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Best of Elliot Frome

Gaming Guru

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Reminiscing

23 March 2005

This past week marked 7 years since my Dad, Lenny Frome, passed away. I really can't believe it was that long ago. Barely a day goes by when I don't want to pick up the phone and talk to him about something: all the more since I began writing and analyzing games. The only regret I have about giving up corporate life for my new profession is that I didn't do it years earlier and have the opportunity to work with my Dad.

Writing and consulting is 'easy' today. There are dozens of magazines in the country dedicated to gambling. Many everyday newspapers even have frequent columns on gaming. Of course, getting started is not always easy, but once you do, there are many magazines to write for. This wasn't always the case. If you go back 15-20 years, there were almost NO outlets for gaming writers, especially not for Video Poker. You might find some magazines dedicated to the Poker Rooms or the Race and Sportsbooks, but Video Poker was just considered an extension of slots. What was there to write about?

Along came a man by the name of Lenny Frome. He walked into a casino in Las Vegas and saw his first video poker game. Above the machine was a sign blaring out the payback of the game. Shortly thereafter he went to another casino and saw the same style video poker machine with the same paytable, but with a sign screaming a different payback. This did not sit well with Lenny's analytical mind. So, he went home and began programming Video Poker on his Atari 520 ST. He wasn't a trained programmer, so it wasn't the prettiest code you'd ever see, but it worked. Basically, he discovered that both signs were wrong, and that given a video poker paytable, there could only be ONE possible payback. In venues like Las Vegas, if a machine uses a real life object like a deck of cards or a die, it must use real life probabilities. Thus, the probability of any card coming up must be 1 in 52, and this is true for EVERY card.

My Dad quickly realized that there are 2,598,960 unique initial 5-card hands, and that there must be an optimal way to play the hand to maximize one's bankroll. This was not necessarily the way that maximized the chances of winning, but rather a strategy that looked at all the possible outcomes and decided which would maximize the amount of coins that you could expect to be returned to you in the long run. Thus, the concept of Expert Strategy was born. This was more than 15 years ago. Today, it seems kind of mundane with all the books and computer programs. Then, it was the gambling equivalent of sliced bread. Lenny put together an 8-page 'tipsheet' called 50+ Tips for Video Poker that sold (and still sells) for $2.95. How exciting it was as orders starting coming in. Realizing the need for a more comprehensive book on the subject, my Dad wrote his first booklet, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas. This was a simple book that explained the basics of Expert Strategy and shows why it works.

It's nearly two decades later and this booklet is still relevant. A few people have come along and enhanced the strategy to deal with 'penalty cards' and subtle ways to enhance the payback slightly, but it all starts with the basic concept that Video Poker is not a game of just luck. Proper strategy can make a significant difference in your outcome. Without this, I don't think that Video Poker would be the game it is today. It would have been a novelty. People would have played a little bit, mostly by the intuitive approach. For most people, this has been shown to cost between 5-10%, and video poker would've been nothing more than a slot machine. But my Dad showed that most video poker games paid 99+% and that there were even a few that paid considerably greater than 100%. For the first time, there was a casino game that could be beaten if you took the time to learn the strategy.

Through his writing, my Dad went on a 'crusade' to tell people that video poker is NOT slots. One of his favorite lines was that he wanted Video Poker to be called America's National Game of Chance because it offered some things that no other game could offer. Unfortunately, I don't know of anybody who actually gives out this award. But maybe it's time to recognize that video poker already is America's National Game of Chance. Is there any other game so universally popular in casinos today? Is there another game that can be so easily understood and learned that gives the Player such a fair chance at winning? It's taken nearly 20 years to get to this point. So, I guess all that's left is to work on my dad's other 'crusade' - getting people to kick the slot habit!

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome
Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome