Video poker is usually a solo game. Unless you enter a tournament, it’s just you and the game you’re playing. This means that the possibility of being embarrassed is rather low. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make mistakes that cost you money.
But you can follow a few simple steps to help you avoid making mistakes while playing video poker and losing more money than you need to. A few simple steps include learning about the games and options before you play and locating and using the best strategy for every game you play.
Here are five ways you can avoid making video poker mistakes and feeling embarrassed when you play.
1 – Understand the Game Variant Before Playing
The most important thing you can do as a real money video poker player is learn everything you can about a game before you play the first hand. This is much easier to do today than it was when I first started playing video poker.
Before the internet became popular, it was hard to access good information about video poker machines. Only a few books existed, and most of them were poor at best. Now, you can access everything you need to know about every type of video poker machine on your computer or phone in just a few minutes.
The problem now is that there are too many video poker game options and possibly too much information. It takes a long time to learn about all of the video poker game variations.
Fortunately, you don’t need to learn about all of the possibilities. You just need to learn about the game variations that you’re going to play.
I know just about everything there is to know about three types of video poker machines. It’s taken a long time to learn everything that I know, but I can usually find at least one good machine in a casino from these three types of machines. I recommend learning about these variations of video poker.
The three games I see often are:
- Pick’em Poker
- Deuces Wild
- Jacks or Better
I don’t play any other video poker machines because I haven’t had the chance to really study them. And once you learn a few things, the rest is pretty simple.
The important things to know are which pay tables give you the best chance to win and what the best strategy is for each individual game. I cover strategy more in the next section.
Pick’em Poker has a simple strategy and a low house edge, but it’s harder to find these machines than Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild.
2 – Use Strategy or Don’t Play
Video poker machines are like other gambling options in casinos. They’re designed to entertain gamblers while taking their money. But video poker machines have a feature that you don’t find with slot machines.
You can actually use strategy when you play video poker machines. When you use video poker strategy correctly, you influence the outcome of the game. To be clear, it’s almost impossible to use strategy well enough to completely overcome the edge the casino has.
But you can reduce the casino edge quite a bit using strategy. However, there’s a simple step you have to do first before you use strategy when you play video poker.
In the first section, I explained why you need to know as much as you can about video poker games and machines before you start playing. The most important thing you need to learn is about pay tables.
Once you identify the best pay table for the variation of video poker you want to play and find a machine with this pay table, the next step is to learn how to use the best strategy.
When you do your research like I described in the first section, you’re going to find strategy charts for popular video poker machines. You need to memorize the best strategy for the video poker games you play or carry a video poker strategy card for your games.
If you don’t find video poker machines with good pay tables and use a strategy card, you shouldn’t play.
3 – Exploit Online and Mobile Opportunities
Another thing that has changed since I started playing video poker is the availability of playing online or on a mobile device. This not only makes playing easier, it also makes it much easier to find online video poker machines with the right pay tables and easier to find machines with the coin size I’m looking for.
I rarely play video poker in a live casino anymore because I can quickly log in and play a machine with a good pay table at an online casino.
You can practice using strategy for free at most online casinos so you don’t have to pay for your mistakes. It’s easy to memorize your video poker strategy card by playing for free online. Just use your strategy card for every play until you don’t need to use it anymore. You can have all of the basic plays down in an hour or less. And with a few more hours of practice, most gamblers can have the entire strategy memorized.
The other thing that online video poker offers is the availability of bonuses. Not every online and mobile casino offers video poker bonuses, but some of them do.
4 – Small Coin Size and Maximum Coin Wager
The best strategy for most gambling games is to risk as little as possible. This means making the lowest bet no matter what. But video poker is slightly different.
If you don’t make a maximum wager on a video poker machine, you miss out on a higher payout when you win a top hand. The difference between the extra payout and not getting it influences the casino house edge a great deal.
The best video poker machines are ones with a small coin size, as low as .05 online, and good pay tables. A five-coin wager on a .05 machine is a total wager of only .25. The smallest coin amount in most live casinos is .25, for a total wager of $1.25.
This is another reason why I recommend online video poker play.
5 – Find a Video Poker Tournament
So far, everything I’ve covered deals with playing video poker in a traditional way. You can play as much or as little as you want. But the danger in playing this way is your losses aren’t really limited. The only way to control your losses is by stopping play when you lose a certain amount.
However, this isn’t the only way you can play video poker. You can enter a video poker tournament.
When you enter a video poker tournament, you pay a set fee and have a chance to win a cash prize depending on how well you play over a set period of time. A video poker tournament is a good way to play the game for a set fee.
Video poker tournaments aren’t always easy to find. Ask around at the casinos you regularly play at and look for online video poker tournaments.
A little bit of research before you play video poker goes a long way towards avoiding video poker mistakes. Develop a plan before you start playing and you’re going to be more prepared than the majority of other video poker players.
You can join a video poker tournament to play a minimum number of hands for a set fee. This limits your losses while giving you a chance to get lucky and win a nice prize amount. You can also find and exploit online video poker opportunities if you know what to look for.
Finally, find low coin size machines so you can afford to play with the maximum number of coins on every hand.