Video poker isn’t one of the most popular casino games. Even though it’s a machine-based game like slot machines, it isn’t anywhere close in popularity to slots. In fact, in land-based casinos, video poker seems to be dying out.
Most video poker machines are now being replaced with new slot machines, because slots are more profitable for the casinos.
From a gambler’s perspective, it’s hard for me to understand why slot machines are so much more popular than video poker machines. The house edge on the average slot machine is over 5% and the house edge on the average video poker machine is around 2%.
You don’t have to be a math genius to understand that a house edge of a half percent is much better than a 5% house edge. In fact, it’s 10 times better.
This means your bankroll lasts 10 times longer when you make the same size bets, and it also means you have a better chance to win every time you play.
I put together this article for two types of gamblers. The first type is a slot machine player. If you play slots and want to switch to playing video poker, follow the simple steps on this page. Your gambling results are going to improve, and none of these steps are difficult to do.
The second type of gambler this page will appeal to is a video poker player who isn’t getting the results they want. You can quickly start seeing improved results when you adjust your video poker play based on what you’re getting ready to learn.
1 – Strategy Is Your Friend
Video poker games are based on old draw poker games. Most start with a five-card hand and you choose which cards to hold and which ones to exchange for new cards. Some games use a standard 52 card deck and others use a standard deck plus a joker. Some games have wild cards and some don’t.
The most popular variation of video poker is Jacks or Better, and it uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards. Deuces Wild, another popular video poker version, uses a standard 52-card deck and all of the deuces, or twos, are wild.
This might not seem like it’s important, but the fact that you know the value of all the cards in the deck used for the game is a big deal. Knowing the value of all of the cards means every starting hand has a most profitable way to play.
Here’s an example of using strategy in video poker:
You’re playing Jacks or Better and your first five cards are the ace of clubs, king of clubs, jack of clubs, 10 of clubs, and the six of diamonds. The correct play is to keep everything except the six of diamonds.
If you draw the queen of clubs you complete a royal flush, which is the highest paying hand in the game. If you draw any of the three remaining aces, three remaining kings, or three remaining jacks, you have a pair of jacks or better, another paying hand.
Finally, if you draw one of the three queens that isn’t a club, you complete a straight. When you average the return for all of these winning combinations, it’s higher than playing the hand any other way.
This can get complicated, but there’s good news. People have already used computers to run all of the possible combinations and produced the best strategy.
This means you can find a strategy chart or video poker strategy card that already has all of the best plays listed. You don’t have to do any of the hard work or guess the next time you have a hand that’s difficult to figure out.
When you use a video poker strategy chart or card, it keeps the house edge as low as you can possibly get it. Before you play another hand of video poker, get a strategy chart or card for your game and use it on every hand. Different video poker variations use different charts, so make sure you’re using the one designed for your machine.
2 – Check Pay Tables Online
Video poker machines come with different pay tables. Even the same game often has several different pay tables. Many video poker players don’t understand the importance of pay tables, but they’re just as important as using the correct strategy.
The pay table is the thing that determines the house edge. When you play Jacks or Better using a 9/6 pay table combined with perfect strategy, the house edge is .46%. But if you play Jacks or Better with a different pay table, even when you use the correct strategy, the house edge can be 2% or higher.
Good pay tables on video poker machines are getting harder and harder to find in land-based casinos. The casinos are trying to keep their profit from video poker machines up so they can still offer a few, and the main way to do this is offer machines with worse pay tables.
The easiest way to find video poker machines offering decent pay tables is to play poker online. Many online casinos offer 9/6 Jacks or Better and Not So Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild, which are two of the better games as far as pay tables you can find. Both of these games also have strategy charts that are easy to find.
Learn the best pay tables for each game you enjoy playing, find the best strategy for these games, and only play when the best pay tables are available.
If you play video poker in land-based casinos, start a list of locations with good pay tables. As you find good machines, add them to your list, and eventually, you’ll be able to plan your trip based on where you can play with the best pay tables.
3 – Comps, Bonuses, and Promotions
I mentioned one of the best ways to play video poker is in online casinos in the last section. This is even better when you find an online casino that offers a sign up bonus you can use for video poker. It’s important to understand that not all online casino bonuses are designed for video poker play. Many online casino bonuses are only for slot machine play.
As a video poker player, whether you play in land-based casinos or online, you should always sign up for the player’s or comp club where you play. If the casino doesn’t offer some kind of a reward’s club, try to find a different place to play that does offer one.
Any time you earn comps, whether it’s a free meal or free play, it offsets your losses. You usually won’t earn enough in comps to break even on your play, but it still effectively lowers the house edge because you’re receiving something of value.
The other thing you need to look for is promotions. Casinos run a wide range of marketing programs and promotions to try to get new players. Sometimes, promotions offer free spins or a certain amount of free play.
You can look for promotions in gambling publications, local media close to casinos, and online.
It’s also a good idea to ask the player’s desk in the casino if they have any promotions. You should also ask them to put you on their mailing list for future promotions.
When you find video poker machines with good pay tables, use the correct playing strategy and get all of the bonuses, comps, and promotions you can find. Your results are going to get better.
If you’re currently a slot machine player, switching to video poker is going to help you immediately. Any time you can play with a house edge that’s 10 times lower, if it does nothing else, it’s going to let you play much longer on the same size bankroll.
It’s easy to find and use a video poker strategy chart, so there’s never a good reason not to use one. It also doesn’t take long to find the best pay tables, so I recommend doing that right away. When you play video poker at online casinos, read the terms for the available bonuses so you can start with a bigger bankroll.