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.

March 2010

Q1:      (This originally appeared in March 2001 Strictly Slots) I've read both Jean Scott and Jeffrey Compton write that you should join every slot club you can and read every piece of casino mail that you receive, but I haven't seen you say that. Do you agree with this advice?

A1:      I don't. Jean and Jeffrey are both knowledgeable, and in no way are we feuding or fighting with each other, but I think this advice is too general and neglects too many important things --- such as how much time it takes to do this and how much the information is worth to you once you get it.

            Jean and Jeffrey are two of the most organized people you can find. They also both are in the business of learning about every slot club and promotion so they can write about them. IT FIGURES that people like this read every piece of casino mail that comes their way and the more mail they get, the better it is for them. And it also figures that they would conclude that since this works for them then they should suggest it to you too.

            I am not that well organized. And I prefer to make my living by playing in the promotions than by writing about playing in the promotions. I do not want to spend 10 hours a week just looking at casino mail and the ads in the newspaper. If a casino doesn't have good machines, I don't want to waste my time learning about double or triple points. If a casino specializes in good 25¢ machines, that is not for me because I am not a 25¢ player. If a casino is not in the Vegas area, I usually don't even look at their mailings unless we are planning a trip to their area.

            On the other hand, there are about 8 casinos where I study every piece of mail they send, and a few others that get at least a cursory glance. These are the casinos I would be willing to play at with the right promotion. The mail from other casinos usually get trashed unread. And my list of casinos undoubtedly is different from yours. Your casinos should be based on what stakes you play for, what games you know, which casinos give you the best comps, which casinos are closest to your home, does these casinos cater to people like you, where do you like the employees best, or the restaurants or the golf courses or whatever. All of it counts and you make your own call.

            Do I miss things this way? You bet! No question about it. But I also save about 9 hours a week that I can use playing the $30+/hour promotions I do know about. (And each of us have a variety of things we might consider more valuable than collecting more information.) I do not know how to spend the same hour learning about a promotion and playing it too. There is a tradeoff between how much information is worth and how much it costs to get it. I evaluate that tradeoff for myself differently than Jean and Jeffrey do. You need to evaluate that tradeoff according to your skills / bankroll / time constraints and other things that are important to you.

Q2:      (This originally appeared in March 2001 Strictly Slots) I have been a long time player at New York New York, but recently they changed their dollar 9/6 Jacks or Better games to 9/5 Jacks or Better. Is this a reason for me to change casinos?

A2:      You mentioned one particular game at one particular casino. In truth, many casinos make many machine changes every week. Most of these changes are invisible to you because in each casino there are likely very few machines you are interested in.

            Sometimes when a casino changes a game, they only change SOME of the games. For example, perhaps the individual machine you were used to playing has changed while some machines in another part of the casino remain at the schedule you like. Whether this is true with this game at this casino or not, I don't know. The only way to know for sure is to walk the entire floor and look carefully at all machines in the appropriate denomination.

            Once you complete your survey, if you still find no good machines, you have to decide how important the casino is to you. Playing dollar 9/5 Jacks or Better instead of 9/6 Jacks or Better will cost you an extra $35 per hour or so.  Is your loyalty to that casino sufficient to make up for that? If not, there are numerous other casinos on the Strip that offer dollar 9/6 Jacks with a virtually equivalent slot club.

Bob Dancer's 2010 update: Any 9-year-old inventory of video poker machines is essentially worthless. The process of finding good machines and the cost of playing 2nd-best machines remains the same.

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