Gambling

My Lucky Shirt – Part 2 of 2 – Gambling With An Edge


I recommend you get started with this article by reading last week’s post first. I’ll be happy to wait for you while you do that.

On Day 7 of my trip, a Monday, I showed up in my lucky shirt, hoping to take another big bite out of the casino’s assets if the game was still around. If it had been removed, I’d go back to the $5 game for as long as I was there.

To my surprise, the game hadn’t been pulled, so I sat down and started to play. Things didn’t go well for me gambling-wise on Monday. I was down $45,000 shortly before I left for the day. I knew that either of the two biggest jackpots would make me a winner for the day, so there was always hope of ending up plus, but it didn’t happen. I explained to the high limit staff that my lucky shirt had let me down and I now had to go out and burn it! 

On Day 8 of my trip, a Tuesday, I wore another random shirt — telling all who would listen how what used to be my lucky shirt had been burned because it let me down big time. Don’t tell anyone, but I didn’t actually burn that shirt. I was in a non-smoking room after all. I suspect nobody believed I had actually burned it, but they enjoyed hearing me assign blame to a shirt! After all, such a bad result couldn’t possibly be the fault of a player of my caliber!

Tuesday started out badly, even worse than Monday, but two $20,000 jackpots near the end of the day bailed me out to being a mere $25,000 behind. Yes, that’s a big number, but relatively small compared to the swings I had the previous several days. I told the staff that this shirt tried hard to bring me back to even, but failed in the attempt. While it was trying hard enough for me to not want to burn it, I would not wear it on Wednesday.

Day 9 of my trip, a Wednesday, was my final day. A car was leaving for the airport at 3 p.m. with me in it. There was a milestone award if I played another $100,000 coin-in that day, which I would play if the $25 game was still there. I didn’t have enough time to play that much on a $5 machine. 

Surprisingly to me, the big machine was still there, and so I played the two hours required to achieve my milestone award. To my great surprise, another $100,000 royal flush, again in clubs, showed up on my machine, and I was able to hold on to $85,000 of that. I explained to the staff that after an exhaustive search, I had found a new lucky shirt!

My host suggested I make a return trip in the near future to give them a chance to get their money back. I told him I thought that could be arranged. What happened on that trip may be a story for another time.

I ended up playing $3.2 million coin-in through the machines (about 25,000 hands). The royal cycle is about 40,000 hands. I was a slight underdog to hit even one royal during that many hands, so I figured I was an astronomical underdog to hit three. Not so! The odds say I’ll hit three royals in 25,000 hands about one time in 48.5 times! Doesn’t happen every day, but as video poker odds go, this isn’t such a long shot!

Many players have experienced royals coming “in bunches” one or more times during their careers. If you play enough, you’re a favorite to have this happen at least once. The fact that this one was on larger-than-average machines for me these days was just a lucky coincidence. 

It had been more than a decade since I had a score this large or larger. I had expected those days were behind me. Guess I was wrong. Sure am glad I had on lucky shirts!

One thing you should know, is that my edge at this game, at this casino, with this slot club, with these promotions, was fairly small. Ending up 6% ahead after so much play can be attributed to a healthy dose of luck. One of the royals came from holding a solitary ace and drawing four cards (a 1-in-178,000 to 1 shot.) My single aces with a kicker jackpot came from an identical hold. The odds on that depend on how many low cards I discarded before I drew, and I have no recollection at all of the four cards I three away.

The luck didn’t come because I am Bob Dancer — other than playing appropriately increases your chance of doing well. Every player is equally likely to this kind of luck, occasionally, over a 25,000-hand spell. I’ve had other “once-in-a-lifetime” hits for bigger stakes than most people play, but it’s always nice to get another one! My next trip playing that big could end up with a big negative score. I can’t know for sure unless and until I actually go and play it.

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