Video Poker – Basics and Choosing the Best Game

If you ask Video Poker players “what is the best video poker to play?” don’t expect an answer before they ask you some questions. It’s not a black & white answer – there’s a lot of grey area in consideration. Some questions might include:

  • What’s your bankroll?
  • Have you played before or are you a newbie?
  • Do you prefer volatile games (bigger payout possibilities with an expected quicker loss in bankroll) or do you prefer to play longer with less volatility?
  • Are you interested to learn the correct strategy to maximize your time and reduce the house advantage or do you just want to play for fun and figure it out as you go?

So Many Games to Choose From. Each game has different pay tables, denominations and can be played on a single line or multiple lines. Let’s use Jacks or Better as our base game for this post.

The deal – A FEW BASICS

The solitary play of a video poker player.

If you are new to video poker, the first thing you should understand that while it uses poker card rankings for the basis of pay out, that’s really where the comparison ends. You can’t bluff the machine or figure out OPTIMAL STRATEGY by yourself.

So, how does this game work?  A Random Number Generator (RNG) deals 5 cards from a 52 card deck. (Some games use more, such as Joker Poker). The player chooses the cards to keep, presses draw to get replacement cards for those discarded to make the second and last 5 card hand which decides the payout. Most VP machines deal the draw cards from the continuous RNG.

I refer to 888Casino concerning three major differences from slots, real poker and video poker:

  1. Unlike slot players, video poker players have a say in the outcome of the game.
  2. Because the player has a choice in video poker play, it is possible to play the hands in a way that is most beneficial to the player.
  3. Only a mathematically derived video poker playing strategy will get you the most from your video poker play.

Considering Denomination & bankroll

This is where your bankroll comes into play. Remember, a bankroll is a totally separate amount of money dedicated to casino gaming – not to the money to pay bills, or even the amount in your pocket. It’s a totally separate amount!

.You can play single line games at nickel (hard to find outside of Nevada), quarter, fifty cents, $1, $2, $5, $10, $25 and even $100 machines.  Keep in mind that this depends on your bankroll and, in this player’s opinion, playing max bet of five coins. For more info on playing Max Bet, click on “Video Poker &  Max Bet.”

If you are interested in multi-line games, such Triple Play, Five Play, Ten Play, Twenty-five Play, Fifty Play or One Hundred Play, you may want to drop down from quarters to nickels or even pennies, depending on the number of lines.

Super Times Pay Video Poker

Super Times Pay Is an example of Multi-Line Video Poker

So, you probably want to know how much is needed to give you the best chance of a winning play.

According to 888Casino, “The first rule of thumb most players hear when it comes to video poker is that for the long term you need about three to four times the amount won when you hit a royal flush on your game and denomination of choice. Specifically, if you are planning to play a 25 cent Jacks or Better game (standard game, not a progressive) where the royal flush pays 4,000 credits (which comes to $1,000), you need three to four times that amount or $3,000 to $4,000 dollars………If, instead you plan on playing a standard dollar Jacks or Better game where the jackpot once again is 4,000 credits, you will need $12,000 to $16,000 since the dollar amount of the royal flush is now $4,000.”

Please note that this for standard JOB. The higher the volatility (Bonus Poker, Double Bonus & Double Double Bonus as examples), the higher your bankroll should be.

The Draw

A very simple rule when looking for the best video poker game for your play is to look at the full house/flush payouts. Those two numbers with the specific game will usually determine the expected payout %.  Another part of the payout structure to look at is the pay for four-of-the-kinds (quads). You will find that the higher the quad payout is, the more volatile the game can be, and so, a larger bankroll is needed.

Recreational gambling is about being prepared and having fun. Video poker can be a grind, so if it’s not fun, move on to something else. But the more prepared you are, the more fun it will be.

Related articles:

Video Poker Considerations for Lower Pay Tables – Jerry “Stickman” Stitch

Video Poker Players – Don’t Rush the Royal Flush

Slot Machine & VP Etiquette – Final Part

Binbin – Remember, “When gambling, embrace the math, not the myth”

 

Video Poker Resources for Understanding, Practice and Enjoyment

It was a dark, cold and dreary night in New England.  Over 400 Video poker players were present for a Tournament that would go on, on, …into the night.  It was intense, it was stressful, it was……

Who am I kidding, it was just a video poker tournament……

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Ok, so actually, it was a nice peaceful event, with good food that lasted from 8 – 11:00 pm. While this was not my first VP tournament, it was different in one very important aspect – I won money!  Tenth place out of the ten paying spots, with over 400 people invited!  Ya-hoo!

While the payout was small, the badge of honor of winning after years of practicing paid off.  Yes, you read that correctly – I practice.  I prepare three video poker games constantly – Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker.  I have been practicing for years since, we all know, Video Poker does involve skill and luck.  Correct strategy goes beyond basic strategy. Knowledge of penalty cards, strategy changes according to different pay tables and other nuances just might buy a few extra hands to try for that illusive Royal Flush and essential for keeping your bankroll intact.

Strategy cards are available and legal.

Friend of NETimeGambling.com and one of the leading gambling strategy gurus, John Grochowski knows the importance of correct strategy.  In one of the many publications he writes for, John suggested these software programs to help improve your strategy and speed. “As for software, at different times on different computers, I use Bob Dancer’s Video Poker for Winners, Jean Scott’s Frugal Video Poker and Dean Zamzow’s WinPoker. All can be set for different games and pay tables and will alert you when you are making mistakes. Video Poker for Winners and Frugal Video Poker will generate strategy tables. WinPoker doesn’t do that, but I find it the easiest to use when I need to adjust to a pay table that’s not one of the basics already included on the software.” You can see these programs below with links.

So, practice, practice, practice.  The staple to any VP beginner’s book library would be John Grochowski’s “The Video Poker Answer Book.”  It’s a great place to start.

Remember, a good gambler isn’t reckless about betting, it’s someone who tries to get the best chance to win, be most prepared and lower the house edge in any legal way.

RESOURCES FOR SUCCESS

BEST WEBSITES:

The Wizard off Odds – “if you’re going to gamble you should have the best information possible so you can have the best chances of winning, and can minimize your losses if you do lose.” Such is the philosophy Michael Shackelford (who is) The Wizard of Odds website. Included at this exclusive site are essential topics like Odds & Strategies, Video Poker game simulators, and various other important gambling information. Especially helpful are the Wizard’s Video Poker Hand Analyzer and strategies for every all sorts of video poker games and variations.

VideoPoker.Com – www.videopoker.com  – VideoPoker.com is a legal, non-wagering Web site
No gambling takes place on VideoPoker.com. People play and practice so they can improve their chances of winning in casinos – or just play for fun! There are free contests where people can win cash and prizes, but because the contests are free to enter, it is not considered online gambling.

  • In addition to practicing and playing their favorite video poker games, there are other member benefits that keep people coming back to the site including:
  • Participating in Free Contests to win cash prizes and merchandise
  • Learning more about the games they play and optimal play strategy
  • Participating in an active Forum
  • Tracking their play over time using Tracking Mode (GOLD members only)
  • Real time training using Training Mode (GOLD only)
  • Challenging fellow members to individual or group contests (GOLD only)
  • Real time chat with fellow GOLD members (GOLD only)
  • Playing brand new games before the games hit the casino floors (GOLD only)
  • A Players Club that keeps track of their game activity on the site

An excellent site to practice any video poker game out there – even before it reaches most casinos. This is a free site. But for a monthly fee under $10, you have access as a Gold Member to lots of additional perks (notice above.)

vpFREE2:
Vpfree2 logoTheir goal is to provide a complete inventory of the best video poker games available and make that information available for free. They currently cover 448 casinos in the US and Canada.are maintained by volunteer casino monitors and an active community of video poker players who help keep are information up-to-date by sending us updates. This is a free site.

BEST APPS:
VP HDVideo Poker plus HD – free app
Features include:

  • the similar Shuffle Engine as the Video Poker in a real casino.
  • the same Pay Table as the Video Poker in a real casino
  • the similar graphical user interface as the Video Poker in a real casino
  • Game Center for your ranking.
  • The Max Cash is $400,000,000.00
  • You can play 10 games.

– Jacks or Better
– Bonus Poker Deluxe
– Bonus Poker
– Double Bonus Poker
– Aces and Faces Poker
– Royal Aces Bonus Poker
– Triple Bonus Poker Plus
– Super Aces Bonus Poker
– White HOT Aces
– Deuces Wild
This isn’t just a game. This is a simulator for Video Poker.

WinPoker by ZAMZOW $9.99
I feel this is the best $10.00 investment for anyone who wants to improve their VP skills.

  • Learn how to correctly play video poker. Single play, triple play, 5 play and 10 play options that can be played with all of the 31 included video poker games!. Change modes from the options screen, or just swipe up to pull up 3, 5 or 10 hands or swipe down to take it back down.
  • You can also create any game you want by changing the pay table of one of the built in games. You can also run a game analysis for any pay table created. This is especially helpful if you play in a casino that doesn’t have good pay tables.
  • 31 video poker variations – Highlighting some best known video poker games like: All American, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Double Jackpot, Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker – Kings or Better, Joker Wild – (Atlantic City) 5K Jackpot, just to name a few.
  • Three Different Modes of Play **Auto-hold** WinPoker holds the correct play for you. **Warn** You hold the cards and WinPoker alerts you if your hold is not the play that has the highest expected return, or **No mode** Use this mode to duplicate the Casino experience. You play just as you would in a casino only now, you can stop and view the session and check to see if you made any errors. (You don’t have that luxury in a Casino)
  • Statistics show your wins, losses, total hands played, errors, the magnitude of those errors and what those errors potentially could cost you in cash!

BEST BOOKS:
I suggest two:

Bob DancerBob Dancer’s “Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner” or “Million Dollar Video Poker.” Both books give insight, strategy, and more into playing like a VP pro.

Frugal Video Poker was written by Jean Scott and Viktor Nacht and was published in 2006. This book is intended for any audience whether you’re looking to prolong your time in the casinos. The authors introduce you to the basics of the game and paytables, how to identify good and bad paytables and which strategies to use based on the machines. They also cover tournaments, progressives,  and promotions.

BEST COMPUTER SOFTWARE:
download (2)Bob Dancer’s “Video Poker for Winners” $49.95
With this software on your home computer, you can learn at home by playing the most popular casino games right from your desktop. It includes Master winning strategies, bankroll and comp calculators, And much much more! If you go the Video Poker for Winners Website, you can sign up for a free trial.

BEST STRATEGY CARDS
When you are ready to head for the casino to play you can take your strategy chart along with you. When you are dealt a hand that you are unsure of, you can look up the proper play on your strategy chart. A strategy card will show you the correct way to play each hand that you are dealt. By following the cards advice you will keep the hand that offers the highest possible return. Two of the best are Zamzow’s BDPWinpoker software and strategy cards generated from Tomski’s VPSM Video Poker Strategy Master. You can buy excellent cards at Bob Dancer’s site as well.  These cards are acceptable to use in the casino, so take them with you!

Binbin

 

TRIBUTE TO THE ORIGINAL FOUNDER OF VID-POKER.COM – SKIP HUGHES

“THE MONDAY LINK”

Video Poker Expert skip hughes

Skip Hughes was inducted into the Video Poker Hall of Fame in 2006. He was incredibly important to recreational and advantage VP players alike – actually more important to the latter. As an expert video poker player. Skip’s writings are more oriented toward the recreational rather than professional player. Here are a few things we are grateful for that had a direct connection to Skip’s work:

  • He was the founder of the VPMail Video Poker Mailing List which pioneered internet communication among members of the video poker community.
  • He producing strategy cards for players in 1997.
  • He later released “Frugal Strategy Cards” in cooperation with Jean Scott and Jim Wolf designed for recreational players who aim to win. They were the easiest to read, learn and to use at that time.
  • Hughes coined the phrase “Not-So-Ugly” deuces video deuces to differentiate it from full pay deuces. Full-pay deuces pays back 100.76 percent with perfect play strategy, while the ugly versions only pay back 98.91 percent and less.
  • He published a monthly magazine, named “Video Poker Player,” together with John Kelly, which was delivered via e-mail as a subscription. VPP included information on where the best machines were found, and dedicated sections to Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
  • He developed the early video poker forums and communities.

Courtesy of vpFree2

Skip Hughes passed away in March, 2010 and many of his innovations have influenced video poker players for over twenty years. As a follower of many VP Hall-of-Famers, I am grateful for the legacy of Skip Hughes. Our beginning of a Video Poker week is dedicated to Skip Hughes  I hope you enjoy our Monday Link from Vid-Poker.com :

Tribute to the original founder of vid-poker.com – Skip Hughes