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.

May 2009

Q1:      (Originally this appeared in June 2000 Strictly Slots)  I was playing Double Bonus and was dealt Ah Jh Th Js 5d. I was unsure whether to hold the 3-card royal or the high pair, so I glanced at your strategy card and held JJ. The first cards out were the Kh and Qh! This was awful! Had I played it the other way I would have had a royal flush. $4,000 instead of $5. For the rest of the weekend I was very grumpy and had a hard time concentrating. How do I get over this disappointment?

A1:      Excellent question! I just wish I had an excellent answer.

Every gambler goes through this type of disappointment sometimes. Since you must make your decision BEFORE the draw, and you don't know the results of the draw until AFTER it takes place, frequently you will find out that you could have had a better result IF ONLY YOU HAD PLAYED IT DIFFERENTLY. The only way to avoid this type of "heartbreak" while gambling is to STOP GAMBLING.

Assuming you are not going to stop, then you'll just have to learn to deal with this. For me, this is easy. There's nothing I can do to go back and replay the last hand, and I need to concentrate on the next hand, so I shrug it off. No big deal. I can't spend time worrying about things I cannot change. Happens all the time. Shirley, on the other hand, experiences much stronger emotions about these things than I do. If several "heartbreaks" happen close together, she ends up having a very miserable time.

Does it reassure you any that you made the correct play? Some people find solace in that. Strangely, though, it really doesn't matter. Whether you made the right play or the wrong play, the after-the-draw cards could have made the play you didn't choose work better. If you are the type of person who uses after-the-fact information to judge the correctness of your before-the-fact decisions, then whether you make right plays or wrong, you'll find plenty of opportunities to feel miserable about your results.

Several months ago in his "Notes From The Net" column, Skip Hughes offered his solution to this kind of problem. He plays two machines at once and doesn't even look to see what the draw is! If he doesn't see the draw, then he is never disappointed at what might have been! Sounds like it would work to me. But however you do it, either learn to live with this kind of disappointment or get used to feeling bad.

Q2:      (Originally this appeared in June 2000 Strictly Slots) I keep hearing about the Random Number Generator. If everything is random, what difference does strategy make? The machine is going to get you eventually anyway!

A2:      You are confusing the term "random" with "absolutely unpredictable". They are not the same thing at all!

            Let's take the hand Ah Kh Qh 5s 3d. Every video poker player would play AKQ. No debate at all there. But what random means is that if you start from this position many, many times, out of the 1,081 possible draws, the following distribution will occur:

            Nothing at all: 637 times
            High pair:         348 times
            Two pair:            27 times
            3 of a kind:          9 times
            Straight:             15 times
            Flush                 44 times
            Full House          0 times
            4 of a kind           0 times
            Straight Flush     0 times                
            Royal Flush        1 time      

These numbers are appropriate for all games with a 52-card deck and no wild cards. "Random" means that on average, you are three times as likely to get two pair from this position as you are to get three of a kind. "Random" means that we don't know what the exact result will be THIS TIME, but we have a very good idea what the results will be over the next several thousand times we start from this position.

"Absolutely Unpredictable" would be if we had no idea of the distribution. That is not the case at all!

The strongest evidence I have that strategies based upon randomness like this work is that several good players win most years. Certainly not every week or even every month. But most years. In this magazine you have Jean Scott, Skip Hughes, VP Warrior and myself who have been winning players over a considerable length of time. We play for different stakes, in different casinos, have our own special techniques, but we all use basically the same strategies.  And we all win.

The players who tell you that there is no predictability at all to the hands are not winning players. Their explanation is merely a rationalization attempting to explain why they are losing.

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