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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Murphy's Law and Video Poker

20 September 1999

Just when you figured you were familiar with all 1000 ways to lose money on your casino gambling adventures, along comes 1001! How about this experience as related by Ed B. via e-mail:

"Recently my wife and I visited the Meskwaki Casino in Tama, Iowa. She was playing a quarter touch screen multi-game video machine (deuces wild). It's the type of machine that holds the best cards for a win. Three deuces and two kings came up for five of a kind, a good hand. The machine automatically held the three deuces. She tried to hold all five cards but the machine would not let her do it. The help screen stated she must discard at least one card to continue play. She wanted to keep the five of a kind but she could not. She then pressed deal, holding the three deuces, and came up with four of a kind. We talked with the slot manager and he could not explain why she had to lose the five of a kind. We both felt this was a gross error in computer programming on this machine. Have you ever come across this type of situation? We both somehow feel she was cheated out of being able to hold all five cards for a better payoff."

Even though my video poker playing experience is limited, I have never encountered a similar situation nor have I heard of it happening to anyone else. Although you didn't note the manufacturer of the particular machine you were playing, I placed a call to Rick Sorensen in public relations at International Game Technology in Reno, Nevada.

Manufacturers of electronic gaming devices, such as slot machines and video poker units, are very conscious about the necessity to protect and preserve the integrity of the products they sell to casinos around the world. With this in mind, Rick put in me in touch with Shane Ecklor, slot manager at Meskwaki Casino. He had already researched the problem by the time I called:

"When I was made aware of the problem your reader had, I immediately sent our technicians to the casino floor to check ALL of our video poker machines, including those manufactured by International Game Technology and Williams Gaming. Their findings were that all of the units in the casino were working fine. No 'glitch' similar to the one your reader experienced showed up on any machine. All of the machines allowed the player to do whatever they wished, including holding all five cards dealt to them.

"We have had no other complaints about any of our machines. In light of the fact everything checked out fine, I cannot explain what happened. All I can come up with is that it may have been player error. Instead of playing the hand, Mrs. B. should have summoned a member of our staff at once, preferably a shift manager. That way she would have received the correct instructions, or if there was a 'glitch', it would have been discovered on the spot and corrected so that she didn't lose her five of a kind.

"I would invite the B.'s to look me up when they return to Meskwaki. If they are able to point out the machine with which they encountered the problem, I'd be glad to check out the machine again for them, or at the very least, go over the procedure she followed in playing to prevent anything like that ever happening again."

Mr. B., your wife certainly had an unfortunate experience. Losing a five of a kind hand and settling for four of a kind had to hurt, but there's something to be learned from the incident for anyone who visits a casino:

If at any time during your gambling venture you have a question, or if something about the game or machine you are playing just doesn't seem right, summon help from an official with the casino BEFORE you proceed and risk losing money. It's all part of protecting yourself and your bankroll.

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