Choosing the Best Video Poker Game for You

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. That’s why today we introduce Choosing the Best Video Poker Game for You. Some considerations 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”


All About Gambling Machine Jackpots – There is No Man Behind the Curtain

All About Gambling Machine Jackpots – There is No Man Behind the Curtain is a rewrite of an older post.  It was a time of great frustration. While writing this post in 2014, friends of mine often shared misunderstandings about gambling jackpots. For the most part, I found these musings rather irritating. (I’m less apt to fall into a ranting tizzy these days.) At the time, I was preparing to direct the middle school production of “The Wizard of Oz.” The week after I had a brief casino visit.  Here’s how my visit went.

The Story

I sat down at a Video Poker machine and the person next to me said, “I wouldn’t play that if I were you, the last person left with over $1000 profit. He hit a royal, and then it kept on being hot for over an hour!”

I stood up and left, but not  because of what he said. I prefer not to play next to obnoxious people who can’t keep their less than knowledgeable opinions to themselves.

So I went to play slots.  As I’m about to sit down. the lady on the next machine says, “that one (slot) is due to hit.  I’ve been playing here for over an hour and at least a dozen people have poured money into that machine.  It’s due…”

The Moral of the Story

I like empty casinos. It’s quiet, with plenty of open tables & machines.  In addition, there is no unsolicited advice!

Here are the facts. There are no slot machines or video poker machines due to hit.  that does not include the separate progressive slots that can approach a positive EV.  “Slot machine harvesting” is a post for another day.

“Hot” or “Cold” machines are a human perception based on a small sampling of time and based on nothing scientific or mathematic. Remember, every bet is a single entity in time.  It’s not based on the previous action.

Related Post – Gamblers & Superstitions – If We Could Only Understand the RNG


Back to Broadway. The Great and Powerful Oz was a mistake in human judgement, a perception of what the Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Dorothy WANTED to believe.  Thank goodness one of the leads had the common sense to dig deeper for the truth – TOTO SAVES THE DAY!

Hearing gambling myths, hunches, feelings, and miss-guided “facts” are better kept to one’s self.  There is no magic.  Casinos don’t change the machines payback % all the time. They don’t have to, because of one scientific, mathematical fact – house advantage is designed from the factory by the  Random Number Generator (RNG).   Every pull of the handle, every push of the button, is an event in life that does not depend on what happened before.

So, there is no man behind the curtain, there is no magic.  Slots and video poker are not “due,” “tight” or “loose.” The RNG dictates everything the randomness in every push of the button.

Final Thoughts – All About Gambling Machine Jackpots – There is No Man Behind the Curtain

As much as you try to stop the reels on the bonus, or time that draw button to finish that Royal Flush, it doesn’t matter.  Yes, that’s right, it doesn’t matter. Once you push the button, whatever you see on the screen or where ever the reels stop, you have no control over it.  If you touch the screen for the fun of it then, accepting the science of the Random Number Generator, then have a great time.  But, if you don’t accept the math and prefer the myth, please don’t share your views.  Many of don’t care to hear it!

Accept the math, and not the myth, That’s the truth to gamble with!

Thank you, Toto!


Mindful Gambling While Playing Slots and Video Poker

The notion of mindful gambling while playing slots and video poker seems to be an odd topic. The notion of mindful living has become an important way of living in the moment. Being attentive and aware of things such as kindness, etiquette, eating, and even gambling has come to the forefront of recent research.

Mindful Gambling and single player machines

Solitary gambling is a style that many people prefer. With the recent spike in legal online sports betting, the need to interact and gamble is not needed any longer. Slot players, video poker players and video keno players prefer different expectations from their gambling. The need for social interaction isn’t necessarily criteria for a good time. When gambling alone, it is easy to lose one’s self in the activity. Subsequently, being mindful, or in the moment, is an important part of solitary gambling.

Stadium gaming has given some players who prefer solo gaming a chance to play games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat, getting a social element without the intermingling involved and the ability to play different table games without moving tables. Electronic gaming has even made boisterous team-like games such as craps accessible to the single player.

Group electronic Stadium Gambling

Zindel Segal and Mindful Gambling

Zindel Segal, is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He has researched mindfulness in a way that transcends to the solitary gambler. His research suggests that automatic routines, habitual patterns, and favorite games play into the solitary gambler’s play. Patterns of negative thinking take away from the fun factor. Thoughts such as “tight machines,” “low casino payoffs,” and casino superstitions can slip into the players awareness, taking the player out of the moment’s enjoyment. Mr. Segal gives seven to help the player be mindful and enjoy the session.

Playing on “automatic pilot” & Bankroll Control

Continuous play on a slot or other gambling machine without a stop limit is not a good practice. Sure, playing solitary sessions can take us away from stressful situations and bring relaxed recreation. Ordinarily taking a walk for a break can be helpful to not over-bet your bankroll and gamble beyond one’s means.

NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of time and money played.  Keep a log, and bring only the money for that session. While playing , set a loss limit.

A Simple Casino Log for winnings & Losses

Relate to Your play with thought

Gamblers definitely remember re-occurring close bonuses in slots, re-occurring cards or patterns in video poker and repeated keno numbers.  The reality is we are aware of certain parts of experience, not the whole.  Mindful Gambling While Playing instead of obsessing over the pair of 6’s without a third on the draw can cause thoughts of casino cheating or fixed outcomes.

NETG SUGGESTION – be aware of the science, Gaming Commission rules, and how RNG’s work with casino house edge.

Dwelling on and in the past and future

“I never win at XYZ casino.”  That’s the past talking.  We constantly want to see a cause and effect to base our next action by. As an example, going back to a particular machine that you won on previously. But, remember, the machine has no memory of the previous action to base the next gamble on. Each single play is an entity of its own. Repetition and patterns are human perceptions of past actions that simply do not have an influence on the next bet.

NETG SUGGESTION – remember your success is not dependent upon the previous play. Every bet placed is an “in the moment” event, with no connection to your previous bet.

Gambling angry, or to avoid & escape

Going to the casino to gamble when you are angry, upset, or in an altered state is not a good thing to do. Be in the right mind for recreational gambling. Be in the moment employ mindful gambling while playing

NETG SUGGESTION – Gamble when it is your primary interest to do so, and you have calculated your sufficient bankroll. When gambling is your secondary thought or reason to go to the casino, maybe that’s not the time to go in the first place.

Needing things to change after negative results

Chasing wins can be catastrophic to your finances.  When losing, accept it – losses happen. Play only to your session’s bankroll.  For instance, maybe just call it a day and leave. Yes, your “luck” can turn in an instant – but the house edge will always play a big part in your continued play. Accept the science & math. Acceptance is the key! The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability become higher or lower as the process is repeated. The idea that a machine is “due to hit,” or is “hot or cold” is a human perception in an in an extremely small amount of time.  Correct assumptions of that particular machine can only be expected over long-term play, something none of us have the time to do with one machine.

NETG SUGGESTION – accept the results as part of gambling.  The casino is there to make money while entertaining you.  Fight the good fight, but don’t let session losses  wreak havoc with your emotions. As a rule, don’t buy into the “it’s due to hit” mentality either.

Don’t Treat yourself harshly and unkindly

“Shoulda, coulda, woulda” are the things we tend to get upset over during a session.  “I coulda moved to another machine,” “I shoulda taken a break,” “I woulda had a better day if I had studied my Video Poker strategy.”  Of course, my favorite is “I shoulda checked before I left for some advice.!”

NETG SUGGESTION – The best plans for your casino visit still might go awry. In addition to  the house edge, a busy casino and the lack of availability for your “favorite machines,” could change your plans.  As a result, if it concerns spending more money than expected, and that becomes a pattern, re-assess your need to gamble.


I hope this has been helpful.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the casino.  Just walking in can give you a boost of adrenaline, sending those endorphins screaming for excitement.  But try to be in control, in the moment.  Being mindful in life can can also mean mindful gambling while playing slots and video poker.


Special Thanks to Professor for permission to use his research for this post.

Zindel Segal is Distinguished Professor of Psychology in Mood Disorders at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His guiding professional intention is in using empirical data to advocate for the relevance of mindfulness-based clinical care in psychiatry and mental health. He has carried on a longstanding and valued collaboration with John Teasdale and Mark Williams devoted to the proposition that offering training in mindfulness meditation to formerly depressed people can address relapse triggers and support long-term recovery. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy—the program developed through this work—has now been evaluated in over 10 studies worldwide. He also serves on the Advisory Board for which offers a digital platform for MBCT.