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.

June 2009

Q1:      (This question originally appeared in June 2000 Strictly Slots. The answer is still valid although you'll no longer find the game in question at the casino mentioned.)I like to play Ten Play for quarters. Arizona Charlie’s, the casino I frequent, has good pay schedules, including 10-7 Double Bonus. But this game is very difficult and the swings are so large that I prefer to play 9-6 Jacks or Better. Maybe I’ll hit enough royals on this game so I can get a big enough bankroll to play the 10-7 game some day. Is this a smart plan?

A2:      NO. You are correct that 10-7 Double Bonus is a difficult game with a high variance and it does require a relatively large bankroll. Those are good reasons to study more and get a second job to earn enough money so that you can survive the swings. But 9-6 Jacks or Better is a game where the house has the advantage. Playing such a game in order to increase your bankroll makes as much sense as trying to reach the top of the mountain by walking downhill! It is not the smart way to approach things. Obtaining a bankroll is difficult. Playing any game where you do not have the advantage is throwing away what you have already saved.

Q2:      (This question originally appeared in June 2000 Strictly Slots. Were I to answer this question today, I'd reference "Video Poker for Winners" rather than "Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker") It seems to me that the games in Las Vegas are tighter today than they were a few years ago. Is this my imagination?

A2:      No. The games have worsened because of three different reasons. First, casinos have eliminated many of their highest-payback games. Second, many casinos have reduced the cash back that their slot club offers. And third, casinos are making fewer mistakes in what games they offer and how they structure their promotions. 

            The reason why this is happening is that both players and casinos are becoming more knowledgeable. Because of Strictly Slots and other publications, more players are able to recognize good pay schedules. Because of Bob Dancer Presents WinPoker and other computer programs, players are able to practice until they can play very well. So the video poker machine that earned $100 a day for the casino a few years ago, started to earn $80, and then $60 and then even less. Casino management, which likes to think it is in the profit-making business, needed to react to this. They have done so by becoming less generous in what they offer players.

            It’s normal for people who have taken the time and energy to improve their skills to get annoyed when their opponents (in this case the casinos) do not remain sitting ducks waiting to be slaughtered. But all real-life game playing involves reacting to what the other guy does. At halftime in most sporting events, both teams make adjustments to what the other team is doing. The same is true with gambling. The players got better so the casinos tightened up in self-defense.

            There are still moneymaking opportunities for players. There were more of them in the past, but you didn't know enough to take advantage of them at the time. You have to know more than you used to in order to be successful, but, surprisingly, it's really no harder to do this. How can this be? The reason is that the information and learning tools to beat these games are widely available today. When the games were more generous in the past, the information on how to beat those games was harder to come by. Is it worth it to go through this continued learning process? I can’t answer that for you. I can only say that for me, I still play 20 hours a week or more and still have a fun, profitable time doing it.

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