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.

November 2009

Q1:      (This originally appeared in December 2000 Strictly Slots) Why don't you advise people to quit while they are ahead? It seems to me that this is basic commonsense advice and yet I've never seen you offer it. Why not?

A1:      Because quitting while you are ahead has NOTHING to do with being a long-term winner. Winning players spend their time concentrating on playing on machines where they have the advantage, and learning how to play those games well. They will have winning days and losing days, but their score on any particular day is relatively unimportant.

Q2:      (This also originally appeared in December 2000 Strictly Slots) I play in Shreveport and the only dollar Double Bonus machines are 9/7, rather than the 10/7 games you usually write about. What strategy differences are there between these two games.

A2:      The biggest difference is in holding two pair including aces. For example, from Ah As 7d 7c 5d, at 10/7 the correct play by about a penny is to hold AA77. At 9/7, since full houses pay less, the correct play by 36¢ is to just hold AA. The second biggest difference concerns 4-card flushes with two high cards compared to 3-card royal flushes. With Kh Jh Th 5h Ks, in 10/7 the best play by 5¢ is KK. In 9/7, holding KJT5 is the better choice by a third of a cent. There are a few other differences, but the cost of making these errors is miniscule.

Q3:      (This originally appeared in January 2001 Strictly Slots) I sometimes play one coin at a time and sometimes play 5. So far, the only two royals I have ever hit have come while playing five coins. I think this is pretty clever. My losing times have been at single coin and my winning times have been at maximum coins. What do you think of this?

A3:      Not a very rational strategy. If you play half one way and half the other, then it is fair to assume that about five of your next ten royals will be at full coin and half will be at single coin. Just because your last two royals were at max coin is a lousy predictor of what "coinage" your next royals will be at, unless you ALWAYS play with the same number of coins.

            What you are forgetting is that you do not know when your next royal is coming, so you should ALWAYS play max coins or ALWAYS play single coins (never anything in between). Generally speaking, if the game played perfectly returns less than about 99.5%, or you do not play it close to perfectly, you will lose less by playing one coin at a time (if you must play at all) than you do by playing five coins at a time. If the game returns more than that, and you know how to play pretty well, play maximum coins.

 Q4:     (This also originally appeared in January 2001 Strictly Slots) How much money do you allow a machine to take from you before you switch? We play for quarters. Is $20 about right for this?

A4:      I answer this question two or three times a year, but it remains a regular visitor to my mailbox.

            For me, my score over the last hour or so has NOTHING TO DO with whether or not I continue to play a machine. I am basing my decision on what to play on the machine type, denomination, pay schedule, casino and the casino promotion. For example, I am playing dollar 10/7 Double Bonus Triple Play at this casino between midnight and 8 a.m. because that is when the slot club is offers triple points.

            Once I made such a decision, winning or losing $10,000 during those eight hours wouldn't affect my decision of whether this promotion was worth playing. Because my decision is based on what I CALCULATE the machine will deliver on average, rather than my EXPERIENCE of what actually happened today. I know there will be very profitable days. I know there will be very expensive days. No big deal. That's the nature of gambling. But in the long run, on this type of machine I will prevail. So I keep playing. Whatever my score was over the last half hour, it will be very different over the next half hour. This will be true whether I change machines or not.

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