together with this and these machines, which we now have, I feel good about my play when I start up again in 2005.