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Father-in-law wins big playing wrong game

20 November 2009

I've written about my 91-year old father-in-law Pete's adventures in video poker before. He is a converted slot player whom I taught video poker on my computer using commercially available video poker training software. He also brings his video poker strategy cards with him to the casino when he plays, just in case. Since he started playing video poker about 5 years ago, his gambling bankroll had increased fivefold. He also loves playing video poker because, at his age, "it keeps my mind sharp."

But let's get back to his latest video poker adventure. It occurred in a Biloxi casino. We made our usual biweekly trip there and I got him settled on a quarter denomination machine that had the 9/6 Jacks-or-Better schedule. I made sure that the reader for his player's club card was functioning properly and he had his strategy card handy. I waited until he loaded his bills into the bill acceptor and after they all registered properly in the credit meter and he had played a few hands, I left to play blackjack.

Fast forward a few minutes. I was getting hungry so I stopped playing and I went to get Pete so we could eat our comped lunch. He was still playing the same machine and I noticed he had over 4,000 coins on his credit meter so I assumed that he had hit another royal flush (in Jacks-or-Better you win $1,000 if you get a royal flush with max coins wagered). Before I could finish congratulating him on hitting the royal he interrupted me and started telling me the story of what happened.

I was playing the machine when all of a sudden the screen turned completely blue. I didn't know what happened or why and I was confused as to how to get back to the game I was just playing. There was a woman playing next to me so I asked for help. She leaned over, hit a few buttons like she knew what she was doing, and the game came back on the screen. I thanked her and started playing again. I was dealt a pair of Aces and three small cards so I held the aces and drew three new cards. I was elated when two more aces appeared on the screen giving me four aces. The credit meter started advancing to record my 125 coin payout. But the damn thing never stopped. It just kept giving me more and more credits. I didn't know what the hell was going on and I honestly thought the machine had broken. When the credit meter finally stopped spinning it registered over 4,000 coins (that's over $1,000).

I knew something wasn't right but I couldn't put my finger on it until I glanced up at his screen. Yikes! He wasn't playing a Jacks-or-Better game. After I scanned the schedule for the game he was playing, it dawned on me what had happened. The game he was playing was Triple Double Bonus, which pays a bonus $1,000 if you have four aces and either a deuce, three or four kicker (that's a five-card hand containing four aces plus either a 2, 3 or 4 as the fifth card). It turns out that the helpful woman (who had left her machine by now) had inadvertently put the Triple Double Bonus game on Pete's machine rather than the Jacks-or-Better game that he was playing prior to his machine going haywire (we surmise that she was playing that game and she assumed he was also).

Pete doesn't remember what the fifth card was along with the four aces but it must have been either a deuce, three or four. That means he held a pair of aces and drew exactly the three cards he needed to win the $1,000 payout on the Triple Double Bonus video poker game that he was playing -- two more aces and either the 2, 3 or 4 kicker. The odds of drawing these exact three cards to hit the $1,000 payout are pretty long but to do it while he was unknowingly playing the wrong video poker game is mind boggling.

Now I'm not picking on Pete because we all make mistakes. But he was very fortunate and also very lucky in this case. Instead of winning $31.25, which is what he would have won had he gotten the four aces on the game he should have been playing, he wound up winning $1,000 instead. That's a big turnaround in dollars and cents. But what if the reverse had happened? Suppose he was playing the Triple Double Bonus machine when it went haywire and a helpful player switched the game to 9/6 Jacks-or-Better? Pete would have felt sick in this scenario because he would have won only $31.25 instead of the grand. And complaining to casino management about it would have fallen on deaf ears (it's your responsibility to know what game you are playing). So there is a lesson to be learned and it's this: If something unexpected happens to your machine while you are playing it's best to get help from a casino slot attendant rather than rely on a fellow player for assistance.

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Best of Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin

Henry Tamburin
Henry Tamburin is the author of the best-selling book, Blackjack: Take The Money and Run, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, and Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course. For a free 3-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter with full membership privileges, visit www.bjinsider.com/free. For details on the Golden Touch Blackjack course visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 866/WIN-BJ21. For a free copy of his casino gambling catalog featuring over 50 products call 888/353-3234 or visit the Internet store at www.smartgaming.com.

Henry Tamburin Websites:

www.smartgaming.com

Books by Henry Tamburin:

> More Books By Henry Tamburin