One of the most overlooked games in all of gambling is video poker, and I think that’s a shame because video poker has more than a few redeeming qualities that make it a game you should absolutely check out.
If you’ve never played it before, the premise is pretty simple. You’re playing poker on a machine, and you’re usually dealt a five-card hand and given the option to stay or draw more cards. For most of these games, you only get a payout if you hit jacks or better in a pair (you won’t win if you have a pair of twos or if you have a high card hand).
Here are five reasons why I think real money video poker is such an excellent game and why you should absolutely play it when you’re in the casino.
1 – You’ll Get Better Odds Than With Any Slot Machine
This is, far and away, the biggest reason I recommend you play video poker over any other machine in a casino. You’re just going to get the best odds, period.
How much better are your odds? It depends on the machine, but generally speaking, you’re going to have a house edge at a video poker machine that’s around 1% or less. And in rare cases, you’ll have some machines that actually pay out more than 100% (that means they have returns over 100%).
What does that actually mean in practice? It means you have an advantage over the house! Now, remember, the house edge only comes into play in the long run, so having a slight advantage over the house just means that, over tens of thousands of hands, you’ll make slightly more money than you lose.
This is actually one of the reasons why video poker is dying off. The savvy gambler who really studies how video poker works and spends a lot of time playing knows how to play every hand and understands how to make the most money playing video poker. Some casinos want to get rid of the machines because they pay out pretty well if you’re familiar with a strategy.
But that’s good news for you. Yes, I will admit that the only way you can get the edge in your favor is if you study the right strategy for video poker and really figure out how to play every hand (on top of learning how the pay tables differ and how your play should differ based on those tables). But with that being said, for the gambler who is serious about going into a casino and making a profit, this is absolutely the game for you.
2 – You’ll Find Them in Just About Every Casino
Video poker is honestly a little-known secret in the gambling industry. They really don’t want you playing these games because they tend to actually lose money on them when a serious player gets on one, so they try to hide them or scatter them amongst slots.
That being said, you’ll probably find video poker in just about every land based casino in the world. Still, the casinos try to keep you from playing them, so you’ll have to do a bit of searching to get on one.
They’re usually hidden in the back of the casino somewhere (the ones that pay out the best are anyway), and you’ll usually have to walk past a lot more enticing games in order to get to one.
And because the best ones are rare in the casino, you’ll usually find someone on them. You’ll have to strategize about when to visit your casino so that you can get on one before they get occupied by the card sharks who really know what they’re doing.
3 – They’re Not Flashy, so People Avoid Them
Now, despite what I said about them being occupied, they’re usually occupied by some of the best gamblers around. So, that means the vast majority of casino-goers are going to avoid these machines.
They’re not nearly as flashy or enticing as some of the other games that you’ll find in the casinos, so there’s some added benefit to you. Other casino gamblers are getting caught in the honey pots of the slot machines while you go for the gold.
And speaking of slot machines, let me remind you that one of the ways slot machines become so profitable for casinos is because there’s not really a way for you (or anyone) to figure out the odds of winning on a slot machine unless the casino outright tells you.
While you can definitely figure out the odds for card games and for roulette, you’re not going to be able to pin them down on a slot machine. Video poker odds, on the other hand, are really clear. So, you’ll know what you’re getting into from the get-go. This is because video poker is using digital cards from a digital deck, so technically, the odds can be easily calculated.
4 – They’re Great for People Who Love Strategy
If you’re the kind of person who walks into a casino and sees people who are just shoveling money into slot machines blindly or who are throwing their money away at the roulette tables and you think, “Ugh, how boring!” then video poker is the game for you.
Most casino games fall into two categories, games that are pure chance or games that are a combination of skill and chance.
Video poker absolutely falls into the second category. It’s a game that’s a combination of skill and chance that will make you work hard for your wins but will reward you for time spent learning strategy and understanding how the game works.
Now, with that being said, I’m not kidding when I say the word “strategy.” And it’s not nearly as simple as blackjack strategies either.
Basically, you’re not so much memorizing an overarching strategy as you are a series of tactics or rules that you have to follow for a variety of specific situations. It can actually be kind of overwhelming for new players because it’s a long list of rules for each pay schedule, and it takes some serious time to learn them all.
Then, you actually have to sit down at your nearest video poker game of choice and practice. This, in and of itself, means you’re going to be losing some money for a while as you learn how it all works and try to keep in mind what hands to play and how to play them.
However, over time, when you get the strategy down and you understand exactly what you’re doing, you’re going to be able to play quickly and not have to think a whole lot as you play. It’s definitely rewarding monetarily once you figure out how it all works and can start playing without having to put a ton of thought into each hand.
5 – Video Poker Is the Game of Choice for Serious Players
Not everyone who walks into a casino is a serious player, and that’s totally okay. But if you’re the kind of person who walks into a casino with the goal of walking out with extra money in your pocket, or if you’re serious about turning gambling into a career (and it’s not uncommon), then video poker is the game for you.
The reason is simple! If you get down the strategy for every pay schedule and understand what you’re doing so well that it becomes intuitive, you’re going to make a profit over time. It’s the one place in the casino where you can actually do well and turn your gambling into something of a career. But to really go for it in terms of making gambling your full-time career, you probably need to think about playing poker against other people. That’s a subject for another day.
Video poker is great way to work your way into gambling as a career, so you’ll find that serious players who really want to play for the money and aren’t just there for the entertainment value of the place are going to get on these machines and stay on them for hours at a time.
This also means that the game has the potential to get a little boring, especially when you’ve gotten your strategy down to a science and know how every hand should be played the moment it’s dealt. But for serious players, it’s not about the fun, it’s about winning.
What Are Your Top Video Poker Tips?
Do you play video poker a lot? What tips do you have for players on how they can do well and walk away with cash in hand? Let me know in the comments!