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Million Dollar Video Poker
by Bob Dancer
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Bob Dancer is a video poker legend. His software, books, and strategy cards have become sought-after items for beginners or serious video poker players. His books provide beginners, serious players, dedicated players, tournament players and anyone even thinking of playing these addictive, sometimes lucrative machines with more angles, strategies, and stories about those who win or lose (and why) than any book published in recent years.
Read a review of Million Dollar Video Poker
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How Good at Juggling are You?

Playing successful video poker requires a large variety of skills. Being really good at some of them does you little good if you are awful at certain others. A good way to look at it is each skillBob DancerBob 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  is a ball you need to juggle simultaneously with the other balls -- where each ball represents other skills you need to have. The successful player keeps all of the balls up in the air. Here is a sample list of skills, most of which I've written about numerous times.

1. Knowing the game well.
2. Knowing where to find the good games.
3. Knowing the slot club.
4. Knowing current promotions.
5. Being in good shape (relatively speaking) healthwise and sleepwise to give it your best.
6. Maintaining sufficient bankroll to play the game without financial worries.
7. Having the discipline to ONLY play the best games and only games you know well, and preferably at times where there is some bonus going on promotion-wise.
8. Psychologically being able to deal with the swings, both up and down.
9. Having and using a system to track your results so you don't get in trouble with the IRS.

There might well be other "balls" you'd want to include on this list. Or perhaps you'd like to group two or more of them into one. That's not important to today's discussion. The fact remains that there are numerous aspects to playing successful video poker.

It does little good to have most of the aspects mastered if you fall down in one or more of the others. There is often considerable debate on how well you need to know the game (item number 1). Does it really matter, for example, if you distinguish in NSU Deuces Wild between Ah Ks Js 9h 7s and Ah Ks Js 9d 7s?

For me, knowing the game well (including such truly minor distinctions as above), is merely part of keeping the first ball up in the air. But clearly it is more important to concentrate on keeping ALL of the balls up in the error than to spend so much time on one or two of the balls that you neglect the others.

Most of these balls you need to juggle transfer easily from game to game. Knowing about the slot club and being able to deal with the swings are equally relevant whether you're playing 9/6 Jacks or 9/5 Super Double Bonus -- although the swings are quite a bit bigger in the latter game. It's only the game itself that is different.

Which of these balls is hardest to keep in the error? Clearly this is an individual matter. I am never tempted to play slots or craps or other casino games, for example, while others regularly need to fight these money-robbing demons on their way to a video poker machine. Being thrifty with your money is something that comes more naturally to some than others. Memorizing strategies is not equally easy for everyone.

Using juggling balls as a metaphor has advantages. First, since dropping a ball is a bad thing when you're juggling, it's easy to transfer the thought that dropping out one of the skills they represent is a bad thing. It lets you see that success is measured by doing EVERYTHING at least at a minimum level of acceptability.

AFTER you have mastered keeping "your act together," to use a phrase from years ago that becomes relevant when referring to a juggling act, THEN it is time to work on mastering the fine points --- learning better strategies, learning more about the slot clubs (they change all of the time and keeping up is a challenge), figuring out exactly the best way to make a promotion work, etc. Improving your knowledge in each of these points is extremely important -- but ONLY after you're capable of keeping it all together.

Here are a few examples of dropping a ball or two. Mastering advanced strategies when you're never going to be able to get or keep a bankroll does you little good. Playing well 98% of the time and then going on "tilt" the rest of the time is not a winning formula. Knowing how to play well, but regularly "taking advantage" of a casino's free drinks is not the key to success.
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