Unfortunately, the post is inspired by those video poker players who insist on forcing their ridiculous unsolicited advice that is untrue. So let’s take a look at these Video Poker Mistakes and Myths.

Video Poker Mistakes

When based on small samples, our observations as gamblers add to the many Video Poker Mistakes and Myths that players believe. Confident but otherwise useless uninvited help will only point down a path of quicker sessions and disappointing results. The truth will set your video poker play free (apologies to MLK Jr. for using that reference) – free from factless hearsay that makes your bankroll suffer.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system let’s look at frequently heard Mistakes and Myths.

1. Missing Out on Slot Club Rewards

10 Tips for Your Casino Return

No, big brother is not watching you when you insert your rewards card. Your rewards card keeps track of your play so the casino can reward you for your play with comps. Earning points and playing video poker is hard enough, so use your card. It usually takes 3X the coin-in on video poker to equal what you earn from slots.

There is an exception. Consider playing without the card when you play small or shorter sessions than usual. Small plays will diminish your Casino Comps & Your “Average Daily Theoretical.”

2. Playing the Wrong Games For Your Skill Level

First, and most importantly, don’t play games you don’t practice if you want the best chance of winning. A lack of sound strategy only increases the house’s edge.

Second, choose games that match your skill level. Be careful not to apply one game’s strategy to another game. Jacks or Better basic strategy works with other games, such as Bonus Poker. But it’s always best to use a dedicated strategy for that specific game.

3. Bankroll Is Too Low For Game at That Denomination

The Bankroll players usually bring way below what should is needed. One of the players’ most prominent mistakes is playing at a higher level than their bankroll dictates. The following is true:

  • Different video poker games of the same denomination require larger bankrolls.
  • As your denomination rises (5 cents, $.25, $1, etc.), your bankroll also needs to rise.
  • Players must play the game at the denomination that the game and their bankroll dictate.
  • Multi-hand games require more bankroll for the same base game due to the number of hands involved and added variance.

So before you visit the casino, plan to bring the proper bankroll. And only bring the money budgeted for recreational gambling sessions.

4. Irresponsible Drinking and Playing Distracted

You’ve heard it before, but somebody’s got to repeat it. So let me remind you – drinking impairs your decision-making when done to the extreme.

Video Poker is a game of skill. Find the balance between enjoying casino amenities and playing the game. Alcohol will compromise the decisions you have to make when gambling.

And pay attention to the game. Drink staff, loud, obnoxious players, sticky buttons, and more can distract you from keeping the right cards on the draw or hitting the button too quickly.

5. Not Checking the Pay Table

Pay tables vary depending on the game, denomination, and casino. The same games in machines that are side by side still may have different pay tables. Look for better-paying games. And the paytable may force changes in strategy.

For example, in the 9/6 JOB, the flush has much more weight than in the 8/5 JOB. So naturally, this causes changes in strategy. Remember, the correct strategy is the most significant factor in playing longer and winning more.

6. Playing on a Problem Machine

For example, playing with a machine with “Sticky” Buttons isn’t fun. Expect the worst for bartop machines. If you find one that works well, stay and savor it! Malfunctions with buttons or rewards card entries can suck the fun of a great session.

7. Not Playing Max Bet

You can’t win the true Royal Flush Jackpot or Progressive Jackpots unless you play Max Bet. Your EV (expected value) is diminished without max play when the Royal Flush pays 4000 on a wager of 5 units. The Royal Flush is included in the game’s payback percentage. Not playing max bet reduces a full-pay JOB from 99.5% to 97% – equal to 8/5 JOB and 9/5 DDB at max bet.

Beware – Before you press that Max Bet button, check the paytable. Today, many games have a Max Bet of 10X and even 20X the single bet instead of the standard Max Bet of five units.

Video Poker Mistakes and Myths
Notice the Max bet is 10, not 5.

However, maybe you prefer a smaller denomination or a slower pace. Play what makes you comfy, as long as you don’t mind the smaller payout for a Royal. After all, recreational gambling is for fun. There is no judgment here.

Video Poker Mistakes and Myths

  • The cards are dealt randomly when you press deal.

TRUTH – The infamous Random Number Generator (RNG) takes care of VP play’s randomness, making the game a skill game based on math and probabilities. Go to the Wizard of Odds for more about math and probability in Video Poker.

  • Always keep “Kicker” cards, cards that increase a four-of-a-kind...

MYTH Only when the game’s strategy dictates it. For example, when dealt three aces with a kicker of 2,3, or 4 in Double Double Bonus, only keep three aces. But when playing Triple Double Bonus, you keep the kicker—playing Jacks or Better? Never keep the kicker because it’s not in play at all. The correct strategy is more about keeping you in the game longer.

Video Poker Mistakes and Myths
The four is called a “kicker,” a card that adds value to a four-of-a-kind.
  • Games that offer significant jackpots on four Aces deal fewer Aces

MYTHThe Random Number Generator continues to shuffle the cards in milliseconds. When you press draw, you see what you get, whether you’re playing JOB or Triple Double Bonus.

  • When you discard just one card, it’s usually replaced with a card of the same denomination.

MYTH Refer to the question above.

Does a dealt Straight Flush mean the game is “hot?” Not Really.
  • Video Poker games, like slot machines, are programmed to have “Hot and Cold Streaks”…

MYTH These are human perceptions over a short period. They are not programmed to do so; math and probability do so. Ultimately, the paytable in Video Poker determines the payout percentage over the long run. The RNG allows the probability to occur, appearing as hot or cold games.

Don’t Follow These Myths?

  • This machine is “due” – If the games are the same, including paytable, switch games if you want. But it doesn’t matter. Switch if the game, seat, casino area, etc., is more desirable.
  • Faster is Better – According to this theory, you can increase your speed to complete one hand every three seconds. This forces the machine to cycle through 20 hands per minute rather than just 10. Supposedly, you’ll approach the threshold required triggering big winners twice as quickly. Playing at the speed that helps you play with the most accurate strategy. Accuracy is essential for your game’s success.
  • Higher Denomination Machines Pay More. While this may be true with slot machines (typically, the higher the denomination, the higher the payout %), Video Poker games rely on the paytable. Whatever denomination you’re playing, $0.5, $.25, or $5, doesn’t matter in Video Poker. The payable is the tell-all for the expected RTP (Return To Player), also called EV (expected value).


Video poker continues to change. New games are added, and casinos continue to lower the pay tables. Our best defense against the reduction of VP playability is “knowing the facts.”

So, let’s keep recreational gambling in enjoyment and reality. But remember to “Embrace the math, not the myth.”


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