Educated Player

by Bill Burton

This is my story of becoming an Educated Player.
I grew up in a card playing family. I recall many Sunday afternoons when the adults would clear away the dinner dishes and break out the poker chips for an afternoon game. As a kid I was fascinated with the game and would pull up a chair to watch the action.
As I got older, I would sit in on a hand when someone took a break. It was a rite of passage when I was finally allowed to pony up my fifty cents for chips and take a seat at the table. We played draw, stud and all wild games such as baseball and deuces wild that you find in your typical “kitchen table” games.

After I learned to play casino games properly, home poker games lost their glamour. They could not compete with the excitement of the casino and games like blackjack, craps and video poker. I never gave much thought to playing casino poker.

I made my first trip to Atlantic City in the early 80’s that consisted of playing the slots. After several trips, I started to notice that the table game players were having a lot of fun and getting quite a bit of attention from the casino personnel.  I wanted to try some of the games but was not sure how to go about it. Around that time my friend Rich started to tell me stories of his friend Andy. Andy was a big gambler who was a Rated Player in Atlantic City.
He had a system for roulette and always came back with hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

Since Andy had his rating card, and it was his system, it was only logical that he would place the bets and work his magic. My friends and I all agreed to put up $20 a piece. This $80 bankroll was surely enough to get us started.
After about twenty minutes of making bets, Andy turned to us and said we had hit a bad streak and were broke. Finally, after going broke the third time I was asked to put up some more money to keep the partnership going. This was a turning point for me. I told the guys to count me out.

I told them that I had just lost $60 on a game I knew nothing about without making a single bet. I was foolish to waste money on a game I knew nothing about. I vowed that I would become an educated player and I promised myself that from that day forward I would never gamble a penny on any game or event unless I had researched it and I was in control of my own money.
That was the day I started to become an educated player.

I spent years studying how to play the casino games and how the casinos operated. I learned that blackjack, certain video poker games, and live poker are three games where a player can gain an edge. 
When Foxwoods opened a short distance from my home in 1992, I was able to make more frequent trips to the casinos. I spent my time there playing blackjack.
In 1994 I made my first visit to Las Vegas and immediately became a frequent visitor. It was in Las Vegas that I discovered the "full pay" video poker machines that offered over 100 percent payback when played using proper strategy. These games kept me occupied and I never gave any thought to playing casino poker.

The opportunities for an educated player are slowly dying out. 
The casinos do not like the players to have an edge in any game.
For example, casinos are doing everything in their power to stop card counters. In Las Vegas they can bar players. In Atlantic City and other places where they can't bar players they have taken different measures. They have multiple-deck games with lousy penetration, or they will choose to shuffle up on a player, or both. They can also restrict a player to flat betting a specified amount.
Profitable video poker games are also starting to disappear. Many of the dollar games that offered over 100 percent payback are now being offered only on the quarter machines.

Apparently more players are coming to the same conclusion about the loss of the profitable games because I started to receive numerous requests for information about live poker.
In order to answer their questions accurately, I decided it was time to learn how to play casino poker as an educated player.

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