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Fellow Gamblers, Do As I Say, Not As I Do

30 June 2006

I have a confession to make: I have uttered words that no serious video poker player should ever say. Not someone who plays strictly by the numbers. Not someone who doesn't believe in superstitious voodoo.

The words I said, out loud mind you, were, "This is my lucky machine."

But you gotta' remember: this was a Full Pay Deuces Wild machine that I had hit quad deuces on three times that day. Another day, I had hit two royals within 45 minutes of each other. And yet another time, I had hit 14 wild royal flushes, which kept me in the black even though I hit nothing higher that day.

So, you can imagine how easy it was for me to get caught up in the moment and to utter those fateful words. And to not just think them but to actually say them out loud. Where anyone could overhear.

You see, I'm the one who preaches skill over luck. I'm the one who usually gets aggravated at other players when they display their own private superstitions. For example , the young kid who walks up to the machine next to mine and asks the bartender for a roll of quarters. I tell him about the bill acceptor, thinking that maybe he doesn't know it's available. But he tells me that he wants to put coins in because that brings him luck. When the bartender runs out of tokens, the kid puts a $20 bill into the bill acceptor and immediately pushes the "Cash Out" button. Then he feeds the tokens into the coin-drop five at a time.

That's his lucky method, even though he keeps losing. And he keeps changing machines.

I tell myself that I stay at my favorite machine because it's in the bartender's line of vision. I don't want to admit to myself that I really think it's my lucky machine.

Truth is, I've never given many of the other machines a chance. I'll sit at the two at the other end if mine is occupied, but in both of those spots the vent blows directly on my neck, so I'll move as soon as another becomes empty. The one in the very middle I don't like because it's in the middle; it feels claustrophobic.

I will play at the machine at the opposite end of the bar because there I have plenty of elbowroom on my right and because the TV is not so distracting.

So that means that I have two machines that I play on a regular, consistent basis. Day in and day out, almost exclusively, I play at these two machines. You'd think that by now I would know these two pretty well, that I would notice trends, that I could tell when a good or bad streak is about to happen.

You know what? I can't. It just doesn't happen that way.

Remember when I told you that playing video poker is like riding a roller coaster? Well, it's still like that. Sometimes I play all day on one $100 bill and cash out with that same $100. Sometimes I lose $100 in 20 minutes, put another bill in and triple or quadruple my money in the next 20 minutes.

But I never ever switch to another machine simply because the one I'm on is cold.

There are times when my favorite machine has cost me as much money as the other one, but according to my records, when it's hitting, it's hitting big time. In my head, I know that it has won more for me simply because I play it more. But deep down, I feel like it's lucky.

That is, I did feel that way. Yesterday, I had one of the worst losing sessions in my video poker playing history. Ten minutes before I was to quit for the day, a little old lady walked up to the machine next to me, fed it a $20 bill, cashed out and started dropping tokens in five at a time. She hit a royal on her third hand. Go figure.

Until next week, aces and faces to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com