Using Your Cell Phone in the Casino in Order to Look Up the Strategy

Gambling News

I’ve recently written some more-complicated-than-normal (for me) articles concerning playing strategies. Today won’t be one of those!

One of my regular posters, Boris from Switzerland, posted (paraphrasing): “This is fine for the advanced players. Recreational players can use a phone app to get the same information. And they’ll probably get away with it.”

The reason I’ve never recommended this is because in Nevada and several other jurisdictions as well, using an electronic device to tell you how to play the hands is a felony. I’ve never heard of a player being arrested for this, but there’s always a first time. On Gambling with an Edge, attorney Bob Nersessian said several times that if a player were arrested for this, Nersessian would not be interested in defending him. “It’s against the law,” Nersessian said. “Don’t do it.”

It’s easy to make the argument that so many people use their cell phones for a variety of purposes in a casino, a player using a video poker app probably won’t be caught. And that’s true. You probably won’t be.

But what if you are? A small chance of being convicted for this is a LOT worse than no chance at all. When I started my video poker career, I did a number of things that weren’t completely on the up and up. I wrote about several of them in my Million Dollar Video Poker. So, I’m hardly in position to take the high moral ground on this.

But when I was starting, I believed I was a “nobody” gambler. I believed the worst a casino would do is to kick me out and say don’t come back. And it probably wouldn’t come to that. It was at least possible that I’d get off with just a warning.

I now am not in the same position. I am moderately famous in the gambling world, and a “fall from grace” today would be a lot more severe. Plus, I always assume, rightly or wrongly, that in casinos that do allow me to play, I have a much shorter rope than an unknown player would have. Receiving a warning instead of being prosecuted is much less likely for me today than it was 30 years ago.

Another factor that is true for me that isn’t universally true for other players is that I have the ability to figure out and master strategies, and I enjoy doing so. Thinking about, writing about, studying, and playing video poker occupies a much larger part of my waking hours, even after about 30 years of doing this, than these things occupy in the lives of most other players. 

Other players have enough responsibilities and chosen activities that they simply do not have the time and ability to do what I do.  

Legality and ability aside, it takes time to look up a hand. I like to play at 1,000 hands per hour or so, and getting out the app, turning it on, making sure you’re on the right game, and actually entering the five cards doesn’t happen instantaneously. Many players aren’t positive of the correct play but don’t want to slow down and take the time to look it up. If you have the game memorized, you don’t have these time delays.

So, I’m not going to commit this felony. I advise you not to. But I understand why the temptation to this might be strong for some players.

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