Video poker is a rare house-banked casino game that gives you the chance to win profits. You can beat video poker through a combination of skill and the right variation.
Some variants get you close to 100% return to player (RTP) but it’s not quite there. Full-pay Jacks or Better, for example, offers 99.54% RTP.
You can do even better than this, though, and find real money video poker games that deliver over 100% payback. Here are three variations that offer positive expected value (+EV):
- Full-Pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% RTP
- 10/7 Double Bonus = 100.17% RTP
- 10/6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07% RTP
Casinos don’t normally like giving you an opportunity to beat them. Case in point, they hunt down card counters and throw them out of the casino.
The above video poker variants are special because they provide a long-term advantage and don’t draw the casino’s ire. You can beat these games without being kicked out by security.
Therefore, you may wonder if you can dominate this game and make a good living. If so, I’ll just tell it to you straight. No, you aren’t going to crush video poker.
You’ll be lucky to make pocket change with +EV versions today. I’ll explain why by starting with where video poker used to be and what it has devolved into nowadays.
The Golden Age of Video Poker
Video poker first appeared in brick and mortar casinos in the mid-1970s. However, many players didn’t trust this new machine-based game at the time.
By the 1980s, gamblers finally came around to the concept of video poker. They appreciated the combination of large payouts, machine-based play, and in-depth strategy.
Video poker experienced a surge for the next two decades. Casinos were confident enough in the game’s success that they even introduced +EV variants.
Most players weren’t adept at video poker strategy at the time. Gambling venues could roll out high-paying games and still profit off gamblers’ poor strategy decisions.
Casinos also offered better comps and higher coin denominations. Certain video poker machines accepted dollar coins and delivered over 100% RTP.
Video Poker Pros Made Solid Profits
Only a small percentage of video poker players were highly skilled in the 1980s and ‘90s. Back then, one couldn’t just go online and quickly pull up resources on perfect strategy.
Those who did know the game well, though, could make serious profits 20 years ago. They benefited from high payout percentages, plentiful comps, and dollar denominations.
Here’s the math on how much a good player could make with Deuces Wild back then:
- 800 hands per hour
- $5 bet per hand (five coins at $1)
- 800 x 5 = $4,000 wagered per hour
- 76% player’s edge on full-pay Deuces Wild
- 4,000 x 0.0076 = $30.40 in playing profits
- 1% comp rate
- 4,000 x 0.001 = $4 in comps
- $30.40 + $4 = $34.40 in hourly profits
800 hands per hour is a fast rate. However, some experienced players log more than 1,000 hands each hour.
Quarter games existed two decades ago that offered up to 103.2% RTP. These machines presented yet another route towards being a pro player.
Here’s how much the average winning player could make on such variations:
- 800 hands per hour
- $1.25 bet per hand (five coins at $0.25)
- 800 x 1.25 = $1,000 wagered per hour
- 20% player’s edge
- 1,000 x 0.032 = $32 in playing profits
- 1% comp rate
- 4,000 x 0.001 = $4 in comps
- $32 + $4 = $36 in hourly profits
$36 may not be enough to make one rich. However, it’s enough to offer a solid living.
Considering that some pros play over 1,000 hands an hour, they could earn over $40. Pros could book even larger profits on days with double and triple comp point promotions.
As if video poker wasn’t great enough 20 years ago, casinos turned a blind eye towards advantage players. Most gambling establishments made enough off gaming to where they didn’t fret over a video poker winner here and there.
Why the Golden Age Ended
Video poker’s golden era came to a close for a few different reasons:
- Casinos began seeing fewer profits from gambling.
- They lowered comps.
- +EV dollar machines disappeared.
- Games with 103.2% RTP also vanished.
Everything can be traced back to the first point. Gambling establishments started drawing fewer gamblers throughout the 2000s.
The American recession hit in the late 2000s and severely reduced disposal income. Many people cut expensive trips to Vegas and Atlantic City afterward.
The average casino sees fewer profits as a result. They no longer use +EV video poker machines and other gimmicks to draw gamblers.
Instead, casinos have focused more on all-around entertainment offerings within the past decade. Fine dining, nightclubs, shopping, and shows take precedence over triple-point video poker promos.
As a result, gambling venues have reduced comps and gotten rid of +EV machines. You have to visit specific Las Vegas casinos to find full-pay Deuces Wild these days.
What Is Video Poker Like Today?
The majority of casinos throughout America don’t offer +EV video poker. Many don’t even feature full-pay Jacks or Better.
Again, you must travel to Vegas if you want to take advantage of the best machines. Even at this rate, you won’t make much money from the venture.
The problem is a mixture of low coin denominations and poor rewards. Below, you can see how much you’d stand to earn with full-pay Deuces Wild:
- You play 800 hands per hour
- 800 x 1.25 = $1,000 wagered an hour
- 76% player’s edge
- 1,000 x 0.0076 = $7.60 in playing profits
- Comp rate is 0.05%
- 1,000 x 0.0005 = $0.50 in comps
- You make $8.10 per hour
You’d probably be thrilled to earn $8 an hour when playing slot machines or roulette for fun. But playing video poker at a fast rate while using perfect strategy feels more like work.
You’ll especially get exhausted when playing 40 hours per week and trying to make a living through the game.
At $8.10 per hour, you’d only earn $324 per week. Considering that you would need to live in Las Vegas to make it as a “pro,” you’d be on an impossible budget plan.
Should You Still Bother With Video Poker?
You can see that the chances of being a pro video poker player today are essentially zero. At best, you’ll earn a few hundred dollars a week.
Your parents or significant other would have to support you. Meanwhile, you’d simply hold a non-conventional part-time job that requires long hours in casinos.
You shouldn’t attempt to make it as a professional. The game’s golden age ended around 20 years ago. The end of this era saw dollar Deuces Wild and 103.2% RTP machines vanish as well. Comps have severely gone down in quality, too.
However, you can still consider taking video poker seriously. If you love the game and want to make profits from it, then you should pursue this goal.
You’re not going to earn a serious living from the current video poker landscape. You can, however, make around $8 an hour from your hobby.
Gamblers in the ‘80s and ‘90s didn’t realize it at the time, but they were living in a unique era. These two decades featured a robust video poker scene and the chance to earn $35 or more per hour.
A select number of gamblers seized this opportunity and made nice profits. Those who took advantage of 103.2% payback machines and double- or triple-point promos earned well over $40 an hour.
Good things come to an end, though. The same is true of the lucrative video poker era that fizzled out two decades ago. You can still win profits from the game today. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to make more than $8 per hour.
The key issues include a lack of quality games and lower comps. You can slightly increase your profits with promotions. However, the competition for +EV machines increases on these days.
As a serious player, you’re left with two options:
- Make profits on a recreational basis
- Grind out a meager earning that a fast food employee would scoff at
You may truly enjoy video poker enough to improve your game and chase minimal profits. However, you shouldn’t go in with delusions of earning $30 per hour.
This feat was possible up until 20 years ago. Today, though, you’d be wasting your time if you started treating video poker like a full-time job.