10 facts about video poker that you should know

Along with blackjack, video poker is my favorite casino game. And I understand why some people prefer video poker over blackjack - after all, not everyone likes to interact with other players. Plus, video poker is available at lower stakes.

But not all of these games are the same, although most of them look the same. The VP machine has a lot going on under the hood. In this post, we'll go over some facts about this game and how to play it.

1. Video poker has many advantages over other gambling games.

You do not have to deal with pit bosses. You don't have to deal with dealers. The only people you have to deal with while playing are waitresses, and that's optional.

You also won't have to worry about rules of etiquette or where to put your hands, as you do in table games. You won't run into other players who will try to make you feel bad by talking about how you play. (This is very common at the blackjack table, believe me). There is an option to take advantage of wildtornado pokies for comfortable play.

Of course, all of these benefits apply to slot machines as well. The big difference is that the odds are much better in video poker.

2. Video poker is a game of decisions.

In most gambling games, the only decision you make is whether or not to bet, and if you do, how much.

But in video poker, not only do you make decisions about how to play your hand, but those decisions affect the outcome of the game.

In this respect, video poker is similar to blackjack or some casino poker games.

But the intellectual stimulation that such games offer to make decisions makes them much better than games like slots or roulette, where you just put down your money and wait for the result.

3. video poker players don't lose as much money per hour as slot machine players.

Most people who play VP games have at least some experience with a deck of cards. Even if they don't have much knowledge of the expert play, they are still able to make good decisions, at least sometimes - if not most of the time.

And even if you're only right on occasion in Jacks or Better, your return rate is much higher than on any slot machine in the same casino.

The payback percentage is simply a mathematical expression of how the probability of the game predicts your average win per wager. If you say that the game's payback percentage is 95%, that means that over an almost infinite number of trials, you will win 95 cents for every dollar you bet.

Payout percentages vary widely from casino to casino and destination to destination. But VP games are consistently better than slots when it comes to payouts.

The average slot machine pays out less than 95%. The average video poker pays out more than 95%.

4 The payout table and random number generator are what make the payout percentage of a video poker game a known quantity.

When you play a slot machine, you have a payout table. This is simply a list of possible combinations of symbols and how much you will get paid if you hit one of those combinations.

But you have no way of knowing the odds of getting any of these individual symbols or combinations of symbols.

A lemon can appear once every 15 spins and cherry once every 5 spins.

But in a video poker game, you know what the odds are of getting a particular card is 1 in 52. You also know the odds of getting a certain suit card - 1 in 4.

The random number generator on the VP machine is programmed to use the same probabilities as the deck of playing cards.

Because you can calculate the odds of getting each particular hand, you can determine the expected profit for each hand and for each decision on the machine. You can choose which machines are better than others.

And you can make good decisions about which cards to keep and which to discard.

5. Not all video poker machines are really video poker machines.

Some video poker games are not really video poker - they are slot machines that look like VP machines. If you play at a private club or some underground casino, this can often be the case. Be careful in this case.

But fake video poker games are not only found in illegal underground gambling halls. They can also be found in legal, regulated casinos across the United States. Often they can be seen in Native American casinos.

Class III machines are strictly regulated and have detailed restrictions on the types of random number generators they can use and what odds they can offer. These are the kinds of games seen in cities such as Las Vegas, in states such as Nevada.

Class II machines, however, vary from state to state. Sometimes these games are required by law to mimic a game of bingo or lottery. If you play in a casino in a state where only those types of games are allowed, video poker games are, of course, random -- they simply don't offer the same odds you'd expect from a deck of cards.

In this case, you have no way of knowing the payback percentage of such a game. You can't expect the odds in this game to be better than the odds in any slot machine in such a casino.

6. Your goals in the casino affect what games you play and how you play them.

Of course, many people just want to win money.

But perhaps having a more specific goal will help you have more fun?

After all, most people don't win most of the time. Most gamblers leave casinos as net losers at least 4 times out of 5.

What are your priorities when you play at the casino?

Are you just there to have fun, switch off and forget your troubles for a while?

Video poker is good for that, but slot machines are just as good.

Do you want to get the most out of your money and earn a compensatory meal and maybe get some free entertainment?

Video poker is probably the perfect way to achieve these goals. Be sure to join a players club and play with your card inserted in the machine if that is your goal. The casino decides how and when to pay out such privileges, depending on what actions you take on their slot machines.

And they track this by your player club card.

7. Video poker is more fun if you have more math skills.

If you are not strong in math, you may enjoy video poker, but it will certainly be more rewarding if you can understand some of the probabilistic aspects of the game. You will also be better able to choose which games to play and how to play them.

Most average players rely on expert authors and programmers who have already done all the math and given us everything we need to know about payback percentages and game strategies.

A lot of the math is easier than you think. If you know why you shouldn't go out on the inside straight and you should go out on the outside straight, you already have some idea of how the math works.

8. Luck matters in this game, but it's not what you think.

That's how probability works:

Whenever you're dealing with something random, probability doesn't begin to show up until you've done many trials.


A royal flush in video poker occurs only once every 40,000 hands.

But you can easily play 80,000 hands and never see a royal flush.

That's because anything can happen in the short term. You can also see 3 royal flushes in 40,000 hands.

The long-term perspective only shows up once you start running hundreds of thousands of trials. Casinos do that kind of volume. Even small casinos have hundreds of machines and customers placing hundreds of bets per hour.

With a certain degree of accuracy, they can predict how much profit they will make from this kind of action.

But as an individual player, you may get lucky in the short term and win a lot of money early. On the other hand, you may see worse results than you expected. In that case, you will consider yourself unlucky.

But there is nothing you can do to predict such "luck." What you call luck is just a standard deviation. Without the standard deviation, casinos couldn't stay in business.

It would be too obvious that they always win. Players have to win sometimes, or they wouldn't keep playing.

9. You can improve your strategy by using a computer.

You can find many tutorial programs that will teach you how to play the most common video poker games with flawless strategy. Most of these programs have a cost, but they are usually inexpensive (under $100).

These types of programs mimic the VP games on your computer, but with a few major differences:

You don't have to risk money to play.

The game will warn you when you've made a mistake and explain what you should have done instead.

You can learn to play well without software. Bob Dancer's books are excellent guides to proper strategy and how to learn it.

10. You should learn to play one game at a time, starting with Jacks or Better.

Jacks or Better is the easiest VP game you can find, and that's where you should start. Once you understand how it works, you can easily figure out the intricacies of the other VP games.

First of all, you need to understand how the payout table works. I have extensive information on how the various payout tables work for individual games. Suffice it to say that the best Jacks or Better games offer a payout of 9 to 1 for the full house and 6 to 1 for the flush.

Such a game is called a "full payout" Jacks or Better game. Sometimes it can also be called a 9/6 JoB game.

If you can play such a game with a perfect strategy, the payback percentage is 99.54%, which means that the house advantage is only 0.46%. That makes it a better game than almost any other casino game - it's comparable to a good blackjack game.

Also, this game is pretty easy to find, which is one of the reasons I recommend starting with it.

And the strategy of this game is easier than the strategy of almost any other video poker game in the casino.

Finally, this is one of the least volatile VP games you can find. Volatility is just a fancy word for the likelihood of having long losing streaks before the odds catch up with you in the long run. In games like bonus poker, much of your return percentage depends on hands that fall infrequently.

When you wait for these hands to appear, you either win small amounts of money or lose more often. Jacks or Better has a relatively smooth payout progression compared to how often you get these payouts.

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