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

Video Poker Resources for Understanding, Practice and Enjoyment

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

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

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

Video Poker Machines at Mohegan Sun

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

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

Strategy cards are available and legal.

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

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

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

RESOURCES FOR SUCCESS

BEST WEBSITES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEST BOOKS:
I suggest two:

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

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

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

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

Binbin

 

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

“THE MONDAY LINK”

Video Poker Expert skip hughes

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

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

Courtesy of vpFree2

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

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