I always teach players that if they want to become expert players that they have to learn one game at a time. Trying to learn Jacks or Better, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus at the sameBob 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 time, for example, is in many respects like a student trying to master Italian, French, and Spanish the same semester. The games are similar to each other, as are the languages. But to become an expert at video poker (or Romance languages), you also need to know the differences between them. And to do that, most people must study them one at a time. A hand like Ad Js Ts 8c 7c is played differently in all three games. Unless you are studying the games separately, you're likely to play the hand identically in all three games, and be wrong in at least two of them. A player who decides to hold AJ in the hand is one who has the knack of finding the incorrect play in all three games!
But let's say you've done that. You know two games and are considering learning a third one. Which one should it be, and how do you go about it?
Before deciding which game to learn, a more important question is "where are you going to play it?" Unless a game may be found at a casino you frequent or intend to frequent, for stakes you are comfortable with, it's an intellectual exercise at best to spend time learning it.
I generally encourage players to use the resource vpfree (groups.yahoo.com/group/vpFREE/) to learn of the best games at most casinos across the country. This is an excellent, free, source of information, although it's not always up-to-date and accurate. The information gathered by that website is gathered by volunteers, and these volunteers are not always completely knowledgeable and diligent. Still, it's a good place to start.
The decision involves more than just the return on the game. It also involves knowing about the slot club. Same day cash back is easy to calculate, and a "checks in the mail" system is much harder to figure out. Sometimes "best guesses" are provided on vpfree of the value of these checks, and sometimes not.
Knowing a casino's regular promotions is key to this decision. Knowing that Sam's Town ALWAYS offers 6x points on holidays (worth 0.6%) or that the various Coast casinos ALWAYS offer 2x points on those same holidays (also worth 0.6%) affects the playability of certain games.
It's probably better to learn a game that can be profitably played at a number of casinos rather than just one or two. Learning 25/12 Double Bonus Deuces Wild because it's the best game at one casino leaves you high and dry if and when the casino removes that game. But learning NSU Deuces Wild, for example, gives you opportunities at a number of casinos.
If you've chosen a game that is covered in the Dancer / Daily "Winner's Guide" series, you're in luck (although I'm prejudiced). These volumes teach you how to play the game, and provide hundreds of examples and explanations to make the learning easier. It's a lot easier to learn a game where somebody has gone before you and is trying their hardest to show you the ropes.
If a Winner's Guide isn't available, then you need a strategy. Creating your own is always an option, but it takes me 50-100 hours to polish off a strategy and I've had experience doing it. For most players, spending less than $10 to get a polished strategy is well worth it. There are polished strategies available for some games, and computer programs available that will create a decent-but-not-great strategy for many other games. If you don't already have such a program, you might want to wait. There will be a better strategy-creation program on the market by the end of 2005 than currently exists. (There are no details to announce yet, so don't send me emails asking about it, but when it is announced, it will be announced LOUDLY and you will hear about it.)
If a class is available, you might want to consider taking it. I rotate almost twenty different games in my free classes at Fiesta, and there's a good chance that a game you decided to learn because it would be profitable to do so is in there somewhere.
Once you have the strategy, however obtained, you need to practice --- preferably using a computer. You do see players sometimes trying to play a game in a casino while consulting the strategy card on every hand. This is a slow and error-prone method of doing it. Decent strategies are somewhat complicated. It takes a computer dealing thousands of hands and correcting you when you are wrong for you to be able to understand those complications. Figuring them out on the fly in the casino isn't usually very effective.
However you choose to study a new game, though, congratulations for going for it! The best games of today are not the same as the best ones of two years ago, and the best ones in the future will be different yet. Having the willingness and ability to continue to study and learn is one thing that distinguishes winning players from losing ones.
Finally, a very important strategy is that once you have mastered a new game, you must go back and relearn your old ones! If you fail to do that, you will find yourself unable to play your old games at nearly the same level of proficiency as you used to.
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.