Video Poker, Like Jazz, Is Not For The Masses

Playing Video Poker  takes skill based on mathematics.  Yes,   of course there is luck involved – but luck is just the perception of the best probability occurring, and bad luck is the  perception of the worst probability occurring. Unlike slots, where you have no idea of the payback % according to the random number generator programmed at the factory, in Video Poker, you do.  The pay table is right there in front of you.

When I first started visiting casinos in the 80’s, even CT had “Not So Ugly Ducks” Deuces Wild, which is a Dueces Wild game with a specific pay table, 10-4-4-3-2-1.  With perfect strategy, this game has a payback of 99.73%.  An excellent game, close to a payback of  9/6 JOB (jacks or better).

John Grochowski - the Casino Answer Man

John Grochowski – the Casino Answer Man

Why are Full-pay Video Poker games becoming extinct?  John Grochowski, the Casino Answer Man, has an opinion that I totally agree with.

John was telling a interesting story a few years ago in his column at CasinoCityTimes. He once asked a representative of a game manufacturer if he thought players noticed the differences in pay tables. The representative said that only a small minority of players could distinguish the games at a glance, even though players noticed their bankrolls disappearing faster on the lower-paying games.

I will often hear from VP players complaining about how the games at Mohegan Sun are tighter than Foxwoods, and vice versa.  And, often they are referring to machines with the same game, same pay table, same manufacturer.  How could that legally be?  They might attribute it to the casino tightening the machine by making winning hands come up less often, or to the casino being an unlucky place for them. But players notice when their bankrolls are disappearing faster, and that affects where and how often they play.

Plainridge Park Casino

Busy Casino – Plainridge Park Casino

But once players are in a casino, especially a busy casino, most don’t notice which have the higher pay tables. So, why shouldn’t casino operators put lower-paying games on the floor. What does it matter?  The masses will play anything put in front of them.

Slots make more money – no strategy needed, and the take for the casinos is 10 – 15%.  Why keep a game like full-pay JOB or Double Double Bonus that’s holding less than 2 percent when most of the growth in gaming is in video slot machines that hold 10 to 15 percent?

Simply put, too many poor video poker players with poor strategy who will play any game, poor pay table notwithstanding, are single-handedly making the good pay tables extinct.

I don’t fault the industry for the lack of the availability of good pay tables.  I don’t fault the the industry for 6-5 Blackjack, either.  It’s a money making industry, isn’t it?

I love playing jazz and listening to jazz.  It’s complicated.  It takes some knowledge and understanding to enjoy it – it’s not for the masses.

Full pay VP is not for the masses either.  But, unlike jazz, we may never see full pay Deuces again.

That’s all for now.



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