If you like to gamble, and you like to win, then video poker
is a better game than slots
. Simply, it’s easier to beat. There is no hidden house edge
, no secretly tight machines. EachBasil Nestor is the author of the new Playboy Complete Guide to Casino Gambling. This wonderful book teaches players how to avoid sucker bets and win more when playing gambling games. He is also the author of The Smarter Bet Guide series for video poker, slots, craps, and many other books about gambling. Basil's website is www.smarterbet.com
draw is from a freshly shuffled (virtual) deck.
Best of all, video poker is one of the few casino games that has a positive expectation. That’s right. Play the right machine, long enough, in the right way, and video poker is mathematically guaranteed to pay back more than it takes in.
But that doesn’t mean you should quit your job to go play video poker. The effort required to earn a steady income as a gambler is a full-time job itself. On the other hand, it’s fairly easy to play a near-neutral game (pushing the edge to just above or below zero). Add the value of comps
, and video poker can be a ticket to a free or nearly free vacation.
It’s a brainpower contest that pays.
Basic Video Poker
If you know poker then the fundamentals of video poker will be familiar. There is a hierarchy of hand ranks
(see the next section) and a draw, but beyond that you should forget everything you know about the table game when playing the video version. You can’t bluff the machine, raise, or call. There’s no pot. The game deals you five cards. You can keep all of them, some, or none. Replacements are dealt as necessary. The revised combination is your final hand. Winners are paid according to a pay table posted on the machine.
The most basic game is jacks or better
; any hand with a pair of jacks or better is a winner. Other versions make deuces or jokers wild (they count as any card the player requires). Wild-card games typically raise the minimum winning hand to kings or better, two pairs, or three of a kind. Multiple-hand games allow you to repeat the same starting cards three, five, ten, fifty times, or more. Each time the draw is different.
Whatever the game, the play remains essentially the same; receive five cards, draw, the result is your hand (or hands).
Buttons on a video poker machine are similar to those on a slot machine except that “Spin” is replaced by “Deal,” and each card has a “hold” button. In addition, most video poker machines use touch screens; just touch the cards to hold them.
Some players become excited and forget to hold cards when they’re dealt a royal flush or another perfect hand before the draw. One more press of the deal button does not bring a big payout, but five more cards. Ouch! Be sure to press the hold button for every card you intend to keep. The screen should acknowledge your choice.