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Here, we will present the unedited commentaries of professional gambler Rob Singer.  Rob is best known for his controversial opinions about video poker, but he also comments on other casino games as well as casino hotels and visiting Vegas in general.  He also may comment on gaming and casinos and resorts in other parts of the country.  You are also invited to read about Rob's video poker strategies and see the video interviews I conducted with Rob about his strategies and beliefs by clicking here.

Note from Alan: The following article was sent to me by Rob and I am publishing it here as he sent it to me. This article follows many posts by Rob on an Internet forum that discusses gambling including video poker. On that forum, Rob revealed to the public that for several years he manipulated video poker machines at various casinos so that he could play at one denomination and then get a payoff at a much higher denomination. He was challenged on that forum as to the legitimacy of his claims and whether or not it was legal. There is another case of two other gamblers who used a similar "bug" or defect or manipulation (you decide what to call it) to also win big at casinos, and their case has been documented in the media. Rob was never prosecuted and until he told me about this video poker machine manipulation at a breakfast meeting at Red Rock Casino about a month ago, I never knew Rob manipulated video poker machines this way. There are various articles on the Internet about the other case involving two other players who were prosecuted but later the charges against them were dropped. You will find one of the articles about this other case by clicking here.


by Rob Singer


(POSTED JUNE 9, 2019) In case any of you don't know me, my name is Rob Singer--a former video poker professional who "retired" from pro play in mid-2009. Today I still play occasionally but as you'll soon come to understand and undoubtedly agree with my reasoning, the game has lost much of its luster for me these days.


I began my VP life as an AP (advantage player) in 1990 and found nothing but failure through 1996. I lost $250,000 in the process. Over the next few years I made it my goal to develop a VP strategy that would enable me to change my losing ways. In fact, when I felt the strategy had been perfected, I actually quit a very lucrative business career and began playing full time, making the round trip by car between Phoenix and Las Vegas once a week. I'd be home with my family a LOT more, and at the same time I could be my own boss on my own time, doing something that was fun! My retirement was set financially just in case I was wrong. But it all turned out to be a wise decision.


After 4 years I was ahead over $375,000. However, beating the game in this way with a complex strategy and having to spend hours at the machines every week, to me lacked efficiency--which I was aware of from the get-go. So each week after completing my sessions, I spent time studying and trying different procedures at the VP machines, looking for something....ANYTHING that could give me a true and consistent advantage. I mean, these games are nothing but computers, and computers can be manipulated under the right circumstances, right? I wasn't looking to do anything clearly illegal, like using an external device or doing anything that was not allowed. I simply but firmly believed these machines had a way of making them do something that the manufacturer did not intend for them to do.


After finding nothing after nearly 3-1/2 years my mind seemed to force me to ask this question: "When is a hand over--but not REALLY over?" I started thinking in terms of how extraordinary it would be to have the option of changing the denomination on a winning hand BEFORE it paid out. A video poker player's dream come true, right? Easier said than done.


After a few months with these thoughts swirling around in my head, it partially came together. My first realization was that if I was on a machine that had the double-up feature enabled, no matter what the winning hand, it was not over until you chose to double-up or not. If you chose YES then your hand continues until you either lose it all or choose NO and take your win. However, I chose to sit and stare at the question and think: choose YES and win and your hand remains in limbo. Choose NO and the hand is officially over.


I spent months staring and thinking....staring and thinking, whenever the double-up question popped up on the screen after a winning hand resulted from hitting the Draw button. And then it finally happened--as I was gazing at the question, out of the corner of my eye I noticed something the typical video poker player would never bother caring about. The previously insignificant low-level light on the bill feeder was ON.


Why was this an important event? Think about it. You sit at a machine and start off by putting either cash or a ticket into the bill feeder to get your session started. If the light on the feeder (showing the different denominations of bills that are accepted) isn't burnt out (and a lot of them are by the way) it is always lit up at this point and after every hand is concluded once the draw button is pushed. But here it was, still lit up during the double-up question, when all expectations say that it shouldn't be. 

I was asking myself "what could this be--if anything?" So I took a $20 bill, inserted it, and if I said things changed for my professional vp career it would be the understatement of my life. The double-up question went away once the bill was accepted, but I still hadn't been paid for the winning hand (which was a small winner). No credits had yet been added. At this point, almost every player would be calling for a slot attendant asking for a tech.....almost every player BUT ME. I felt this situation merited more scrutiny. 


So I was looking at a winning hand that for some reason had not been paid in credits. Why not? Well, since I seem to have interrupted the game's intentions and/or sequence by inserting a bill, there had to be more to the story. I was playing a multi-game/multi-denomination machine at quarters, and my game was 8/5 Bonus Poker. I decided to hit the More Games button, which surprisingly wiped away my winning hand and went to the Games menu. But as you know, this menu also includes the Denominations menu, so I tried changing it from 25-cents and I was able to successfully navigate the denomination between all three values. I stopped on $1 and chose the game I was playing which was BP. My winning hand was still there and remained unpaid....until I hit the only button I believed was capable of finally paying me--the Cash Out button. It worked, but instead of paying me 25 quarters for my flush, it paid me 25 DOLLARS! My hand was over. But the next part of my career had just begun.


Without going through the details, I did a few more weeks of testing and eventually strategizing my plan going forward. It was early in 2004, and I put together what I considered to be a solid and safe structure on how to proceed. I would use a bankroll of $5000 only. I set win goals of $10,000/week and $520,000/year, and if big winners put me ahead of those numbers on average then I would stay home in Arizona until time caught up with my winnings. I would only do this on ultimately W2G taxable winners, and I would keep meticulous gaming records and ethically file/pay my yearly taxes. I would adopt a one-and-done policy, where I'd hit no more than a single jackpot at any one casino before moving onto the next property. I would never use a player's card anywhere up until I hit my taxable winner. Then I would insert my card and purposely lose about 5-10% of my jackpot at the highest denomination on the machine, which corresponded to the denomination I collected my jackpot at. I would never use this play on a hand that existed on any machine before I sat down, and I would never use the same winner more than once. (To me, both of these choices were illegal on top of being very stupid to do). I would play at every major casino across the entire state of Nevada ONLY. And most importantly, I would tell NO ONE anything about any of this while I was operating this play. I made it to about +$2.8-million until the play was stopped.


I was in cruise control in the summer of 2009 when I got the news: some guy named Kane stumbled across this button and bill feeding sequence while drinking too much, got stupidly greedy while opening his big mouth, he and his friend got arrested, and it all ended for me abruptly. I retired from professional play, we bought a big RV, and my new life on the American road had begun.


Kane and friend eventually got out with all charges thrown out in Federal Court. That made me breath easier, but being a very cautious person, I decided to impose a 10-year statute of limitations requirement upon myself before reporting on what I've done. There was a story written about these two guys once their cases were dropped, and the one sentence that remains on my mind is where the writer writes "as far as anyone knows, they were the only ones to find and use this machine glitch". That was true....until now. The big difference was, I used it in silence for 5-1/2 years. They stupidly killed it in a couple months....and they paid for their greed.

Why talk about this now? Because I can and because it's safe to. I've passed all statutes of limitations, and I wanted people to know that my video poker career was more than just the 4 years of success using my play strategy. I've spent nearly 20 years railing against the methods used by video poker "advantage players" because those did not work for me in the '90's. Yet here I was, putting down the most advantageous video poker play of all-time!


Here's a step by step illustration of how the play works as described by Rob:


Step 1: Be sure the double up feature is enabled. You get a paying hand, for example a full house paying $10 at the 25-cents denomination in Bonus Poker.


Step 2: When the double up question shows choose nothing.


Step 3: Put a $1 bill into the feeder which removes the double up question from the screen.


Step 4: Select "more games" and then select the same game at the highest denomination with the same pay table, and this could be for example $1per coin.


Step 5: Then your previous winning hand will be showing at the $1 per coin denomination. Hit the cash out button for a pay of $40.


Rob cautions that you can't do this too often without attracting attention which is why he never used this technique more than once at any casino per visit. What Rob did do is use the technique on big winning hands. For example if he got four aces paying $800 on $1 Super Double Bonus Poker he would jump up to $25 for a pay of $20,000. Remember not all machines had the same pay table at different denominations.


Many casinos have now blocked this technique or eliminated the double up feature, Rob told me. 




by Rob Singer

(POSTED OCTOBER 12, 2017)  It was a tragedy--for the victims, their families, the city of Las Vegas, and for the rest of our country--and in that particular order. And while I am most certainly a gun enthusiast and have been for most of my life, it is nearly impossible for me to fathom the reign of terror this individual perpetrated upon so many innocent concert-goers, whether they were hit by his bullets or not. To me, this was the work of the devil himself.

But what was the cause of his actions....what exactly prompted Paddock to plan and carry out this deed? I know the authorities are having a significant amount of trouble coming up with the needed conclusion as to why he went through with the shooting, which seems odd when it was such a monstrous event. But after watching, reading, talking about, and thinking about/assessing everything we've learned about this man, I believe I have a perspective that if it doesn't really fit, is more fact-based than anything I've read thus far.

Notwithstanding all of the media reports that either contradicted themselves or didn't make any real sense based on the given info in the first place, this guy was indeed a high-level video poker player who in his deposition from slipping on the floor of the Cosmopolitan, proclaimed to be "the biggest video poker player in the world". And together with the Steve Wynn interview and his brother Eric Paddock's bits of information--which both needed to be analyzed in-depth by experienced video poker players in order to glean meaningful information out of--there actually IS some sense to all this, in as far as being able to form an educated opinion on what really was going on in the Stephen Paddock life and mind.

From all reports we understand that he was not going broke from gambling, and he paid off his markers around town in a very timely manner. So we look at his gambling habits, which I'm sure the authorities are much more aware of in details than the rest of us at this point. There's questions on multiple gaming forums as to whether or not this fellow was an "Advantage Player" because he said he played so often, so much, and at the higher levels. I have no doubt he was not.

I met him around 2007 at the Mirage playing in a high limit area after he recognized me from my picture that appeared weekly with my Undeniable Truth video poker column in Gaming Today, for whom I wrote almost 8 years. He asked me to explain the strategy I used that allowed me to be able to win consistently, and he also shared his dislike of playing next to smokers (which I also detest). From our discussion, at least at that time, he was as disbelieving in the concept of video poker success as an advantage player as was I. This guy had a head on his shoulders. We did not play after our talk, and as far as I know I have never seen him since.

So now, 10 years and a horrible incident later, how do I get into the guy's head? Well, all I can do at this point is compare what I know about his video poker past to mine. For 10 years (2000-2009) I played video poker as a professional up through the $100 machines almost weekly--but only once a week and for an average of maybe 4 hours. Obviously that's far less than Paddock, but I never (and still don't) paid for a hotel room in the state of Nevada, all of my food was comped, and I was gifted shows and received more free gifts than I could use, year after year. I never drank alcohol while playing, similar to some of the stories we hear about the shooter. And I just saw where the authorities have over 200 spottings of him working his way around the Strip, alone, which is exactly the way I always worked my trade. Is this unusual? For me--not at all. I was playing for a living and I didn't want or need any distractions, and all I cared about was winning and going home. For Paddock? From what I understand, his loner label was due to his having no friends and his anything-but-charming personality. In his case, video poker seemed the nearly perfect "get outta my face" activity.

In my opinion, Stephen Paddock was nothing more than someone who played video poker at very high levels for long periods of time, with a very good knowledge of the game, the casinos, the slot clubs, and the consequences of it all. He loved the comps, the freebies, and the attention, and there's no doubt in my mind that his hands started sweating the moment he thought of going back to play in LV and whenever he went out to go out and get the mail at one of his homes. He appears to have had the money to do so for years, because there's absolutely no way that he didn't lose, year after year after year. In other words, lacking a complex strategy such as I utilized and just as anyone who plays a lot including the so-called "AP's", THE MORE YOU PLAY THE MORE YOU WILL LOSE. Was he an addict, as we regularly hear about in the media? OF COURSE HE WAS!....just as much as most who play the game regularly, including and especially the advantage play crowd, which is an inherent trait of these people.

With all this "losing" then how did Paddock still have the cash to purchase multiple homes, send $100k overseas recently, and still have the resources to play at such high limits for long periods of time? Well, I'm retired and I pay cash for my homes these days. I don't still play at high limits and have no reason to send 6-figures overseas, but my wife and I have healthy retirement accounts. No doubt the shooter also did, only he used his to gamble with. So none of this is mind-boggling to players who had a life prior to becoming heavy gamblers.

Then where did his rage come from? First there were drugs--the scourge of humanity. Did he have a beef with the casinos and/or LV in general because he couldn't have fun and win, even though he never went broke playing, where he wanted to cause chaos throughout the city for a long time to come? Did he have some kind of issue with country music and/or its fans, even though he was a country music lover? Or was his drugged-up mind altered in some way that he somehow secretly agreed with the sickness that is Islamic terrorism?

In my case, I only look at casinos as the enemy in the overall game that's being played by any gambler. I've never taken drugs so I can't comment on that, other than knowing there's been more than one TV drug commercial where the plethora of "warnings" includes "homicidal thoughts". But I would think that feeling comes and goes, and the mayhem he sought had to have been planned on a smooth-running platform over a good amount of time.

We may never clearly know the precise reasoning behind his attack. All we can do is learn by it and do a better job of preparing. As long as there is free will there will be people and events that seem to have been formed in a twisted type of universe, where common sense and decency do not exist. But for now, lets keep all the speculation on his video poker play and if or how that had anything at all to do with the massacre, at an intelligent level. Those of us who play the game don't like the fact that he did also. But if you have any questions about it, ask someone who likely KNOWS the right answers.

A Cryout For New Material

(POSTED APRIL 17, 2015) It's a tough crowd in the video poker business. Everyone wants continuous words of wisdom even though some like to claim to be Gods of the game, but few are actually able or willing to learn from the past. That leads to EVERY VP writer having to keep repeating their lessons, which in turn is a bit monotonous to many readers. So today THIS writer at least, will use various forum and other current events as a basis for these articles.

I found it interesting that only days after I wrote about the Monty Hall problem 2 weeks ago, a similar "problem" was brought up for discussion on the Wizard's forum. This time it was about two dice, where after the shake one of them was "peeked at" and known to be a 2, and the question was "what is the probability that both die are showing a 2"? And as usual, it has become a very long and argumentative thread.

While the answer is a very simple 1 in 6, predictably, the collection of self-anointed math geniuses and mensa-aspirationists on that strange forum have purposely turned the thread into an argument based on the same semantics & wordsmithing that turned the Monty Hall problem into a circus. Those of us who have been on or are currently on that forum can attest to how each of these math people post in a manner that shamelessly tries to tell all others that they are the smartest person in the room. Constantly. Which in turn leads to their humiliating downfall, only when it comes to geeks & nerds, a bloody nose along with the accompanying beat-down regularly results in them pretending none of it ever happened.

The big argument revolves around which die was peeked at (which of course doesn't matter) and whether the original question is asking for the odds before or after knowing that one of them shows a 2. However, if you take the question at face value, it is clearly asking what the odds are of the second die being a 2. Simple enough, but only to people who do not base their lives on purposely creating continuous conflict.

So Frank Scoblete has another book for sale--this one on craps. What else is new? Other than me repeating what I've said all along about the myth of dice influencing--where it is nothing more than a wishful state of mind that's used as justification for too much play--Frank kicked this one up a notch when he talked about a character named "Dom". Apparently, this guy not only "influences" dice--he "controls" them--which is even more "crap"! Yet, sadly, Frank also claims this dice wizard stole over $50,000 from him. Just how weak a person does one have to be in order to allow a gambler to steal from him?? Hmmm....more "advantage players" who need to keep taking other people's money rather than use their incredible AP skills to WIN it. Very telling indeed.

On the local front, I've been doing a lot of training at the VP machines up here between Reno & Lake Tahoe in the past two months, and it's always interesting to meet these new enthusiasts. In fact, last evening was one of the best and I learned something I never knew before. I met with Bob (not his real name) who lives and works in Carson City for the Nevada State Government, where he has spent most of his adult life.

At his job in 2010, he met the late video poker personality "Skip Hughes" and they became acquaintances because of their interest in video poker. It seems, per my newest student, that Skip had recently moved to Carson City for a job in the State Gov't., having failed to find one in Las Vegas after "losing his bankroll along with nearly everything else to +EV video poker". Yes folks, sadly, another "AP" who moved to LV thinking his knowledge of the theory behind advantage play would allow him to build his bankroll as well as his personal life. He actually followed in the footsteps of ex-UNLV math professor--and friend of Skip's--Yuri Sorken, who ended up having to move back to Russia in complete shame after losing it all to AP vp. Unfortunately, Skip died shortly after his new job began, and if he were still here we could have continued our heated discussions in person about why my method of playing the game is far superior to all that theory that gets so many true believers like him into trouble.

Finally, I'll talk about Harrahs (CET). Even if they weren't in bankruptcy, and even if they offer an array of locations to visit around the the hassle and the worry and the pitiful paytables worth it? Thankfully for CET, the majority of their biggest players (7-Stars & Diamond) are so addicted to their status and the so-called "freebies" etc. that the slot club showers them with, that they will keep coming up with excuse after excuse for their continued playing at them. I happen to have a 7-Stars card, and even though there's been a bevy of offers sent my way, I have not used any of them. The money I won from them has been more than enough. And how many times have I been into Lake Tahoe's Harrah's, Harveys or in Harrah's Reno since making such a "special" status? Once. Learn from this.


Paytables: The Good, The Bad....& The Misguided

(Posted April 15, 2015) Let's get right into it--does a 101% video poker paytable mean you will, tomorrow, or over the next 50 years of your play? Of course it doesn't. Casinos used to have these and better paybacks all the time for years, and no casino ever went out of business because of them. And yes, it's all regardless of how many so-called "advantage players" spouted off about how "playable" they are and how "theory" claimed they could be beaten.

So why then have most of them been lowered to just under 100% or more? Have these "oh-so-special AP's" been "hammering" them to death? Nope....not even close. In the nearly 8 years I wrote the most popular column ever on a weekly basis for Gaming Today, I told of my interviews with many LV casino execs on this very subject, and in every instance the answer was always the same. "It's a business stupid" was the opening, and "when profit margin needs to rise, the first thing any casino does is lower the paytables". Yes, simple common sense from such untrustworthy casino managers in charge of casinos all over town!

Where this gets interesting is in how, in my columns, I documented the words, over time, of the famous names who claimed to be Gods of the game. It was truly something to behold. Crys of "if the positive paytables EVER disappear, I'll not play a single hand again". But when the >100% paytables mostly DID go away, out came the addiction-driven excuses of "well, now I think I'll just add in slot club benefits and CREATE a positive play". And when even THAT became a challenge, well, no problem again. Transparency all but disappeared, and massive comps & freebies "self-valuations" were the talk of the day. VOILA!....they found another way of NOT having to give up their habits! Those who follwed my articles saw that I had predicted this from the get-go.

Mostly, the good paytables are gone these days, and the focus has instead been focused on AP's creating "advantage plays" out of thin air by adding in the comparatively miniscule slot club benefits of today, along with the rooms, the cruises, the gifts, the "free" show tickets, special weekend get-togethers with hundreds of other losers, tournament theoretical values, drawings....even sunny days and spirited talks with the most overrated & misunderstood people on the planet--casino hosts and hostesses. And for someone on the outside of all this like me, who can take or leave anything the casinos "hand out" to players other than the cash I've won directly from the machines, it is not at all that difficult to understand what's really going on.

Now let's turn to the constant forum discussions on if it's really possible for anyone to win, today or "over time", on those "horrible" paytables that come in at just under 100%. I believe most if not all the critics of this concept do agree that if you go in for a session on 8/5 or even 7/5 Bonus Poker TODAY, anything can happen either way. And they say this in a sort of humbled & feel-good if they're "giving in" to a point made by players like me about how to approach sessions on an individual basis. But predictably, the very next words out of their mouths are "but don't expect to win anything over the long-term, because when you add all those sessions up it will in fact be a loser, absolutely!" That's where they save face with any other AP's who happen to be reading their words of wisdom.

But do they truly believe this? They would never tell the truth about that, naturally, because, how do they believe life's play is all on one single continuum, when out of the other side of their mouths they're simultaneously proclaiming that each vp hand is a single unique event, totally unrelated to any hands that have come before or that have yet to come? Mindboggling....and hypocritical to say the least.

The strongest part of their argument comes when they ignore this anomaly, and instead go right into how much money a $5 player, for instance, is giving up in a session where a dozen full houses are hit on a 7/5 BP game vs. the 8/5 version. That's $300--and it indeed is a tidy sum. The same goes for an 8/6 version of JoB (an amateur/loser's game for sure) vs. the 9/6 paytable. However, if any of these self-annointed geniuses were to comprehend that NONE of these games are at 100% or more, their arguments would have no choice but to revert back to the -$300 version. And as a -EV paytable player who has consistently won, and won big, for the each of the past 16 years, such an argument is easily debunked when it comes to how to render negative paytables irrelevant--today and over time--in video poker play.

We all know the "perfect play into infinity on positive paytables" thing blah blah blah. But that's simply just a state of mind AP's use to justify the enormous amounts of play most of them put into their habit. So what about playing negative paytables, you know, the ones players just HAVE to lose on if they play them a lot? First, we all know how tough it is to get royal flushes. Three years ago I met with a couple in LV who told me they each played nickels 3 times a week for about an hour and a half on each visit, and they have NEVER had a royal in the past 34 years. It can be really frustrating. So are these hands guaranteed for ANY player? Of course they aren't. And neither are most other big winners, unless you've devised a strategy to see them more often. So it is entirely possible that a single denomination -EV player who gets somewhat less than, equal to, or higher than their royal flush expectation, can have results that best the robotic, +EV advantage player--who just can't seem to keep up with what theory told him should be the case before he began playing. Yes, in order to "grind out" that teeny weeny tiny expectation throughout his lifetime, those royals have to come--or it's "AP...DOA".

But the same can happen to the -EV player, right? And how do you combat such an occurrence? Well, while the AP who falls into the lack-of-royals pit will almost never get out of his hole because of a lack of strategy in both his monotonous pound-away game and his predictable reaction to casino promotions and pulls, a player like me has developed a method of not only approaching the vp battle in a highly structured manner--I have added to my ability to successfully battle expectation by reacting to casino "rope'em in" policies in exactly the opposite ways that was wanted and expected of me. NO ONE will ever win by thinking they ever have any edge over the casinos in any way, shape, or form, and no one will ever win by being a pawn of the casinos. You MUST be willing to not only go outside that box, you must STOMP on it.

Remember folks, it's RESULTS that matter, not theorectical expectations. Those who say today's results on a 99% game may be good but you will lose in the long run, are not only blind--they're weak. In other words, they choose to let the casinos lead them around by the hand. Just how hard is it to comprehend that if you have an approach to VP play that gives you an excellent opportunity of winning money TODAY, an opportunity I have and everybody agrees I have, then what makes it so that tomorrow's session must be a loser? It makes no sense, and it's exactly why not one person in the past 16 years has been able to intelligently refute this without babbling how +EV=$ & -EV=0.

I'm still trying to figure out how I never went broke in my professional career, and how I never lost a cent of the three $50,000 & one $100k jackpots I had in the past 2 years. Were these royals? Nope. But they HAD to be on positive paytables, right? Nope. OK, then I either had to lose a ton before they were hit, or I MUST have stayed on to give the casinos a shot at getting it all back after hitting them, right? Nope, other than losing a few thousand each time as I worked my way thru my ARTT strategy to get to them. In fact, I just bought a house with that money. Now you wanna tell me again about how theory trumps reality?

Monty Hall vs. The Wizard vs. Rob Singer

(Posted April 8, 2015)  Years ago when the TV show Let's Make A Deal inadvertently presented the world with one of its most intriguing mathematical quandaries, it became far more than just a water cooler argument--and in some circles discussing the issue continues to this day. If you recall, the show's host, Monty Hall, told his contestant that if he chose to give up his current prize for an opportunity at a greater one, waiting behind one of the three doors was a brand new Lincoln, but there was a goat behind another. So pretty simply, there was a 1-in-3 chance of winning the car.

Monty now said he'd make it even easier to win the car by opening the door with nothing behind it, leaving just two doors to choose between for the contestant. But here's where the thunderstorm began. Simple logic said he now had a 1-in-2 (50%) chance at the car....but did he? One female journalist dared to suggest that, mathematically, because there were 3 original doors, the contestant's chances actually stood at 66% since two of the doors will have been opened by the end of the game. Say what?

Mathematicians from around the globe began denigrating this journalist for her "shortsightedness" and "lack of mathematics" within her analysis. 1-in-2 meant a clear 50% to them, that is, until they thought this thing out further. Simply put, the apologies came rolling in. However, this rather simple problem could have been stopped cold had people all understood the issue was bounded by wordsmithing and semantics. Sure, a 1-in-2 chance is 50%, but only if the question presented is "since I've opened the door with nothing behind it, what are your chances NOW?" And 2-in-3 is just as appropriate had the question been "knowing I'm going to open the door with nothing behind it for you, what are your overall chances of picking the door with the Lincoln behind it before we get started?" Mathematically, both answers can be construed as being correct....given very clear parameters of course.

Fast forward to the Wizard of Odds and the math surrounding video poker. As the preeminent gambling-odds personality of today, Michael Shackleford continues to have the most fascinating collection of video poker statistics assembled on the Net. However, when it comes to his personal posting by-line on his forum, the emergency brake has to come on hard & fast. His moniker: "It's not whether you win or's if you made a good bet" can be very misleading and potentially harmful to those looking up to him for advice.

As a self-proclaimed AP--which he undoubtedly is--Mike told me face-to-face that although he believes he always plays VP "with an edge" he has never bested the game. His success has come from sports-betting among other casino games, so it's pretty obvious why he says winning doesn't matter. But let's take a closer look at that statement. You're playing $1 10/7 DDB video poker at a .17% theoretical edge. Before placing that $5 max coin bet you say to yourself "this is a good bet" because of that slight .17 % "theoretical advantage" I have. Do you want to win the hand? OF COURSE you do! And after the hand is over, would you rather have had a very good losing bet....or a lucky winning hand, even if it came on one of those "loser 99% machines"? Remember, you cannot buy your groceries with phantom bucks collected from theory.

In the Monty Hall problem, theorists side with the 66% answer. In a video poker hand, theorists say they would rather make a "positive EV bet" and lose than make a "negative EV bet" and win. Reality? Hardly. However, the theorists in the Monty Hall issue, had the question been "what are the odds NOW" (which is obviously 50%) would STILL revert back to 2-in-3 because they prefer theory to reality when trying to explain their points. Similarly, those who prefer to enjoy the thrill of losing to a theoretically positive EV bet are just as mislead and maybe even moreso, since the loss affects them directly. IE, reality.

In my strategy for playing video poker, it's always on <100% games, and I never factor in any of the slot club freebies that AP's use so creatively in order to claim they're playing with a theoretical edge. I win close to 85% of my sessions, and I win overall. And yes, that's "over time". Theory almost always loses to reality, and the arguments against it are weak. Critics are quick to point out that my method of play can easily lead to a session win goal. But they never explain why playing many sessions that are "easy" to win one-at-a-time cannot possibly mean winning MANY sessions. Suddenly, theory says one is easy, but even though each session is an individual one, winning many is not. And since nearly 85% of my sessions are winners, OBVIOUSLY there has to be quite a few very large winning sessions....far more than enough to offset the losers. And the fact that it has happened has nothing to do with my being any more lucky than any other player (lucky wins via special plays notwithstanding), rewriting the math books, or being on the rare side of the Bell Curve. It's just the way it is. In gambling, risk=reward, and without risk there can be little reward. Math, structure, risk, bankroll, discipline. Add it up.

It doesn't compute to those who can't comprehend the facts, I know. But go back and think about how & why the 66% theorists always reject the 50% answer regardless of the ground-rules and in spite of the parameters. Then try and make sense out of losing being better than winning in ANY scenario, as the Wizard likes to assert. How does YOUR calculation work out?

The Undeniable Truth About Winning At Video Poker

(POSTED APRIL 7, 2015)  Since 1999 I've been telling all VP players what it takes to consistently win at such an unforgiving game. I've been instilling in them why the myth of "advantage VP play" exists--and to what degree. And I've gone on every type of media available identifying that I am the only video poker expert ever who has offered--and still does--free consultation, free advice, and no-charge training directly at the machines. Why and how is this possible, when other so-called "experts" charge up to $250/hour for information readily available all over the net? Simple: Because winners feel bad about taking and do not ever need anyone else's money, while losers do. Period.

Of course, success does not come without it's array of jealous critics, and the lies & name-calling from their perches really never stop. But what these people never expected was that I was fully prepared for all aspects of the resulting hatred, which has never led me one bit away from my intended goal of helping as many people as possible understand how my self-developed method of play is vastly superior to the flawed and careless, addict-creating state of mind called AP play.

Winning consistently and overall at video poker is not easy. You first have to train yourself that, while learning optimal play is the single most overriding strength in becoming successful, you are but a duck in a hunter's sighting scope without the rest of the package. Expecting to "grind it out" over the years with a theoretical edge is nothing more than sitting for hour upon hour at your favorite machine hoping to get lucky more often than not, and that rarely happens. Be less than perfect and it's an uphill battle. End up with less than your expected amount of slot club freebies and benefits, and you're in for a very tough time. Misfire on getting the elusive royal flush at least once ever 40,000-45,000 hands over time, and you're dead in the water. And get yourself hooked into playing more and more and more in order to pretend you'll theoretically be getting closer to mathematical expectancy, and your troubles will more than likely spread into seriously affecting your friends and family as well. There are multiple documented cases of this occurring especially in the last few years, and I can't tell you how many APer's have cried about it right in front of me during training sessions over the last decade and a half. THIS is why I am here.

So what are these "tools" I speak of that will get any dedicated player over that perennial losing hump? Well, let's see if I can simplify a few of the basics first. Too many times I see people who claim to be advantage players, say that if they go to X casino to play this particular game at a certain denomination for 10 hours, because the game has a theoretical 99% return, they "expect" to "lose" $878 or so while playing it. And this is so shortsighted, it's laced with true gambling inexperience, and it's just plain dumb.

First off, what do these people expect? If the return was a theoretical 2% higher, is that going to make ANY difference whatsoever during a miniscule 10 hour stint? Of course not! In fact, all these folks are doing is setting up their state of mind for just another losing session, which happens at least 70% of the time on average for advantage players whether they play >100% ER games or not. The fact is, early on in my professional career I played >100% machines all the way up to $100 at the Atlantis in Reno, and on average my results were never noticably any different than when I had to switch to <100% games all over the state for the greater amount of 7 years. Simply put, the EV of a game being played on any given day is entirely irrelevant to the outcome.

I don't have to harp about discipline, determination, bankroll, keeping distractions and alcohol to a minimum, or how every player should always play where they're most comfortable and only after searching for the best pay tables for the games they intend to play. These things are a given for any strong player. But what I DO need to impress upon everyone--and this should be obvious even though it rarely is--is that a consistently successful player will always do whatever he or she can that is exactly the opposite of what the casinos want and expect their players to do. I've said this before: no casino ATMs or cash machines, no casino check cashing, no casino credit, no playing higher limit machines right after hitting a jackpot, no contact ever with casino hosts or hostesses, and no tipping anyone in the casino/hotel other than valet, baggage, cocktail servers, bartenders, and restaurant wait staff. These are all casino tools of one sort or another, all designed to drain your bankroll. Weak, losing players almost always find themselves locked into these traps, constantly defending their actions with self-serving rhetoric. Winners do not.

The one point that needs to be driven home is to play only with a winning strategy, and a winning strategy with stop-win & stop-loss goals is one that can be counted on--and has proven to be in my career even well past my pro playing days--to win at least 80% of sessions played. I teach such a strategy all the time, and I state very clearly up front that how I play is more difficult to master than optimal play, because it requires keeping cumulative track of where one stands as well as an understanding of when to use a number of special plays that deviate from expert play. No they do not reduce EV overall because theory means nothing when actually playing.  They result in more actual winning sessions, which is the only point that counts. Yes they rely on good luck, but what winning hand doesn't? And maybe....just will enjoy playing the game for a change unlike a mesmerized, monotonous zombie.

People, what are you waiting for? Your host to call you up to tell you how "special" you are? That unexpected $50,000 jackpot you just won to systematically be poured back into the high limit machines over the next 2 months because the fever has set in? Or maybe you're simply waiting for your next royal. Well here's a flash that you wish you knew years earlier: Royals are not ever required in order to attain a win goal using my strategy. Think about that the next time you get an 800 credit win and dump it all back in after being ahead.

I'll be back with more as we move on. I started out with a basic lesson this time since I haven't been around lately. But get ready. It's time you read solid information delivered with no-nonsense commentary without the personal attacks. But this is not the Voice, where some obvious terrible singers always get prepared audience applause and slobbering mercy-praise from highly paid superstars. Look at it more like the hey day of American Idol, where Simon Cowell was the only one courageous enough to call a stinker a stinker.

The Undeniable Truth About Casino Tipping

(Posted May 25, 2014)  One of the customs in this country that differentiates us from almost all others is in how we tip. While tipping for service in most of the world is either non-existent or comparatively very small, here it's been a customary 15% for most of my adult life--and more recently that number has been kicked up to 18%-20% for many services. I'm using restaurant tipping for my baseline, because most of us see that more than any other service.

In 1990 I was introduced to casino life. I was also in the prime of my working career, which took me to virtually every country on the face of the earth many times over. I was always reimbursed for every tip I left, but I had to ramp it down quite a bit because in some countries, it's actually an INSULT if you leave too much. I've actually had workers chase me down on the street after leaving, just to give me my tip money back! Imagine that happening over here. But when I did get home, I had to shift gears to yet another environment where tipping seemed to be a very necessary way of life: casinos.

And OH how that was true! But I didn't mind at first. There was the parking valet that I always gave $3 to whenever they returned my car as I left. (Since 1999 I leave a buck everywhere, every time). I never used or use luggage service, but if I did then I would tip them generously. If I ever asked for help at the hotel concierge then I would happily tip them too. On the casino floor I give the cocktail waitresses an automatic dollar-a-drink, no matter if it's a neat Jack (yes, I stupidly drank booze while gambling back in my AP days) or a simple bottle of water. Bartenders always get the same, and in the restaurants, where my meals were always are are still mostly fully comped, I leave a solid 15% every time. This change to 18% or whatever is silly so I ignore it, because food prices have risen and so have the corresponding 15% tips. Something new to me in the tipping world in 1990 was when getting machine hand pays, and whenever I cashed in coins for cash or did any other transactions at the casino cashier, aka the "cage".

Hitting a jackpot on any video poker machine is a beautiful thing. The majority of your hands are losers, and you usually frustratingly watch as your credits slowly--or quickly--disappear. So when a big winning hand lines up it's exciting, even though you know there's a process awaiting which includes you signing a tax form along with receiving the handful of cash. And as I had learned from watching others get paid in such a fashion, tipping one or more of those who participated in the process was commonplace. I eventually had a sort of system for this: 25c royals were always paid by hand back then, so I always handed over $40; on 50c royals I gave up $60, and on dollar royals I parted with a hundy. I did get one $5 royal back then, and for that I gleefully gave away $300. Yes, none of this was difficult to do, as I was in a state of euphoria each and every time, and it was like a party atmosphere around me filled with laughter, congratulations, and free drinks. What a kick it was at times like these!

Then there were the many times I had to go to the cage to cash in my coins and/or tokens, to cash checks, and to draw from my beloved casino credit line. I've always seen others leave a tip of some sort when using these services, so that's what I did too. Always. It made me feel good and like I was a part of the overall "home away from home" atmosphere. In time, I even bestowed gifts upon my casino hosts at Christmas time. One big happy family I thought, and in "my" casinos, I figured I had found a new breed of friends. What a great time all around!

But that was then and thankfully, this is now. I had a fun time yes, but I continually lost 5-figures year for nearly 7 years. Luckily, I was able to suddenly stop, take a step back, and think seriously about what I was really doing at these casinos. I got tons of free rooms; I dined at the most gourmet of restaurants for free; drinks and shows were no-charge; gifts flowed my way like I've never seen; and I felt like I was a part of the "family" at certain casinos. Yet when all was said and done, I figured out that I could have had all that--and much more--for far less money than what I lost! I was entertained that's for sure, but it didn't make any sense. My crazy justifications for all this had more holes than swiss cheese.

A lot has changed between now and then, but one of my most proud moments was in 1999 when I began my "never again tipping policy" for hand pays and for any service I received at the cage. Not tipping cashiers is for a relatively simple reason: I get the same service at the banks and a few other venues, and I don't tip at them. Do you? Some critics of this say that cashiers in casinos depend on tips to make a decent living, but that's more justification nonsense. It's not my concern what bankers or cashiers or post office workers earn as a wage, and it's not up to me to analyze any of it and make up the difference out of my pocket. If employees feel they aren't getting paid fairly, then it's up to them to either speak to their bosses or work somewhere else. Customers shouldn't care anything about any establishment's employee's rate of pay any more than the employees care about what a customer earns. End of story.

The same goes for the floor people that I do not tip on hand pays, only it goes a step further with these people. Casinos want and expect winners to hand over some of their winnings to floor employees. Everyone knows that after a hand pay in cash, which most are, a tip or tips is forthcoming. Why? Because of just that fact....and that if you slow-tip, there's a very uncomfortable short period of time that you know the employees are "starting to wonder" as you get a look or two of disappointment. And we're all human. We all know that if you do NOT tip, these people won't usually say anything, but ver clearly, you are NOT their friend. And Heaven help you if you hit ANOTHER hand pay with the same crew working. Whereas your first jackpot payoff was all excitement for you and pats on the back, ICE COLD cannot even begin to explain the atmosphere this time around. It is, plain and simple, pure intimidation that makes anyone leave these people a tip. No you won't admit that in public and all most of you will do is give the annoying excuse that they're "helping" these folks make a good salary, but you know it's going straight to your heart's truth center right now.

I've been able to rise above all that. I've hit too many hand pays to count over the past 15 years, and if I were to have kept up my AP-years tipping policy, I'd be somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000 to $50,000 poorer. That's just a guess, but it's a lot of wasted money. And for what? I didn't ORDER anything from anyone. In fact, I didn't request anyone to do ANYTHING. What I did do is gamble my money and get lucky, almost always after losing, and the floor people have an administrative duty to perform. Would they have come by and give ME a tip after seeing I lost? Think about it.

One of the common fallacies I see about my not tipping is how "on the next hand pay you'll have to wait a loooong time for service because you didn't tip on the first one". Well, that outcome doesn't happen often, but it does happen. And when it does, it has no effect on me, my play, MY RESULTS, when I leave, or where I play. I've never had a problem just sitting there and waiting, because I know they will ALWAYS take care of the issue BECAUSE THAT'S THEIR JOB. That's another positive point about playing my strategies: there's never any rush, and it becomes more enjoyable the slower you play.

Think about why and how much you've tipped hand pays and casino cashiers over the years, then ask yourself what good any of it ever did for YOU, the GAMBLING CUSTOMER. Do you go inside these places for YOUR benefit, or for other people's benefit? You think you've made a bunch of friends by handing out free money to mostly people you don't know anything about? Think again. See what kind of buddies you have when you put your hand out in their direction after losing a few thousand dollars. Lets see how "friendly" they are when you ask for some wipes to clean off your machine, or to wipe the filth off the chair you want to play at. As they watch you do it, you think they're gonna hand you over a tip? Live and learn.

The Undeniable Truth About Special Plays That Deviate From Optimal Strategy

(Posted May 24, 2014)  It’s been erroneously proclaimed by some video poker players—and beyond reason it certainly is--that every player’s results are governed by how the math books theoretically portray they should be. We all know the drill going in: understand how to play the game of poker correctly, have an adequate bankroll intended for gaming use only, sign up for the slot club cards and use them wisely (a future article will explain why, and when not to use them--which is very infrequently) and finally, play only the best pay tables available in the casino you choose to play in.

But what does “understand how to play the game of poker correctly” actually mean? Well, to most players, new and old, it means learning how to play the games you are going to play 100% math-perfect. Why? Because first off, we’re going to assume all machines we play are totally random (and again, I’ll have another article that goes into why and how I have absolute proof that they are not, and why I have been unable to determine if their being close-to-random helps or hurts the player). So in a 100% random scenario, we can closely predict the payback % such a player will attain the more hands he or she plays. But be careful...that is a widely abused statement, and one the math people will throw at you with eyes fully shut. More on this shortly.

In order to get a true feel for how the game inside the machines works, you must put down the math books, ignore all the theories about the game, and proceed as if this session TODAY will be the only one you will ever play in your entire life….and you must be able to do that each and every time you sit down for another session. To go in expecting that because with slot club benefits you have concocted a >100% payback on the machine you’re playing for the next 6-8 hours, you will be playing at some sort of an “advantage” over the casino, is pure fantasy. To think in such terms is totally ironic, because in reality, it's ONLY the MACHINES and the CASINOS whoever even touch the outskirts of the theoretical long-term. Strong players know this/weak players use it as their “crutch of justification” as they always end up playing far more than they know in their minds that they should.

So how exactly do these special plays work, and why/when are they used? First of all, the majority of them are not used often, they are not the same for all games I play, and therefore if you have not committed to using them in your strategy to beat the machines, they WILL get the best of you when you do use them. In my case, as the plays’ developer (and some of the more effective ones can be seen in videos on this site) they have contributed some to my nearly $1million in profiting when I played for a living as a professional from 1999-2009. However, in an ironic twist, they accounted for about half of my $200k in net winnings experienced in 2013—when I played basically as a recreational player (aka, as a pro I played nearly every week with a large bankroll and a consistent minimum win goal; as a rec player, it's maybe once a month mostly for entertainment, sometimes with no true win goal, and with a much smaller roll) and I've been playing  in mainly very limited hi-limit sessions!

I won’t go over the many available plays here—as I said, many can be seen here in video form. How are they utilized? Very simply put, in the advanced BP games I play such as SDBP, DDBP, Super Aces BP, and TBP+, quite a few high octane winning hands can be generated with the right holds. And the difference in when I hit a big winner vs. when just about any other player hits one of these, is that I will likely have attained my session win goal, and I leave. The others just keep on playing, they keep on losing because that’s what overwhelmingly happens in this very unforgiving game, and all they return home with are W2G slips and ATM receipts. I prefer to go home and count the cash, and I’m able to do that most of the time because I have something probably no other vp player has: DISCIPLINE & DETERMINATION.

To give a quick example, in TBP+ four 3’s pays 600 credits. On a $5 machine that's a lot of cabbage. But you’ve got to be able and willing to consistently make the right play times in order to have the best chance at hitting such hands. When you’re dealt 3388X the math books all say to hold the two-pair, thereby guaranteeing at least a push and a 4 out of 47 chance to hit a FH. However, holding the two 3’s is the ONLY way to play this in my strategy. Are you giving up a guaranteed two-pair? Yup. Are you giving up TWO-PAIR altogether? Nope. What about trips—you can get them here, but you can’t with the math play! And is that FH gone by the wayside? Not at all. But most of all, YOU ARE GIVING YOURSELF THE MOST OPPORTUNITY to hit a session-ending winner. And that's what this is all about--taking complete advantage of the reasonable opportunities that appear. Not doing so makes no sense at all in a goal oriented strategy.

To the naysayers out there who remain too “afraid” to make this play, they DO hit, and they DO send me home a big winner. I’ve seen it numerous times, and based on how many times I’ve seen these winners on some pretty high denominations, the relatively very tiny "hand EV" I’m supposedly “sacrificing” by making this and other special plays is so far out of thinking range that it’s nothing less than a satisfying laugh. Here's a good example: There were 3 straight weeks in my pro playing career that this particular hold/play worked, and the profits were sky high. The first week it was on $5, the next on $25, and the third on $10. Does this mean the play worked 3 times in a row? No, there were probably a dozen or more times up & down the denominations each week that the play did not work. Does this mean all such hands LOST money? Of course not. There were trips, 2-pair, and FH's, but the majority were in fact losers. However, when these big winners hit, what happened in the past and what may occur in the future is of no consequence, because each session is individually controlled just as each hand is dealt with separately. Anyone who says such plays give up expectation over the so-called long-term are completely confused about what it actually takes to win an individual session. And you can take THAT to the bank.

The blind criticisms from the math people are understandable. They have no comprehension of the risk=reward concept, and will forever remain entrenched in their silly “grind it out” belief system, when all they’re really doing is hoping for a stroke of luck to come along in rhythm just like the rest of us are. But there are a few other types of skeptics I’ve seen along the way. An anonymous poster called CESSPOOL on the Wizard of Vegas forum has said these special plays are “inconsistent”. He has never explained, and if he knew how they were used he would never had made the assertion. And the administrator of this forum continues to say I make these plays at times, and at other times I don’t….thereby I must be making mistakes of some sort. But if he understood better, he’d know there are some plays that are made in some games but not in ALL games, and there are times even within a single game that a special play is not made because of the point I’m at in my overall win goal chase for that particular session. And still, in 2013 I made the optimal play in a $50,000 hit in TDBP by holding a kicker that would have never been made in any other game I used to play as a pro. But because I recently added this new game to my list, it was a perfectly normal play for this single game since I follow optimal play holds on most deals. He was rightfully confused over my recorded statement that I "never hold kickers" but he did not realize that in my pro career I did not ever play or truly understand the game of TDBP, until I picked it up a few years later.

I will be on the forum to discuss or argue the virtues of my expertise, I am always available for questions at AND, as has always been the case, I am always available for training and advice on the phone or in person as time permits, and there is and has never been any type of charge for this valuable service.

Here on our new media website "Moneyman" Alan Mendelson who is the original Best Deals TV Show reporter on KCAL9 and consumer advocate, shows you the best deals on TV, and the best buys, bargains and where savvy shoppers go to save, and how to get the most for "your money" with the best of Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. Some content on is paid advertising. The Best Buys TV Show is a paid infomercial program which may also include news and information which is not sponsored or paid for by advertisers.

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