I’ve heard video poker (VP) players make seemingly logical statements that were simply incorrect. For example, the maxim “Never throw away a winning hand” is an untrue statement. There are, in fact, times when you’re dealt either a straight or flush that has to be tossed in favor of holding four cards to the Royal Flush (RF). It depends on the game’s pay schedule. Rely on tutorial software, like Dean Zamzow’s WinPoker, or the strategy cards in my book, “The Video poker Edge”, instead of another player with unknown credentials. Another assumption I frequently hear is “He’s from Vegas and told me…”; that, too, may be incorrect. Always fact-check for accuracy regardless of where the source lives or how frequently they play. Here are some tips for separating the wheat from the chaff while gambling.

Casino Policies: It’s frustrating when you practice due diligence by learning a casino’s procedures only to find they have changed once you get there. For example, you check in for a drawing an hour before the event starts and believe you’re eligible only later to find out you have to swipe your card after each drawing because management changed the rules. Ask questions if there’s any doubt at all, especially if you haven’t been there in a while.


Slot Club Card: Even if you’re talking to a frequent player, never believe the forever circulating rumor that inserting your player’s card alters your odds of winning. It does not. In fact, you will not have an accurate win/loss statement to present to the IRS in case of a tax audit if you refuse to use a slot card. That’s in addition to losing casino benefits, like comps, promotional event entries, cashback and any other incentives offered by the house.


Discretionary Comps: The casino does not advertise some returns for your player loyalty and for good reasons. They would rather you use your earned comps for meals and the gift shop than to offer “bonus” rewards. It’s better to assume they do have discretionary comps whenever you’ve played a long session and have significant “coin in” (total amount wagered), instead of squandering your earned comp dollars. Simply ask your host or a member of the management team.


Casino Host: Sometimes players assume that having a casino host is for status and really unnecessary. Unfortunately, some casinos are even eliminating the position to save money. If you’re a frequent player, it’s advantageous to have a host and to change to a different host when you’re unhappy with the one you have. That’s because you can’t assume benefits are objective since they are not. There are logical guidelines in terms of comps but the brass does not micromanage their hosts. If you think patrons with less action are receiving more lucrative offers, say special event invites, then consider talking with your host or changing to another one.


It’s Not Personal: I’ve been guilty a time or two of feeling upset by new policies but it’s really not personal, just business. For example, a casino was offering a hundred extra promotional event entries for new slot card members. It seemed unfair to me since it took 10 points to earn each entry, but the casino was just looking for a cost-free way to increase the number of slot club members.


Consistency: You may assume that the information given by one employee, looking at the same data, will be the same as that given by a different staff member, but that is not true. Employees make it look so official when they’re telling you how many points you need to get to a higher-level card, but they’re mostly “guesstimating”. How can you know for sure? The figures you receive either in writing or on the kiosks will be accurate.


Rules Will Be Bent: Never assume casino policies are written in stone. It truly depends on the level of your play and if you are asking a person with the authority to bend the rules. For example, if you’re told that no rooms are available for the weekend, be aware that casinos always keep a few available for the “whales” or high-betting players. Also, the definition of “whale” is ever changing so don’t be timid about asking your host about stretching rules and policies.


Final Thoughts: Casinos aren’t churches or educational institutions so never assume their formal procedures make sense or will be adhered to in a judicious way. They’re in business to make money and that means keeping their gambling regulars happy and decisions fluid. VP holds are exact and depend on the game’s pay schedule, but the house rules are mostly flexible and often defy logic. Instead on relying on other players to disperse accurate information you should go right to the horse’s mouth. For VP that’s an expert or tutorial software and for house policies it’s the department in charge of administering the program.

By: Linda Boyd