There were two separate incidents that occurred during a recent NSU Deuces Wild class I taught at the South Point. They are not related to each other at all — except they both happened on the same day and neither is enough to justify an entire column. So, I’ll combine them.
The first incident happened before the class. For the noon class, one of my helpers, “Larry,” gets there at 10:30 and together we set up the room. I had finished my part of the setup and was hovering near the back table where Larry was setting up strategy cards, Winner’s Guides, software, and books that I sell during the class.
Some guy, maybe 75-years old, came by and asked us what we were doing. When he found out I was going to be teaching a video poker class, he told us he already knew how to play video poker, so he didn’t need a class.
“Would you like to take the test we give at the end of the class and see how many you get right?” I asked gently. Unless the guy was a really good player, I knew he wouldn’t ace the test. There are a lot of things to know in order to play video poker well.
It didn’t matter, because he didn’t want to take the test. But he asked me if I wanted to earn $200 by just getting one joke correct — and I’d only have to pay $5 if I got it wrong.
“No thanks,” I told him, as did Larry. This had “sucker bet” written all over it and we wanted no part of it.
But this guy insisted on asking his joke anyway, namely, “What has ten wheels, flies, and it isn’t an airplane?” And he was still asking Larry and me if we wanted to play.
I told him I’m not paying off if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure there must be some type of jet that had ten wheels — which should qualify as being a correct answer whether it was the one he had in mind or not. He told me that wasn’t the answer, but if I wanted to guess for real and win $200 while only risking $5, he’d still let me.
Neither Larry nor I bit, so he told us the answer — namely “a garbage truck.” Cute enough. As he left, he told us we could make a lot of money from that making bar bets.
Doubtful. This guy was letting us take the bet AFTER WE’D HEARD THE QUESTION. The only time someone would/should take the bet is if he already knew the answer. If the guy was actually going to pay off if someone said “garbage truck,” this bet was a loser, not a winner.
It’s possible, of course, that were Larry or I able to come up with “garbage truck,” he would disqualify the answer somehow. We avoided it because it seemed like a sucker bet. After the guy left, I wondered who the sucker was.
Here’s the second incident: One of the test questions at the end of beginner level NSU class was how to play J♥ T♥ 7♥ 5♠ 3♦. This is pretty simple. Holding JT7 (the bold italics mean the cards are suited with each other) is clearly correct. I include it in the test because in Full Pay Deuces Wild, the correct play is JT, not JT7. For players who play all Deuces Wild games the same and learned FPDW sometime in the past, this would be a “tricky” hand.
But a guy who missed it, “John,” always sits in the front row and takes exhaustive notes. He regularly challenges me if he doesn’t understand something the first time. I don’t mind this at all. Usually I know the correct answer and can set him straight. Sometimes it requires using the Video Poker for Winners software. And a few times, he has caught an error which I took note of and corrected before the next time I taught the class.
But this time was different. John said, “I’m taking notes and I know that ten minutes ago, you said we never hold three-card straight flushes with two gaps in this game. I take good notes and I know you said it and now you’re saying the opposite!”
John was correct. I did say it. But he skipped a few words at the beginning of my quote, namely, “When there are one or two deuces in hand . . .” That is, letting a W stand for a deuce, W 6♣ 8♣ and W W 6♣ 8♣ are eligible to be held, but W 6♦ 9♦ and W W 6♦ 9♦ aren’t. This rule is specific to NSU. In many other deuces wild variations, the rule is different.
Video poker is full of those “read the fine print” caveats. And it takes a while to master them. It’s also possible that I didn’t utter the complete caveat when I was speaking about the strategy in the 2-deuces or 1-deuce sections. Within each section, it’s clearly understood that I’m speaking only about the strategy rules in that section.
At least it’s clearly understood by me. Maybe not so much by John. Which is why he asked the question.
Will I phrase it more accurately next time? I’m not sure. When I’m explaining the 1-deuce strategy, I’ll mention “1-deuce” three or four times in the five minutes it takes to go through that section in the beginner class (the 1-deuce section in the intermediate class takes much longer than five minutes). Mentioning it more than that gets tedious and sounds too much like legalese. I can never know exactly which of my statements will get transcribed into someone’s notes.
There’s a trade-off between giving enough information and giving too much information to the class as a whole, and whatever statement I make will be too much for some particular students and not enough for others. I’m sure other teachers struggle with this as well. So, I just use my judgment to pitch it where I think is appropriate and rely on student questions to let me know when they need more help.