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Things You Might Haven’t Known About Video Poker

by Martha Simmonds
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Video poker has the second-best player odds of any casino game, behind only blackjack. A player can gain an advantage over the casino in some game variants. But if you’ve never played, you can have some false impressions.

This piece aims to dispel myths and introduce you to the fantastic video poker game. It surpasses blackjack as my go-to game in the casino while using Neteller. For the appropriate kind of gambler, it’s possibly the best gambling activity there is.

You may be mistaken if you believe you have mastered video poker.

Video Poker Is So Much Like A Slot Machine

In terms of appearance, video poker machines seem much like slot machines. The similarities are superficial, though.

This is why:

The icons on a slot machine represent several things. You can win money by getting specific combinations of those symbols.

Video poker also features symbols, and the combinations of those symbols can result in prizes.

However, there is a major distinction.

The icons on most slot machines consist of fruit or other random nonsense. Video poker machines use representations of playing cards as their icons.

You can’t calculate the odds of any certain symbol appearing on a slot machine. You can only guess the game’s payback percentage, even though you know which combinations result in the jackpots.

On the other hand, with video poker, you can calculate the odds of getting any given a hand down to the single digit from a deck of 52.

That’s because the arithmetic and the probability behind video poker replicate the math and possibility of a deck of cards.

The Payback Percentage is Easier to Calculate

The payout % of a slot machine can be determined using just two pieces of data. You need to know the payoff for a specific combination. It’s essential to understand how likely it is to obtain that particular combination.

The process is as follows:

On a 9/6 Jacks or Better game, the reward for a pair of jacks or higher is 1 to 1. The odds of getting that hand are 21.5%. The percentage obtained by multiplying 1 by 21.5% is 21.5%.

Two pairs result in a 2-to-1 payout. That hand has a 12.9% chance of being dealt to you. Two times 12.9% is 25.8%, by the way.

These calculations can be carried on for each, and every hand played.

At the end of the process, you total up the predicted values. The resulting percentage represents the game’s theoretical return to the player.

Video Poker Is A Game of Skill

There are no weighty choices to be made in slot machine play. You pick a denomination, wager some money, and cross your fingers.

However, you get a hand in video poker games. The next stage is choosing which cards to keep and which to throw away.

There is only one optimal strategy for playing any given hand of video poker. That optimal option is the one that provides the possible return.

I’ll explain with a simple case:

A royal flush has been dealt to you. You should receive an 800:1 payout for that particular hand.

But you could be more perceptive, so you cut your hand to only the aces and kings.

Is it clear to you why that play could be wrong?

Of course, the vast majority of judgments in video poker are nuanced. 

It is important to consider the pay table and the specific version you are playing before making any tactical decisions. Searching online will typically return a strategy chart for each video poker variant.

You Can Get An Edge Over the House In Some Variations of Video Poker

The casino has an insurmountable advantage in virtually all of the games offered for wagering. If you play video poker, you can expect to have a slight edge over the casino, but I’d prefer to have that than play a game where the casino has a significant advantage.

Deuces Wild and Bonus Bonus Poker are the two most well-known examples of edge-based video poker games. In both situations, you have less than a 0.3% edge over the house. And that’s assuming you use optimal strategy in every single hand.

Identifying iterations of these games with suitable payout structures is a challenge. Some variations of Deuces Wild and Bonus Bonus Poker are better than others. Those with appropriate payout structures are relatively easy to come across.

Of course, taking full advantage of the casino’s players’ club is another way to improve your odds in a game where the house has an edge. 

The typical rebate from a players’ club is between 0.3% and 0.4%. That won’t put you ahead of the home, but it will get you very near.

However, the free drinks added to the other discounts might put you in the black. If you play solely at times when the casino doubles your comps, you’ll have a significant advantage.

Always Go for the Max Coin Bet

I touched on this briefly in the last bullet point, but you should always bet the maximum number of coins. The payout for a royal flush is increased if you do this, which is the only logical explanation.

If you get a royal flush while playing for less than 5 coins per hand, you’ll usually win 250 to 1. If that’s the case, the odds of winning are 800 to 1. This holds for video poker games in general, with some variation.

Every poker game I’ve ever played has treated a royal flush as the ultimate prize. The difference between an 800:1 and a 250:1 payout may only occur once every 40,000 hands, but it has a significant impact (at least 1%) on the game’s overall payback percentage.

It might not seem much of a difference, but if you’re betting $5 per hand, that 1% might make a major impact. A typical player will experience 600 hands each hour, which equates to $3000 in action per hour. 

Bonus Poker is More Similar to Jacks or Better 

Bonus Poker is similar to Jacks or Better, except that a bonus is paid for a straight flush or better. Other than that, the game plays the same as Jacks or Better. 

However, there are variants of Deuces Wild that feature extra payments for particular combinations of cards. Bonus Deuces Wild is a common name for games like this.

This is because the odds of winning in these variants are typically higher than in the original games on which they are based. Sometimes they’re the same, but mostly they’re just similar. One of the challenges is figuring out how to win each game.

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