Why Do We Play Video Poker?

Recreational gambling should make you happy.  Play what you want to play.  HOWEVER – if you are  a recreational video poker player, there are still many things to consider if you want to give yourself the best chance to win, not to mention play longer and/or earn more comps.  Let’s look at the big picture. Why Do We Play Video Poker?

Video Poker


Could it be any of these many reasons?  “I like to play video poker because:

  • of the low house edge”
  • it’s available in my local casinos.”
  • “I can dictate the pace of my play.”.
  • ” Free Drinks are easily available at bar tops”
  • “social time with a friend is fun”
  • “personal play suits me best”
  • “I don’t want to bother with other players in a community setting”
  • “the skill and strategy involved interests me”
  • “I like to pass the time slowly (low denomination, no max bet, relaxing)
  • “it’s the best way to play my free slot play”

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, give me a chance to explain.

Video Poker Contentment

Video poker Bar
Harvest Moon Bar, Mohegan Sun

A friend of mine enjoys playing 8/5 JOB at a BarTop at Mohegan Sun to relax while his wife plays slots. His play consists of one credit at a time and recently hit his first Royal Flush. While he had only played $0.25, getting a Royal was a proud of the accomplishment. Even though he only received $62.50 instead of the $1000 if playing max bet, he was content. No remorse, no regret because he was comfortable with his choice – a relaxing time with free drinks to pass the time.

Some would shout “for shame,” but his priorities are comfortably set. You find any judgement here because he enjoys Video Poker on his terms. For all those who criticize, remember another player may have different expectations than yourself  – and there’s nothing wrong with that.  For my friend, his mission was accomplished – and more.


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.


Depending how much practice & thought is part of your Video Poker play, there are many things  to ponder in your approach to recreational VP play.

  • What games are available at your casino that you prefer? – JOB, Bonus, DB, DDB, Ultimate X, etc……
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video poker bar at Foxwoods
    Tammy, Steve & Katherine at Play Bar, Foxwoods
  • 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 pay table 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 pay tables to appear less astute…..the benefits may mean more than payout percentage.”

More to Ponder

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Here are examples of where I play and why. Notice it is quite a mix:

Encore Boston Harbor – EBH has lots of multiline games such as Ultimate X and others not seen in the rest of New England, like Stack the deck and Super DDB. Not full pay, but a lot of fun that can last a while on nickels.

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 pay tables 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.

Oxford Casino – the bar has an 8/5 single line progressive. An ok play if the progressive hasn’t been hit in a while.

Hollywood Bangor – only one Ultimate X nickels gets my play.  Not very good pay table, but they only have two multiline VP machines in the entire casino. The multipliers can still make it fun.


Play where you are comfy – consider the ambiance, proximity to home, bar, craft beer, great drinks, bartenders, etc may mean more than just best pay tables. With all the possible VP games out there, play the game you are comfy with.  Play what and where you get the biggest bang for your buck.

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



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