How Does IGT Continue To Attract Video Poker Players?

IGT was founded as A-1 Supply by William “Si” Redd in 1975. It changed its name to Sircoma in 1978, and then to International Game Technology in 1981. It was its success with its new Video Poker machines that served as a “foot in the door” for the company into several gaming arenas.

A 1980 IGT Video Poker machine.

Many of us who have been playing VP for years have seen the evolution of IGT’s video poker machines. I remember playing my first video poker when Mohegan Sun first opened over 20 years ago. At the time, my gambling experience only included greyhound racing and slots. Handling those quarters changed my interest in the business f gaming forever.

The following article by Frank Legato shows how IGT, now owned by Scientific Gaming, continues to re-invent their product producing options and new games to accompany the old tried-and-true GameMaker single line machines.

I hope you enjoy.


Solving Video Poker – How video poker king IGT manages to bring new players to the old game

When the Video Poker Machine Hesitates – What Does It Mean?

HC MoheganSun.jpgWe have all been there – those of us who play Video Poker and Slots.  You’re playing along, things are going well, and then it happens……the machine pause for a moment!  What does it mean?  Was I winning too much?  Did someone in the “Office Upstairs” turn on that switch that changes winning into losing?

Conspiracy thoughts abound.

Well, you know what it means?  NOTHING!  At least it isn’t a reaction to ant success you’ve had previously.

Yes, we think it might have stopped our winning momentum, or the rhythmic luck we had our mojo in, but nope – it doesn’t have a clue how much you were winning or how your mojo was – it’s a machine and it doesn’t have the consciousness or emotion to care!

A 1980 IGT Video Poker machine.

So, what DOES IT MEAN? Well, certain machines – especially certain generations of Video Poker machine manufactured by IGT – pause every so often to do it’s accounting.  In other words, the counting of hands played, coin in & coin out, for example, are kept in short term memory.  On the IGT VP machines, for example, every 100 hands, it is downloaded into long-term memory, much like your computer does at times.  The more games and denominations on a single terminal, the longer it may take – a single game with a single denomination would be barely noticed.

You will find fewer and fewer machines with that hesitation these days, due to better software upgrades.

Of course we, as human beings, may notice it happen when we are winning, and shortly after we start losing.  “They must have known I was winning!!!!” you might yell.  But, seriously, nothing could be farther from the truth.

That’s all for now.


6 Crucial Habits for Slot & Video Poker Players

senior-playing-slotsIf you love to play slots at your casino of choice, then you love the excitement that precedes that first pull. You spot one of your favorite machines, it’s open and calling you to join in. You rush to it like a long lost friend. But in the rush to play, many players forget to be mindful of certain important events that precede that play – there are things you need to check before that first push of the button. So many slot players get caught up in the excitement of playing, the anticipation of winning or even the disappointment of a losing session, that they forget the following checklist before they play. Forgetting any one of the following items could cost you money and/or comps. Remember this Pre-Play Checklist

1. Get a Rewards Card

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

MLife Rewards Club of MGM

It’s free. It reduces the casino edge by earning comps on dining, shows, and giveaways. That free hotel room might not feel free with losses, but if you’re going to play, get something for it, no matter how little you may play. And, always get two cards. How many times do you lose your card or forget it in a machine? Lots! Before you regret sitting at that favorite machine and finding your card is missing, always ask for more than one card at the rewards desk.

2. Check the Game Denomination

Have you ever played a penny slot machine, only to realize it was a dollar, not a penny? It happens when slot and video poker players mistake the basic denomination of the machine. Be sure you’re spending the correct amount you intend for your bankroll.  Some machines have denomination options, like nickel, quarter, or dollar video poker.  Be careful on these machines after you have chosen which game to play – you still may have to check and choose the correct denomination for your play.

3. Check Your Players Card

Being More Careful with your Players Card is just one of the things to be careful with in the casino

If I only had a dollar for every time I made a player aware that their players card needed to be re-inserted, I could double my bankroll. Before you play, insert your card and wait to see that it registers your name. If it starts blinking, take it out completely and try it again. Some casinos, like Mohegan Sun, only process one event at a time.  If you love to put in your money or TITO at the same time as the card, the card usually doesn’t register. Take your time and insert one, then the other.

By the way, don’t be a “conspiracy Charlie” (or Charlene) concerning what the card does. It is not connected to changes in denomination, it doesn’t change payoff percentage because “it knows you won” and it doesn’t hold back jackpots. Don’t play without your Card, it’s the only way you can earn comps these days with the new casino players clubs. Most casinos only comp you only according to the playing data registered by your card.

4. Be Sure Your Money or TITO Ticket registers in the Machine

Ticket In, Ticket Out! TITO

Ticket In, Ticket Out! TITO

Sometimes in your rush, you have trouble with your money or your ticket. One trick is to use a machine next to you if you have trouble. Some slots just have trouble reading what you add. Use that machine to get a fresh TITO Ticket.

5. One Last Check – Money in, players card registering, the denomination is correct. Ready to go.

6. Leaving the Machine

Before you leave that machine, win or lose, follow these easy quick Habits for Leaving the Machine. This habit will stop leaving your players cards in the machine as well as your money.  Yes, it does happen!  And there are people in the casino watching for just that mistake.  It only takes a moment with you looking the other way to happen someone snatch your ticket without you noticing.  It happened to me one morning at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, it can happen to you, too.

When cashing out, get in the following habit:

  1. Push cash out button.
  2. Right hand takes card
  3. Left hand positioned at TITO dispenser.
  4. Check for both in hand before leaving.


Now, go get that jackpot.


Video Poker – When To Play Fast

Video poker is not like slot machines – there is skill to it. It’s knowing the probability of the dealt hands, memorizing the strategy and holding what gives the best advantage for the best winning hand.

Video Poker machines often have a button where the player can set the speed of the cards dealt. Mostly, it is about where your comfort level is with your speed of play, but there is a reason when playing as fast as you can is suggested, as long as it’s accurate perfect strategy.

One time, I sent a question to noted Video Poker Expert, Bob Dancer.  For great software to practice your Video Poker Play, go to I asked him, “When do you suggest to play as fast as you can?”

His answer – “Always.”

From his stand point, it was the correct answer.  However, he insists on only playing advantage games – full pay, or very close to it. That means he plays games such as:

  • Jack or Better – 9/6 **
  • Bonus Poker – 8/5 **
  • Double Bonus – 10/7 **
  • Double Double Bonus – 10/6 **
  • Full Pay Deuces Wild – 9(StrFl)) /5 (40faK)
  • NSUD (Dueces Willd) – 9(StrFl)) /4(40faK) / 4 (FH)

** Please note – The first number = payout for Full House, second number = payout for Flush in these games


Jacks or Better best paytable (called 9/6 because of the full house and flush pay out). Notice the jump in pay out from 4 to 5 coins.

These games are seen as full play because they have a pay out of 99.7% to over 100% with perfect strategy. Because Mr. Dancer plays perfect strategy on full pay VP, his answer is correct – full speed ahead always.

Playing Video Poker as fast as one can should only be played when the player has the advantage, as in the above VP paytables. For more information about which games are FULL PAY, go to vpFREE2 and the Wizard of Odds.

But, the rest of us have a few considerations that many advantage players don’t. Consider these:


Whatever video poker game you play, you need to practice, and practice. Advantage players can play over 15 hands per minute. They only play full pay VP, and learn to minimize the time for each deal/hold play. Practice teaches AP’s what patterns of cards to memorize for whatever strategy is needed, no matter in what order the patterns are in on the deal.

Playing full pay VP also needs a technique that alleviates excess movement.  I average 400-600 hands if needed by using my left hand for the holding of cards and my right hand for the deal/draw.  By rolling my left hand slightly, I can hold whatever button is needed without looking down, keeping my eyes on the screen.


No matter how good, or how fast you play video poker, the fact remains that full pay options are increasingly hard to find. Many casinos offer playable (like 8/5 JOB or 9/5 DDB) to incredibly bad (6/5 JOB, 7/5 DDB).  The only full pay video poker in New England can be found at Mohegan Sun – 9/6 JOB.

SPEED CAN KILL (your Bankroll, That Is)

Since most casinos in the country don’t offer full pay VP, playing fast is not a template for success. Playing any casino game – slots, tables, VP – with a higher house edge should be played accurately first, speedily second.  Playing slow can be a friend to your bankroll. Besides, if you play fast and make mistakes – don’t play fast.  Unless you are playing full pay VP, there is absolutely no reason to speed.


The primary strategy is knowing the optimum strategy for the game you are playing.  Even with JOB (Jacks or Better, remember?) basic strategy, or the cards you hold, is different depending if the pay table is 9/6 or 8/5.


Jerry “Stickman” wrote the following in his post “How Fast Should You Play Video Poker?” in Casino City Times.

“First and foremost, if you are playing a machine where the house has the edge, you are best off pacing your play. The more you play, the more you will lose. Sure you may hit some big winners, but the more you play, the more the house will take your hard earned money. So if you don’t have an edge (including slot club points and possibly comps), take your time playing. Don’t rush to give the house any more money than you must. Only play as fast as you can be accurate. When playing with an edge, Wyatt Earp probably said it best when he quipped, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” Don’t get killed. Make sure you are playing correctly.”

Now, go get that Royal Flush!


Video Poker Bars – 6 Considerations for a Great Experience

Sitting down at a bar-top video poker machine with full pay games and ordering unlimited free quality drinks seem to be a thing of the past. The experience has been diminished – tarnished – by casino industry bean counters squeezing every penny they can out of their patrons.

So, what makes a good video poker bar-top experience these days?

I truly understand that to many players, it doesn’t matter.  The ambiance, the excitement of the destination, or playing side by side with friends is more important than how many credits won on a full house.  To sit at the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan Resort in Las Vegas is enough to put up with 7/5 JOB because of the extravagant $20 gourmet cocktails and the atmosphere.  I get it.

Video poker at your favorite bar top machine.

But some of us still want to play machines that give us a fighting chance and still get a quality beer upon asking. (However, even that is being taken away – see “drinks & coupons” later in this post.)

This post 6 Considerations for a Great Experience at Casino Video Poker Bars:

Quality of Games – Pay-tables

Multi Games Offered


Drinks & Coupons


Rewards Club & Promotions

As always, personal preference is most important when you play. But, many things need to be considered.  Let’s look into the possibilities to consider for the optimum video poker bar experience.

Quality of Games – Pay-tables

Video poker is a skill game.  Many of us practice specific games we enjoy because there IS a best play for each hand dealt, depending on the game.  I know I want to give myself the best chance to win.  I know I want the best chance to play longer, possibly giving myself a better chance to get more hands dealt and more chances for the elusive Royal Flush.  Full pay 9/6 JOB (Jacks or Better) plays slightly different that 8/5 JOB.

Full Pay JOB and a Royal Flush!

Many VP bars don’t offer good games simply because you’re getting to drink for free. On my last trip to Las Vegas, I stopped in at Caesars Palace to play a little VP and get a beer.  At this particular bar, they had 6/5 Double Double bonus, and Coors light.  Double whammy! Pitiful! (For those VP novices in the audience, the first number refers to payout for a full house, 2nd number for a flush.  This combination is one of the ways to tell if it’s a good game to play or bad concerning expected pay back over the long term.  But it isn’t the only consideration to find “good” games.)  Later, at downtown Las Vegas, I played 8/5 bonus, & 9/6 DDB with unlimited craft beer from Main Street Station’s own brewery. Let’s compare some pay tables:

Jacks or Better – 9/6 = 99.54% pay back (considered Full Pay, best pay table, and can be found at Mohegan Sun bar tops)……6/5 = 95% Dollar slots are a better gambling play, since a player will receive approximately 3X rewards points for slots as compared to VP.

Double Double Bonus – 10/6 = 100.07% pay back, 9/6= 98.98% payback, 9/5 = 97.87% payback……. 6/5 = 94% pay back, worst pay table I’ve ever seen.  Dollar slots are a better gambling play, since a player will receive approximately 3X rewards points for slots as compared to VP.

If playing a machine that gives you better odds is important to you, then check the paytables.

Superstar Multi Video Poker – numerous games, numerous denominations.

Multi Games Offered

Most bar-top machines offer many games, not only video poker.  Video Keno, Blackjack, slots, and many variations of VP can be found.  All bar tops are not created equal – even at the same bar.  Check out different machines.  Find one that offers what you want to play while kicking back your favorite cocktail or beer.

I will consider only video poker for this article.  Look for “All Star Poker” or Superstar Multi Poker which offer a variety of VP, from single line, triple and five play, to Spin Poker & Ultimate X VP.  Again, check the pay tables.  But you might enjoy a particular game and just prefer playing that.  Better payout = best gambling play, favorite VP game = enjoy the experience.  Best of all would be your favorite game with good pay tables. Take some time to search, they are out there – maybe even at your local casino.

Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan Chandelier bar, VP surrounded by beauty.


That’s right, to some players, the best game just doesn’t matter at times.  It’s the atmosphere, the camaraderie , the social aspect of it all.  Or, maybe, it’s watching a bartender juggle bottles while making an exquisite gourmet cocktail just for you. Maybe, you have a friendly relationship with the barkeep, you know the bar where “everybody knows your name.”

There are some bars that are surrounded by natural beauty – both for artistic decor and people watching.  Either way, it may be to pass time and take it all in, instead of concentrating on the skill involved.

Quiet – highly underrated in  casinos.  Playing VP in a quiet setting sipping a draft beer away from the crowds can be soothing and seem like an oasis in an otherwise crazy place. Two such places exist in New England Casinos – the Race books at Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun.

Drinks & Coupons

Playing crappy VP can simply be overlooked by the drinks served.  I remember playing 7/5 Bonus VP at the 32 Degrees Bar at M Resort, south of the Las Vegas Strip.  Why? – because of the 96 taps that were available.  A fabulous free drink can a key ingredient to your Vegas vacation.

Lights signal bartenders for vouchers. Some are automatic.

But free drinks, like free parking, are a vanishing commodity in Las Vegas, and all over the country.  In the old system — which still rules most hotel casinos, depending on state laws — if you gamble on the casino floor or at a bar, you get free drinks from bartenders who monitor your gambling.  But more and more, especially on the Las Vegas Strip, ticket systems at a video poker bars are now installed where gamblers must gamble to receive vouchers for drinks.  The estimated time for a free drink depends on speed of play, denomination, and apparently if the ticket system is actually working. According to a recent “Five Hundy by Midnight” podcast, the average time for an average speed player at the Cosmopolitan on the Strip tends to be 20 minutes between drinks. Cosmo, MGM and Caesars properties are all trying this strategy with mixed reviews. Rumors also abound in Las Vegas concerning coupon systems being used on the casino floor.

In New England, free drinks are still poured at Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods (both of which continue to have free parking), while state rules prohibit free drinks in the 2 Maine casinos, Plainridge Park in Massachusetts, and Rhode Island casinos.

Video Poker Progressive


Progressive jackpots are jackpots that grows as people play. It progressively gets larger and larger as a percentage of each bet is added to the total prize. They are usually linked to a whole bank of machines. This means that if there are players on all of the machines there is a chance that another player will hit the royal before you. Very often, video poker with lower pay tables at bar tops will be boosted with a progressive jackpot for Royal Flushes and sometimes “Quads” (four-of-a-kind).  These jackpots can get quite high, making a non playable game more of a better play.  Sometimes a combination of factors with a progressive is just what a player may be looking for, even for that low cost, watered-down “scotch on the rocks.”

Rewards Club & Promotions

Video Poker at Oxford Casino – pay for drinks, terrible paytables.

One final consideration is the rewards club. A good rewards club can make a difference, especially on multiplier days.  For example, a general rule by most casinos is that it takes 2X to 3X of play to earn one reward a status point compared to that slots.  But on a multiplier day, such as Mohegan Sun’s Triple Status Point promotions, playing VP can accumulate faster.  But read the fine print!  At Oxford Casino,


promotions such as their Tuesday “15X point” multiplier doesn’t include play on video poker machines. Some bar chains in Nevada have their own rewards club, as well as mini-marts, gas stations, pharmacies, and supermarkets!  PT’s Entertainment Group, who recently bought the Stratosphere and Arizona Charlies’ hotel casinos in Las Vegas, has 50+ taverns & restaurants and offer two award-winning loyalty rewards programs to sweeten the pot on its usually low paying VP.


It’s simple – whatever floats your boat.  Take a little extra time to weigh assess things and you may expand your good experience into a great experience.

That’s all for now.


6 Considerations for the Best Video Poker Tournament Strategy

Today I look at the strategy for playing in a Video Poker tournament, including variations to consider and how it differs from playing basic strategy.

A VP tournament is a lot of fun and excitement galore. Many tournaments only allow five or ten minutes for the contestants to apply their strategies, and hopefully score enough points to win some money. In this short span of time, few hands can be played. A very fast player in a tournament that allows 20 minutes of play to determine a winner will only be able to play about 500 hands.
A different strategy is needed for tournament play when playing in a VP tournament. Unlike a slots tournament, when you just “smack” the button over and over with no skill at all, Video Poker has a skill aspect to it, with correct strategy for each game. However , perfect strategy is not necessarily the way to go in a tournament situation. The highest scoring totals are usually fueled by 4-of-a-kinds with a kicker, or Royal Flushes. This means most players must tweak their strategy for those hands and play a little outside the basic strategy box to win.

1)“Favor a Royal Flush” strategy

According to Jerry “Stickman” Stich of CASINO PLAYER magazine, one approach (extreme, but believable) is the “Favor a Royal Flush” strategy. He says, “The thought behind this strategy is that hitting a royal means you have a great chance of winning at least something in the tournament. By only saving cards that could lead to a royal, you improve the chances of hitting a royal to about 1 in 23,000 from the 1 in 40,000 with optimum play….Playing 500 hands in a tournament, you could expect a “Royal” every 46 times.”

Royal Flush


How do you play a royals only strategy? If the hand doesn’t have any cards that will make a royal, discard the entire hand. Only keep cards that could make a royal. Sounds drastic, but it does offer a chance for more Royals.

2) Specific VP Games and Changes in Strategy for Tournament play

If the game is Double Double Bonus VP which has a pay table that pays higher for quads, especially 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s with a kicker, basic DDB strategy would work, but other factors must be considered. If it is JOB (Jacks or Better), the best strategy might be a Royal Flush or nothing approach is as stated above – Double Double & Triple Double Bonus not so much.  

3) Consider Minutes is Each Flight or Session

If it’s a length of 20 minutes per flight, you may have time enough to play perfect strategy if your play is close to perfect and fast – at least 600 hands per hour on the average – to get enough chances for that Royal Flush.  But this tournament was only 10 minutes per play, so it’s definitely time for Royal or nothing!  Ten minutes might be a situation for “all or nothing” with any VP game or pay tableable, with the exception of Deuces Wild.

4) Increase Your Speed

Most players should play faster, even though it may increase mistakes.  Remember, in a VP tourney, you want to increase the number hands played for the best chance for high paying hands.  If you are only a recreational player, stick to the strategy and speed o give you the best optimal play.

5) Practice, Practice, Practice – Use Both Hands

Another useful tip to be noted is when one participates in a speed tournament, he/she should consider playing with both hands instead of one finger only. The touch screen should not be used, as it is far too slow. If one practices playing with both hands before the tournament, he/she will manage to develop the mental and motor skills required to play more swiftly. In tournaments players with vast experience have a huge edge, because a key factor in fast play is to discern patterns and make timely decisions.

6) Time Limit vs. Hand Limit

According to, “The main difference between tournaments is if they are limiting play based on total hands, or based on total time on the machine. For example, one tournament … allowed each player 200 hands on the machine, and whoever had the most credits at the end of 200 hands was the winner…….some tournaments allot each player a certain amount of time on the machine. For example, allowing each player 45 total minutes on the machine, in three 15 minute sessions.  Although time vs. total hands may seem like a small factor, it actually is very important when determining your strategy. If you have as long as you want to play your hands, you can take your time and always make the mathematically correct decision. However, if the tournament has a time limit, then you need to hustle up and make sure you play as many hands as possible.”

If you find a tournament near you, take advantage.  Sometimes they offer snacks, drinks, and a chance to chill before and after.  All in all, it can be very fulfilling, especially for the experienced player.


Spin Poker – Video Poker Strategy w/ Slot Machine Fun

One of my favorite visits to Las Vegas included a 2 hour session of SPIN POKER at Main Street Station during VIMFP. Playing Double Double Poker at a bar top spin poker machine, I hit numerous quads     (4-of-a-kind), with some of the best craft beer (made on the premises) by my side. MSS also has a quad promotion – every time you get a 4-of-a-kind, you are given a scratch off ticket, usually worth $1 – $5 on top of your payoff.  MSS remains one of the best video poker casinos in all of Las Vegas.  

According to John Grochowski, “Spin Poker was designed in the days that nine-payline games were the cutting edge in video slots. There was some hope that Spin Poker would become a crossover game, giving an attractive look to players making a move from video slots. It hasn’t really worked that way, instead settling into a small niche among video poker players.”

SPIN POKER – Is it a slot machine or video poker?

Spin Poker is a cross between a Triple Play video poker game and a five-reel video slot game. It brings the ‘feel” and “excitement” of playing a slot machine to a video poker game.

John Robinson, from Casino City, says, “Spin Poker is unusual for video poker machines in that it has a slot-like spinning display.” download

Michael Shackelford, from the Wizard of Odds, says the rules of playing are as follows:

  1. The game is played on a video screen. There are 15 positions in a matrix of 5 columns and 3 rows.
  2. After making a bet the player will get five cards from a 52-card deck (except for decks that include jokers) on the middle row.
  3. The player may keep and discard as he wishes, as in regular video poker.
  4. Any cards the player holds will be replicated on the top and bottom row as well, in the same column.
  5. After the player presses the “deal” button the empty squares will be filled in from the remaining 47 cards in the deck. No card in the will appear more than once in the draw.
  6. The player will be paid according to the poker value of each active pay line.

As in Triple Play VP, on the deal, you chose the cards to hold. These cards are then used for all lines bet.

How many lines should I play?

When you play Spin Poker, you get to choose how many lines and how many coins you want to wager per line. There are a maximum of nine lines in Spin Poker.  In all video poker, my suggestion is play max for the best Royal Flush payoff, or reduce your denomination.

Are the odds different from regular VP, since it looks like a slot machine?

Spin poker plays like any video poker machine.  A 8/5 JOB on Spin Poker will have exactly the same odds as 8/5 single line VP.

How does it effect my bankroll? 

Since there are nine lines in the matrix that pay off instead of a single line, playing max will cost 9x that of a single line VP machine, or 45 credits instead of 5. Because of that, being a $.25 video poker player, I will look for a nickel denomination. It’s still hefty at $2.25 per hand, but the difference in the game from single line VP can be an exiting change.

Any drawbacks about the game?

The one drawback that I see is that the spinning reels are distracting and slow. Even if you’re betting on only one hand, you have to wait for the reels to spin and all the cards to stop before your bet is settled. Your hands per hour will decrease, and on a game such as 10-6 Double Double Bonus where payback plus player rewards take you into profitable territory, that can be an annoyance.  However, you can always “double-click” the deal button for a faster draw.

Are they variations, or other VP games mixed with it?  Yes.

Deluxe - 20 lines.

Deluxe – 20 lines.

Three reels of Spin Poker Fun.

Three reels of Spin Poker Fun.

Spin Poker Deluxe expands the game further to 20 lines, even more like the matrix of a slot machine.  Spin Poker with Dream Card is available.  But the most popular variation seems to be the Super Times Pay Spin Poker  machine.

The latest is Triple Spin Poker, similar to Triple play, with three reels instead of just one.


Most of New England’s casinos offer Spin Poker.  Try it sometime – it can be a lot of fun.




Video Poker – Always Play Max Bet

Video Poker Bar

One of the most debated topics regarding slot machines, and video poker, concerns max bet, specifically “when should I hit that bet max button.”

Max BetMax Bet or Maximum Bet is the highest amount of coins or credits you can play in a single spin.

The answer to the question depends on the machine being played. When it comes to slots, you have to know the machine that you are playing. It’s simple, really, if you know the pay out structure of the machine.  If Max Bet gives you a higher pay out other than just the 2x, 3x, 4x, etc. of the original bet, you bet Max Bet – and if that total bet is too high for your bankroll, move on to another similar machine with a payout that suits your it.

Today we look at VIDEO POKER.

If you don’t play max bet on a Video poker machine, you are cheating yourself 2% of the possible winning percentage due to the fact you are not playing for the Royal. Let’s be clear that with VP, I’m talking that Max Bet is 5 coins.  If you bet 1,2,3 or 4 coins, the payoff for a Royal Flush is the bet multiplier times 250.  (4 quarters per bet would give you a payoff of 250 x 4 or 1000 quarters – $250) Not too shabby, but why not play one more coin, a 5-coins-in, and play for the Royal Flush that pays a bonus jackpot of $1000 (in quarters.)

Jacks or Better best paytable (called 9/6 because of the full house and flush pay out).  Notice the jump in pay out from 4 to 5 coins.

Jacks or Better best paytable (called 9/6 because of the full house and flush pay out). Notice the jump in pay out from 4 to 5 coins.

A word of caution – many of the same type of slot machine – can include payoffs of all the kinds listed below. I have seen VP without the Typical 4000 coin payoff for a Royal Flush. Your job is to check the machine for what the payoffs are.  READ THE MACHINE.  KNOW YOUR PAY OFFS.

When playing video poker, play Max bet for the full Jackpot or one coin understanding that you will spend less but you’re are cheating yourself from the REAL jackpot.  

The solitary play of a video poker player.

The solitary play of a video poker player.

I always see people not playing Max Bet with Video Poker.  Yes, I know that getting a Royal Flush is difficult – the odds of getting a Royal Flush is 1 out of every 40,390 hands. But let me tell you from experience, if you end up with a Royal and you didn’t play Max, you will never forget it.  I should know – I did it twice when I first started, and I can still remember the screen, at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, mocking me, with a payout of  of 250 coins – $62.50 on one coin!!!!!

NETG ADVICE: Play max bet.  If your bankroll is small, drop down in denomination (from quarters to nickels, for example), then you can still play Max.

And if it has a progressive Jackpot for the Royal, definitely play MAX!

Look at the top of the pay table and notice Max Bet is 20 coins!

Look at the top of the pay table and notice Max Bet is 25 coins!  This person played 5 coins, the lowest bet that includes the Royal Jackpot.

Be forewarned that some video poker machines have max bets of 10 or 20 coins. The Royal Flush Jackpot does follow what you’d expect – 10 coin Royal at $.25 = $2000, and so on. But, check the machine before playing to be sure what Max Bet equals.

Here’s a tip: To be sure to play 5 coins (if that is your intention) every machine has a “bet one” button.  For your first play, hit that “bet one” button five times.  Some machines also have a separate “bet five” button on the screen, usually the machines that have the option of betting 10 or 20 coins.

He's happy - he played Max bet and won 4000 coins!

He’s happy – he played Max bet and won 4000 coins!

Some of you prefer playing one quarter, and of course that’s your prerogative. If it floats your boat, be my guest.

Tomorrow, we investigate Max BET for Slot machines.  It’s a little more complicated and takes more awareness of what the slot table actually is.  Cya tomorrow!

That’s all for now, but like all casinos, this blog is open 24/7!


Ultimate X Video Poker

Ultimate X Video pokerNew video poker come and go, and real advantage VP players are always searching for an edge.  Many of the old favorites such as Jack or Better, Deuces Wild, or Bonus (and Double Bonus, and Triple Bonus…) will always be mainstays on the casino floor, even thought the pay tables continue to worsen.

Video Poker Ultimate X - Triple Play

Video Poker Ultimate X – Triple Play

One game that has stood the test of time is Ultimate “X” poker.  Ultimate X is available as a multi-hand and single-hand video poker game, but mostly played as Triple Play, Five-Play, or Ten-play – which means after your first five cards are dealt, you play more hands with the remaining cards after the draw. If you wager 10 coins per line instead of five coins, you will earn a multiplier, not on the current hand, but on the following hand (i.e., betting 10 coins per line puts you in the Ultimate X mode).  Essentially, you are doubling your initial bet in the hopes that you will get a greater payout on the following hand.

ultimate-x-poker-igtcomIts popularity in New England Casinos has increased over the last few years.  Even Plainridge Park added some to its inventory of late. Continue reading

IRS Wants Even More of Gambling Winnings – and More Info About You, Too

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Did you know that gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on your tax return. Here are the top seven facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about gambling winnings taken from the IRS website:

  1. Gambling income includes – but is not limited to – winnings from lotteries, raffles, horse and dog races and casinos, as well as the fair market value of prizes such as cars, houses, trips or other noncash prizes.
  2. Depending on the type and amount of your winnings, the payer might provide you with a Form W-2G and may have withheld federal income taxes from the payment.
  3. The full amount of your gambling winnings for the year must be reported on line 21 of IRS Form 1040. You may not use Form 1040A or 1040EZ. This rule applies regardless of the amount and regardless of whether you receive a Form W-2G or any other reporting form.
  4. If you itemize deductions, you can deduct your gambling losses for the year on line 28 of Schedule A, Form 1040.
  5. You cannot deduct gambling losses that are more than your winnings.
  6. It is important to keep an accurate diary or similar record of your gambling winnings and losses.
  7. To deduct your losses, you must be able to provide receipts, tickets, statements or other records that show the amount of both your winnings and losses.

So, did you know all that?  Say, you go into a casino – once, with friends – and you win $100.  You keep it, take it home and never go to a casino again.  That $100, my friend is taxable.  It is bad enough that a person could go in and bet $20, win $1200 and get a 1099 and put it all back in leaving with nothing. If they don’t itemize they will pay taxes on the $1,200. No on wins except the casino and the IRS. This is penalizing the taxpayer for the entertainment of gambling. Here’s a true story.

One time in Las Vegas, before the Ticket-In Ticket-Out technology, I was playing a Triple play bonus Video poker machine.  Anyone who plays VP knows that Max play or usually 5 coins, gives you the jackpot of $4000 credits, or essentially $1000 playing quarters. On this triple play machine, on one play I hit a Royal – $1000 non-taxable by a W2-G form.  But…..on another line I also hit a Straight Flush for $250 credits, bringing my grand total to$1250 in winnings.  Well, as you can expect, the machine locked up, the slot staff came over and minutes later, I received my payment of under $900 (instead of $1250) and a tax form.   Continue reading