Jean Scott is the author of the best-selling book “The Frugal Gambler,” (a must for every gambler) a casino guide for thrifty low rollers, plus a sequel, “More Frugal Gambling.” She stresses sensible, responsible gambling and shows how to stretch out casino fun time whatever your gambling bankroll.
Retired from the high school English classroom, her passion is still education while she continues as an active player in casinos all over the country. Today, Jean Scott, who, in her words, is just an “ordinary grandmother,” is the world’s most famous low-rolling gambler and her fans are legion.
While all of Jean’s suggestions are with Las Vegas in mind where she resides, her 10 Money-Saving tips in the Casino are great ideas to use or modify in our New England Casinos. Here are her tips:
10 Casino money-saving tips from the Frugal Gambler
1. Study before you go.
Libraries and bookstores have oodles of casino and gambling books that will guide you on a money-saving path. The Internet is full of information on the various casino games. Learn which games have the smallest casino edge, or have a skill factor you could learn, or that enable you to risk your money more slowly. All of these will allow you to lose less and/or stretch your bankroll further.
Shooting at the Craps Table – have fun whatever your game is.
2. Treat gambling as a form of entertainment and budget it just as you do whatever else you do for fun, such as movies, eating out, and vacations.
Nothing takes away the fun factor more quickly than losing money that you need for life’s essentials. Do not take your checkbook or ATM or credit card to the casino with you. Decide how much you can afford to spend (lose), and take that amount in cash or safe traveler’s checks as your gambling bankroll. Make your gambling bankroll last the whole time you plan to be in a casino by dividing it into segments, i.e., in thirds if you are staying three days, in three-to-four session bankrolls for each day. Then never “borrow ahead” from the next session bankroll.
3. Join every casino player’s club you can, even if you don’t plan to gamble there.
You can join many online before you get to Vegas. Membership is free and many casinos give discounts to player’s card holders in their restaurants, gift shops, and for rooms.
4. Use your player’s card EVERY TIME you play, no matter how small the amount or short the time.
This allows the casino to track your play and thus know how much to reward you with comps, those freebie meals, rooms, shows, and other benefits that the casinos want to give their players.
Mohegan Sun’s Momentum Players Club
If you play machines, there is a place for you to insert your card. If you play the tables, you merely hand the card to the dealer of any game and ask that your play be tracked. Casinos cannot give you comps if they don’t know you are playing in their casino.
An added benefit of joining and using a player’s card is that casinos often send mail offers to everyone in their database, sometimes even to those who have played little or not at all. You will be surprised at the money-saving offers that will appear in your mailbox when you get home.
5. Don’t drink too much alcohol, even if the drinks are free. It will cloud your judgment.
More Money-Saving Tips From Jean Scott
6. If you are losing too fast, lower your denomination.
Change from the dollar slots to quarters or from quarter to nickels. At the tables, bet the lowest-value chip allowed.
7. Slow down your play — savor the noisy, fun-filled atmosphere.
The bells and whistles, the clanking coins, the high fives at the tables, the excited screams of winners — this is what makes the casino such an entertaining experience.
Remember the days of casino trips with coupon books?
8. Look for coupons and specials for discounted meals, shows, and sightseeing tours.
You can find many of these in the freebie magazines around town: at the bell desk, at rental car agencies and motels, at the airport, and right in your room. Read the marquees for menu specials.
9. Look for promotions that will add value to a game you play:
a. bonus players club points, like double points on holidays or on a certain day every week;
b. bonuses for certain events, like the top jackpot on slots, a certain quad in video poker, or a special hand in blackjack;
c. drawings for which you can earn tickets by playing your favorite game.
10. Make your bankroll last longer by taking frequent non-gambling breaks.
Take in a show, go sightseeing, have a long, leisurely meal, take a tour or go shopping. Get your proper rest. A tired gambler is a gambler who will make decisions he will regret. Get a full night’s sleep and take a nap, if possible. Gambling is hard work!
The Royal Queen of Coupons has spoken! Check out her books at Amazon
Remember, when gambling & comp-harvesting, embrace the math not the Myth.
It was a dark, cold and dreary night in New England. Over 400 Video poker players were present for a Tournament that would go on, on, …into the night. It was intense, it was stressful, it was……
Who am I kidding, it was just a video poker tournament……
Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun
Ok, so actually, it was a nice peaceful event, with good food that lasted from 8 – 11:00 pm. While this was not my first VP tournament, it was different in one very important aspect – I won money! Tenth place out of the ten paying spots, with over 400 people invited! Ya-hoo!
While the payout was small, the badge of honor of winning after years of practicing paid off. Yes, you read that correctly – I practice. I prepare three video poker games constantly – Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker. I have been practicing for years since, we all know, Video Poker does involve skill and luck. Correct strategy goes beyond basic strategy. Knowledge of penalty cards, strategy changes according to different pay tables and other nuances just might buy a few extra hands to try for that illusive Royal Flush and essential for keeping your bankroll intact.
Strategy cards are available and legal.
Friend of NETimeGambling.com and one of the leading gambling strategy gurus, John Grochowski knows the importance of correct strategy. In one of the many publications he writes for, John suggested these software programs to help improve your strategy and speed. “As for software, at different times on different computers, I use Bob Dancer’s Video Poker for Winners, Jean Scott’s Frugal Video Poker and Dean Zamzow’s WinPoker. All can be set for different games and pay tables and will alert you when you are making mistakes. Video Poker for Winners and Frugal Video Poker will generate strategy tables. WinPoker doesn’t do that, but I find it the easiest to use when I need to adjust to a pay table that’s not one of the basics already included on the software.” You can see these programs below with links.
So, practice, practice, practice. The staple to any VP beginner’s book library would be John Grochowski’s “The Video Poker Answer Book.” It’s a great place to start.
Remember, a good gambler isn’t reckless about betting, it’s someone who tries to get the best chance to win, be most prepared and lower the house edge in any legal way.
RESOURCES FOR SUCCESS
The Wizard off Odds – “if you’re going to gamble you should have the best information possible so you can have the best chances of winning, and can minimize your losses if you do lose.” Such is the philosophy Michael Shackelford (who is) The Wizard of Odds website. Included at this exclusive site are essential topics like Odds & Strategies, Video Poker game simulators, and various other important gambling information. Especially helpful are the Wizard’s Video Poker Hand Analyzer and strategies for every all sorts of video poker games and variations.
VideoPoker.Com – www.videopoker.com – VideoPoker.com is a legal, non-wagering Web site
No gambling takes place on VideoPoker.com. People play and practice so they can improve their chances of winning in casinos – or just play for fun! There are free contests where people can win cash and prizes, but because the contests are free to enter, it is not considered online gambling.
In addition to practicing and playing their favorite video poker games, there are other member benefits that keep people coming back to the site including:
Participating in Free Contests to win cash prizes and merchandise
Learning more about the games they play and optimal play strategy
Participating in an active Forum
Tracking their play over time using Tracking Mode (GOLD members only)
Real time training using Training Mode (GOLD only)
Challenging fellow members to individual or group contests (GOLD only)
Real time chat with fellow GOLD members (GOLD only)
Playing brand new games before the games hit the casino floors (GOLD only)
A Players Club that keeps track of their game activity on the site
An excellent site to practice any video poker game out there – even before it reaches most casinos. This is a free site. But for a monthly fee under $10, you have access as a Gold Member to lots of additional perks (notice above.)
vpFREE2: Their goal is to provide a complete inventory of the best video poker games available and make that information available for free. They currently cover 448 casinos in the US and Canada.are maintained by volunteer casino monitors and an active community of video poker players who help keep are information up-to-date by sending us updates. This is a free site.
the similar Shuffle Engine as the Video Poker in a real casino.
the same Pay Table as the Video Poker in a real casino
the similar graphical user interface as the Video Poker in a real casino
Game Center for your ranking.
The Max Cash is $400,000,000.00
You can play 10 games.
– Jacks or Better
– Bonus Poker Deluxe
– Bonus Poker
– Double Bonus Poker
– Aces and Faces Poker
– Royal Aces Bonus Poker
– Triple Bonus Poker Plus
– Super Aces Bonus Poker
– White HOT Aces
– Deuces Wild
This isn’t just a game. This is a simulator for Video Poker.
WinPoker by ZAMZOW $9.99
I feel this is the best $10.00 investment for anyone who wants to improve their VP skills.
Learn how to correctly play video poker. Single play, triple play, 5 play and 10 play options that can be played with all of the 31 included video poker games!. Change modes from the options screen, or just swipe up to pull up 3, 5 or 10 hands or swipe down to take it back down.
You can also create any game you want by changing the pay table of one of the built in games. You can also run a game analysis for any pay table created. This is especially helpful if you play in a casino that doesn’t have good pay tables.
31 video poker variations – Highlighting some best known video poker games like: All American, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Double Jackpot, Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker – Kings or Better, Joker Wild – (Atlantic City) 5K Jackpot, just to name a few.
Three Different Modes of Play **Auto-hold** WinPoker holds the correct play for you. **Warn** You hold the cards and WinPoker alerts you if your hold is not the play that has the highest expected return, or **No mode** Use this mode to duplicate the Casino experience. You play just as you would in a casino only now, you can stop and view the session and check to see if you made any errors. (You don’t have that luxury in a Casino)
Statistics show your wins, losses, total hands played, errors, the magnitude of those errors and what those errors potentially could cost you in cash!
I suggest two:
Bob Dancer’s “Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner” or “Million Dollar Video Poker.” Both books give insight, strategy, and more into playing like a VP pro.
Frugal Video Poker was written by Jean Scott and Viktor Nacht and was published in 2006. This book is intended for any audience whether you’re looking to prolong your time in the casinos. The authors introduce you to the basics of the game and paytables, how to identify good and bad paytables and which strategies to use based on the machines. They also cover tournaments, progressives, and promotions.
BEST COMPUTER SOFTWARE: Bob Dancer’s “Video Poker for Winners” $49.95
With this software on your home computer, you can learn at home by playing the most popular casino games right from your desktop. It includes Master winning strategies, bankroll and comp calculators, And much much more! If you go the Video Poker for Winners Website, you can sign up for a free trial.
BEST STRATEGY CARDS
When you are ready to head for the casino to play you can take your strategy chart along with you. When you are dealt a hand that you are unsure of, you can look up the proper play on your strategy chart. A strategy card will show you the correct way to play each hand that you are dealt. By following the cards advice you will keep the hand that offers the highest possible return. Two of the best are Zamzow’s BDPWinpoker software and strategy cards generated from Tomski’s VPSM Video Poker Strategy Master. You can buy excellent cards at Bob Dancer’s site as well. These cards are acceptable to use in the casino, so take them with you!
)This week we are celebrating the best in New England’s Casinos. Don’t forget to vote for your favorites in our Best of 2018 Awards. If you haven’t voted yet, why not take a few minutes and do it now! Click on the title below.
GamblingSites.com is a trusted guide to help ensure safe online gambling and betting. They also feature articles on a wide range of gambling related topics, written by experts in the field, and available on their blog. One of those experts wrote an article that I would like to share with you. Randy Ray published this article a year ago on February 16, 2017. At the end, he does admit that this is HIS top 11 Gambling Experts. But I found this article fascinating, with a few names new to my eyes.
What would your top 11 be? Would you include Max Rubin, Anthony Curtis, Edward Thorp?
Mr. Ray’s eleven is a good place to start. I hope you enjoy.
THE 11 BEST GAMBLING EXPERTS
An old saying holds that “those who can’t do, teach,” and whether or not I entirely agree with that sentiment, it sure does hold true within the world of casino gambling.
During my time travelling the country’s crisscrossed network of casino venues, I’ve met my fair share of would be teachers – who are known as “railbirds” among veteran grinders. The railbird hovers near the poker tables, always watching but never playing, all the while trying to tell folks with money on the line where they might have erred. The railbird chides you after a failed double down in blackjack, claiming that they would’ve gone another route, while roulette railbirds always seem to know which numbers to back – after the wheel has stopped spinning, of course.
Because of railbirds and their ilk – partially informed players who can’t resist the temptation to “teach” their tablemates – long time gamblers are especially wary whenever anybody claims to be a purveyor of insider knowledge. After all, if they really knew the “secrets to success” or “five easy tricks to winning big,” why wouldn’t they be putting their theories into action and snagging huge scores?
For the most part, self-styled gambling experts are a dime a dozen, and their wisdom is worth about as much. Anything they purport to teach, from the odds underlying a game or wager to the correct strategy for certain scenarios, you can almost certainly learn through good old fashioned hard work and practice. These salesmen are almost always failed gamblers; players who found themselves leaving the casino broke and busted one too many times, before turning to the typewriter to write instructional material in hope of making ends meet.
With that being said, every so often a true gambling genius deigns fit to drop a bit of knowledge on the masses. Often motivated by personal pride, or a desire to give back to the gambling community in some way, these players have plied their trade successfully throughout thriving careers. They’ve played the games, they’ve gone on the grind, and they’ve built bankrolls – and lost them too. On the strength of personal experience, having risen to the top of highly competitive fields like professional poker, advantage play blackjack, or video poker, or even game theory analytics, these players truly deserve to call themselves gambling experts.
During my years as a successful casino gambler, I’ve tried my best to avoid the lessons proffered by railbirds, while looking to build a base of knowledge backed by my own personal experience. Even so, a long losing streak or particularly rough run at the tables will compel anybody to reflect on their situation and search for ways to improve. When those moments inevitably arise, I consult my library – both print and digital in today’s world – of the world’s foremost gambling experts.
Legendary professionals, casino game inventors, mathematicians, and even humble recreational players turned specialists in their chosen field; my top 11 gambling experts are an eclectic bunch. I try to spread the focus around to cover my favorite games; classics like blackjack, video poker, and Texas holdem, along with complementary aspects of the industry like accumulating comps and improving my grasp of gambling game math. Some of the figures on my list might be considered outdated by now, and that’s fine, but I try to stay current and keep up with the times.
Take a look below to tour my library of gambling expertise, which covers the full spectrum of casino games and a wide range of eras, to see who I take my cues from at the table.
1) STANFORD WONG
For blackjack players of a certain vintage, the name “Stanford Wong” represents a mythical deity of sorts – as he published one of the original texts studying the concept of advantage play blackjack way back in 1975.
If you grew up in the internet age, it can be difficult to appreciate what Wong – a pseudonym used by Stanford University finance professor John Ferguson – achieved with his first book Professional Blackjack. Having learned how to count cards through the seminal work of Edward O. Thorp, Wong found himself straying away from the Stanford campus during increasingly frequent jaunts to nearby Las Vegas. Famously, Wong accepted a salary of $1 per year as a professor in exchange for permission to skip tedious faculty meetings and play blackjack instead.
While trying his hand as an advantage player in Sin City, Wong realized that Thorp’s original mathematical structure for his card counting analysis assumed that the dealer would be standing on soft 17s. But the games in Nevada that Wong was a regular in mandated that dealer’s hit on soft 17s, so the academically inclined PhD student devoted his energies to applying Thorp’s research to this regional variant.
With Professional Blackjack, Wong condensed his own study of blackjack game theory, along with personal experience as an advantage player, to create the first collection of advanced knowledge on the classic game suitable for the laymen. His book became a cult classic among the casino gambler crowd, and many young players at the time (myself included) became inspired by Wong’s teachings on how to beat the house.
Among the most effective techniques advocated by Wong in Professional Blackjack is the concept of “back counting” – or standing away from the table and observing to develop the count before jumping into the game. According to Wong’s advice, by applying the back counting method, sharp eyed players could simply watch and wait for the deck conditions to line up perfectly before sliding into a seat and profiting from a favorable deck. Soon enough, this practice became all the rage among card counting blackjack sharps, as advantage players around the world took their shot at “Wonging” the table.
My younger readers may be scoffing at the idea of back counting, knowing full well that blackjack tables almost always forbid “mid deck or mid shoe entry.” In other words, you can’t use back counting successfully because the house rules forbid players from joining the game until the current deck or shoe has been exhausted. And you’d be right of course… precisely because of Wong and his work.
After realizing that players were successfully using the “Wonging” trick to generate a count, all without even paying to play hands, casino managers quickly worked to remove the threat to their precious bottom line. Rules like the ban on mid deck or mid shoe entries were instituted specifically to combat the techniques taught by Wong, who remains one of the world’s foremost experts on blackjack to this day.
If you’re interested in the history of card counting and advantage play, picking up a copy of Wong’s classic Professional Blackjack should be considered an essential step in your gambling education. But knowing that the information contained therein is mostly of historical appreciation nowadays, I’d also suggest subscribing to Wong’s newsletter Current Blackjack News, which has been published monthly since 1979.
For the tech savvy crowd, Wong also runs a website dedicated to blackjack theory, and his BJ21 platform is known today as one of the thriving blackjack communities found online.
2) MASON MALMUTH & CO.
I hesitated to include Mason Malmuth on this list, simply because I don’t know the extent of his personal gambling expertise.
For all I know, Malmuth may be your classic fish who donates to the game and doesn’t know how to calculate pot odds. What I do know, however, is that Malmuth has become one of the most prolific publishers of gambling knowledge that the industry has ever produced. For no other reason, Malmuth’s uncanny ability to assemble world class gambling talent – and let them contribute their collective knowledge to readers – puts him on my personal list of the best gambling experts.
If you’ve ever read a generic poker strategy book, on any game from Texas Holdem to Lowball, chances are high that it came from Malmuth’s TwoPlusTwo Publishing. Since the 1980s Malmuth – a former poker pro way before the boom days – and members of his TwoPlusTwo stable have churned out dozens of full-fledged poker books.
Malmuth’s primary partner is David Skalansky, another former poker pro who transferred his analytical abilities on the felt into a successful career as a game theory expert. Together, the pair have authored titles like Hold ’em Poker for Advanced Players; 21st Century Edition (1999), Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players (1999), and Tournament Poker for Advanced Players (2001).
In addition, Malmuth has used his iconic TwoPlusTwo brand to elevate well known poker pros into the realm of published authors. Legendary poker strategy texts like the Harrington on Holdem (2004 – 2008) series, written by World Series of Poker veteran Dan Harrington, and Small Stakes Hold ’em: Winning Big With Expert Play (2004) by Ed Miller were made possible by Malmuth’s publishing prowess.
As a semi pro poker player who uses the game, mostly No Limit Texas Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha, to subsidize my income, I’ve also become a loyal devotee of the TwoPlusTwo internet forums. Known within the poker world as the go to resource for strategy discussions, up to the minute industry news, and even gossip, the TwoPlusTwo forums are a one stop shop for everything a poker player needs to know when they want to stay current.
Like I said before, I’m not sure if Malmuth was even a breakeven player during his days on the felt… and I don’t care. Judged as a publisher alone, Malmuth’s history of putting out the best in poker strategy content stretches back for three decades and running.
When I shop for new strategy books, I always check for the signature “2+2” playing card logo, because I know that the knowledge found therein has been properly vetted by actual members of the poker pro community. I can trust that actual players stand behind the words, which may seem like a small thing, but actually means a lot in the often cutthroat industry of casino gambling instruction.
Mike Shackelford of The Wizard of Odds
3) MICHAEL SHACKLEFORD
Ask any gambler you meet about “the Wizard,” and watch their eyes light up in appreciation.
The world renowned Wizard of Odds casino gambling resource website represents one of the most highly trafficked destinations within the industry. And for good reason, as the content published there is all produced by Michael Shackleford, one of the most talented and dedicated casino game theorists of his day.
On his Wizard of Odds site Shackleford applies the expertise gained from a career as mathematician and actuary to the wide world of casino games. And not simply blanket games like blackjack and roulette, but literally every conceivable variant, offshoot, and innovation added to the industry over time. If you’ve played a game in the casino setting, both brick and mortar and online, over the last two decades, you’re likely to find a page on the Wizard of Odds site which breaks the game down to its nuts and bolts.
The beauty of Shackleford’s work is accessibility, because even though he couches every game analysis in the framework of data analysis and statistical study, he endeavors to present the facts in terms laymen will always feel comfortable with. Everything from concise descriptions of a game’s rules and mechanics, to full-fledged tables outlining the numerical data underpinning every wager’s probabilities and payouts, and even a completely unique attempt at outlining an optimal strategy can be found on the typical Wizard of Odds game page.
Shackleford is the classic math major turned casino gambling expert, having transferred his immense talents for numerical interpretation to become a successful player in his own right. But after spending so much time cracking the code behind casino games, from the instant hits to entries that are now extinct, Shackleford eventually took up casino game design as a side gig.
In 2005 Shackleford took a shot at inventing his own blackjack variant, known as “Ties Win Blackjack,” and even though that game joined thousands of others on history’s scrapheap, he still works as a consultant for major game design firms like SHFL Entertainment, Bally Technologies, Playtech, and more.
Even though you’ll be well served by visiting the Wizard of Odds website – which should become a bookmarked tab in no time for every gambler – Shackleford’s oeuvre has been condensed into print form as well. With Gambling 102: The Best Strategies for All Casino Games (2005), Shackleford distills his industry leading website down to a slim 176 page volume that perfectly encapsulates his industry knowledge.
For any game you can imagine, you’ll find a clear, well written, and accurately researched entry penned by Shackleford himself. That means you’ll know how every wager on the board works, the house edge and expected return rates for those wagers, any discrepancies between pay tables or house rules that can affect your bottom line, and of course, the perfect strategy for playing correctly at all times.
Whenever I’m struggling to understand a high level concept during my casino game studies, the first place I head for a crash course is the Wizard of Odds platform. You should too, as Shackleford has quietly fashioned himself into the foremost casino game expert of the modern era.
4) DOYLE BRUNSON
For all intents and purposes, Doyle Brunson doesn’t gamble at all.
Sure, he regularly risks the average American’s annual income on a single hand of poker, but for somebody like Brunson, that’s hardly a gamble.
Beloved within the world of poker as “the Godfather” of the game, “Texas Dolly” was one of the original road gamblers who toured the country’s backroads in search of the next sucker. Joined by colorful characters like “Amarillo Slim” Preston, “Sailor” Roberts, and David “Chip” Reese, Brunson travelled from game to game, taking on hometown heroes in underground games of high stakes poker. According to his retelling of events, Brunson regularly played with pistols on the felt, endured robberies by criminals and shakedowns by the cops, and faded the lure of cheats and rounders.
By the time Brunson won back to back World Championships at the $10,000 buy in World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event in 1976 and 1977, he had already cemented his status as one of the founding fathers of Texas Holdem. But his impact on the game was immortalized one year later, with the publication of Brunson’s Super / System: A Course in Power Poker. Alternatively titled, Super / System: How I Made Over $1,000,000 Playing Poker, Brunson’s self-published book immediately became the de facto Bible for aspiring poker pros.
Within the dense text Brunson speaks directly to the reader in his familiar Texas drawl, discussing his insights on the game of No Limit Texas Holdem (along with a variety of other poker formats) in a casual, conversational tone. For the first time, Brunson made the accumulated knowledge of successful poker pros public knowledge, much in the same way Thorp and Wong worked to make high level blackjack a mainstream phenomenon.
Brunson was also brave enough to admit when his own wisdom wouldn’t suffice, so he invited friends from the professional circuit like Mike Caro (Draw poker), Bobby Baldwin (Limit Texas Holdem, Sklansky (Seven card stud high low split), and Reese (Seven card stud) to author their own chapters.
The result is a collection of poker teachings that is still considered relevant to this day. And while much of the information presented within Super / System has been passed by as poker evolves, Brunson released an updated sequel titled Super / System 2 in 2004 to bring the content up to speed.
Brunson won an astounding six gold bracelets at the WSOP between 1976 and 1979 alone, but the 83 year old hasn’t faded away into the sunset just yet. Brunson claimed his 10th gold bracelet in WSOP play as recently as 2005, and while he has retired in a sense from the grueling grind of tournament play, he is still a regular in some of the highest stakes cash games on the planet, taking part in the “Big Game” at Bellagio’s “Bobby’s Room” – named in honor of his old partner Bobby Baldwin.
5) JAMES GROSJEAN
To put it plainly, James Grosjean is who I aspired to be as an up and coming casino gambler.
As the youngest player to ever garner induction to the prestigious Blackjack Hall of Fame, Grosjean was one of the first individuals to successfully defend the rights of advantage play specialists in the court of law. By successfully suing a pair of Las Vegas casinos – the Imperial Palace (now The Linq) and Caesar’s Palace – Grosjean prevented casino managers from unlawfully interfering with the play of experts who know the ropes of shuffle tracking, edge sorting, hole carding, and counting.
During the course of his studies as a graduate student within the University of Chicago’s Department of Economics, Grosjean developed an affinity for blackjack. In the year 2000, Grodjean authored his one and only contribution to gambling strategy literature, Beyond Counting: Exploiting Casino Games from Blackjack to Video Poker, which promises to teach readers the intricacies of advantage play gambling.
With Beyond Counting, Grosjean devotes 223 pages to revealing the secrets of successful advantage play. While the bulk of the book is obviously devoted to blackjack, Grosjean also touches on effective video poker advantage play techniques.
In 2007 Grosjean published a comprehensive sequel titled Exhibit CAA: Beyond Counting, which took its title from a key item of evidence introduced during the course of his successful court cases taking on casino titan Caesars Palace.
Both books are relatively dense in terms of hardcore math discussion, but for players who have taken the time to apprise themselves of casino game calculations, Grosjean’s style is perfectly suited for sustained success. He takes the time to teach upper level math on probability, but even if you’re math averse, Grosjean’s lessons on advantage play theory are timeless even today.
6) BOB DANCER
For video poker enthusiasts like myself, nobody else knows the game quite like Bob Dancer.
In 2003, after successfully embarking on every gambler’s dream, Dancer and his wife Shirley published a retrospective titled Million Dollar Video Poker. The book retold the Dancers’ improbable tale of video poker success, as the happy couple managed to turn a relatively small $6,000 stake into more than $1 million.
Presented as the tale of a plucky pair devoted as much to video poker as they were to one another, Million Dollar Video Poker covers a seven year period during which the couple attempted to earn their living as advantage play video poker specialists. For the vast majority of their trek through the gambling world, the Dancers struggled to merely break even, as documented in brutally honest terms throughout the book.
But between September of 2000 and March of 2001, Bob and Shirley experienced the run of a lifetime, culminating in the kind of hand that every video poker player yearns for. While playing for $100 per hand, Shirley lined up the 10 of hearts, the Jack of hearts, and the Queen of hearts. After holding the three key cards, Shirley drew two more and found the perfect runout: King of hearts and Ace of hearts.
That royal flush produced a massive $400,000 payday for the Dancers, while launching their career as video poker professionals. Their book hit shelves a few years later, and from their, Bob Dancer has worked tirelessly to establish his name as the foremost authority in video poker expertise.
Today, Dancer hosts video poker instruction courses at the South Point Casino in Las Vegas, serves as the host and emcee for an annual video poker tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and runs a weekly radio segment called “Gambling With An Edge,” which is broadcast in hour long segments via KLAV 1230 AM in Las Vegas.
Having since divorced Shirley, Bob Dancer is credited as the author or co-author of video poker strategy books like the A Winner’s Guide to… (2003) series, which offers tips and techniques for various formats like Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus, and Deuces Wild. Another contribution by Dancer is Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner (2008), which offers insights and information specifically suited for new players.
7) JEAN SCOTT
One of my favorite gambling experts doesn’t claim to possess any special insights into casino games whatsoever.
Instead, Jean Scott – who proudly bills herself as the “Queen of Comps” – has staked her reputation on developing the knowledge needed to beat the house in another way: by exploiting the system of complimentary offers, promotional plans, and other “freebies” that form the casino industry’s lifeblood.
As a recreational video poker player during the early 1990s, Scott found herself spending more and more time inside casinos across the country. As her experience on the casino floor extended into the months and years, Scott began focusing her attention not on beating the actual games, but on the arduous process of securing enough comps to subsidize her gambling escapades.
Knowing that every casino lavished rewards on regulars, along with enticements offered to new players, Scott played both sides of the coin to the fullest. By accumulating “Player’s Points” and other rewards to the utmost, Scott found that her gambling expenses could be entirely mitigated – thus creating a breakeven experience.
After nearly a decade acquiring the secrets to savvy casino play, Scott wrote her manifesto in 1998, titled simply “The Frugal Gambler.” Within the volume’s 240 pages, Scott teaches readers how to get over on casinos that were built on the backs of unsuspecting players. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all of her methods – sifting through trashcans for inadvertently tossed vouchers and absconding with “free” buffet foods are just not my style – Scott’s advice is surely acceptable depending on your personal predilections.
And leaving aside the more controversial techniques espoused by Scott, The Frugal Gambler provides a perfect touchstone text for anybody looking to improve their knowledge of the casino comp game. Remember, casinos have no problem rewarding regular players with free plays, complimentary meals, upgraded rooms, and other goodies. By taking full advantage of these rewards programs, sharp players like Scott have long been able to ensure luxurious stays in Las Vegas mega resorts – all without sinking into the red when the yearly ledgers are balanced.
8) LENNY FROME
Regular poker has Doyle Brunson to serve as the game’s “Godfather,” but for video poker enthusiasts, that title is taken by Lenny Frome.
During the late 1980s, Frome – already in his 60s by that time – chanced upon a few different video poker machines while frequenting local casinos. Upon discovering that machines in various venues were programmed to offer different pay tables, Frome put his analytical mind to work. As a result, Frome became one of the first players to view video poker machines as merely a slot game dressed up with playing cards.
When Frome realized that video poker was much more similar to blackjack than slots, owing to the fact that players were able to apply decision making processes to influence the results, his entry to the gambling expertise industry was ensured. Frome was the first person to calculate expected return rates for every possible play and scenario presented by video poker machines, thus devising the optimal strategies that are still in use today.
After publishing small “Tip Sheets” to help video poker enthusiasts expand their own mastery of the game, Frome published Winning Strategies for Video Poker in 1993. With this foundational text, Frome offers intricate analyses for more than 50 video poker variants, from the basics like Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker to offshoots like All American Poker and Joker Poker. As a result of Frome’s intrepid research, video poker shifted from the realm of casino curiosity to one of the few games favored by sharp players. With a preset strategy to guide complex discard and draw decisions, the video poker machine moved into gambling’s mainstream – for good.
Frome passed on in 1998, but his son Eliot Frome carries on his father’s legacy today by producing a wealth of video poker advantage play material through the family’s Gambatria website.
John Grochowski – the Casino Answer Man
9) JOHN GROCHOWSKI
Back in the pre internet era, Chicago Sun Times columnist John Grochowski did for the gambling industry what his colleague and film critic Roger Ebert did for film review. By making the discussion of casino game strategy a mainstream topic presented in the nation’s major papers, Grochowski helped to teach a generation of gamblers that their favorite pastime was a pursuit to be valued.
Grochowski’s column was syndicated through newspapers all across the country, bringing his fresh take on casino game knowledge to millions of readers every day. In 1996 he published his first full length book, Gaming: Cruising the Casino with a Syndicated Gambling Columnist, the success of which spawned a series of “Answer” books with titles like The Casino Answer Book (1998), The Slot Machine Answer Book (1999), and The Craps Answer Book (2001).
In each entry, Grochowski attempts to bridge that elusive gap between what experienced players know by nature, and the lessons new players are striving to learn. Through a conversational, yet highly informed, style of writing, Grochowski communicates directly to the legions of recreational gamblers who know just enough to know what they don’t know.
In addition to his books, Grochowski is also the author of several regularly running columns which appear in publications like Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Southern Gaming and Destinations, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Journal, and Slot Manager.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Grochowski also hosted his “Casino Answer Man” radio show on news talk WLS AM (890) in Chicago in 2010. Prior to that gig, he hosted a one minute segment titled “Beat the Odds” on all news WBBM AM (780), along with an hour long Casino Answer Man talk show on WCKG FM (105.9). To round out his resume, Grochowski has been featured on no less than three Travel Channel television specials: Las Vegas: What Would You Do If …, Vegas: What’s New 2005 and Vegas: What’s New 2006.
When it comes to spreading the gospel of casino gambling to a wider audience, few experts can claim to have had the impact of John Grochowski. His use of multimedia outlets, from newspaper to radio and television to online platforms, is unrivaled amongst his peers, putting Grochowski at the forefront of the industry’s ongoing evolution.
Next time you find yourself sitting next to an old timer at the tables, casually mention Grochowski’s name and see what happens. Chances are high that they’ve not only heard of him, but used his columns and shows as motivation to finally get in the game for themselves.
10) JASON SOMERVILLE
The first of my “modern” entries, poker pro Jason Somerville has truly revolutionized the world of poker instruction.
As one of the first adoptees of the live streaming platform known as Twitch, Somerville took the online technology and turned it into an invaluable resource for modern poker players. Rather than write about his insights into the game – which, remember, is entirely dependent on in game circumstances – Somerville invites viewers on his Run It Up channel to play the game along with him.
With nothing more than a $4.99 per month subscription, loyal members of Somerville’s Run It Up legion are welcome to watch their hero play the full duration of tournament and cash game sessions. Using a dedicated streaming schedule which sees him broadcasting for six days per week during seven months of the year, Somerville – known as “JCarver” when playing online as a Team PokerStars sponsored pro – connects directly to audiences that regularly reach into the five figures.
Somerville’s instructional style is perfectly suited for younger players, as he effortlessly spouts off the latest in poker jargon. But rather than simply regurgitate buzzwords or offer superficial advice to his subscribers, Somerville spends every waking second of his streams explaining the thought processes behind each and every hand. Even the most basic auto folds are discussed in detail, with Somerville rehashing the current tournament conditions, commenting on alternative realities in which he might play the garbage hand, or running through possible scenarios that may occur should he proceed.
In each case, Somerville is careful to guide viewers through the maze like structure of high level poker thinking. Rather than just look at his two cards and proceed accordingly, Somerville mentions supplementary information like stack size, field remaining, prize pool jumps, and even the “meta game” between himself and a well-known opponent. As a result, Run It Up subscribers are routinely treated to world class courses in elite poker strategy, delivered straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak.
With Somerville on the other side of the screen, no pretense is needed, and the veteran pro is always playing on his own accounts with his own bankroll. This means viewers are treated to the thrills of victory, as well as the agony of defeat, because every hand played out directly affects Somerville’s bottom line.
Nowadays every poker pro seems to be running their own Twitch live streaming channel, broadcasting poker instruction while searching for a steady stream of subscribers. But Somerville was the first to make Twitch an essential poker training tool, and his Run It Up channel remains one of the most useful resources aspiring poker players like myself can add to their arsenal.
“Sharpshooter” AKA Christopher Pawlicki
11) “SHARPSHOOTER” AKA CHRISTOPHER PAWLICKI
I haven’t touched on the game craps all that much throughout this page, but that’s an intentional oversight.
In my opinion, craps isn’t a game that can be “beaten” through the application of any upper level strategies, and simply knowing the odds and house edge on each bet is more than enough to throw the dice correctly.
With that said, the craps research complied by Christopher Pawlicki warrants inclusion on this list, because no greater expert on the classic dice rolling game has ever let them fly.
During the 1990s, Pawlicki was just like any other aspiring craps player looking to hone their craft. Having developed a cursory interest in the concept of “dice control” – or the subtle manipulation of dice by rollers designed to increase the frequency of favorable rolls – Pawlicki attended a “Patterson Rhythm Roll” (PARR) course ran by Jerry Patterson.
While most of his students failed to display any discernible skill as dice controllers, Patterson immediately identified Pawlicki as the most proficient roller in the room. Without yet learning the PARR technique to the fullest, Pawlicki seemed to be able to land the dice on totals of his choosing more often than pure chance would suggest.
Patterson soon dubbed Pawlicki with a nickname that endures to this day, and writing under the “Sharpshooter” pseudonym, he has produced many of the most influential craps strategy texts ever published. In 2002 he published “Get the Edge at Craps” under the Sharpshooter name, with the book standing as a lasting testament to the dice controlling techniques he learned under Patterson’s tutelage.
In addition to a comprehensive primer on basic craps math and skills, Pawlicki introduces readers to the world of dice control – an advantage play method that rivals card counting for its ability to provide players with that fabled edge over the house. Of course, not every shooter can become skilled enough to roll the point number on command. But even if you never learn to become a full-fledged dice controller, Get the Edge at Craps still stands out as the game’s primary source of basic strategy and skill.
This personal list is just that, so if you find my taste in gambling experts lacking, please feel free to seek out your own sources of knowledge. These are simply the authors and experts who speak to me, but I’ve come across enough gambling strategy texts and resources to know that we all have different preferences.
I’ve chosen my favorites based on their reputation and renown within the industry though, so rest assured, the 11 names found above are all proficient players or devoted scholars of their respective games. Take their wisdom for what it’s worth, and try your best to play like they once did to truly test their theories out in the field.