Darryl D. McEwen

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is, “What do you play?” When I reply, “Mostly lower-denomination slot machines, but frequently at max bet,” I generally get a surprised look, especially from video poker players.

“But you seem like a pretty intelligent person,” he or she will compliment me. “Why are you wasting your time playing slot machines?”

My standard answer is, “I don’t want to work that hard.”

Now, many of my friends are video poker players and, granted, some of those who read how-to books, take classes and practice regularly on their home computers do very well. Others win and lose at about the same rate I do — and many lose even more.

Plus, it takes at least double the amount of play — and sometimes more — to earn the same benefits I get in most player loyalty programs such as Total Rewards and MyBorgata.

Blame that on the really good players who know exactly which machines to choose and what the appropriate plays are for nearly every possible combination of hands drawn.

The casinos have figured out that these folks already are benefiting from their wins on the casino floor, so why reward them more? Or at least make them play twice as much to get the same benefits as us dumb slot players.

While many will disagree with me about the complexities of video poker, just take a look at this formula I found on a popular video poker Internet message board:

average return = 0.992%

variance = 20.6

average royal cycle = 66,598

First, I have no clue what this means, but when it takes a formula that looks like it belongs in a college textbook to illustrate the fine points of video poker, I know I’m doing the right thing by sticking with slots.

Second, I’m just looking for some mindless entertainment. I enjoy the colorful graphics, the animation, the videos, the music, the sound effects — even the seats that vibrate and move in sync with the action on the screen.

I don’t even like it when someone next to me tries to strike up a conversation, or comments on one of my wins.

“Mind your own business,” I want to say, but, instead I just smile politely and continue pushing the Play button.

Recreational gambler Darryl D. McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. Have a comment on this or a question specifically related to an Atlantic City casino, players club or other promotion? Email Darryl at MrACCasino@gmail.com and he’ll try to respond to you personally. Your question — without your name — may appear in a future column.

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