Classic Dancer's Answers

Your monthly serving of tips from the video poker expert, Bob Dancer

Bob Dancer

Each month, brings you exclusive tips and inside scoop from Bob Dancer, one of the best known video poker authors and writers.

August 2010

Q1:      (This originally appeared in July 2001 Strictly Slots)  How fast should one play video poker?

A1:      Speed should not be a major concern. Accuracy is much more important, and for most people, the faster they play, the more mistakes they make. Your speed will increase over time as you learn to recognize patterns, but unless you are practicing on a computer your increased speed will likely amount to "making mistakes faster."

Q2:      (This originally appeared in July 2001 Strictly Slots) I want to turn pro, but I have a job that currently pays $50,000 a year. Can I make that playing video poker?

A2:      The most successful players make quite a bit more than that, but the vast majority of players do not. In fact, the majority of players do not win at all! Before you decide to do it full time, I assume you have taken dozens of trips to Vegas (or other gambling venues), including several for a week at a time, and your results are encouraging. Because the "minimum acceptable requirement" for this profession is to be able to do it year after year! Most people can't.

            But even if you can "beat the game", are you sure this is what you want to do? Playing video poker is VERY repetitious. What is fun and exciting for three weeks a year can be a real grind for fifty weeks a year. Summers in Vegas are uncomfortably hot. The games are getting tighter as the players are getting smarter. There are no guarantees that games returning over $10 an hour will exist in a few years, or that even if they do, that you will be good enough to beat them.

            Another problem is that if you do move to Vegas and then change your mind after a few years, it might well be a problem getting a good job again. Prospective employers may well figure that you are just going to be working long enough to get a gambling bankroll again and then you will leave. And those employers may well decide to give the good job to somebody "more stable."

            And how about the problem of "what will you tell your friends and family?" Many people think gambling is a sin---equivalent I suppose to being a thief, murderer or lawyer. Are you sure you want to be classified as such?

            And even if you can average $50,000 a year gambling (and there are probably less than 20 pros who do that year in and year out), it is not going to happen right away and there will be some huge swings along the way. And huge swings mean that if you have miscalculated, or even calculated well but happen to be on the wrong slope of the Bell curve, you may well end up bankrupt! $50,000 a year gambling is not at all the same as having a $1000-per-week paycheck. There will be months where you lose $25,000 or more! If you cannot stand this heat, stay out of the kitchen!

            Many of the people current working in casinos came to town expecting to be able to make a living gambling. And now they are dealing cards to make ends meet. Do not be so naïve to believe that this could not happen to you.

Q3:      What can be done about rude smokers in a casino?

A3:      (This originally appeared in July 2001 Strictly Slots) Casinos are smokier than average places. I believe that this is because smoking, drugs, drinking and gambling are all destructive habits for most people, and people who have one of these habits frequently have more than one. Asking people to quit smoking sometimes works, but not often. Some smokers feel, with justification, that it is perfectly legal to smoke in a casino and if you don't like it, stay out of the casino. Some non-smokers feel, with justification, that somebody having the right to smoke in crowded public places is very much analogous to somebody being allowed to urinate in the public water supply! When both sides get very self-righteous about what their rights are, there is little room for compromise.

            California has successfully legislated away smoking in public. There are strong opinions on both sides whether this is a good thing or bad. I see it as very unlikely that Nevada will follow suit with similar laws. The casino industry in Nevada feels that eliminating smoking would be bad for business. And the casino industry has a strong voice in the state legislature. 

            So, assuming you are a non-smoker who is annoyed at smoke in casinos, what can you do about it? First, you can ASK that somebody not smoke near you. Just remember, that there is a difference between ASKING somebody something and DEMANDING it. When you ask, they have the right to say no, without you getting unpleasant about it. You can carry a small portable fan and if a smoker sits near you, point the fan in that direction. You can wear a surgical-type facemask. It's not a positive fashion statement, but it does help somewhat. It works especially well if you tell smokers that the reason you are wearing the mask is because you have the bubonic plague. You are too sick to go to work, and your enjoyment in life is at casinos and that's what you want to do as long as you live (cough, cough). The smoker will quickly vacate the area, taking the offending cigarettes with them. End of problem!

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