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Prejudice in Video Poker

The word “prejudice” is usually used in the context of believing a person or group or people are inferior to others because of race, national origin, religion, sex, politics, sexual orientation or the belief of whether Country/Western deserves to be called music. This type of prejudice is frowned upon in this country, so long as you don’t share the particular prejudice. But this is not a political article and I’m not using the word to mean anything like that.

I’m using the word “prejudice” to mean whatever you see tends to support whatever belief system you have going in. That is, if you believe that casinos offer a fair deal if you know where to look, that’s what you’ll observe. If you believe that casinos are out to get you and can’t be trusted, you’ll easily find evidence for that, too. Often two people will see the same evidence and come to opposite conclusions, depending on their prejudices going in.

In Jacks or Better, royal flushes come about every 40,000 on average. Let’s say you’ve played 160,000 hands (which we’ll call four royal “cycles”) and haven’t received a royal. What’s going on?

My own prejudice is that this happens on occasion, and it’s no big deal. I know that there’s about a 1.8% chance that I’ll start another four-royal dry spell tomorrow. It’s happened before, and it will happen again. It’s no fun, but not a big deal. I believe I’ll end up making money at video poker, year after year. If your prejudice is that casinos are out to cheat you, and that video poker writers like me are paid flunkies to spread the “once-in-40,000-hands misinformation,” you’ll look at this four-cycle dry spell as supporting your theory. You know you’ll lose year after year, and you’ll be right.

Let’s look at it from the other side. You’ve recently read my Jacks or Better Winner’s Guide and have practiced on WinPoker. You go to Vegas and expect to set the world on fire. Sure enough, you do. In about 10,000 hands over a weekend, you hit two $1 royals and end up with a net profit of $6,500. What happened?

With my prejudices, I believe there’s a 2.4% chance of me hitting two royals in the next 10,000 hands, so this kind of result will happen about once in 40 trips. It’s happened many times in the past and will happen many times in the future. It’s the fun part of video poker, but it’s not that unusual. If your prejudice going in is that casinos are trying to cheat you, you’ll probably look at this evidence as the casinos trying to suck you into a lifetime of losses by letting you win early. If your prejudice is, “I don’t know whether this will work or not,” you might well decide my system is the best thing since sliced bread and expect this kind of results every trip in the future. You will become disillusioned shortly. The system does work, but not usually this well all at once.

When we speak of the prejudice listed in the first paragraph, we call it “bigotry,” and enlightened people attempt to remove that sort of prejudice from their thoughts and words. When we speak of the sort of prejudice referred to in this article, however, it’s not the sort of thing we can remove.

Everyone has preconceived notions, or prejudices, and we need them to get through life. We can’t decide on everything in life newly every day. You’d never get anything done if you had to decide daily whether you liked where you lived, who you lived with, what kind of car should you be driving, what kind of foods taste good and are healthy, which religion and political party most closely mirrors your own views and hundreds of other things. Any of these subjects may be revisited from time to time, but not all of them all the time.

What’s the “best” prejudice to have concerning video poker? I can tell you what mine is, but you’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s right for you. I believe that the most successful players take the time to learn the game well, including how to play the hands, how to analyze casino slot clubs and promotions and what are usual and unusual things that can happen. The best players continue to study and hone their skills. The knowledge they learn from doing this will allow them to analyze situations realistically. These players tend to be winners at gambling year after year.

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