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

Recreational Gambling and Acceptance

Acceptance is the key to your gambling woes. As we say at NETimeGambling, “Embrace the math, not the myth.”

Many recreational gamblers use exaggerated statements or claims that are meant to be taken literally by the listener.  Aside from the nonsensical myths and mathematically proven superstitions that permeate the gambler-sphere, three sayings are often heard – I always win, I always lose, and the casino is paying out today. Let’s take a look at the truth behind these three sayings.

Who wins and who loses

Let’s first look at all those casino payouts.  I swear that I have no idea how these properties stay afloat. Signs exclaiming “millions of dollars paid out!” – implying that players at “Best World Casino” can expect to be winners.  The numbers of the daily payout keep scrolling higher and higher. How could you not choose to play at “Best World Casino?” (Just once, I’d like to see another running total next to it showing the money being made by the casino in real time) One CT casino is always announcing “another jackpot winner.” No specifics, but another jackpot winner. 

The math insists the casino is the big winner. Al Moe, in his article How Casinos Make Money: The Handle, House Edge & More, explains that “Casinos make a profit by offering games of chance where the average payouts are lower than the income produced by the overall wagers.”  With so many bells, whistles & lights showing other guest wins on your walk around the casino floor, it makes sense that you can win if they can. And everybody knows you can’t win if you don’t play, right?

Embrace the math – and the math says the Casino Industry is in the business of making money. You should expect to leave a winner 20% of the time or less.

Now, what about Willy & Whinny, the luckiest people on the planet – you know, those people who say they win all the time?. LOL!

I hear that so much that I’m surprised casinos are still in business.  Usually I hear it from a third party – “My wife never loses at slots – it’s uncanny.” Or  “My brother-in-law told me his cousin’s sister’s mom always wins at blackjack.”

The math tells me to not believe it.  Sure, there are lucky sessions, and lucky people, but even playing a $5 slot machine at an approximate house advantage of 95% is going to end up biting you in the butt in the long run. The fact is it is getting more difficult to win – lower VP pay tables, confusing bonus slots with higher volatility, and new table games without knowledge of correct strategies all lead to the road to ruin.  So how can there be so many winners?

And then there’s unhappy Harry (or Harriet) – those recreational gamblers who are so annoyed that they never win.  What they don’t realize is that at times they might get ahead, they continue playing. They continue to play – unhappily losing and playing  forcing themselves to live their self-fulfilled prophecy. Much revolves around how many gamblers love to whine and complain. But gambling addiction is a huge concern if the whining turns into more playing beyond one’s means and bankroll. 

What The Research Suggests

Mark Maremont and Alexandra Berzon at the Wall Street Journal analyzed new data that shows that on any given day, the chances of emerging a winner aren’t too bad—the gamblers won money on 30% of the days they wagered. But continuing to gamble is a bad bet. Just 11% of players ended up in the black over the full period, and most of those pocketed less than $150.

This particular study, they said, used 4,222 casino customers of different levels of play. It showed that just 2.8%—or 119 big losers—provided half of the casino’s take, and 10.7% provided 80% of the take. Such revenue concentration long has been quietly acknowledged in the casino industry because it does show that the casino industry takes advantage of high-end addictive gamblers. But that’s a topic for another time.

The fact is, if you want to leave a winner, you need to leave after you win. Sounds obvious? Yes! But, although gamblers know the house has an edge, the average person doesn’t understand that casino games are nibbling machines, and the more nibbles you have, the bigger your losses. The recreational gambler should accept the following:

1) The Casino Industry is in the business of making money. I should expect to leave a winner 20% of the time or less.

2) Bankroll should be determined before a casino visit. Only take what you can afford.  The money you win is not “house money” – it’s YOUR money. try leaving when ahead.

3) Don’t believe in absolutes. No one always wins or always loses.  But everyone can enjoy gambling on their own terms.

4) Gambling is recreation. Recreation should bring joy, but only if you accept the basic realities of the casino’s take. If Gambling doesn’t make you happy – find another recreational activity.  Life’s too short – and gambling can be TOO expensive!

That’s all for now.

Binbin

Three Reality Checks For Recreational Gamblers

Another losing gambling session?

I once read a self-help book called “Why Your Life Sucks” by Alan H Cohen. I guess I was in a dark place, or maybe looking for a different perspective on things. In any case, it was really quite good and pointed out many life “wake-up calls” to help us enjoy the life you were meant to live. It’s funny and informative, but most of all, it forces you re-evaluate the choices you have made, and how you can make better choices in the future.

So, I was thinking, “how many people leave the casino grumpy, as if losing is a huge surprise.”

Leaving Las Vegas - usually a quiet plane ride.

Leaving Las Vegas – usually a quiet plane ride.

Whether you visit from the east coast, or the closer west coast, the plane rides to and from Las Vegas are very different.  Excitement builds with every minute right through to your first bet.  But the plane ride home from Vegas is so quiet and sullen compared to that excitement and hope on the ride out there. Go figure….So, does your gambling suck?  Do you know why?  Maybe it’s because you don’t embrace the realities of the gambling industry. It’s time to look at your casino trips differently with the following three suggestions that will enhance your experience:

1) “Fortune isn’t something that happens to you, it is something you create”

So, you really think that recreational gambling is going to get you millions? I don’t think so.  But, there are things you can do that will enhance your visits, like:

  • Know the best strategy for the games you play
  • Take advantage of free play and multiplier reward points / tier points days
  • Don’t overplay you bankroll to gain higher status. Keep to your bankroll.

If you ever get a chance to follow Cousin Vito’s Podcast, Your Guide to Enjoying Gambling, you know Vito always ends with a statement that sums this all up.  It’s from the Roman Statesman Seneca, and goes like this:

So true. Thanks for the quote, Vito!

2) “Don’t get involved in the dark side” of gaming.Losing at Gambling?

Guess what, the gambling industry is a business and like any other business, it needs to make money to continue. So:

  • don’t expect perks that you don’t earn
  • don’t expect the casino to insure your winning because you’re a good customer
  • expect loses
  • And stop thinking conspiracy and fixed machines. Look up what a random number generator does (RNG) , and how the house advantage is built in without switching machine computer chips or throwing that famous “switch upstairs” that immediately changes machines from loose to tight. Be knowledgeable about the industry instead of continuing myths and superstitions to make yourself the poor victim.

3) “It’s not what happens to you during your visit , it’s your viewpoint of what happens that’s counts”

I’ve heard this so many times.  You have a choice in how you assess an experience, and then a reaction to it.  You can choose either to enjoy and learn in a positive manner or bitch and complain, making yourself miserable (as well as those around you you!) SO:

Shooting at the Craps Table - have fun whatever your game is.

Shooting at the Craps Table – have fun whatever your game is.

  • Enjoy the wins.
  • Enjoy casino employees who know the meaning of good service and are friendly.
  • Enjoy the excitement of breaking even – yes even. By breaking even, you’ve beaten the house advantage. Sure, it’s not what we are all looking for, but if you play for a few hours and break even, be happy for the free entertainment, the rewards points you’ve accumulated, and the free beverages you’ve consumed.

Now, back to the casino, but this time with an open mind, an awareness of the business and new flexible expectations. Acceptance could be the key to a happier gambling experience.  Knowledge and reality is the foundation. As we say here at NETG,

Embrace the math, not the Myth.

That’s all for now.

Binbin