Reasons to Play Video Poker Beyond the Pay Table

Here are Reasons to Play Video Poker Beyond the Pay Table. This post is NOT to tell you what to do, as compared to what to consider. 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, then there are many things to consider if you want to give yourself the best chances to win, play longer and/or earn more comps.

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Why do you play video poker?

Could it be any of these many reasons?

  • “playing games with a low house edge”
  • “I like playing with no casino “heat” “
  • “playing only what’s available in my local casinos.”
  • “I prefer to play at a certain pace.”.
  • “Free Drinks”
  • “social time with a friend”
  • “I like playing by my self instead of a community setting”
  • “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 thought about. I know depending on the situation, I might play any one of these.  The fact is, recreational gambling can be for many other reasons besides beating the game, no matter what the game is.

Now, before some of you serious gamblers yell “BLASHEMY!” and stop reading (you know who you are -you’re good, but you’re no AP) , give me a chance to explain.

First, a public service announcement.

A Casino “Don’t” For any 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 to you is just wrong.  Bob Dancer, the ultimate VP expert, wouldn’t even bother you.

Brief Story About VP Contentment

One of my best friends enjoys playing 8/5 JOB on one credit at a bar top 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.

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 video poker player may have different expectations  – and there’s nothing wrong with that

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

Royal Flush – almost!

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? -This could be a major reason beyond the pay table.   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.

IS THERE MORE?

  1. 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.”
  2. 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  ulti game machines or single game machines that will accrue a higher reward.
  3. should you play with/without a card?  I have a confession to make – sometimes my sessions are short, or even worse for player’s EV, I 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.
  4. 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

Compromise is Thy Middle Name

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

Encore Boston Harbor – Single line Full Pay $5 JOB, but that’s beyond my bankroll.  However, lots of 8/5 multiline games, with new games included in the fun, like Stack The Deck multiline, will get me to sit and play.

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. Expecially 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 days.  9/6 Double Bonus is available at $.25, but perfect strategy in one of the most difficult to learn.

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 its 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.

RELATED POST – Tiverton Casino Hotel – Our Last Summer Trip Report

Conclusion

Play what you enjoy – casino, location, bar, craft beer, great drinks, bartenders, etc may mean more than just the best pay tables. Look at big picture.  Play what and where you get the biggest bang for your buck, or play where you enjoy it the most.

by the way, remember not to be that guy that gives unsolicited advice. Accept players for their recreational video poker play at what ever level they choose.

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

Binbin

 

 

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

Comped Drink Systems Is a Good Change

Lights signal bartenders for vouchers. Some are automatic.

What happens in Las Vegas, doesn’t necessarily stay in Las Vegas.  When the casino industry changes things, those changes usually migrate across the country in one form or another. Since corporations have taken over in Las Vegas in the 1980’s, the comp systems have been slowly eroding to something of a slow squeeze to visitors and their bankrolls.  Diminished payouts, table game rules changed to add to the house’s edge, parking and resort fees, and now, good-bye comped drinks.

Let’s reminisce, shall we.  Even as of the year 2000, after parking the car in a free garage (or valet for a couple of bucks), a gambler would checking in to the hotel expecting to pay the hotel fee he booked, or get a comped room, without any add-ons.  Then, walking into the casino floor to gamble, could either find low table limits at decent rules (no 6/5 BJ) or Video Poker with good paytables.  As he/she played, they were assured of one more amenity – free drinks.  And that’s where this post really begins.

“It’s yet another revenue-generating move, as more Las Vegas casinos embrace the idea of a comp drink monitoring system that decides if gamblers are wagering enough to warrant free alcohol.” (from CasinoOrg’s post by David Sheldon  More Las Vegas Casinos Now Monitoring Players Before Offering ‘Free’ Cocktails).

IS MONITORING PLAY FOR FREE DRINKS REALLY A BAD THING?

While all the other changes by corporate bean counters has me pulling out the little hair I have left, paying for drinks through play is not so bad in this blogger’s opinion.

KTNV in Las Vegas reported “It gets rid of the people that want to hang around and play a quarter and try to basically, I don’t want to use the word scam, but basically take advantage of the system,” said Albert Tabola with Arden Progressive Systems & Games.   Tabola says, if you’re a consistent player, this won’t affect you. You will still get your comped drinks. It simply affects the people who want something for nothing.”

Long Bar, at the D, downtown Las Vegas.

For those of us who study, practice and play video poker at video bars, getting a seat to play, relax and have an occasional free drink is not only part of the experience but expected.  But those of us who are avid VP players know the frustration of people who sit at the bar, getting free drinks, while playing $.25 every 5 minutes.

Many times, these VP bars will include progressive payouts, but there are no seats available because the “ploppies” and the “squatters” don’t move.

So, is IS MONITORING PLAY FOR FREE DRINKS REALLY A BAD THING?  I say a decisive “NO!”

HOW DO MONITORING DRINK SYSTEMS WORK?

It seems there are two systems growing in Nevada – coupon and lighting systems.

Drink coupon at the Cosmopolitan, Mid-strip, Las Vegas.

The coupon system is easy to understand, just not easy to predict.  When your play equals a certain amount, the machine coughs up a free drink coupon.  A normal amount of play should not affect your number of free drinks.  For example, at the Cosmopolitan in the Vegas Strip, some players have commented they end up with a surplus of coupons not used.  But the amount of play doesn’t seem to be standardized yet, with bugs in the software of certain machines.

Caesars Entertainment officially rolled out the comped drink monitoring system by the Arden Progressive Systems & Games mentioned above at all their casinos on the Las Vegas strip about a year ago. Here’s how it works: (see image above)

It’s a green light, red light alert system designed to tell the staff if you’re playing enough to qualify for comped drinks:

  • When you enter money into a bar top machine like video poker, Blackjack, or Keno, the machine turns on a blue light to show someone is playing.
  • As you play enough, your light will turn green, alerting the bartender you are ready for a drink.
  • If you fall behind and don’t gamble at a fast enough rate, your light will turn red.

Either system is a plus.  The casino saves money, less ploppies and squatters taking seats meant for players, and true players have more seats available without ten millennials huddled behind scamming the bartender into free drinks.

THE IMPACT ON NEW ENGLAND CASINOS

The Star Bar in Mohegan Sun.

Frankly it could be two years before we see this technology.  While CET (Caesars Entertainment, formally Harrah’s) does not have a property in New England, it’s influence could move east to Atlantic City – close enough to make a mark.  By 2020, Wynn Boston Harbor and MGM Springfield will be fully operational.  We already know that Mohegan Sun has eliminated discretionary comps, but hasn’t succumbed to other national influences in the industry affecting the player.  The following casinos still have free alcoholic drinks:

  • Mohegan Sun
  • Foxwoods
  • Massachusetts Casinos – the casino bill signed into law does allow casinos to offer free alcohol to gamblers from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Massachusetts casinos are trying to extend to 4 a.m.  It has recently passed, but is still being challenged.

    Few Video Poker Machines - Single Line all in Revolution Lounge - 8 of them.

    Plainridge Park Video Poker Machines in Revolution Lounge 

Patrons must pay for alcoholic drinks in all Maine & Rhode Island casinos.  Plainridge Park Casino, in Massachusetts, while it seemingly can offer free alcoholic drinks by law, doesn’t.  Alcoholic drinks must be paid for, even at the one small VP bar with 10 machines.

The real question is “who will be first to change to a drink monitoring system?”

NETG PREDICTION – MGM SPRINGFIELD WILL BE FIRST

I would imagine they will be first to have paid parking because parking has been diminished in the resort’s initial plans and downtown parking is not easy to come buy, with paid parking already established in the city. MGM Springfield will be the first to add this drink system.  Wynn will end up with paid parking, but will resist the drink monitoring systems.  Mohegan Sun & Foxwoods will resist both to be competitive.

CONCLUSION

Drink monitoring systems are a good change at VP bars are a good change.  But, decent paytables must be offered – no more diminishing the video poker odds by diminishing the VP pay tables.  May full pay VP is a thing of the past (although Mohegan Sun still offers 9/6 JOB), but offering 6/5 JOB is just offensive – especially if you are playing for your drinks by playing.

A SIDE NOTE

The newest rumor from Las Vegas is that comped drinks through a coupon system may be added to slot machines on the casino floor.  More on that as it continues.  Wow!

 

Tomorrow, we finally take a look at the Sugar Factory at Foxwoods. 

But, that’s all for now.