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HOME > NEWS > Featured Articles > Deal Me In: Reading your way to riches

Deal Me In: Reading your way to riches

17 February 2012

By Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Can you recommend a book or two that outlines the proper strategy on video poker? Peter E.

Video poker, Peter, is one of those rare casino games that can be beaten by the knowledgeable player. The game can often have a positive expectation on select machines, and can offer the player the chance to get the best of the casino, but, Peter, you must cherry-pick the right machines and play the proper strategies on them.

For the average Joe or Josephine or Peter, who is just a recreational player but wants to become serious about video poker, I recommend four straightforward, and easy-to-grasp books: Victory at Video Poker by Frank Scoblete, and either Precision Play or Optimum Play by Dan Paymar.

If you are looking for a rag-to-riches success story from a top video poker professional, go with Million Dollar Video Poker by Bob Dancer. Dancer came to Las Vegas with a $6,000 bankroll and won more than $1 million dollars by identifying and playing beatable machines. Not only does the book describe in detail his winning secrets, it also includes many lessons for players of any skill level.

Any of these books can be had at Amazon.com or the Gamblers Book Shop (gamblersbookclub.com). The Gamblers Book Shop’s (800-522-1777) VP book collection is quite extensive, and meritoriously listed in their “ask for/must have” catalog.

For the consummate cheapskate, there’s always eBay, where gambling books, mine included, can be had for pennies on the dollar. Maybe that is not such a hot idea, Peter, since any profit bypasses me on my published works.

Dear Mark: I notice that casinos “set” machines for slot tournaments to hit often, so doesn’t it follow that they can “set” machines to hit or not, whenever they so chose? Dee R.

Before any slot tournament, Dee, any machine that is used for tournament play has its computer chips swapped out by a slot technician and replaced with a tournament-mode computer chip. This changes a machine from traditional play to tournament play. With tournament chips, the long-term payback is purposely programmed to a higher level than that used in standard play.

Although the random number generator (RNG) stays the same, the machines are loosened up by changing the layout of the symbols on the virtual reels. That is why, Dee, you will see those VERY HIGH payouts at tournaments, but not with conventional play.

That said, yes, Dee, chip swapping occurs, but for tournaments and not for machines to “hit or not” whenever they, and we all know who “they” is, chooses. That would be considered an unlawful act by any gaming commission. As a consumer safeguard, gaming control agencies know the programming and virtual reel layout of every single machine. A gaming agent can ask the casino to open any machine on the floor, remove a chip, and compare it against their reference chips to ensure that the data stored are like twins from the same egg.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “There will come a time in every poker player’s life, if they study and play long enough, when they suddenly realize that they know what the hell they are doing. It is quite an epiphany.” — VP Pappy

Mark Pilarski
Mark  Pilarski
Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the gambling trenches, working for seven different casinos. He now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer, and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.

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