Over New Year's weekend, Shirley and I were having dinner at Hank's at Green Valley Ranch casino with some friends we originally met on the vpFREE Internet discussion group --- Harry (and Bev) andBob Dancer is one of the world's foremost video poker experts. He is a regular columnist for Casino Player, Strictly Slots, and the Las Vegas Review-Journa land has written an autobiography and a novel about gambling. He provides advice for tens of thousands of casino enthusiasts looking to play video poker. Bob's website is www.bobdancer.com Brian Soper (and Deb). The conversation was pleasant and wide-ranging.
Something Harry said off-the-cuff struck me as something I've never written about before. I've skirted with the subject but never said it as succinctly and precisely as he did that night. Something that is undoubtedly true, but requires a sort of left-handed thinking to come up with. (And, by the way, if you don't like this idea or believe it to be profound, please remember it's all Harry's fault!)
Here goes: The reason you should play at many casinos rather than just one is because you might lose at some of them!
At first blush this makes no sense. If I knew I was going to lose at a casino I wouldn't play. I only play when I have the advantage. My goal is to make money. Throwing money away is not my style. I must assume many of you feel the same way.
The key part is that we don't know what are results at a casino will be before-the-fact. We can often determine whether or not we have an advantage. We can be fairly certain that over time we're going to come out ahead if we keep playing under these conditions, but we can't know beforehand whether or not we're going to win in the near future at this particular place.
Let me give you a for instance. One year a few years ago my end-of-the-year score was about +$120,000. But included in that aggregate amount was one casino where I was behind $30,000 and another where I was behind $20,000. (To make up for these scores, obviously I did very well at certain other casinos.)
If we needed a special comp because friends were coming to town, guess which casino we asked? Asking at a casino where we were ahead $40,000 could potentially lead to certain casino managers thinking, "He's killing us and he wants us to buy him expensive dinners to boot? The nerve of that guy!" When casino managers start thinking this way, it's only a matter of time before I'm asked to take my business elsewhere.
But asking for the same comp at one of the casinos where we were behind causes them to bend over backwards to throw goodies at us. The casino marketing system is wired to want to keep their losing players happy and keep the winning players from getting carried away.
If we had done all of our play at one casino, our net score of +$120,000 would possibly have been such to restrict certain benefits --- especially if we were able to keep that kind of score up year after year. But spread over twenty or more casinos, there has to be some of those casinos where we're a net loser.
This doesn't mean these casinos where we're losing are bad places to play. It's just that the edges we are playing with are so small, just by random chance will cause us to be a net loser at some of them.
A key part of this is that we don't know which casino we will lose at up front. I've written elsewhere that I think South Point has the best video poker opportunities in Vegas and I'm stuck there more than $100,000 lifetime-to-date. And I continue to eagerly play there. It presents great opportunities for video poker players. On the other hand, I'm ahead big time at a couple of casinos where the video poker opportunities now leave a lot to be desired. Whether my good luck from the past will continue there or not is something that I'll never know unless they have a big turnaround in the games they offer.
Whether I was ahead or behind there last year has nothing to do with my decision to play there this year. I run into people all the time who tell me they don't play at a certain casino because they've run bad there. This is very short-sighted outlook. It's far better to choose games based on the mathematical expectation of what your future results will be rather than to place too much emphasis about whether you've been lucky or unlucky there in the past.
And count your blessings! Even if you lose there you can really stick it to them in comps!
ReadyBetGo! is an independent gambling news and information service. If you plan to play in casinos, ensure
that you are not breaking any local laws. It's up to you to know the legality of your actions when you gamble.