Video poker offers several advantages that gamblers love. These benefits include:
- Machine-based play (perfect for gamblers who like solitude).
- Relatively low bets ($1.25 to wager the five-coin max on quarter machines).
- Large payouts (royal flush).
- Dozens of variations.
- Games that offer over 100% return to player.
Of these advantages, variations that deliver over 100% RTP are particularly exciting. They give you a rare chance to beat the casino without getting thrown out.
Unfortunately, video poker games with positive expected value (+EV) aren’t available in abundance. In fact, their quantity has gone down greatly in recent years.
I’ll begin this discussion on the hunt for +EV video poker machines by first covering the current situation. I’ll finish by discussing which tools you can use to find the best games and what profits to expect.
History of Video Poker Games with +EV
Video poker used to be a very profitable game in the 1980s and 90s. The best professional players could make $40 an hour or more depending upon their skills and play rate.
The main reasons why video poker used to be so lucrative is because of the coin denominations and available games.
Full-pay Deuces Wild (DW), which offers 100.76% RTP, used to feature dollar coin sizes. You could wager $5 per hand under those circumstances.
Here’s how much you could’ve earned per hour when playing dollar full-pay Deuces Wild:
- 76% RTP
- You play 1,000 hands per hour (pro speed)
- You bet $5 (five coins) per hand.
- 1,000 x 5 x 0.76 (edge) = 38
- You’d theoretically make $38 per hour.
This math doesn’t even include comps. Back in the eighties and nineties, casinos were more generous with rewards. A very successful player would’ve easily pushed past $40 an hour when including VIP benefits.
Unfortunately, gambling establishments cut down on both their comps and +EV video poker machines in the 2000s. They also got rid of full-pay dollar DW games.
You can still find full-pay Deuces Wild in Las Vegas casinos. However, none of these machines feature dollar coin denominations.
Quarter machines definitely cut into your theoretical profits when compared to dollar games. But they still allow you to make profits, nonetheless.
How Do You Find Video Poker with Over 100% RTP?
Deuces Wild isn’t the only game that delivers over 100% payback. Double Bonus (100.17% RTP) and Double Double Bonus (100.75%) can also pay very well.
But how do you find these games? After all, most casinos today don’t like setting machines out that give you a chance to beat them.
A database website called vpFREE2.com lets you search what video poker machines are available in casinos. This site covers gambling establishments in both the US and Canada.
You simply navigate to their “Video Poker” tab and choose “Search” to look for relevant games. If you want to ook for full-pay DW, for example, you’d just select it from this list.
My search reveals that Vegas’ Boulder Station casino offers the most full-pay DW machines anywhere with 11. Green Valley Ranch runs a close second with 10 of these games.
Other than using this site, your next-best option is to visit Vegas yourself, peck around the video poker machines, and look at pay tables. This route doesn’t sound very appealing, so I suggest sticking with the vpFREE searches.
You can use the same search method to find out where full-pay Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus machines are too.
Most +EV Machines Are in Vegas
You may be disappointed to know that pretty much every top-paying video poker machine is in Las Vegas. Reno may have a small collection of +EV machines as well, but Sin City is definitely the spot to hit if you’re looking to win profits.
This situation poses a problem if you don’t live anywhere near Vegas. You’ll have to either travel to Sin City or settle for games that feature house edges.
As I’ll cover later, you’ll be wasting your time and money to visit Las Vegas just for +EV video poker. You should only consider traveling to Vegas if you’re planning a gambling trip anyways.
If you live anywhere within two hours of this casino capital, then you might consider making the trip. You could at least earn enough profits to pay for your expenses and have some fun while doing so.
How Much Will You Make with the Best Video Poker Games?
As covered before, the golden age of video poker is dead. The dollar full-pay Deuces Wild machines that gave gamblers an opportunity to earn over $40 per hour are long gone.
Furthermore, comps are no longer what they used to be. Rather than earning the equivalent of $4 to $5 in hourly rewards, you’re lucky to collect over a dollar in comps.
Despite all this, you can still make profits through video poker. You just need to have the right skills and pick an +EV machine to win money.
Here’s an example of how much you can win per hour while playing a full-pay Double Bonus game:
- 17% RTP
- You play 1,000 hands per hour
- You bet $1.25 (five coins) per hand.
- 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.0017 = 2.13
- You’d theoretically make $2.13 per hour.
1,000 hands per hour is an incredibly fast rate. You also have to be good enough to make correct decisions on the fly.
You’ll find that it’s not worth all this effort just to earn $2.13 an hour. You’re going to make some mistakes too, meaning you won’t even haul in $2.13.
So, you certainly want to find full-pay Deuces Wild if possible. Here’s an example on how much you could make with it.
- 76% RTP
- You play 1,000 hands per hour
- You bet $1.25 per hand.
- 1,000 x 1.25 x 0.76 = 9.50
- You’d make $9.50 per hour.
$9.50 is certainly a better payoff for your hard work. However, it’s still not enough to justify mastering perfect Deuces Wild strategy and building up to 1,000 hands an hour.
Is It Still Worth Hunting for +EV Variations?
The days when you could earn a very good living through video poker are long gone. You could still eek out a living on $9.50 per hour with full-pay DW.
However, this amount is barely above minimum wage. You also don’t get benefits or a 401k plan as a professional video poker player.
You’re not going to earn a lot of money from playing this game. But you can at least look forward to some spare change that could pay for a frugal gambling vacation.
If you live around Las Vegas, then you’ll enjoy +EV video poker even more. After all, you won’t have to make a long trip just to play the top-paying variation and earn profits.
Video poker may not pay like it used to. However, it still delivers profits under the right circumstances. The same can’t be said for 99% of the other house-banked casino games out there.
The key caveat, though, is that you need:
- A video poker game that delivers over 100% RTP.
- Expert skills at the variation in question.
Full-pay Deuces Wild is definitely the best game to play for these purposes. It offers 100.76% payback with perfect strategy involved.
Of course, you’re not going to achieve a clean 0.76% edge in the short term. Video poker is a volatile game that features varying payout sizes.
However, you can make solid profits in the long run. If you truly like video poker, then you’ll be able to play enough hands to realize these winnings.
You need a good way to find full-pay DW. As mentioned before, vpFREE2 is a nice tool for doing so.
You’ll also have to improve your skills to the point where you consistently make the right decisions. I suggest finding a free video poker trainer or buying a program that covers full-pay Deuces Wild.
In the end, you’re not going to get rich through video poker. But you can at least earn some nice winnings through your hobby.