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Question
Dear Mr. Boucher:

I saw a man on TV one night claim he had won several million dollars (legally) in casinos playing Video Poker.  He said Video Poker is able to be beat by a very strict adherence to the rules of poker.  I have seen on the internet that there are some professional gamblers that make their living playing Video Poker because, as opposed to slots where winning is totally done by luck, a video poker machine will reward the skill of the player.  In other words playing a perfect game on the video poker machine should produce a positive return.  Video Poker strategy sheets are available on the internet and they show you the best way to play any hand to play a perfect game.

However, when I look at the payout for a jacks-or-better 9/6 machine, the payout shows the house still has an advantage even if I play a perfect game.  Therefore, I have these questions:

1. Unless the professional gamblers are playing machines having a MORE than 100% payout, how could they possibly be winning in the long run?  I certainly do not believe they are consistently making a living based on their luck.

2. Perhaps my basic understanding as stated above is simply wrong and there is a part of this I do not understand.  If so, would you please educate me on this matter?

Thank you so much for considering my question.

Glen

Answer
Glen, video poker, video blackjack, and other such video versions of table games are not table games at all, but slot machines. Most use to several decks of cards, and the cards are shuffled and dealt via a Random Number Generator. However, unlike slot machines, video poker does rely on the skill of the player. But the player is simply playing against the dealer, the machine, and not with other players. So only the most skillful and expert poker player can even have a hint of winning on a consistent basis with a video poker machine.

Ask yourself this: If this gentleman claims he makes millions of dollars, or any person for that matter, "beating" video poker machines by playing the perfect strategy, then why aren't these casinos out of business? Why are millions of people, using the methods professed by these "expert" players, not taking out casino after casino after casino, for if they truly were making this type of money, casinos would be going ballistic, the word would hit the casino grapevine, and these people would be trespassed.

People like this, who may be the best strategy player, may make a few bucks on a consistant basis, certainly aren't making millions of dollars playing video poker. Like the "expert" slot machine players who say they make millions of dollars beating slot machines, the money they make comes from selling their "systems" rather then from the machines.

The house ALWAYS has the advantage regardless who is playing what. It is odds and probability that keep casinos in business. "Professional" gamblers simply have the proverbial horseshoe stuck up where the sun doesn't shine. Hope this helps. Phil  

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Phillip J. Boucher

Expertise

Author of the book, "Slot Machines: Fun Machines or Tax Machines? A Technician Reveals the Truth About One-Armed Bandits", ISBN 1-55270-049-6 published by Productive Publications under the pen name Ian B. Williams. I can answer any question related to the concept, design, marketing, programming, operation, installation, repair, and maintenance of slot machines, video poker machines, and video lottery terminals, and their related equipment and machinery, within the regulated gaming industry. I WILL NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS WHATSOEVER RELATED TO THE PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF GAMING MACHINES, INCLUDING QUESTIONS SUCH AS "I JUST BOUGHT A SLOT MACHINE AND IT DOESN'T WORK...". I can help dispel all the myths and misconceptions that have permeated the print and news media about slots over the years. I can also answer questions related to gambling addiction in general and slot machine addiction in particular. Each question will be answered truthfully, without bias, whether the answer is what the questioner wants to hear. I will not propagate the myth that there are secrets to winning or beating slots, because there are none. There are no methods or tricks or other such nonsense that a lot of people think there are. I`m sorry, but reality in regard to slot machines can be a big letdown! I won`t lead anyone on. Want to know the real truth? Just ask. I can also answer general questions related to casinos except for table games.

Experience

I have over seventeen years experience as a slot machine technician for two major North American casinos, one racetrack slot facility, and am a Certified Gaming Machine Repairperson. I am the author of, (writing as Ian B. Williams), "Slot Machines: Fun Machines or Tax Machines? A Technician Reveals the Truth About One-Armed Bandits", ISBN 1-55270-049-6 published by Productive Publications.

Education/Credentials
Certified Gaming Machine Repairperson

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