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12 July 2014
By Henry Tamburin
Have you ever talked with a friend on the telephone and gotten the feeling that something is wrong with them, but they aren’t telling you? This happened to me recently. I finally asked my friend point blank, “Is something wrong?” That’s when he opened up and told me what happened when he’d played video poker recently.
Before I get into Al’s story (not his real name), let me give you some background. Al is a recreational casino player, who visits casinos about 2-3 times per month. He used to play only slots until he asked me about a year ago to teach him how to be a skillful video poker player, which I did.
From that day forward, he played only video poker on his casino trips. Al is a successful businessman, travels a lot, and likes to play dollar-denomination, single-line video poker games for fun and relaxation. He only plays games where he knows the playing strategy well and the Expected Value of the game is greater than 99 percent.
Now, let me get back to Al’s story. Here is what he told me.
"I was playing a dollar-denomination 8/5 Bonus Poker game. I had loaded the machine with $200 and was playing an 8/5 Bonus Poker progressive machine. I was holding my own when “it” happened. Over the course of the next half hour, I won virtually every hand. My heart was racing, and I remember that my last four-of-a-kind hand was four queens, and I paused for a second and noticed I’d racked up $2,250 in credits. I’d had never won this much money so quickly in a casino in my life!
"I thought of quitting with a $2,000 profit but since I had only played an hour or so, I decided to keep playing. Then the tide turned. When I finally stopped playing, I cashed out a $700 ticket. Yeah, I was a $500 winner but when I got in my car and started driving home, I started thinking about what I did and how stupid I was for not quitting when I was ahead $2,000. I mean, that’s a lot of cash, the equivalent of half a royal. That night, I couldn’t sleep because all I kept thinking about was that $2,000 I could have had. It’s been a week, and I’m still kicking myself for giving up that two grand."
I offered Al the following tip so that if he ever gets ahead again, he’ll be able to leave the machine (and the casino) with his profits. When you are ahead but you still want to play some more, do this: hit the cash out button, put that ticket in your wallet, and load the machine with another $200 in cash. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re on a hot streak, and to keep playing with your built-up credits—and cashing out your credits helps you to avoid that temptation.
If Al had done this during his big winning streak, he would have cashed out two tickets: the big one for $2,250, and a second ticket with whatever credits he had left after he stopped playing. Even if he lost the entire $200 in his “second” playing session, he still would have left the casino with a very nice profit.
Try this strategy the next time you play video poker if Lady Luck shined on you.
Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. Tamburin’s websites are www.smartgaming.com and www.bjinsider.com.
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