7 Tips For Slots & Video Poker Players – Gambling Mindfully

The notion of mindful living – being attentive, aware, or careful of things such as kindness, etiquette, eating, and even gambling – has come to the forefront of recent research.

Solitary gambling is a style that some people prefer.  Slot players, video poker players, video keno players – basically any machine casino game play – prefer different expectations from their gambling.  The need for social interaction isn’t necessarily a criteria for a good time. When gambling alone, it is easy to lose one’s self, so being mindful, or in the moment, can become very important.

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Stadium gaming has given some players who prefer solo gaming a chance to play games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat, getting a social element without the intermingling involved and the ability to play different table games without moving tables. Electronic gaming has even made boisterous team-like games such as craps accessible to the single player.

Group electronic table games

Zindel Segal, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough, has researched mindfulness in a way to transcend to solitary gambling.  His research can be taken to suggest that automatic routines, habitual patterns, and favorite games play into the solitary gambler’s play. Patterns of negative thinking, such as “tight machines,” “low casino payoffs,” and casino superstitions can slip into the players awareness, changing the “in the moment” enjoyment. He suggests seven ways that I believe gamblers can transcend those negative thoughts.  Here’s how:

  1. Living on “automatic pilot” (rather than with awareness and conscious choice). This brings to mind the awareness of your bankroll.  Continuous playing on a slot or other machine without a stop limit, or taking a walk for a break can mindlessly cause over-betting your bankroll and gambling beyond one’s means.  NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of time and money played.  Keep a log, and bring only the money for that session. While playing , set a loss limit.

    A Simple Casino Log for winnings & Losses

  2. Relating to experience through thought (rather than directly sensing).  This brings to mind the many times gamblers tend to remember events such as re-occurring close bonuses in slots, re-occurring cards or patterns in video poker, table game card repetition, or even player snafus.  The reality it we tend to be aware of certain parts of experience, not the whole.  Obsessing over the pair of 6’s that next gets a third can cause thoughts of casino cheating or fixed outcomes.  NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of the science, the need for fairness with gaming commissions, how RNG’s work and casino house edge.
  3. Dwelling on and in the past and future (rather than being fully in the present moment).  “I never win at XYZ casino.”  That’s the past talking, because we constantly want to see a cause and effect to base our next action by. On the positive side, this includes going back to a particular machine that you won on previously.  NETG SUGGESTION – remember your success on the next play’s outcome  is not dependent upon the previous play. Every bet placed is an “in the moment” event, with not connection to your previous bet.
  4. Trying to avoid, escape, or get rid of unpleasant experience (rather than approach it with interest).  Going to the casino to gamble is not a good thing to do when you are angry, upset, or in an altered state. NETG SUGGESTION – Gamble when it is your primary interest to do so, and you have calculated your sufficient bankroll. When gambling is your secondary thought or reason to go to the casino, maybe that’s not the time to go in the first place.
  5. Needing things to be different from how they are (rather than allowing them to be just as they already are).  Chasing wins can be catastrophic to your finances.  When losing, accept what’s happening, play to only your bankroll, or even call it a day.  It can turn in an instant – but the house edge will always play a big part in your continued play.  NETG SUGGESTION – accept the results as part of gambling.  The casino is there to make money while entertaining you – but they don’t owe you anything.  Fight the good fight, but don’t let recent trips or event recent losses in that session wreak havoc with your emotions.
  6. Seeing thoughts as true and real (rather than as mental events that may or may not correspond to reality). Understanding the science and mathematics involved in gambling is the first step to perception problems.  The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability become higher or lower as the process is repeated. The idea that a machine is “due to hit,” or is “hot or cold” is a human perception in an in an extremely small amount of time.  Correct assumptions of that particular machine can only be expected over long-term play, something none of us have the time to do with one machine.  NETG SUGGESTION – Accept the science & math in slot machines with the Random Number Generator.  Acceptance is the key!
  7. Treating yourself harshly and unkindly (rather than taking care of yourself with kindness and compassion).  “shoulda, coulda, woulda” – these are the things we tend to be ourselves up over during a session.  “I coulda moved to another machine,” “I shoulda taken a break,” “I woulda had a better day if I had studied mt Video Poker strategy more.”  NETG SUGGESTION – Take the experience as a learning one.  Remember, the best plans for your casino visit still might go awry because of house edge, many casino visitors, availability of your “favorite machines,” and on & on.  Remember the things you could have changed, accept the things you couldn’t – and don’t beat yourself up in the process.  But if it concerns spending more money than expected, and that becomes a pattern, re-assess your need to gamble.

I hope this has been helpful.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the casino.  Just walking in can give you a boost of adrenaline, sending those endorphins screaming for excitement.  But try to be in control, in the moment.  Being mindful in life can mean being mindful in your gambling.

Binbin

Special Thanks to Professor for permission to use his research for this post.

Zindel Segal is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His guiding professional intention is in using empirical data to advocate for the relevance of mindfulness-based clinical care in psychiatry and mental health. He has carried on a longstanding and valued collaboration with John Teasdale and Mark Williams devoted to the proposition that offering training in mindfulness meditation to formerly depressed people can address relapse triggers and support long-term recovery. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy—the program developed through this work—has now been evaluated in over 10 studies worldwide. He also serves on the Advisory Board for MindfulNoggin.com which offers a digital platform for MBCT.

Video Poker – When To Play Fast

Video poker is not like slot machines – there is skill to it. It’s knowing the probability of the dealt hands, memorizing the strategy and holding what gives the best advantage for the best winning hand.

Video Poker machines often have a button where the player can set the speed of the cards dealt. Mostly, it is about where your comfort level is with your speed of play, but there is a reason when playing as fast as you can is suggested, as long as it’s accurate perfect strategy.

One time, I sent a question to noted Video Poker Expert, Bob Dancer.  For great software to practice your Video Poker Play, go to bobdancer.com. I asked him, “When do you suggest to play as fast as you can?”

His answer – “Always.”

From his stand point, it was the correct answer.  However, he insists on only playing advantage games – full pay, or very close to it. That means he plays games such as:

  • Jack or Better – 9/6 **
  • Bonus Poker – 8/5 **
  • Double Bonus – 10/7 **
  • Double Double Bonus – 10/6 **
  • Full Pay Deuces Wild – 9(StrFl)) /5 (40faK)
  • NSUD (Dueces Willd) – 9(StrFl)) /4(40faK) / 4 (FH)

** Please note – The first number = payout for Full House, second number = payout for Flush in these games

 

Jacks or Better best paytable (called 9/6 because of the full house and flush pay out). Notice the jump in pay out from 4 to 5 coins.

These games are seen as full play because they have a pay out of 99.7% to over 100% with perfect strategy. Because Mr. Dancer plays perfect strategy on full pay VP, his answer is correct – full speed ahead always.

Playing Video Poker as fast as one can should only be played when the player has the advantage, as in the above VP paytables. For more information about which games are FULL PAY, go to vpFREE2 and the Wizard of Odds.

But, the rest of us have a few considerations that many advantage players don’t. Consider these:

PRACTICE

Whatever video poker game you play, you need to practice, and practice. Advantage players can play over 15 hands per minute. They only play full pay VP, and learn to minimize the time for each deal/hold play. Practice teaches AP’s what patterns of cards to memorize for whatever strategy is needed, no matter in what order the patterns are in on the deal.

Playing full pay VP also needs a technique that alleviates excess movement.  I average 400-600 hands if needed by using my left hand for the holding of cards and my right hand for the deal/draw.  By rolling my left hand slightly, I can hold whatever button is needed without looking down, keeping my eyes on the screen.

LACK of FULL PAY VIDEO POKER

No matter how good, or how fast you play video poker, the fact remains that full pay options are increasingly hard to find. Many casinos offer playable (like 8/5 JOB or 9/5 DDB) to incredibly bad (6/5 JOB, 7/5 DDB).  The only full pay video poker in New England can be found at Mohegan Sun – 9/6 JOB.

SPEED CAN KILL (your Bankroll, That Is)

Since most casinos in the country don’t offer full pay VP, playing fast is not a template for success. Playing any casino game – slots, tables, VP – with a higher house edge should be played accurately first, speedily second.  Playing slow can be a friend to your bankroll. Besides, if you play fast and make mistakes – don’t play fast.  Unless you are playing full pay VP, there is absolutely no reason to speed.

ACCURACY IS #1

The primary strategy is knowing the optimum strategy for the game you are playing.  Even with JOB (Jacks or Better, remember?) basic strategy, or the cards you hold, is different depending if the pay table is 9/6 or 8/5.

BOTTOM LINE

Jerry “Stickman” wrote the following in his post “How Fast Should You Play Video Poker?” in Casino City Times.

“First and foremost, if you are playing a machine where the house has the edge, you are best off pacing your play. The more you play, the more you will lose. Sure you may hit some big winners, but the more you play, the more the house will take your hard earned money. So if you don’t have an edge (including slot club points and possibly comps), take your time playing. Don’t rush to give the house any more money than you must. Only play as fast as you can be accurate. When playing with an edge, Wyatt Earp probably said it best when he quipped, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” Don’t get killed. Make sure you are playing correctly.”

Now, go get that Royal Flush!

Bin

In A Losing Streak? – 7 Suggestions to Help Gamblers

Vegas Vacation

In A Losing Streak?

I was asked by a blogger the following question, “If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?”

For me, this blog tries to inform, and be a resource. But one thing I wish I could do is to help gamblers understand the logistics behind the big gaming industry machine and help them understand losing. It’s difficult for most of us to deal with – it becomes very personal. We bring a certain amount, whether it be $20, $200, $2000, or more, and it can be gone in a New York minute – and there you are, a quick losing streak changing your expectations, your feelings, and possibly your behavior.

Now what do you do?  When your gambling becomes a streak of losing, what do you do to change your “luck?” How do you handle that pit in your stomach?

BankrollDo you go on “TILT?” According to Bill Burton in his article “Losing Streaks: How To Survive,” “going on tilt is the expression used when poker players become upset and lose control of their emotions. Consequently they start making poor decisions and play badly and irrationally. Going on tilt is not confined just to poker players. Anyone who gambles on any casino game can find themselves on tilt. Once a player starts losing money they are a prime candidate. They have lost money and they try to make it back quickly by raising the size of their bets or playing a higher denomination slot machine. This will usually just lead to more losses.”

Sometimes a player will get to the point where they just don’t care how much money they have lost. But, for most of us, it does matter. Understand that casinos are very profitable businesses. They make money that is coming from the players pockets. Few people win. Most lose. Gambling is for fun. If it makes you feel bad, and cannot accept the fact that you’ll probably lose, do something else in your free time!lottery

Losing can become purely an emotional response.  I try to remind myself the following:

  1. I came with money that I could spend on the recreational pleasure of gambling. When it’s gone, I’m done. And a 10% win on the day’s Bankroll is a good day for any recreational gambler.  Consider going home with money in your pocket, win or lose.
  2. The casino will win, the house edge is real and getting worse every year as casinos tighten machines, game rules, and paytables.
    6:5 Blackjack

    Dont play Blackjack that pays 6:5 on all blackjacks! Just don’t!

    Learning to accept it is the first step to dealing with losing.  Even better, look for the best table rules, the best paytables, and higher denomination slots to help your gambling duration and “win-a-bility.”

  3. If I win big, or lose big, I need to admit that anything CAN happen. The end result, AS LONG AS MONEY SPENT IS DISCRETIONARY, NOT YOUR FAMILY’S BUDGET $$, must be accepted.  When you’re not in a good frame of mind and on a losing streak, put down your drink, don’t carry on and calmly leave. Jessica Cheng, Brand Ambassador at 777DragonCasino.com, says,”…we have a chance at winnings and a chance at losing – it’s just the nature of the game.
    Losing at Gambling?

    Losing at Gambling?

    But there is no reason to slip into a depression and refuse to ever go gambling again. Just recoup, maybe take a break and gather yourself again, sit on a little bit of a tight budget for the next month and then when you feel ready, try again.” However, I would emphasize wait and “sit on a little bit of a tight budget for the next month…” 

  4. Repeat after me…..We must ALWAYS use our Rewards Card.  At least get something for your money. A comp of any size could give yourself the break that you need, whether it’s an outright comp gift or from your own hard-earned comp points.
  5. NEVER GO TO THE CASINO TO GET AWAY FROM PROBLEMS, NEVER GO TO THE CASINO WHEN YOU’RE ANGRY, UPSET, OR DEPRESSED. 
  6. If you have lost A LOT of money (which could mean anything to anyone, but I mean a good chunk over hours of play),  do what Richard Munchkin, Author of Gambling Wizards and cohost of cover170x170Gambling With an Edge (an excellent podcast and highly recommended for Advantage & recreational players alike). “The most important thing AFTER a big loss” he says “is to contact a casino host and ask for some money back. This is called a loss rebate, but it is only for BIG losses……Bottom line – try to get some of your money back by asking a host. If you can’t get cash try for show tickets, fight tickets, or whatever they will give you. By the way – the term “ton of money” is relative. If your ‘ton’ is $500 then you may only get a comp for 2 to the buffet.”  Remember, unless you ask, you can’t get anything!
  7. Fluctuations are to be expected, depending on the EV (expected Value) of the game your playing.  See the cartoon above and read again. Don’t expect your money to last on a slot machine like it would on a Video Poker machine with perfect strategy.  And yet, fluctuations will happen, no matter what the EV is. There are advantages to playing any game – just be knowledgeable and accept the consequences of lower EV games.

Remember, gambling is like any recreational pleasure – it can create a rush of adrenaline and release of endorphin to our human brain that some of us can’t handle well. Before I end, I must repeat what is in the side panel of this blog daily: Gambling Addiction is a serious illness progressive in its nature. It affects the person who gambles as well as many around them – family, co-workers and friends. If you wonder if the fun has stopped, and the compulsiveness has begun, go to the following Gamblers Anonymous site and answer a quick 20 questions. It may save your life.

Go to Gamblers Anonymous.org and take a 20-questions quiz if you wonder why it isn’t fun anymore.

Be in control.  I wish for safe, healthy and fun gambling for us all, win or lose.

Binbin