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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Video Poker Can be a Team Sport

Next time you're in a casino look down a bank of video poker machines and take a close look at the expressions on each woman or man's face. They range from forlorn to no expression at all. One could excuse those who were grinding out small profits playing positive expectation games in Las Vegas, but it's hard to explain the folks I see in Atlantic City. It just doesn't seem like anyone is actually enjoying their time at the machines and even when they score a big hit it seems that most folks say that they just got back some of what they already lost that weekend.

So, what's the solution to the video poker doldrums? Well, you could play slots. For many, there's a rush to hitting those infrequent jackpots or at least watching the amusing bonus rounds while your bankroll is slowly transferred to the casino accounts. However, for those who can't cope with the absurd house edge of the now no-armed bandits I suggest video poker group play. How does that work, you might ask? Well, this can take a two distinctly different forms.

For starters, find a bank of playable machines in your favorite casino and make it your mission to take that over and claim it for your "team". This can be a challenge somewhere like Harrah's Atlantic City, where the only low-denomination 9/6 Jacks or Better in the whole casino is in one bank in the back of the casino, but I've seen our group occupy every one of those Game Makers. The idea isn't just to hog the best machines, but to cheer on your friends when they hit and console them when they're down. If you see a group of goofballs yelling about their pair of 8's, bowing in awe at trip 6's for the Mark of Harrah's, or dancing the robot when they hit a full house then they are probably ECLVA folks. Why bother with such frivolity? Well, aren't we supposed to be having fun? At least, that's why I go to the casino.
Once you have that down you're ready for the ultimate in group play. Pool some money from each member of the group, you can take $10, $20, $40, or whatever is a comfortable amount for everyone in the group, and find some high denomination machine that you wouldn't have the bankroll to play on your own and take a potshot. Winning is fun, but the ride will be great either way, at least if your "team" understands their role in the session. Pick your player, though who is sitting in the chair won't matter since the group will agree how to play any questionable hands, and remember you can always make the call to the bullpen if your starting player isn't getting the job done. Everyone else will cheer the machine on when you hit and jeer, moan, and groan each hand that fails to fill in your draw. Do this right and with enough people and it will sound like a sporting event has broken out amongst an aisle of video poker machines. You will see a lot of puzzled observers walk over to see what the commotion is, but you won't care since even the angriest Atlantic City curmudgeon won't be able to wipe the smile off your face while you are laughing at the absurd scene you have helped create.
So, you see you can have fun playing video poker. Solitary game, eh? Rubish.

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