Last year I read Michael Craig’s “The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King,” which was about a banker from Texas, Andy Beal, taking on the best poker players in the world, one at a time, in heads up limit Texas Hold’em poker.
For a discussion of the book, you can listen to the March 5, 2015 podcast of Gambling with an Edge, which is available for free download from both www.bobdancer.com and www.richardmunchkin.com. Today I want to talk about something mentioned in the book that we didn’t cover in the radio interview.
Although he lost during these matches, Andy Beal became a world-class player in the particular format of head’s up limit hold’em. Hiding your emotions is an important part of playing poker successfully. Beal came to the conclusion that the best way to hide your emotions was to not have any! He practiced enough—hundreds of hours—so that being dealt AA (the best possible starting hand) gave him no more pleasure than being dealt an off suit 72 (the worst). Both could win. Both could lose. And he got so he wasn’t emotionally attached either way.
Celebrating A Royal Flush
That got me thinking about how much emotion a royal flush generates. I remember my first one (probably early in 1994—$1,000 on a 4-coin 9/6 Jacks or Better 25 cent machine at the now-defunct Sahara where the SLS is today) and I received a $1,000 bonus because it was hit during a certain time period on a Thursday. It was damn exciting! It was my biggest video poker jackpot up to that point, although I did have a few prior session wins in blackjack and backgammon that exceeded this amount.
But while playing that game, I also remember two honeymooners nearby celebrating with a kiss every time they got their money back with two pair! I remember thinking cynically, “Why not? You only get married three or four times in your whole life!” (Back then I didn’t have to worry about getting emails from people who didn’t understand that I was just joking when I made this remark!)
I sometimes still get a little excited by good hits — it doesn’t have to be a royal — but it’s not as big a deal as it was earlier in my career. I remember hitting a $50,000 royal flush at a pub several years ago, making a quiet comment like “That might be a good one” and the lady playing next to me berating me because I didn’t celebrate wildly. She promptly went into a long speech about what she would buy and how happy she would be if she ever hit such a jackpot — as if a jackpot that size was ever going to happen to a player betting quarters, one or two at a time. Since it took almost an hour to be paid (the money had to be brought from somewhere off property), I got an earful about what I was doing wrong by not celebrating.
I now get several hundred W2G jackpots a year (This is a tax form in the United States for “Certain Gambling Winnings” that is issued for all jackpots of $1,200 and higher.) None have been “life changing” since my then-wife Shirley and I hit for $500,000 in royals almost back to back in 2001. Celebrating wildly on every jackpot would be exhausting. It’s far more important to keep my thinking cap on straight and concentrate on the next hand than it is to be celebrating.
Would I feel differently if I were an occasional, recreational player? Probably. Especially if $1,000 or higher jackpots came around infrequently—perhaps only once every few months or possibly even less often. But that’s not my life. Taxable jackpots are an everyday occurrence for me. So while I appreciate the jackpots and need them to continue, I know others will be coming soon. The only real unknowns are the exact amounts and the number of jackpots I will get each day. I’m not usually playing for stakes where it’s possible for me to go broke, so whether I’m up today or not is largely irrelevant. I’m very confident my end-of-year score will be plus.
If you wish to get excited by these jackpots, knock yourself out. I’m not criticizing you if you do. But that’s not for me. Giddy emotions are simply not helpful to me in a casino.
More from Bob Dancer:
Video Poker | The Kind Of Attitude Problems That Benefit Video Poker Play
Video Poker | When You Gamble Perfectly But Still Lose
Video Poker | Five Hundred Dollars Isn’t The Same As Five Hundred Dollars
Video Poker | Not All Lessons Are Learned So Easily – Bob Dancer
Video Poker | How To Learn The Right Lessons – Bob Dancer
Be sure to check out some of our other articles on casino loyalty programs & casino gaming:
Casino Loyalty Cards are Similar to Those of Airlines and Hotels — But Not the Same
Video Poker vs. Regular Poker
Why I Prefer Video Poker To Slots
Video Poker vs. BlackJack
Bob Dancer is the premier video poker writer and teacher in the world. He has created a number of how-to-win products available at bobdancer.com. He co-hosts a weekly radio show called Gambling with an Edge, which is also archived on his website. (The show is also available on iTunes.)