Aside from special promotions, casino mistakes, and cheating, there are four games one can play in a casino which can be played well enough to gain an edge over the house. They are horse and sportsNick Christenson is widely regarded as one of the best gambling book reviewers publishing today. He is a contributor for Poker Player magazine, and has published in Full-Tilt and Gambling Times. He is also the editor of the very funny 'Casino Death Watch,' which chronicles the comings and goings of casinos in Las Vegas. He is an avid poker and blackjack player. Nick's website is www.jetcafe.org/~npc/ betting, poker, blackjack, and video poker. The notion that the last item on this list, which are nothing more than fancy video games, can be played with a positive expectation may be a surprise to many, but for many folks who manage to get the better of the casinos they visit, this is their weapon of choice. Video Poker--Optimum Play tells you how to get an edge at this game.
The book is accessible to those who have merely seen a video poker machine, the reader is not expected to be familiar with the nomenclature and mathematics of video poker. The book starts with a number of introductory sections explaining these concepts, the principles by which video poker can be beaten, and explains how the mathematics allow this out without the need to comprehend the math itself.
Then Paymar launches in to a description of "Precision Play", a list of relatively simple rules for Jacks-or-Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Wild that allow one to play very close to the optimum strategy. Most video poker books provide the same information as a chart of hand rankings, so this is a fairly novel approach. I think a great many people will find it easier to remember the Precision Play rules than some hand rank chart, and everyone who falls into this category will be grateful for this by itself.
The book continues with a lot of information on what one can expect for long and short term fluctuations in bankroll, other games one might encounter, and some information on the machines, tipping, the IRS, etc.. All of this information is quite good, and to have it all collected in one place is extremely valuable. There are also some quizzes so the reader can test themselves on how well they know the Precision Play rules, although these quizzes could have been made more comprehensive.
The book concludes with six appendices and a glossary, stating, at the time of the book's printing, where the full pay machines and some of the better slot clubs are located, gaming regulations, sources for other information, etc.. As with the rest of the book, I detect no inaccuracies in the data, nor any bad advice. On the whole, Video Poker--Optimum Play is one of the most accurate gambling books I've ever read.
If I were to quibble, I'd mention that I was surprised to see Joker Wild included as one of the three games covered rather than the ubiquitous, albeit quite complicated, Double Bonus. It may be the case that a set of Precision Play rules would end up being too complex to be valuable for this game, yet the fact that it's often the only 100+% game available in many casinos with otherwise good slot clubs means that it is often the game of choice for the experienced VP player.
Overall, this is an absolutely excellent book, certainly the single finest book on video poker I've read. I'm on the fence as to whether there is enough new information here to make it worthwhile for those who have already read its predecessor, Video Poker--Precision Play, to upgrade or not. But at its price, its probably worth it to have all this information in one place. Folks who play a significant amount of video poker almost certainly need to obtain and read this book.
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