End of An Era? – Gambling With An Edge

In late May of this year, I sent an email to the powers that be at the South Point letting them know that I wished to resume teaching free video poker classes on Tuesdays in September. I was told that they would discuss it at the staff meeting and get back to me.

This is the way it’s been at the South Point for almost ten years. Twice a year, we’ve had this exchange of emails. The classes were postponed during the pandemic, of course. For the fall semester of 2020 and winter semester of 2021, my emails to them stated my belief that it was too early to resume classes again, and naturally they agreed with me.

This year, on June 3, I received a message from General Manager Ryan Growney that they’ve decided going forward that they were not going to host video poker classes anymore.

Damn! Double damn!

I was certainly disappointed to hear this. I was surprised, but not shocked. The pandemic was very expensive for casinos (as well as the rest of us). Numerous changes are happening at casinos everywhere as each one re-evaluates everything. Teaching customers how to play video poker well has always been something that some casino decision makers think is a good idea, while other decision makers think otherwise. 

I’ve been careful not to be rude or inappropriate with anyone at the South Point. Were I believed to be obnoxious or prickly to deal with, this day would have come much sooner than it did. I don’t believe anyone over there is upset with me, but perhaps I’m wrong. If I’ve offended anyone there, it was certainly inadvertent. 

Anyway, as of right now I have nowhere to teach. I’d like to start again somewhere, but casinos are, frankly, much tighter in video poker than they used to be, and very few, if any, offer a lot of different games with good pay schedules. The South Point was unique in that respect. They currently offer a bigger variety of excellent pay schedules than anybody else does. Perhaps this is a signal that their philosophy on this is changing, but I hope not.

It’s been a nice run for me that started in 1997 at what is now called Fiesta Rancho — when it was run by George Maloof. Teaching has allowed me to meet tens of thousands of different players whom I otherwise would not have met. Some have taken a class or two and I’ve never seen them again. Some have taken the classes numerous times. Some have become good friends.

Teaching has forced me to keep my video poker skills sharp. When you stand in front of a group of people and are asked questions about a huge variety of things, your overall knowledge needs to be pretty large. So I continue to study and review. Each time I teach a class, it reinforces my knowledge a little more. I haven’t played Deuces Bonus for years, for example, but I could still sit down and play the game almost perfectly because I’ve taught it so many times. That skill will deteriorate over time, of course. It does for everybody — and at age 74, my retention rate has diminished.

If I can find a suitable place to begin classes again, I will. We’ll see.

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