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Best of Jerry Stickman

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How to Pick the Right Video Poker Machine

4 July 2020

While a vast majority of casino players enjoy playing slot machines, savvy players tend to choose video poker as their casino game.

There are sound reasons for this.

Slot players simply insert some money in the machine and push a button or pull a handle. The results are all luck.

Video poker games require thought from its players. They must choose which cards to save and which to discard from each hand in order to get the most from their play. There is a certain amount of skill required to properly play video poker. The skill portion reduces the amount of the luck involved. Though luck is still a large factor, having some input in how the game is played makes the game more interesting.

The return from video poker games tends to be higher than that from slots. Most video poker games return around 95 percent or more where slot machines return in the lower 90 percent area or even less. The effort required to play video poker can pay for itself.

However, the returns from video poker games are based on playing the game properly – saving the cards from each dealt hand that will return the most to the player. The higher returns from video poker games are not free. They take work to obtain.

Let us assume that you are willing make an effort to play video poker properly. You are willing to learn the proper playing strategy for your game of choice. Now the question is – how can you determine which game you should play?

There are several factors to consider.

Return / Payback

There are dozens of different video poker game variations available on today’s casino floors. Each of these game variants can have multiple pay tables. Pay tables determine the return of each game. The more that is paid for winning hands, the higher the overall return of the game.

Naturally, players should look for a high return from the game they choose. But a high return is not the only factor.

Volatility / Variance

Some games such as Jacks or Better have very few high-paying hands. Actually, there is only one – the royal flush. Other variations such as Double-Double Bonus Poker have several high-paying hands. They include the royal flush; four aces; four aces with a 2, 3, or 4; four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s; and four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s with an ace, 2, 3, or 4. Games with more high-paying (and less frequently occurring) hands reduce the pays for more frequently occurring hands so more of the return happens less frequently.

The frequency of returns affects the volatility of the video poker game. When there is only one high paying hand the volatility is low. A large portion of the overall return is paid relatively often meaning the bankroll of the player will not fluctuate a lot – like a gentle rollercoaster.

But, when more of the overall return is paid for infrequently occurring hands, volatility is high. The drawdown of the bankroll between the high paying hands is more severe. This is like a very steep roller coaster.

The higher the volatility (or variance as most video poker guides call it), the more bankroll that is required. More is required to allow the player to make it through the deep drawdowns that occur between the larger winning hands.

Strategy

Another factor to consider when deciding on the perfect video poker game for you is the complexity of the playing strategy. Strategy charts can vary from a dozen or so lines up to 60 or more lines depending on the game and pay table.

The more complex the strategy, the more likely mistakes will be made. Mistakes add to the casinos profit and reduce the players share of the pot.

Availability

One final consideration when deciding on video poker games is can you find the game in casinos that you visit. While the 10/7/5 (10 for 1 for a full house, 7 for 1 for a flush and 5-for-1 for a straight) version of Double Bonus Poker returns 100.17 percent – a winning game for the player who plays perfect strategy – these games are almost impossible to find. If you can’t find the game, it doesn’t make sense to prepare to play that game.

While playing video poker requires more work than playing slots, the rewards can be significant. Make sure you understand the characteristics of your chosen game. Make sure you properly prepare for that game. That is what makes successful video poker players.

May all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He authored the video poker section of "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker!" You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerry@aol.com
Recent Articles
Best of Jerry Stickman
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com