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America's National Game of Chance: VIDEO POKER – Part Two

14 April 2004

In our last column we discussed why Video Poker is well qualified to be officially designated America's National Game of Chance. We looked at its popularity, integrity, predictability, skill factors and its learnability.

We found the game to be leading in popularity and likely to endure in this important, but not totally sufficient characteristic. We found Video Poker to be free of any suspicion and easy to insure its integrity. We found that the game can offer high payback which rewards skill, but that the unskilled are given a fair deal and can easily learn to improve in skill level.

Now we turn our discussion toward the vision of the future, when there are arcades featuring the National Game of Chance found everywhere. Here again, we see Video Poker qualifying well for implementation.

    Security: Even today, Video Poker smart-machines accept "club-cards" and send messages to the player, like "Greetings Lee, Welcome to the RITZ casino. You have 21,323 credits. Good Luck". This same technology can be applied to creating a cashless machine, which reads the magnetic card and draws credits and banks winning credits. Players would purchase cards at the entrance and cash in on the way out. The machines would be totally cashless. OK, OK! we can artificially create the sounds of coins dropping into the tray to keep the old-timers happy-- and maybe a siren for royals. Stripped of the mechanical complications which impede play on coin-operated machines, we can look forward to highly reliable machines are rarely in need of opening, so maximum hands-off utilization efficiency is attained. Without cash and with minimum down-time, the security requirements which burden casinos is reduced to mere crowd control. Even the occasional maintenance of these highly modular solid-state machines can be tightly controlled so that their integrity is never compromised. What this all adds up to is this: we can make money with such arcades even with the paybacks at 99.5 percent, a figure guaranteed to draw many players.

    Profitability: Consider a Video Poker arcade with 500 machines. With a 300 game per hour play rate, at 50 percent occupancy some 75,000 games per hour are being played. Assuming an average machine to be a 25-cent machine (5 coins at $1.25) the hourly "drop" is over $93,000 and the average "hold" (house win) is over $460 per hour. Aside from the coin drop, additional revenues from billboards and refreshments should raise the gross to over $600 per hour. Operating six days, 12 hours per day the gross income would exceed $2 million and the net would be at least $1 million per year. A typical town of 50,000 population would easily support such an arcade.

    Side Benefits: America is known to be an aging society. With Video Poker, we have a game which is known to interest our senior citizens. With a 99.5 percent payback, the loss rate is only 0.5 percent. An evening at an arcade will prove to be a relatively form of entertainment. Furthermore, the same arcades can provide the type of jobs which seniors will line up to get.

All in all, we think there is a strong reason for America to designate a National Game of Chance before someone else hangs it on us. We are moving quickly toward cross-country gambling and our sad experience has always been that unless we identify with something we like, we'll wind up being identified with something we dislike. Let's not fall into another Ugly American scenario as our acceptance of gambling widens.

We also believe we have made an excellent case for Video Poker being selected as our National Game of Chance. Video Poker is in fact a truly American game--invented in America, developed in America and manufactured in America. Let's claim it and name it, for it stands solidly head and shoulders above any other game for this honor.

Lenny Frome
Lenny Frome spent 40 years in the aerospace engineering business before moving to Las Vegas. During the ensuing 10 years, he became one of the most prolific gaming authors, having written 8 books, countless tip sheets and nearly 1000 articles for a variety of gaming magazines.

Lenny's ground breaking work in the area of Video Poker earned him the title of the 'King of Video Poker'. He also wrote on a variety of other gaming topics including Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Keno and others.

Besides being an author and columnist, Lenny was the premier Gaming Consultant at the time of his passing in 1998. He helped develop paytables for Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, and consulted on literally hundreds of other gaming projects.

His son, Elliot, now follows in his footsteps, as a gaming author, analyst and consultant. Their website, and a complete catalog of all their products can be found at www.vpheaven.com. Feel free to drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Lenny Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com
Lenny Frome
Lenny Frome spent 40 years in the aerospace engineering business before moving to Las Vegas. During the ensuing 10 years, he became one of the most prolific gaming authors, having written 8 books, countless tip sheets and nearly 1000 articles for a variety of gaming magazines.

Lenny's ground breaking work in the area of Video Poker earned him the title of the 'King of Video Poker'. He also wrote on a variety of other gaming topics including Spanish 21, Let It Ride, Keno and others.

Besides being an author and columnist, Lenny was the premier Gaming Consultant at the time of his passing in 1998. He helped develop paytables for Let It Ride and Three Card Poker, and consulted on literally hundreds of other gaming projects.

His son, Elliot, now follows in his footsteps, as a gaming author, analyst and consultant. Their website, and a complete catalog of all their products can be found at www.vpheaven.com. Feel free to drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Lenny Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com