Video poker might have cooled off somewhat from the apex it enjoyed in the early 2000s but it is still an important part of the product mix at any decent online or land based casino. There’s a lot to like about video poker. It’s a great game for the online player since the experience–and in some cases the actual software used for the game–is identical to being at a land based casino. Video poker games all share a common conceptual base–making a poker hand. Within these parameters, however, exist dozens of video poker variations both simple and complex. It is also a game that consistently rewards the intelligent and strategic thinking bettor but at the same time will occasionally share the good fortune with a rank novice.
In general terms, video poker strategy is easy to assimilate. Once you understand the strategy for a few basic games you’ll be able to capably play a number of other variations. From that point, you can develop even more expertise at your favorite games. No matter what type of games you enjoy this article will provide three basic strategy tips that will be to your benefit.
UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VIDEO POKER MACHINES
Video poker machines all have some common characteristics. This is no longer the case with slot machines as their design can vary from a classic three reel device to a high tech multimedia experience. This is one of the advantages for a slot machines player–once you learn ‘the basics’ of a few different games you’ve got a solid foundation to pick up any video poker variation you might come across.
Video poker machines can differ from one another in two separate ways. First, they can have a different pay table. This is the table on the front of the machine that explains the payouts for different hands. In a broader sense, it’s the overall payback potential of the device. The payback of otherwise identical video poker machines can differ from one casino to another or even within the same casino. It’s important to understand as much as possible about pay tables. The pay tables give you the information you need to determine the theoretical return on a specific game. If you play a game with an unfavorable pay table you’re hurting yourself in the long run. This will all make more sense when we start to discuss pay tables but the important thing to remember is to select the most favorable pay table available to you.
The second way that video poker machines can differ is their rule set. Most video poker machines are based on one of several ‘traditional’ rule sets such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Jokers Wild, and Bonus Poker. There are very few games that completely ‘reinvent the wheel’. From these basic rule sets a game designer can create an endless variety of different variations. We’ll discuss all types of video poker game variations going forward.
JOIN THE SLOT CLUB AT YOUR FAVORITE CASINO
This is more appropriate for land based casino players though some online casinos also have similar loyalty programs. There is a enduring superstition that using a casino slot club card will make machines ‘tighter’. This is not true in the least and a machine will play (and pay) identically with or without the slot club card. Simply put, if you don’t join the slot club you’re leaving comps–and in sometime cash–on the table. Free meals, drinks, shows, hotels, cash back bonuses are just the beginning. You’ll also be sent ‘mailers’ which offer even more rewards for gameplay. If you live or visit a specific casino often there are other valuable perks–such as the ability to skip the line for the breakfast buffet or free copies of The Daily Racing Form in the racebook.
ACCEPT THE RANDOMNESS OF VIDEO POKER
There are countless myths and superstitions about how video poker and slot machines pay out. Every one of them is not true. In particular, the games themselves are not ‘crooked’. Assuming you play at a respected online casino or a land based casino in Nevada or other regulated jurisdiction you can be sure that the machines are fair. Most modern casinos are run by multi-billion dollar publicly traded companies. These companies aren’t going to risk losing their gaming license and possible civil or even criminal charges just to extract a few more quarters from slot and video poker players. They don’t need to.
We’ll cover the ‘inner workings’ of video poker and slot machines elsewhere on the site but the important takeaway is to accept that these games are random. Video poker machines don’t get ‘hot’, ‘cold’ machines aren’t ‘due’. It’s all random. The more completely you accept this reality the more success you’ll have as a video poker player.