Can You Make Money Playing Video Poker?

Man Holding Money on Right With a Video Poker Screen on Left

Video poker is one of the best games in the casino in terms of player odds. While some bets on table games give the casino big advantages, and even the best slot machines have payout percentages in the low-90s, several variants of video poker can be played with an advantage against the casino. Even the video poker games with relatively low odds offer payback percentages in the high 90s.

Can you make money playing video poker? Yes – if you win more than you pay into the machine, you can win money. You can also find and play some video poker games with a positive expectation, meaning you’ll make money over time. It is absolutely possible to make money playing video poker, though you most likely can’t make a living playing the game.

This post is all about making money playing video poker.

Can Video Poker Be Beaten?

Video poker players rejoice – the game has been beaten, and the ideal playing strategy for every video poker variant codified and released to the public. You can find free video poker strategy charts with a few seconds of work on Google.

Video poker has been and can be beaten, in the sense that smart guys have worked out the ideal play for every game situation in every video poker variant. But it has not been beaten in the sense that you can play video poker in a certain way and always anticipate winnings.

For an example of what this strategy looks like, check out this simple PDF explaining the ideal strategy for Double Bonus video poker. The chart offers 43 in-game scenarios and tells you the proper move based on mathematical analysis. By following this chart on Double Bonus poker, you have a slight advantage against the house, an edge of something like 0.17%.

The 3 Best Video Poker Pay Tables for Making Money

Below is a look at the pay tables and odds for the three best video poker games in terms of earning you money.

Double Bonus Video Poker

I’ve already touched on Double Bonus video poker. With the right pay table, this game gives players a positive expectation.

If you want to play Double Bonus video poker at a positive expectation, look for games with these specific payments for a straight flush, full house, flush, and straight:

  • Straight flush – 250
  • Full house – 10
  • Flush – 7
  • Straight – 5

This is known as 250/10/7/5 Double Bonus video poker, and it’s the only paytable that offers a positive expectation.

Casino Video Poker Machine

For an example of how a small change in the pay table can have a big impact on a game’s odds, here’s the pay table for a version of Double Bonus that doesn’t have a positive expectation:

  • Straight flush – 247.8
  • Full house – 10
  • Flush – 7
  • Straight – 5

By reducing the straight flush payout by just 2.2 credits, the game has moved from giving players a 0.17% edge to giving the casino an advantage of 0.003%. Tiny reductions in payout amounts create big changes in player odds, especially when the advantage you’re starting with is so small.

Deuces Wild Video Poker

Similar to good old Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild includes a wild card element in the form of wild 2’s, hence the name of the game. The paytable is adjusted for the new rules. Below is the best paytable for Deuces Wild, meaning the one that gives the casino the smallest advantage:

  • Royal flush – 800
  • Four deuces – 200
  • Wild royal flush – 25
  • Five of a kind – 15
  • Straight flush – 9
  • Four of a kind – 5
  • Full house – 3
  • Flush – 2
  • Straight – 2
  • Three of a kind – 1

This pay table is known as Full Pay Deuces Wild, and it gives the player a positive expectation – 100.76% to be precise. Unfortunately, this game in this setup is uncommon enough that I’ve never seen one in the wild. I don’t think any casinos are still hosting this game with this specific paytable.

Most casinos adjust this paytable in a tiny way that seems insignificant – they reduce the payout for four of a kind from 5 to 4. This one adjustment downward turns the game from a positive expectation to a negative one. Casinos that run this “less than Full Pay” version of the game have an edge of 1.19% against the player.

Joker Poker Video Poker

This is another case of a game with a big positive expectation that’s been altered by basically every American casino to give the casino a slight edge.

Originally, Full Pay Joker Poker had a pay table that looked like this:

  • Royal flush – 800
  • Five of a kind – 200
  • Wild royal flush – 100
  • Straight flush – 50
  • Four of a kind – 20
  • Full house – 7
  • Flush – 5
  • Straight – 3
  • Three of a kind – 2
  • Two pair – 1
  • Pair (K or better) – 1

Played according to basic strategy, this game with this paytable offers players an edge of 0.64%.

Casinos lost money on this game, so they took the payment for a four of a kind of 20 to 18. Removing just two credits from a single payout would shift the game back into the house’s favor to the tune of about 1.06%.

Playing Double Bonus Poker for Money

I mentioned earlier that Double Bonus video poker can be played with a positive expectation of 0.17%. Does that mean that you could sit and play video poker and earn enough money to live? In other words – could you be a professional Double Bonus video poker player?

Let’s analyze that 0.17% house edge.

First of all, remember that the 100.17% expectation is a theoretical number, subject to swings over the short term. In short, you may not always earn that 0.17% positive expectation over time.

Video Poker Machine Screen

Even if you did earn exactly 0.17% profit every hour, you wouldn’t earn enough to live on.

If you’re betting five coins per round at $1 per coin, that’s $5 per hand. Your 0.17% positive expectation means you’re earning $0.008 per hand on 500 hands per hour. That means your hourly income is about $4. A grueling 8-hour session of video poker would earn you $32. At that point, you’re earning about 1/3 less than the employee sweeping the floor under the machine.

You may be thinking – surely, I’ll hit a royal flush? Yes, that’s true – you’ll earn that big $800 payout on average about once every 40,000 hands. At 500 hands an hour, you should see a royal about every 80 hours of play. But your losses in between those royals pretty much cancel out the occasional big win.

While you can technically play Double Bonus and a few other video poker variants for a positive expectation, you can’t make money consistently enough to pay your rent and bills.

Other Ways to Make Money Playing Video Poker

I see tons of accounts on YouTube seemingly making money playing slots, video poker, and other casino games.

It’s a little bizarre to me to see that a guy pointing his phone at a video poker screen and talking as he plays could be a profitable enterprise, but such is the new economy.

You could make a decent living if you run a popular social media or YouTube account related to your video poker habit. If people start watching, and you provide entertaining content, you could easily monetize your video poker play to the point where you’d technically “win” every time you played, based on income from donations, advertising, and stuff like that.

I also personally know a few guys who make money selling eBooks and strategy charts and stuff to people interested in playing video poker. If you enjoy playing the game and you feel like you’re good at it, teaching other people to play online can be profitable, though it’s a lot more work than people think.

My point is just this – making money playing video poker doesn’t always mean getting lucky at the right time on the right game and cashing out with extra money in your pocket. The world of video poker is large enough that there’s profit potential even in talking about or describing the games for other people.

That’s How It’s Done

You can make money playing video poker. You might walk up to a machine, put in your $5, and draw a natural royal flush. That would be a profit of hundreds of dollars for a few seconds of play – that’s winning in anyone’s books.

You can also make money playing video poker over the long term if you pick the right game with the right pay table and play according to basic strategy. You can’t make very much money doing this, not with any consistency, and most casinos have removed the most profitable games or altered their paytables to keep the games in the black over time.

What you can’t do is bet or play in such a way that you’ll never lose. That’s a pipe dream – a nice one, but a fantasy all the same.

Posted in: Video Poker

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