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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Book Takes Video Poker Players on Wild Ride

21 May 2003

Bob Dancer, one of the world's foremost authorities on video poker, is not only a teacher. He practices quite efficiently what he preaches. His new book Million Dollar Video Poker (published by Huntington Press) is a fascinating personal account of how he parlayed his drive and skill to beat a game he calculated as beatable.

Dancer is no average video poker player, to be sure. He possesses a mathematical knowledge of the game that rests firmly in the top one percent of his profession. He also plays with a bankroll that is directly proportional to the precision and confidence with which he tackles the machines.

But this doesn't mean that Million Dollar Video Poker is not for average players. Anyone who has ever gone to a casino in search of hitting the jackpot will find this book delightful and interesting. It's above and beyond a cut-and-dried statistical account of how to play. Rather, it's a personal narrative of success by trial and error and a revealing glimpse into the world of a high stakes gambler.

Readers are not lulled into thinking that they, like the author, can go to Las Vegas with a $6,000 bankroll and turn it into a million dollars in seven years. The book serves as inspiration to average recreational gambling enthusiasts everywhere that a casino game like video poker, which requires an element of skill to play effectively, can be taken to new heights if you are willing to try.

Dancer's belief in his strategies, the calculated risk, and expected return on his target games takes him beyond the realm of mundane quarter, fifty cent, or even dollar games. He has such confidence in his ability that five, twenty-five, and one-hundred-dollar video poker is his prey.

Just because he knows the precise play to make in every situation for every video poker game doesn't mean that every time he sits down to play he's a winner. Neither does it mean that he can achieve the results he expects in a short period of playing time. Dancer's invests many hours in his video poker sessions, sometimes playing two machines at once, and brings a bankroll sufficient to absorb short-term devastation.

Here's an example from the book that gives you an idea of the intricate game plan the author devises before he'll go after a game to beat. (It's important to note that at Dancer's advanced level of skill, he looks at a vast majority of video poker game formats and pay tables with disdain. He only zeros in when he calculates an edge.)

In 1997 he heard about some 10/7 Double Bonus video poker games in the Bally GameMaker version at Bally's Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Dancer calculated the game to be 100.52% payback (player advantage). When the 0.225 percent slot club return was factored in it made the game 100.75 percent. Expert play would theoretically make the game worth $200 per hour of playing time.

The machines were three-coin $25.00 units, which meant putting $75.00 at risk per hand. First he made it his business to learn the subtleties of the game and the correct play in every situation. Then he took $8,000 to the casino at eight o'clock in the evening and went to work. He lost $5,000 in twenty minutes!

Five grand in the hole with $3,000 remaining, Dancer starting feeding $100 bills into the machine. Two minutes later he was dealt four-of-a-kind in threes for $6,000. He finished his session at five o'clock in the morning showing a profit of $22,000.

Here's another glaring example of the roller-coaster ride that Dancer was on. By March first of that year he was showing a $120,000 profit for his video poker play. During the next two weeks he lost $80,000 of that money. But as we all know, his story has a happy ending, topped by a memorable $400,000 royal flush.

Dancer's book gives everyday casino fans solid advice and pointers about how to manipulate the system, including player rewards programs as well as the casino hosts themselves. He illustrates the nuances of expert play, including strategic gems that make only fractions of a percent difference but add up to the edge over the long haul.

You'll find new appreciation for the game of video poker and the time effort, inspiration, and perspiration it takes to formulate decision making based on mathematical probability.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp