Video poker shares some of the characteristics of a slot machine. The gambling gear itself is housed in a similar cabinet, and most have a coin slot and a payout hopper. Many have a slot club card reader and/or a bill acceptor.
The important difference is that on a reel slot you just pull the handle and
hope for the best, but video poker involves an element of skill.
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To the novice player, the main attraction of video poker is the prospect of pitting wits against the machine in fast action with a chance at a big jackpot. To the skilled player, however, the appeal is that some games offer an opportunity for a long-term profit. Just as in a live poker game, you can expect a considerable amount of risk and luck involved in the short term, but a player’s skill can make the difference between a winner and a loser in the long run.
Unlike the no-brainer reel slots, the maximum payback of any video poker game can be ascertained from the game’s payoff schedule. No, you don’t have to do any math; just compare the payoff schedule shown on the glass or the screen of every machine with the tables below. A game’s rated payback – the statistically projected return on money played – generally assumes perfect play. But leave perfection to the pros; we won’t even attempt it here, yet we will easily get very close to the rated payback for a much higher return than is possible on any other low stakes casino game.
First, find an attractive game by comparing its payoff schedule with Tables 11-1 and 11-2. Then, insert your player’s card. The slot-club rebate may make up a significant portion of your expected win rate, or it may even turn a negative expectation game into a positive situation. If the casino has a slot club and you don’t have a card, you should get one before you begin playing.
Nearly every casino has a slot club, and membership is free. Before playing, go to the slot-club booth, fill out an application, and get your card. You may want to ask for two cards so you have a spare in case you leave one behind, or if you want to play two machines at once. In some casinos, your friend or spouse would be on the same account, and in others, each of you would have a separate account.
Slot clubs have a variety of inventive names, but they all serve the same purpose of enticing you to play more at that casino by offering comps (compensation) and/or cash rebates for your play. Check out the club brochure for information on what you can get for your loyalty to that casino.
Video poker uses the same 52 card deck (or 53 cards with the joker) as table poker, and most video poker games deal the cards pretty much like the (almost extinct) table game of five-card draw. Also, the hand ranks and the card combinations that make up those hands are generally the same, but the similarity ends there.
So just how is video poker different? Consider the following:
Here are some general pieces of advice that you should take to heart when playing video poker:
Play intelligently: Learn to recognize and play only the better games, and learn an accurate strategy for each game you play. To do otherwise is just donating your money to the casino.
Look for competitive casinos: Nevada regulations set the minimum payback for slot machines at 75 percent, but statewide statistics show average paybacks in the 90 percent to 98 percent range.
Most casinos understand that players come back to lose more when their money lasts longer. Most casinos advertise that their machines are “loose,” but that’s just hype. (In most cases, dropping one “0” from “loose” makes a more realistic statement.) You can compare the payoff schedules of video poker games yourself. Do it!
Consider maximum payback: No upper limits exist on game paybacks in Nevada, but many newer gaming jurisdictions set a maximum payback at less than 100 percent. The reason usually given is to prevent “skimming” (extraction of casino winnings by feeding them to a crony), but in any case, it’s to assure that the state will get its tax revenue. Save your money for a trip to Las Vegas.
Go where the good games are: It doesn’t do much good to learn the strategy if you can’t find any good games. Several Web sites are available to keep you up to date on good video poker all over the country.
Find out when the good games are available: Because machines are limited, you may have trouble getting on the most attractive games in the evening or on weekends. Try weekdays and early morning hours.
Join the slot clubs: In many cases, the comps and/or cash rebate from the slot club make a situation attractive. Besides the benefits shown in the club literature, most casinos send out special offers in the mail, often worth more than the slot club itself. Join the club and play at least one roll of quarters in every casino you visit.
Playing an unknown or short-pay game: Most players pay little attention to the payoff schedule. We often see someone playing a short-pay game while a full-pay machine sits idle nearby. Avoid any game that does not match the payoff schedule shown with a published strategy.
Holding too many cards: The most common playing error is holding a useless card (a kicker). In live draw poker, you can occasionally hold a kicker. For example, holding an ace along with a pair gives the possibility of making aces up, which is a pretty good hand in draw poker, and it has the deceptive value of making some opponents think you have trips. In video poker, two pair pays the same regardless of the ranks, and deception is futile. Holding that kicker merely reduces your chances of making three-of-a-kind or four-of-a-kind. Just remember that every card held means one less chance of catching a desirable card. Some people just refuse to draw five new cards, yet a significant part of your payback comes from those five-card redraws.
Playing with money you can’t afford to lose: This is a symptom of compulsive behavior, and the dangers apply to all forms of gambling. If losing that next bet means that you won’t be able to pay the rent, then you are doomed to lose. All intelligent gamblers take risk of ruin into account. Each bet should be only a very small percentage of your gaming bankroll. If you don’t have some discretionary funds that are not needed for necessities, then you shouldn’t be gambling at all.
Playing hunches: Many players think that they see patterns in the cards, but human nature may coax us in the direction of seeing the order in chaos, much as we see faces in the clouds. The machines are random, and hunches cost you money by leading you to deviate from the correct strategy.
Following “tips” instead of a real strategy: Many general gambling books and other publications offer brief guidelines written by someone who may be an expert at other forms of gambling, but not video poker. Most of these sources contain some serious errors and misconceptions. Use a real strategy from an acknowledged authority on the subject.
Not optimizing your play: Your expected gain obviously will be reduced by using too simplified a strategy (or foregoing a strategy altogether). What many serious players don’t understand is that it may also be reduced by attempting to use a strategy that is too highly detailed. If a strategy is too complex for you to memorize, it slows your play and leads to unintentional deviations. Optimum play means using an accurate strategy that is simplified just enough for fast action without deviations but without significant loss of expected payback. The best goal is to maximize your expected hourly win rate without overplaying your bankroll.
The roots of the Video Poker game obviously lie in the popular game of poker. Some believe that Video Poker machines have descended from coin-operated machines used in the late nineteenth century. These machines featured poker cards on five reels and were operated by the insertion of a coin and by pulling a lever on the side.
The early poker machines were considered a form of slot machine and were located in bars and cigarette stores around the United States. These machines became a very attractive form of entertainment, and winnings were offered in the form of cigarettes or drinks or other prizes. Today’s game of video poker is a combination of a slot machine and five-card draw poker.
The first poker machines were based on pure luck. They used a total of 50 cards and, unknown to the players at the time, were usually lacking the Jack of Hearts and Ten of Spades. In the early twentieth century, Charles Fey made welcome amendments to these machines, adding a hold and draw feature, allowing players to apply their poker card game skills. Following a rather quiet period for poker machines, with occasional flares of interest, this early poker machine underwent a serious facelift in the late 1970’s. Thanks to modern technology and the development of the computer chip, the Video Poker machine was born at the same time as the personal computer. At the beginning, Video Poker was played on a machine that appeared rather like a television set.
In 1979, a successful Video Poker game in the form of Draw Poker was introduced by SIRCOMA. This is an acronym for Si Redd’s Coin Machines, and later became known as International Game Technology (IGT). In the years that followed, these machines became increasingly popular, as many players began to prefer dealing with the machine, rather than sitting at a casino table with others. The popularity of the game increased at such a rate that Video Poker soon became a serious rival to slot machines on the casino floor.
Basic Video Poker is a five-card poker game, from which the player may choose to hold or discard cards. Credits are inserted and then cards are drawn upon pressing the “deal” button. Regulations require video poker machines to deal a random hand of cards and software has been created that provides the player with a fair chance of winning. The player’s aim is to finish the game with the best possible hand. The opportunity to win progressive payouts may also be found in today’s video poker machines.
Today, video poker may be played at many land-based casinos and also online. Due to the widespread success of the Internet and online casinos, video poker games are easily accessible online. There are several different types and variations of video poker games available. “Jacks or Better” is the most frequently found video poker game. In this game, a player whose hand consists of a pair of jacks or better may benefit from payoffs. “Deuces Wild” is a video poker game in which all twos act as wild cards. “Double Bonus” video poker offers a bonus for a hand containing four aces. Each particular type of video poker game has its own rules and payout conditions, but they are all based on the original game of poker. From what has been happened up until now, it appears that a rosy future lies in store for the video poker game.
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