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Frugal Fridays

by Jean Scott
author of The Frugal Gambler - 2nd edition, More Frugal Gambling, Frugal Video Poker, Frugal VP Software

JUNE 20, 2003

Do I always do the sensible thing in a casino?

Usually. But sometimes I just pretend that I’m an ordinary human being with ordinary human emotions and temptations, instead of a super-disciplined video-poker-playing robot. It happened last Sunday. Brad and I went into a casino to earn exactly xxx number of points so we would stay qualified for that casino’s monthly mailing. We planned to play our usual game there, the best available game mathematically, a marginal play even with regular slot club cashback. But we were getting 2x points and we would also be qualifying for bounce-back cash and some comps, so it was a good play.

I was glad we could get the needed points in only an hour.  I was feeling lousy -- sore throat, swollen glands, sinus headache -- I couldn’t wait to finish my hour’s time in the pervasive cloud of choking smoke and go to our cozy fresh-air-filled condo, take some Nyquil, and fall into bed.

Well, I finally did take Nyquil and fall into my bed that night, but it was six hours later than I had planned. What happened to my careful sensible plan?

Multi Strike Poker -- that’s what happened. When we got to the casino, we found that they’d installed some of these new 4-line VP machines. I’d read about this new game and had even printed out a list of the various paytables and paybacks and a couple of strategy charts, which I had in the just-in-case-I-run-across-it section of my purse. The theoretical return of the best game on this machine is a bit higher than the one on the game we were planning to play, so we decided it would be a perfect time to try out this new game that some of our friends had been raving about.

Brad grabbed one machine while I sat in an empty chair beside him. As is our usual custom when we haven’t had time to study a strategy at home on my Frugal Video Poker software, he flies the machine while I navigate with the strategy chart.

This game was a new kind of fun and hooked us almost immediately. The way it works is that you bet 20 coins at the beginning to play “full coin” on four lines, but you’re then dealt only the bottom line. If (and only if) you make some winning hand on that line, you’re dealt the second hand. You have to make a winning hand on the second line to be dealt the 3rd and have a winner on the 3rd line to play the 4th. If this sounds unfair, a couple of nice juicy perks make up for this difficult rule of the game. As you progress past the first line, the payoff grows bigger: 2x on the second line, 4x on the 3rd, and a whopping 8x on the 4th. And randomly you get Free Rides, which move you to the next line even if you don’t win the previous one.

Actually, I want to tell you more about our experience with this game and give you some hints on how to play it smarter, but that’ll have to wait next week. Right now, I’m still feeling lousy. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, but I think they’re having a hard time working on an immune system that was under heavy smoke attack for seven hours straight.

So I’m going to go back to using common sense and go to bed. Talk to you next week when I’m sure I’ll be feeling fit as a fiddle.

Past Frugal Friday articles are available in our Archive

Books by Jean Scott are available at Shop LVA