Video Poker is More Than Just the Best Paytable

A month ago, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts featuring Tim Lawson & Eric Rosenthal at “The Bettor Life” covering professional bettor & recreational gamblers concerns alike about poker, table games, sports betting, slots, and other games of chance.  This one episode included a discussion about video poker value – pay tables, preferred games, comps and the occasional know-it-alls that criticize one’s decision on what to play. Inspiration hit me – I felt there was even more to tell! This post is NOT to tell you what to do, as compared consider the reasons and possibilities.  I agree with the Bettor Life in saying “play what you want to play – recreational playing should make you happy.” HOWEVER – if you are  a recreational video poker player, there are many things to consider if you want to give yourself the best chances to win, play longer and/or earn more comps while having fun.  Let’s look at the big picture.

WHY DO YOU PLAY VIDEO POKER?

Could it be any of these many reasons?

  • “I like playing games with a low house edge”
  • “I like playing with no casino “heat” “
  • “I play only what’s available in my local casinos.”
  • “I prefer to play at the pace I prefer.”.
  • “I like Free Drinks”

    Service with a smile.

  • “I like social time with a friend”
  • “I’m prefer to play independently”
  • “I don’t want to bother with other players in a community setting”
  • “I love the skill and strategy involved”
  • “I like to pass the time slowly (low denomination, no max bet, relaxing)
  • “To play off my free slotplay”

I’m sure there are other reasons I haven’t included. I know depending on the situation, I might play with any one of these in mind.  The fact is, recreational gambling can be for many reasons besides beating the game, no matter what the game is.

Now, before some of you serious gamblers yell “BLASPHEMY!” and stop reading (you know who you are – you’re good, but you’re no AP), give me a chance to explain. But first, a public service announcement.

A CASINO “DON’T” FOR For VP (And ANY Other CASINO GAME)

No matter what game you play, unsolicited criticism or advice is just a “no-no.” Unless someone asks you for help, just keep your mouth shut. Video Poker is definitely a game full of “experts” that feel they need to share their myths & superstitions. With so many game options and configurations with different paytables, giving unwanted advice to the person next is wrong – unless you’re Bob Dancer, and even then, the ultimate VP expert wouldn’t bother you either.

BRIEF STORY ABOUT VP CONTENTMENT

Harvest Moon Bar, Mohegan Sun

One of my best friends enjoys playing 8/5 JOB on one credit at a BarTop at Mohegan Sun to relax while his wife plays slots. He recently hit his first Royal Flush on $0.25, and was proud of the accomplishment. No remorse, no regret because he was comfortable with his choice – a 97% game with out Max bet (diminishing the % to 95%) with little comp earnings & no extra multipliers or promotions. A relaxing time with free drinks to pass the time while his wife played high limit slots.

Some would shout “for shame,” but his priorities are comfortably set. No criticism here because he enjoys Video Poker on his terms. For all those who criticize, remember another player may have different expectations  – and there’s nothing wrong with that.  For my friend, his mission was accomplished – and more.

DOESN’T IT SEND THE CASINO THE WRONG MESSAGE?

I admit, I once thought that playing VP with poor pay tables sent the message to casino management that as players we condoned decreasing conditions and increasing house edge. That was then, this is now.  They don’t care what you play, as long as it means for money for them. The belief that if we don’t play the poor games, the casino bean counters will be fearful and return to higher paying slots, more full-pay video poker, exclusively 3:2 blackjack and single zero roulette is just crazy.  There will never be enough players interested in putting in the work or time to play only the best games, so move on…….get over being entitled to receive great low & medium roller games that keep the players’ bankroll in mind – it just ain’t gonna happen.

REACHING YOUR PERSONAL VP NIRVANA

Depending how much practice & thought is part of your  Video Poker play, there are many aspects to your play to ponder, such as:

  1. What games are available at your casino that you prefer? – JOB, Bonus, DB, DDB, Ultimate X, etc……
  2. How large is your bankroll? – bankroll does matter, depending what game you are playing.  For example, the money suggested for a successful session of Double-Double Bonus is more than Jacks-or-Better (JOB) because of the higher volatility. Also, denomination complicates it further depending if you are playing nickels, quarters or dollars.  Finally, playing multi-line machines like Triple Play, 5-Play & Ten-Play not only changes the denomination but also alters the game chosen.
  3. What are you willing to compromise? I enjoy playing at Foxwoods Play bar in the Cedars Casino.  It has decent nickel multi-line games and quarter single line games, but not great. However, the service is great and the bartenders make you feel like you just entered “Cheers.”  It’s a compromise I’m willing to make for the enjoyment aspect of the session. Do you make compromises playing lower percentage games for your enjoyment?  Many of us do.

    Tammy, Steve & Katherine at Play Bar, Foxwoods

  4. What is your “casino currency”?  This is a term Eric Rosenthal used on the Bettor Life. It refers to the value placed on other things besides the game itself. It may be that a worse paytable gives your more comp points. If tier credit, tier level, and comps are as important (or more) than the game itself, it is part of your casino currency. Video Poker is notorious in earning 1/2 to 1/3 of the points slots accrue, so other things make be accountable to what you play and when. Some casinos give very little back to VP players, or may even be given little in tier gains, points, and attention in offers, because casinos makes little money off of JOB full pay tables, for example. Eric mentions, “Considering what the machines cost to run, usual casino costs, and very little money made off of you, there is nothing in it for them if all you play is full pay JOB….no need to court you…..better off playing lower paytables to appear less astute…..the benefits may mean more than payout percentage.”
  5. Low rolling full pay brings little to the player – consider this: playing full-pay JOB at quarter level may not earn as much as playing one or two credits on a $1 8/5 JOB machine. Also, according to Bob Dancer, be careful of single line machines with many games. A machine that has a full pay game may earn the same minimal pittance in tier and reward points on other non full-pay games such as 8/5 DDB or lower pay Deuces Wild. It might be better to check for for  multi game machines or single game machines that will accrue a higher reward.
  6. Should you play with/without a card? I have a confession to make – sometimes I play without my card.  – Short sessions or small play sessions are bad for a player’s EV. On occasion, for a relaxing short play and free drink I willI play…..wait for it…..VIDEO KENO!  When that occurs, I play without a card so that I don’t damage my ADT (Average Daily Theoretical). I may know that time is short or bankroll is small, so why not? Consider doing the same and using your card only when playing big.
  7. What? Practice? – Yes, practice.  If you truly want to win more, give yourself a chance to win more by practicing on the many apps, software and websites that provide for instruction. Without perfect strategy on your favorite game,  the EV/ payout % will be decreased – even if it’s full pay!  Even playing 8/5 JOB using the perfect strategy of 9/6 makes a difference, not to mention using the strategy 9/6 JOB on a  9/6 DDB. Click on Videopoker.com below to practice any of your favorite video poker games.

COMPROMISE IS THY MIDDLE NAME

Here are examples of where I play and why. Notice it isn’t full-pay or nothing:

Mohegan Sun – Bars that include 9/6 JOB ($1), Cleopatra Video Keno ($.25, no rewards card), Triple Play 9/5 DDB & 8/5 JOB ($.25 or $1, depending on bankroll) Ultimate X 10 play ($.5) . Good service, decent paytables and full pay for big plays. Especially good on multiplier days.

Foxwoods – 9/5 Ultimate X 5 Play ($.5), 8/5 JOB & 9/5 DDB TP($.25 & $1) Great service at Play bar. Cedars casino also offers nickel Ultimate X Tp, 5-Play, & 10-Play (only 10-play at nickels at all bar tops)

MGM Springfield – Not much here to offer. Compromises abound.  7/5 JOB ($1) and 8/5 DDB ($.25), only on multiplier Mondays or visiting with Chris DiMauro of Art In the Game.

Plainridge Park – Ultimate X DDB 10-play ($.5).  Not much play here, but I do find this casino fun.

Tiverton Casino – talk about compromises, I love this little place – but not for the VP.  the VP is horrible, just like it’s parent company Twin River Casino.  But one thing separates it from the rest – the iPourIt Wall.  26 self-serve beer & wine taps served by the ounce, however you’d like it.  This makes 8/5 DDB a winning compromise in my book.

CONCLUSION

Play what makes you comfy – place, bar, craft beer, great drinks, bartenders, etc may mean more than best paytables and look at big picture. Play the game you are comfy with.  Play where you are comfy. Play what and where you get the biggest bang for your buck. Don’t give unsolicited advice and accept players for their recreational video poker play – what ever that means to them.

And remember, even the best of us compromise our play at times. So, chill out and enjoy putting the “recreation” back into recreational gambling.

Binbin

“War For The Soar” – The “Lock It In” Challenge at Mohegan Sun

Today’s guest post is from NETG gambling friend Joe “Reload” Freda. Joe has supported NETimeGambling from the very beginning. Joe brings tried and true tips on maintaining a high level of gambling. Joe has been an avid gambling writer for the past two decades, covering casino and sports wagering.  Freda can be reached at joe_freda@yahoo.com or through Twitter (@ReloadSports).

Introduction

After a recent rest from visiting Connecticut’s casinos, I was hit up with a unique “Lock It In” promotion from Mohegan Sun that was worth exploring.  The offer designates a specific four-day period where your current Momentum player status tier can remain achieved without further visits needed.  In my case, it would take earning 500 points through play over the four days to lock in Soar status, which is the highest published level of Mohegan Sun’s five tiers.

Mohegan Sun's Momentum Players Club

Mohegan Sun’s Momentum Players Club

The Soar status normally takes 4000 status points over six months to clinch keeping it for half of the next year.  Even with scattered double or triple status promotional days, this is still quite an undertaking for players of all bet sizes.  I recall only reaching it once before a few years ago, but since then have had the second-highest level of Ascend.

In addition to being offered this chance, the same four-day period also featured several overlapping comps to further enhance the visit.  I was offered a $500 free bet and $300 of Players Perks (use it or lose it comp dollars), as well as a coveted Sky Suite to stay in.  While gambling is not on the minds of many as the holiday season approaches, it can be a promising time to strike with casino offers!

The challenge in obtaining 500 points over this span would be a hefty one needing the right planning and bankroll management.  I ended up only having two of the days free enough to visit and would be looking at some lengthy action without going bust.

Early struggles in my “War For The Soar”

In trying to conserve for a long haul, I opted to start with some commission-free Pai Gow Poker.  The low variance of this gaming option and pushes happening at over a 40% rate can make it your best chance for money to last.  You can also set your hands at times to more conservatively play for a push instead of going for a full win.

My $500 free bet won early and provided some breathing room, but the rest of my first night was a downward spiral of losses every hour.  I even missed out on a Royal Flush progressive payout of $2900 by not ponying up the game’s $5 side bet. While that may sound disappointing, playing an extra $5 a hand through a longer trip like this would have lost back almost all of that.

I ended up lasting until 5am in that session for 188 status points, but was down 75% of what I came to Uncasville’s mothership with.  It was back to the Sky Suite for some rest and room service while thinking through strategy for the rest of the visit.

“Soar-ing” back and enjoying the ride

As the next day of action approached, I opted to tighten risk even further and split my wager into two hands of Pai Gow.  This would allow my average bet to still be high enough in getting the points needed, but lessen the chance of sharper drops money-wise.

I knew it would take a lot of time but my luck was holding serve well out of the gate.  Despite playing two hands normally making it tough to surge upward, I managed to double my stake after the first couple of hours.  Even with more chips to work with, I remained conservative in the betting style so I could still last long.

As the clock struck 2am, I reached a good stopping mark where I had won back 70% of what was lost the night before.  I took a break to check status points knowing there was only a four-hour window left in the “Lock It In” period.  Thankfully, I reached a total of 495 points and just needed a few more!

I finished the night with some video poker in the “Hall Of Lost Tribes” and curled up to a “9/6 Jacks Or Better” machine.  In this mini-session worth seven status points, the gods of “quads” came through with four of a kind twice.  It felt nice to end with some extra winnings after all I had been through.

The next day, I received an e-mail from Mohegan Sun mentioning that my Soar status would be extended thanks to achieving 502 points.  I also enjoyed using the rest of my “Players Perks” in picking up an Under Armor hoodie from Denali and a couple of hats from the soon-closing Margaritaville restaurant.

Although I ended up losing about 10% of my bankroll over the trip, the overall experience and comps achieved made this a memorable one.  I felt five-star service the whole time and will be looking forward to another six months of Soar benefits. That’s the Mohegan Sun way!

 

Foxwoods Rewards – Before and After

Foxwoods Resort Casino

Well, it’s been three months since Foxwoods Resort Casino changed a few things concerning it’s rewards program.  With all the sincerity of a squirrel after the first acorn of fall, so, too, I sought out to inform you of these changes and present our followers with a comparison of then and now.

According to the Foxwoods web site, “The New Foxwoods Rewards Program supposedly accelerates you to higher tiers faster than ever, whether you play Slots, Tables, Poker, Keno or bet at Race Book. Now, all earned Foxwoods Tier Credits and Rewards Points will make upgrading to the next Tier more rewarding for our Members, plus you can enjoy more benefits and their NEW Monthly Choice Benefit.”  Sounds great.  But let’s look closer………..

Earning Period & Tier Credits

Earning tier credits will now be 6 months instead of 12 months starting October 1, 2017.  That seems to make it bigger demand on your play.  But the number of tier credits for each of the same levels has also been diminished. Members must earn the minimum number of qualifying Tier Credits during a 6-month time period to advance to the next Tier. The total number of qualifying Tier Credits for each card level is as follows:
Wonder: 0 – 399 (previously was 0-899 Tier Credits)
Gold: 400 – 1,999 (previously was 900-2,399 Tier Credits)
Platinum: 2,000 – 9,999 (previously was 2,400-31,999 Tier Credits)
Diamond: 10,000+ (previously was 32,000+ Tier Credits)

This seems to be a plus, with less credits needed relatively speaking. By moving to a 6-month program, Members do not need to earn as many Tier Credits, which allow them to advance to the next Tier faster.

Tier credits Will reset to 0 on October 1 and April 1 each year. Gold, Platinum, and Diamond Tier levels will be reevaluated on a semi-annual basis. (Does this mean if you “barely” make the next level, you could still be down-graded?  It seems that they have provided a little loophole for themselves, now, doesn’t it!) While Tier level upgrades will take place automatically throughout the year as members earn the next level, once a Tier level is achieved, it will be in effect through the end of the qualifying time period (Oct. 1 – March 31 & April 1 – Sep 30 each year).

POINT ACCELERATORS used to be as follows: GOLD-15% Slots/ 30% Tables Games, PLATINUM-20% Slots/ 30% Tables Games, DIAMOND-30% Slots/ 30% Tables.  Nothing on the website describes the previous accelerators, so I must assume they are not offered anymore.

Earning Tier credits through spending at the resort, or through credit cards is not available like other rewards clubs such as Total Rewards of Caesars Entertainment and MLife of MGM International. Earning Tier credits through play is as before, BINGO – 1 Tier points for every 1 Reward point, TABLE GAMES – 2 Tier points for every 1 Reward SLOTS, POKER, KENO, RACE BOOK – 4 Tier points for every 1 Reward point.

Foxwoods Rewards has four levels.

Big Change – Choice Credits

Previously players could choose between your choice of Bonus Slot Play, Free Bet or Rewards Points Accelerator each month by visiting the rewards club and making the choice on the 1st, 11th and 21st of each month.  Now, your offers will be based on your play during that period, not the previous play period or on your present tier level.  Choice offers will be mailed to certain Rewards members and will be available ONLY on specific days during the month, again, according to your play.  Foxwoods Rewards Points on all Tiers will expire from an account if there is no activity on the account for over 12 months.

Rewards Points are for players to use toward hotel rooms, dining, entertainment, golf, spa services, retail purchases, select Tanger Outlets stores throughout the day’s play based on the type of game they are playing, their average bet, and length of play. If you are unhappy with your offers, you can contact someone at rewardssupport@foxwoods.com.

Personal Experience

A Royal flush at a previous play at Foxwoods – gotta love that Ultimate X!

With a very small sample over the last three months, it seems that Video poker accumulates faster than other casinos. I have been able to equal half of last year’s tier points over two months of play already.  But remember, that’s only video poker & slots over an extremely small sample. I have not played table games at Foxwoods.

Personally, I hope this works out.  It seems to be more based on your ADT and your Theoretical worth to the casino than previous years.  The more you play, the better your offers. For more information on that, try our previous post Casino Comps & Your “Average Daily Theoretical”

Please note – gambling for offers is a dangerous slope.  Gamble for the fun and enjoyment. Chasing offers is like chasing losses – it’s easy to go over board. As Cousin Vito says, “Bet With Your Head, Not Over It.”

More updates later as the process of the new Foxwoods Rewards unfolds.

That’s all for now,

Binbin