I used to play a lot of video poker, but so many things have changed that I rarely play anymore. Too many other games offer a strong rate of return and are usually easier to find.
I still look at the video poker machines when I go to the casino if there are any on the floor, but it’s getting harder and harder to find good machines. When I gamble in an online casino, I can usually find a good pay table, but the bonuses can sometimes be so bad that I end up skipping them most of the time.
Here are six terrible things about video poker that every casino gambler should know about.
1 – Too Many Terrible Pay Tables
The most important thing about any video poker machine is the pay table. Every popular video poker variation or game has multiple possible pay tables. The pay tables dictate exactly how much the machine makes and how much you can get as a return within a range.
This might sound confusing, but the only number you really need to know about each pay table is the maximum return that you can get on the machine. The maximum return is based on how much the pay table returns for each listed hand. And if you play each hand, you receive the mathematically best possible way.
But the sad fact is that fewer and fewer casinos are carrying video poker machines with good pay tables. This means that most of time that you go to the casino and want to play video poker, you’re going to be disappointed.
You can still find good video poker pay tables at some online casinos. But there are issues with this as well, which you’re going to learn about elsewhere on this page.
2 – Individual Game Strategies
This is one of those things that has a good and bad side. Every video poker variation does have a perfect way to play using strategy.
It’s important to use the perfect strategy when you play video poker because that’s the only way to receive the maximum return. The best play for each hand isn’t always easy to figure out on your own, but you can get strategy charts that have been developed using the exact mathematical returns and odds that always show you the best play.
On the other side of the coin, each video poker game requires a unique strategy. In other words, the best strategy for one video poker variation isn’t usually the best strategy for a different variation.
What this means is that you need to know and use the best strategy for each variant. You either have to memorize multiple strategies or carry multiple strategy charts. This isn’t the worst thing about video poker, but it can cost you money if you get confused and make mistakes with your strategy.
I only play two different video poker variations so that I don’t need to know too many strategy variations.
3 – One-Coin Wagers Are a Bad Idea
When you play most casino games, the smartest play is to bet the smallest amount that you can. Casino games are made to take your money. And if you bet a higher amount, you just end up losing more money.
For example, if you’re playing a blackjack game with a 99% return, it means that you’re losing $1 out of every $100 that you bet on hands on average. If you’re betting $10 a hand, it takes 10 hands to bet $100 and lose $1.
Video poker is one of the few exceptions to this. When you play video poker, you actually have better odds when you bet five coins than when you bet one to four coins.
To increase your profit potential, you need to bet five coins every single time. This means you end up risking more, but this is the only way to get the maximum return percentage.
4 – Low Inventory
I mentioned this in the first section, but a major problem for video poker players is that there are fewer machines available in casinos than ever before. Some casinos don’t even have video poker machines anymore, and the ones that do tend to have bad pay tables.
It used to be that most casinos had plenty of video poker machines. And if you were willing to play different variations, then there were at least one or two machines that had good pay tables. This is simply not the case in most casinos today.
The main reason for this is because casinos are always trying to improve their profit per square foot. Video poker machines, especially those with good pay tables, rarely offer as much profit as slot machines.
So, the casinos replace video poker machines either with video poker machines that have worse pay tables or with slot machines. If you have the option you should play video poker instead of the slot machines.
Depending on where you live, the only option for finding good video poker games is to play at real money online casinos. The other option is to learn how to play other casino games that offer high returns when a good video poker machine isn’t available. Blackjack is usually the top choice in this situation.
5 – Historically Low Compensation
At one time, you could play video poker on the right machine using the right strategy and receive enough compensation through the rewards or players club to break even. But those days are long gone.
Casinos know that most video poker players don’t play using perfect strategy, and they make mistakes. So, even if they offer a good level of casino comps, the casinos still make money. But the casinos also figured out that they can get away with offering lower comps and still get players to gamble.
The best video poker games available have a return around 99.75% using the best strategy. This means the edge is around .25%. At 1 time there were some casinos that paid this much out in rewards or comps. But most rewards or comps come in around .1% now, so even when everything is going well and you’re using the right strategies, the casino still has an edge of somewhere around .15%.
If you can find a decent bonus to play video poker online, you might be able to play at a breakeven pace. But good bonuses are as rare as good rewards programs.
6 – Terrible Video Poker Bonuses
Not every online and mobile casino offers a bonus for video poker players, but many do. The issue is that most of the casino bonuses you can use to play video poker have such strict requirements that you actually lose more than the bonus is worth before you can get your money out of the casino.
You can determine if a video poker bonus is worth using or not with a few pieces of information. Here’s what you need:
- The house edge for the video poker game you’re playing (you can get this by subtracting the return percentage from 100)
- The total amount you have to bet to satisfy the bonus terms
With these two factors, all you do is multiply the edge with the total amount. If the resulting number is higher than the value of the bonus, you’re likely to lose more than the bonus is worth.
This is exactly the way most video poker bonuses are set up, so most of the time, you’re better off ignoring bonuses when you play online.
Our Final Thoughts on Playing Video Poker in Casinos
When you find the perfect video poker situation, you can gamble with a return higher than any other casino game. But it’s getting harder to find the perfect video poker situation all of the time.
Most video poker machines have weak pay tables, and many casinos are eliminating video poker machines completely. When you do find a decent video poker machine, the comps you earn are at a historically low level.
When you gamble online for real money, you can still find video poker machines with good pay tables. But just about every video poker bonus you can find ends up costing you more money than it’s worth.