Being an Informed Gambler
When I’m playing video poker, conversations often start with other players and I’m still surprised that there are so many players who are adamant in their belief in verifiable falsehoods. I gently try to steer them towards the correct strategy or odds, but I usually get overruled. These people are wagering their own money, so they must really believe what they preach, but I think to myself, “What are confident, well-meaning people telling me about other subjects, which I know nothing about, that are blatantly untrue?”
I’m grinding away at Jacks or Better and a guy tells me that you can only make money at Jacks or Better if you hit the Royal. The best game on the machine is Triple Double Bonus. I glance over and see that it is 6/5 TDB. It returns less than 94% with over 5 times the variance (generally, how much money you need to play before hitting a jackpot and getting it back or more basically, how lucky or unlucky you are in a session) of Jacks or Better. To make matters worse, in the short time he is playing next to me, I see him making incorrect holds (like the substantial error of not seeing low pairs).
Know Your Risk | Drop That Ace
I know many people who won’t play boring Jacks or Better (JoB), but they know that they are taking more risk to play more exciting games. We should know how much risk we are taking when we are wagering money! I realize that people have different financial circumstances and all sorts of reasons for engaging in the casino experience, but if you’ve been playing for 30 years (as this gentleman had been) I think that you would want to research some of your assumptions.
I’m teaching a friend the correct holds for Jacks or Better as we play side by side and we start talking to the man next to my friend. He seems relatively knowledgeable and is playing Jacks or Better too and also has a long history in the casinos. But then he disagrees with one of the most basic strategy rules for JoB: If you have three high cards and no two are suited and one of them is an ace, don’t hold the ace. As I’m explaining that you do that because the ace is less valuable because it makes an inside straight hold, he is explaining that the ace can be paired too and you can get your money back. If you run computer analysis, dropping the ace is the more valuable hold. Of course, this man might not have argued his point if he knew I have a little OCD and play like a computer (that drinks) but maybe he could be a little more open to information that he has not studied.
Related: Video Poker at Borgata B Bar
Dropping the ace is a mantra for another friend of mine who accompanies me to the casino often and we laugh about it every time it comes up. My mother will question the correct holds and will say, “But I don’t want to hold that.” I will say, “Well, you don’t have to hold it, but it is mathematically correct.” Now, Mom just looks at me and mouths, “Loser” but she does make the suggested hold. It is usually for holds that have value but are not probable winners, like 3 card straight flush holds or inside straights with 3 high cards.
Snarky? NO – but, Realistic and Honest
Now, I’m not trying to be snarky with this post but if I look back over my gambling log for the last 12 years, I am probably just at, long term theoretical expectation, meaning that I have been paid back at the true odds of the games, not being overly lucky or unlucky. A lot of time and effort was expended, but a lot of fun was had, so in my mind, that is a wash. I have always been open to learning more about the math and wish that I had the knowledge I have today when I first started playing and the odds were better. It will always help you to keep learning the strategies of the games and the way that comps are being awarded.
So, you know the risk but you just have to play Triple Double Bonus. (I mean, I’m not saying that I don’t want to play it or never have played it.) You should search for and play the best pay table for it that you can find and you should be reasonably accurate with your strategy, for that pay table. As far as Jacks or Better, it is true, that it’s not probable that you will make money in a session where you don’t hit a Royal Flush, but your losses overall will be lower than if you were playing a higher variance game. (Note: It’s possible to lose an entire 4000 coin jackpot in a session’s play, even at low variance Jacks or Better. I did that in a recent five hour session. That’s why it’s called gambling.) So, for a game like Jacks or Better, you’d better learn perfect strategy, because you need all the help you can get, affording the play until you hit a Royal Flush.
Even if you just adjust the way you play a little, the changes will add up in the long run. Keep learning and evaluating what you hear. Other gamblers can be a wealth of information but you should verify what they tell you and see if it applies to your situation.