Bob Dancer on Progressives

I generally enjoy listening to opinions from “Bob Dancer”. He is one of the most knowledgeable video poker players and also the most outspoken. He is also pretty “full of himself”.

Bob Dancer publishes a regular blog at the LVA.  This post is in response to his recent post on video poker progressives.

There are many ways to play video poker. When deciding how I will play, I first consider my individual circumstances. I believe each player should identify their own goals, risk tolerance, ability, and time constraints, and then use these factors to arrive at a strategy that meets their individual needs.

Bob Dancer seems overly concerned about playing the “correct” strategy for each game. I think its part of his personality to be very exact and particular. He says he doesn’t play progressives because he is unwilling to master the different strategies required for the various meter levels. I think he overestimates the need to change strategies based on the royal level. Yes, the mathematically optimal strategy changes dynamically with each increment rise in the meter; but not enough to warrant much investment of time to learn when to make adjustments. There are more practical ways to get around this problem, such as charting cut-off points and estimating an error rate with a degree of certainty in the same manner as a bankroll requirement is calculated.

Its also practical to play progressives with a static strategy. Playing progressives with a static strategy involves sacrificing some of the mathematical advantage in exchange for saving time and reducing complexity. Players can calculate this “leak”using excel. I even take it a step further with my own progressive play by applying a static Jacks of Better strategy to other games such as Bonus Poker and Double Bonus. If the progressive is high enough, the advantage gained from the high progressive will compensate for mathematical leak due to a static strategy. This type of leak can also be calculated using excel. I’m often surprised at how small the static strategy leak is. Also, by applying a static strategy to progressives with a variety of base games, I am able to add more games to my universe of playable games. Its important to run the numbers before making any assumptions because applying a Jacks or Better base game strategy to Bonus Poker and Double Bonus is possible, but not to different game variant such as Deuces Wild.

Bob Dancer also says he doesn’t play progressives because he doesn’t want to spend time scouting or be a part of a team that scouts. I have found that a profitable progressive strategy does not depend on scouting ALL the possible games. It makes more practical sense to scout specific games more frequently. The scouting routes that I use for my own play can be completed in a few hours, and I always have a profitable game to play.

Bob Dancer says that he doesn’t play progressives because it would require him to play until the royal is hit. He says he can’t make these time commitments. I think this is a common misconception of playing video poker progressives. Sometimes when I’m scouting, I’ll find a meter that is exceptionally high. I consider myself lucky to have found the progressive at this stage, since all the previous players have fed the meter for me. I calculate my advantage at the moment I make each bet. So whether I hit a specific royal flush or not, is not my concern. I only care about the odds I receive for each bet I make. Whether I play a progressive video poker game or spend any other amount of my resources will depend on my individual objectives.