“You’ve Already Hit the Royal”

When I wrote recently about hitting a $120,000 royal flush at Dotty’s and explained when I planned to return to playing there (after a four-month hiatus, which I explained in the earlier articles), I received the following comment from a reader who calls himself/herself Hop Hoofer:

You have a very small edge. And playing with an edge is mainly for preparing for the worst. Since the best, the $120K royal, already happened to you, why would you still want to risk your money? Your score will be balanced out eventually and most likely your profit will be evened out if you continue to play. If you are already ahead a lot, I don’t see a point of chasing for the tiny edge and losing your profit back.

Good question, and frankly, easy to answer. Still, at least one other reader agreed with Hop Hoofer, so I figure it is worthy of discussion. My response is far more general than that casino, with those promotions and games.

My edge at that casino wasn’t so “very small.” There are a LOT of different promotions going on there, some of which I didn’t write about. I mentioned the bonus on W-2Gs and the basic slot club, and the cash-back coupons, but as you play, you also receive bonuses at the machine. They start off small, $1 at a time, for the first $20,000 coin-in per day or so, but then they start to increase dramatically. It’s much better to play $200,000 twice a month there than $100,000 four times a month.

They have small weekly drawings where you don’t have to be there but have a week to collect. Periodically they have additional promotions of several varieties, but what these promotions have in common is that the bigger players tend to receive bigger awards than the smaller players. The amounts I play put me into the “bigger player” category, so these prizes add up. But it’s a “little bit here — a little bit there” type of adding up and the mix varies over time

By far my biggest concern with Hop Hoofer’s comment is that, “You’ve already hit the $120,000 royal,” is a backward-looking statement. Smart gamblers look forward, not backward.

My decision to play a game is based on what I perceive will happen in the future. If I calculate that the odds are sufficiently in my favor, I’m going to jump in. Whether I’m ahead at this particular casino or game this week/month/year/lifetime or not is not a consideration. 

Another aspect to Hop Hoofer’s comment is an underlying belief that we have only so many royal flushes in us, that there is some sort of video poker score keeper in the sky, and that things will even out over time. I don’t believe any of this. Assuming my overall bankroll isn’t in severe jeopardy, whether I’m ahead or behind $100,000 at a particular game/casino has nothing to do with how the next hundred hours of gambling there will go.

When I was married to Shirley and I got ahead a lot at a casino, she wanted me to “quit while I was ahead.” When I got behind a lot at a casino, she wanted to “quit because I can’t win there.” I concluded that, bottom line, the stakes scared her. She didn’t really understand the math of gambling and had heard that in the long run all gamblers go broke. And she certainly didn’t want this to happen to us. So, she wanted to use stopping rules to protect us from the math.

Hop Hoofer’s comment of quitting because I’ve already hit a royal there reminds me very much of Shirley’s arguments. I suspect the size of the game is outside of his/her comfort zone and the comment is a knee jerk, well-being, “Save your bankroll at all costs,” type of reaction.

But I do believe I understand the math. I do believe I can handle the swings. And I do believe that I have the advantage. So, it’s full speed ahead.

And while I disagree with Hop Hoofer’s “advice” and, in fact, will do the opposite from what was recommended, I welcome the comment. In this instance, it provided fodder for another blogpost. 

And if Hop Hoofer or anybody else decides something on the order of, “That’s all well and good for Dancer but I would never do it,” that’s okay too. Each of us, including me, has to make the best decisions we can and live with the results. That’s part of gambling. That’s part of life.