On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I experienced two days of Video Poker nirvana.
I went to a major casino on the central strip. I know, the payouts aren't as great as the local joints on the outskirts of town, but I love the ambiance of the strip.
I am a night owl so I usually start playing around midnight. I was playing Jacks or Better – lower paybacks but that's the game I feel most proficient with. I found a bank of progressive quarter machines and stated playing.
I found one machine that kept giving me four of a kind about every 50 hands plus other smaller payouts. So quickly, I found myself ahead and pocketed my gains.
I had to take a potty break and when I came back another person was playing the machine I had just left. So I sat down at the next machine and started to play. And then it happened! The very first hand on this new machine and I hit the ROYAL FLUSH!! I was soooooooooooo excited. It had been a couple of years since my last Royal. The Progressive paid $1,203.00.
About 12 hours later, I did something I rarely do – I played during the daytime. I returned to the same casino as the night before and found my original machine vacant. I started playing and immediately started getting the four of a kind payouts again. After about an hour – you guessed it – I got another ROYAL FLUSH!!! This time it paid $1,046.00.
I must admit, after winning two jackpots in less than 24 hours, I started getting a little nervous about the “eye in the sky.” I've seen all those shows on TV, you know Las Vegas uncovered, etc. and how they investigate and watch people. All I knew was that I was having a lucky streak like never before.
The following day, I returned to the same central strip casino around midnight. I decided to be daring – to really test this lucky streak I was on. I found a bank of Progressive $1 machines. I started playing the same game – Jacks or Better – in the same manner as the quarter machines. I would move from machine to machine until I found one I liked, limited $ input on each. Then I came to a machine whose computer screen was “hazy” - not bright and clear like the others. I started to pass by this machine but then I went back to it and inserted $20. On the fourth hand I hit the ROYAL FLUSH!! It paid $4,647.00.
After all is said and done, I probably broke some rules about playing Video Poker:
I played “on the strip” on machines paying less than 9-5 on Jacks or Better.
I played Progressive machines when the jackpots were low (because the secondary payouts were good & consistent).
I was playing Jacks or Better when everyone around me was playing Bonus, Double Bonus, Double-Triple Bonus, etc.
I also did some things right:
I always play max coins
I always use my Players Card
I practice perfect VP strategy before going to a casino
I played where I was most comfortable
Some people may never believe that I hit three Royal's in two days all at the same casino. But I know. I have the cash and I have W-2G's for two of the jackpots. And I have a memory of two days in Vegas that I will never forget.
In less than 48 hours I had managed to hit three Royal Flushes for a total payout of $6,896.00. If I thought I was paranoid about the second Royal, imagine how I felt about the “eye in the sky” after the third Royal?
So I still have one nagging question.... is my paranoia about the “eye in the sky” founded? Was I being watched? Will I be watched in the future? Or have I just been watching too much TV?
Your response would be greatly appreciated.
Doug from Texas
Congratulations on your very good fortune. What you experienced is extremely rare, indeed.
I would like to comment on some of the “rules you broke.”
1. 9/6 Jacks or Better is considered full pay and returns 99.54 percent with perfect play and should be the game you are looking for. A 9/5 Jacks or Better machine returns 98.45 percent with perfect play – giving the house an additional one percent.
2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing Jacks or Better. Many people play the “bonus” games because of the multiple options for a big win on quads. The downside of these games is the variance. To pay for all the big wins, you lose more during the majority of play, so you need a larger bankroll.
3. While I do not agree with your selection of progressive machines (I only play if the total payback – including comps – is more than 100 percent), anything can happen in the short-run. If you have a certain bankroll that you are willing to lose (and stick to that amount only) and if you only play for a few hours two or three times a year, then luck is the primary factor.
The more you play, however, the more the inherent house edge grinds you down. So, if you are playing a lot, playing the same types of games as you did this trip you will ultimately lose more money than playing the best games.
As far as your paranoia about the “eye in the sky,” forget about it. You have just been watching too much TV. As long as you are not using any “device” to help you play the games, the casinos generally do not care – especially those on the strip. Unlike card counting (which is not illegal), video poker play using strategy (without an aid) is not grounds for barring players. Choose the best games, play the best strategy, have fun, and enjoy your wins.
May all your wins be swift and large and all your losses slow and tiny.
Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack, video poker and advantage slot machine play. You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanGTC@aol.com
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