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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Opening up the Casino Mail Bag

24 December 2003

This e-mail comes from Art, who took exception to something I wrote in a column last month about obsessive gambling behavior:

Your statement, "Video poker has been described by opposition groups as the 'crack cocaine of gambling'. I've never agreed with the analogy, although I suppose it derives from the addictive nature the game can have on some people who become obsessed with its perception as being 'beatable' with skillful play" sounds like you do not believe that video poker can be beat long-term. There are people in Illinois that have been beating VP for years. This may have come to an end because of changes in the last few months. I have friends in Nevada that rely on VP as their ONLY source of income.

Video Poker's reputation as being beatable long term is known by casual players and skilled players alike. Unfortunately, a majority of people play the game haphazardly and don't take the time to learn and master the skilled strategies unique to each game and pay table. They don't take the skill factor seriously or realize the mathematical or probability ramifications of their playing decisions. Their "perception" is that just because they play the game with their own "kitchen table" draw poker mentality they can win. They don't realize that mastering skilled play unique to the game of video poker in all its forms is an essential. Your friends perceive the game as beatable and take the time to learn how and why. Most people perceive the game as beatable but their definition of "skill" is very arbitrary.

Michael sent an e-mail inquiring about the strategy he should use in a Las Vegas roulette tournament in which he was invited to participate. The advice I sent to him, in many respects, also applies to the way I recommend playing under non-tournament conditions:

Early on I advise playing conservatively. Catching a number "straight-up" (35 to 1) makes you the most money but is the hardest to pull off.

I would start out by trying to build up some "chip equity". I like to play a combination of one column and one section. If you get lucky and catch both you win 2-1 on each. If you catch one, you still make some money.

You may also try some of the even-money props (black/red, odd/even) or some "streets" and "corners" inside to increase your chip stack while other players may be busting out on straight-up play.

As play progresses, pay close attention to the chip stacks of the other players and the size of their bets. You will have to adjust your play accordingly depending on where you stand.

If you've built up some equity, try some lucky numbers straight up. Don't spread yourself "too thin" inside. Remember, it's all a game of luck.

If you find yourself down late, it'd be best to load up straight-up on one or two lucky numbers and hope to catch lightning in a bottle in one fell swoop instead of spreading chips over 15 numbers.

The house edge at roulette is consistent on all bets (5.26 percent) with the exception of one (combination of 0,00,1,2,3) which zooms up to over seven percent.

Money management is the key, coupled with bird-dogging your opponents and adjusting your play accordingly.

Bottom Line: Begin conservatively, get more daring depending on your chip equity during the middle game, then go for broke or preserve your lead (depending on the situation) during the end game.

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