Become a Professional Player in Video Poker Games

Yes, a player has the best odds playing Video Poker. Hard to believe, isn’t it? After all, Video Poker looks just like any other slot machine, where whether you win or lose basically depends on how lucky you are at that particular instant and whether the machine you are playing on is ‘hot’. This perception, however, is not true. First, each Video Poker machine in Nevada (and New Jersey, I believe… I am not certain about other parts of the country) must be fair. In other words, it always randomly shuffles a single deck of cards after each hand. Second, unlike slot machines, where one generally has no idea what the real payoff rates are, the payoff for each Video Poker machine is clearly indicated on the Payoff Table, displayed prominantly on each machine. For the statistically inclined, you can calculate the payoff rate for each machine. For the rest of us, I will provide some information on this page, as well as related links that provide more detailed information. A word of caution: DIFFERENT MACHINES HAVE DIFFERENT PAYOFF TABLES!!

For example, sometimes you will see two regular ‘Jacks-or-Better’ machines right next to each other, and one pays 9 coins for a Full House, the other pays 8. The choice should be obvious: You should play on the one that pays 9 coins. Yet many people just sit down without even so much as taking a look at the payoff table.

Given the above introduction, here are the rules for taking advantage of this statistically-beatable game:

1. Play ‘Full-Pay’ Video Poker machines. The definition of a ‘Full-Pay’ machine is one that have the highest payoff rate for that type of game. If the player utilizes optimal strategy, this rate is often close to (sometimes even exceeding) 100%. For example, full-pay Jacks-or-Better machines have a payoff rate of 99.54%, and full-pay Deuces Wild games have a payoff rate of 100.76%. There are two catches: First, one needs to find such machines (as you can imagine, they are not the most popular types of video poker machines); second, one needs to be familiar with the optimal strategy, which is different for different types of games. Be warned: It is very difficult to be expert in more than two types of video poker games. I find the easiest way to train is to purchase a video poker software program that teaches you how to play, one of which (the one I use), Video Poker U, is listed in the Links Section. Through repetition, I become familiar with the optimal strategy. The advantage of learning the optimal strategy in this fashion is that one does not need to spend a lot of time memorizing which cards to keep in each situation. Through repetition, you will instantly know what the correct move is most of the time.

2. ALWAYS play 5 coins. This applies whether you are playing a nickel machine, a quarter machine, a dollar machine, or a $5 machine (yikes!) This is simply because the best payoff rate is achievable only when 5 coins are played.

3. Whenever you go to a casino, ALWAYS join a slot club even if you don’t plan to play. (This applies to all kinds of casino gaming activities.) And always remember to stick your slot club card into the machine when you play (even if you decide to play slots) so that your plays are recorded. You might be pleasantly surprised by the type of offers you’ll get through the casino slot clubs. In addition, most slot clubs offer cash back as well as complimentary meals/rooms. For example, New York New York in Las Vegas offers 0.67% cash back through its slot club. This makes the Jacks-or-Better machines there having an effective payoff rate of over 100%!

4. Take a break once in a while. It is very easy to get tired in a casino when you play Video Poker, and my experience has been that it is best to take a break once in a while, say every 30 minutes or so. If I do not take a break beyond that point, I find myself starting to make mistakes. The break needs not be long. It should just be long enough to refresh yourself.