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Video Poker: America's National Game of Chance - Part One

6 April 2004

Note from Elliot Frome: "This article was originally published around 1992. It was adapted from the theme feature article of Lenny's new (at the time!) 200 page book, AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME OF CHANCE: VIDEO POKER. The concluding part will be published next week."

With gambling gaining acceptance from border to border and coast to coast, from wigwams to riverboats to cruise ships to volcanic mega-resorts, isn't it about time America chose a national game of chance? With such legitimization, our national game of chance could serve to raise huge sums of money in every state, much the same as toll bridges, pari-mutuel betting and state lotteries.

I'm certain everyone has a favorite game to nominate, but my vote goes to Video Poker. It's a perfect fit to all the stringent requirements that must be imposed on our selection. Here's the case we can make for Video Poker.

Popularity: While popularity alone is far from a sufficient qualification for our national game of chance, it is certainly to its credit that vast numbers of Americans enjoy playing Video Poker. Not only is it taking over the lead in casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City, but it is widely played as a video lottery terminal elsewhere. Some believe the attraction is the decision-making aspect of play and others believe the game is preferred because everyone is familiar with poker as a card game. The fact is, nobody can cite any single reason for its increasing popularity, which is in itself a harbinger of a long-lasting love affair by the public.

Integrity: In just a dozen years, Video Poker has been the subject of extensive mathematical analysis--supported by powerful computers with sophisticated software--that has revealed the statistics of the game with far greater accuracy than any other casino card game. Because it has been so completely analyzed, there is no way that the integrity of Video Poker could be biased to depart from a random number basis of operation. There are several independent means of verifying that the hands are dealt out randomly and that the draws of replacement cards is a truly random process. It is critical that the public perceive its national game of chance as being cleaner than driven snow. Video Poker is already at this level of confidence.

Predictability: One cannot fail to note that Video Poker was not originally an instant success. The game languished until the payback was raised to the 99 percent-plus level. The ideal national game of chance should be a high payback (at least 99%) game and one for which everyone can be assured of the payback simply by inspection of the posted pay-out table. Video Poker is such a game. Once the composition of the deck is defined and the pay-out table is posted, then as night follows day, the resulting payback (and the house "hold") is set in concrete provided the players make reasonably good choices in their discards. Which brings us to our next feature.

Skill Factor: I cannot imagine Americans wanting a national game of chance which does not reward skillful play to some degree. Since our whole capitalistic foundation is predicated on rewarding the skillful, wouldn't we want to perpetuate that credo in our national game? Video Poker is ideal in that respect. A full-pay Las Vegas style Jacks or Better game can return 99.6 percent to expert players, i.e., players who know what pay-tables to seek out, how to play each hand for optimum win-potential and what the statistical expectations are. Players who have just reasonably good knowledge will derive a bit less in payback. Those with only some degree of card sense will realize a lower return, but still in the 95-plus percent range. So, everyone has a good chance to win or at least enjoy the game, which is what most players would want from our national game of chance.

Learnability: Even before attaining official endorsement, Video Poker has attracted numerous writers whose books are widely available. Public libraries carry this author's books and those of others, including video tapes. Within a month of release, this author's tutoring program for home computers was in national distribution. My file includes five other home computer programs all of which are available everywhere. Given national endorsement, literally dozens of instruction books will be on the market. This will enable any player who is serious about attaining "expert status" to do so at little or no cost. The public will be quick to rise to the challenge to optimize its skills. And they will learn because Video Poker is easy to learn from the type of material that is available.

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