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Friday night player wants to go BIG TIME

5 May 2003

Dear Mark,
I have been enthralled by watching the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel. Talk about a show that hooks you. I actually have visions of grandeur and think that I too could play at the level I have seen on TV. I usually do quite well in my Friday night game with friends from work. Anyhow, in the past you have recommended using a computer to get better at video poker and blackjack. Do you know of any software programs that would get my current limited skills up to a professional level? David D.

In serious training for competition, be it Texas Hold'em, blackjack for some decent moolah, or even a Euchre tournament, I get in shape by playing literally tens of thousands of hands against a computer. Most computer programs out there will beat average players, which makes those programs useful tools for competition against mere mortals.
But today's software cannot train you to compete against the best poker players in the world. Poker involves deceiving, lying, stealing and a whole host of other plunger virtues you would need in order to drive other players off the pot. You cannot deceive a computer, and therefore, it cannot distinguish between inconsistent play (misplaying a hand) and stealing that huge pot with a deceptive bluff.

Speculating that you may be off your meds, dreaming that you can play poker against the pros, I will make one software recommendation. In fact, I like this program so much that I own a Windows laptop for this sole purpose: to play countless hands of Texas Hold'em. Otherwise, I am in the Macintosh world where no such Texas Hold'em program exists, discounting Casino by Sierra Software, which is amusing but not qualified for gamesmanship upgrading.

So, David, my recommended software would be Turbo Texas Hold'em by Wilson Software. The current version has some pretty tough opponents to read, decent graphics, warnings if your bet disagrees with your personal advisor's, 3-D charts and graphs, adjustable blinds and limits, and opponents who check, raise, and adjust their play to yours, based on the number of opponents and the action on the prior streets [see note] and hands. It retails for $89.95. Granted, that's a whistling price, but a lot cheaper than losing hundreds, if not thousands, at those Friday-night kitchen-table jousts against the scalawags you call friends. B-u-u-u-t against the teeth of the pros on the World poker Tour, you are still a red meat moment.

You can purchase Turbo Texas Hold'em from the Gambler's Book Shop. Give them a shout at 800-522-1777. Tell 'em I sent you, but don't dare tell 'em I promised to turn you into a pro.

Dear Mark,
Does the number of coins put in the machine ever affect the randomness of the outcome? Jenny S.

All pulls are random, Jenny, and the number of coins played has absolutely no effect on determining when, or what type of, winning symbols will appear on the machine.


Actually, Jenny, indulge my getting a trifle more specific. Government-controlled Gaming Regulations require that electronic gambling devices produce random gaming results. In order to comply with this requirement, electronic games of all types use a random number generator (RNG) software algorithm to determine game outcome. While the gaming machine looks idle to you and me, just waiting for someone like Jenny to deposit one or more coins or push a play credit button, the RNG algorithm is called into play hundreds of times per second. The RNG has approximately 16,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible outcomes and, depending of course on the type of game, there will be billions and billions of outcomes that map into any set of cards, or slot machine symbols. This, Jenny, ensures that all game outcomes are completely random.

Gambling quote of the week: "In order to learn any game, you have to find the best players and play with them."- Poker legend Johnny Moss

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Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.