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Video Poker Kicked My Butt!

Playing tired and tipsy does not a winner make

by Cat Denton


First of all let me say that I am not a professional video poker player. I wish I were a pro, but there are two problems: (A) I don’t have the bankroll, and (B) I live in Podunksville, USA, six hours from the nearest full-pay machines. However, I do practice video poker a lot and manage to scrape together enough money to go gambling a few times a year.

Recently I was thrilled to take a trip to Nevada to celebrate my birthday. Our first stop was Laughlin. We ran the gamut there, muddling through a sparse selection of full-pay machines and guiltily playing some short-pay ones. I just had to try a Super Times Pay machine, even though there were no full-pay ones in sight. My husband shook his head in disappointment, saying, “I’m trying to pretend like I don’t know

Finally my birthday arrived and we drove eagerly toward the land of milk and honey, the Nirvana of video poker—Fiesta Henderson! Not only was I celebrating my birthday in my favorite city in the world, but I was going to video poker heaven, it was 5x points day, and I had a coupon! What more could I ask? I arrived equipped with an arsenal of materials that I was sure would help me to “rob” the casino: index card listing the whats and wheres of video poker for that casino, Amigo Club card, cash, coupon book, and of course, trusty strategy cards hanging on my belt loop! I looked like the Rambo of video poker with all my “ammunition!” As we approached the entrance, I told my husband, “Now be sure to do some star-gazing while you’re in here.” By this, I didn’t mean J-Lo or Britney Spears; I was hoping we might catch a glimpse of Bob Dancer, Jean Scott, or the like!

video poker

I had a one-track mind and it was on Deuces. Finally I honed in on “my”
machine. I settled in and started playing, feeling rather cool with my strategy cards and other equipment. I had played a short time when I became aware of a flurry of clicking noises to my left. I looked over to see a man furiously punching away at two Deuces machines, glancing to and fro from one to the other, barely long enough to make a split-second decision. His fingers were obviously on autopilot, flying over the controls at breakneck speed. I first looked up to see if he was indeed one of the celebs I had told my hubby to watch for (not that Bob would be playing 25-cent machines, and it certainly wasn’t Jean, who is a woman), but I didn’t recognize him. He didn’t acknowledge my presence, nor did he break his “groove” at any point. I don’t think it would have phased him if I had been sitting there buck naked! I concluded that this must be one of those “professionals” you hear about. Here I was slowly plodding through each hand, checking my strategy card. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite as cool. I left some of my money and a good bit of my pride at the Fiesta that day: Fiesta Henderson: 1; Birthday Girl from Podunksville: 0.

I didn’t think Vegas ever slept, but I can now attest that between the hours of 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., it’s eerily deserted. I decided this was the perfect time to hit up the Super Times Pay 9/6 Jacks or Better machines at Caesars Palace, which are usually monopolized by people “in the know.” Tipsily, I weaved through the casino toward the two premium machines. Yes! They were unoccupied! I had a “plan” for these machines. You see, I’d been thinking about Mr. Clickity Clack Fingers back at the Fiesta. I decided he had the right idea and that playing faster meant you made money faster. Well, I knew I couldn’t play as fast as him, but I could certainly play multiple lines with the same result! So… a half-hour and $200 later I was wandering aimlessly, looking for a nickel machine to play one coin at a time until my blasted hubby got back from wherever he was. Caesars Palace: 1; Birthday Girl from Podunksville: 0.

In the final analysis of my trip, it would be safe to say that video poker kicked my butt—this time. Am I discouraged? NO! Do I still love video poker? YES! In fact, I am already busily working, building a bankroll for my next adventure. I can’t blame video poker for the sorry financial outcome of my trip; most of it was my fault—playing when tired and tipsy, playing short-pay machines, playing beyond my bankroll. All that matters is that I had a ton of fun and learned a lot, too. I see the loss of that bankroll as a mere ripple in the whole sea of a bankroll that I’ll have over my lifetime.

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