1. Video Poker is nothing more than a special purpose computer, running a single program.
  2. You can’t influence a computer’s processing by prayer, rabbit’s feet or waving your hands over the display. If this weren’t true then our modern computerized society, would not be possible. How would it feel to spend 2 hours working on your spreadsheet or word processing document only to have a coworker walk by and wave his hands and scramble the whole thing?
  3. The cards are dealt in a random manner that must meet the specifications of the Nevada Gaming Commission. The only control over the percentage the machine keeps is the PAYTABLE.
  4. Therefore it is possible to analyze the exact correct play for any cards dealt that will yield the maximum value (expected return) for any holding over time. It is also possible to calculate the exact percentage percentage the machine will win or lose over time if it is played at the maximum efficiency.
  5. All of this has been analyzed starting back in the middle 80’s and on through today with all of the new games.
  6. That analysis shows that there are a variety of games that will yield a player advantage if played correctly.
  7. Even a machine that has a slight player disadvantage can be played with a positive expectation when the CASH BACK and COMPS available from SLOT CLUBS are taken into consideration.


A few words about playing strategy: My Video Poker Home Page lists a variety of places on the Internet where books, newsletters, magazines, laminated cards and software that will help you to learn a good, playable strategy for virtually any game you wish. I will offer some brief strategy hints here, but for serious strategy training you should access any or all of these resources or wait for my book “How to Leave Las Vegas with your shorts intact” (or something like that.) Also, REC.GAMBLING’S VIDEO POKER FAQ has the strategy for 8/5 jacks or better progressive and Deuces Wild (or Wild Ducks, as I like to call them..”I wanna go where the Wild Ducks go and…”) as well as other useful info.

A brief preface then:

Some elementary concepts: Some of the strategies are relatively Simple and involve little consideration of what is commonly known as PENALTY CARDS. Penalty cards are discards that can affect the value of the cards you hold. For instance, if you hold jack-10 unsuited any discard that falls in the range of 7 thru ace negatively affects the number of possible straights you can draw. Likewise, if you hold jack-10 suited not only does the former apply but also any discards of the same suit will reduce the total possible 168bet flushes. Cards that fit both categories (e.g. a suited 7) would also reduce the number of straight flushes. Games that pay more for straights and flushes (10/7 double bonus and All American Poker) are affected more by penalty catds than other games and therefore have more complicated strategies.

Many of these games have an unusually large great percentage of the return concentrated in big jackpots and compensate by reducing the payout on the much more common hands such as full houses and flushes (or in Deuces Wild, straight flushes and QUADS (four of a kinds.) This reduction in the most often occurring hands increases the DRAIN, that is the percentage you can expect to be losing until you hit the big quads and/or the royal flush.

Many (it seems like most) of the Professional Video Poker players and writers are also mathematicians who often seem to spend most of the time in the land far to the right of the decimal point. Much of the discussion involves the RISK OF RUIN which is the chance you run of running out of money before the odds comes around to save you (assuming you are playing a game with a positive expectation.) The basic measure all of these discussions seem to begin with is the Standard Deviation per bet. This is a mathematical way of expressing the idea I was discussing in the previous paragraph. One of the writers on Video Poker (Dan Paymar) calls this number the VOLATILITY INDEX. The method for calculating it is not complicated, even for a math simpleton like myself. I have a spreadsheet template I will make available if anyone is interested. The point I want to make (and am FINALLY getting around to) is that it’s not necessary for the non-professional to have to deal with all this. When I refer to VOLATILITY in these writing, I am using the judgement and common sense that tells you when a game is likely to make more serious demands on your bankroll than others. The bigger the jackpots (and the more the payouts on lesser hands are reduced to pay for them) the bigger the bankroll you need.



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