Victory at Video Poker

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You stated in a previous column called Slots Simplified, that “if you are going to choose between video poker and slots, play video poker. Even poor play on a video poker machine will have a better payback than most ‘reel’ slot machines.” How about a column on Video Poker Tips? Marge G.

In video poker, Marge, only 21% of the hands dealt are winning hands of jacks or better and 79% are downright dogs. Herein lies the difference between the winning and losing player: what you do with those 79% of the hands that need to be groomed into winning greyhounds. The best way to give yourself the greatest chance of victory at video is to read, absorb, embrace, and pledge allegiance to these playing tips.

o Seek out jacks or better machines that pay 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush.

o If you decide to play a progressive video poker machine that pays 8 coins for a full house and 5 for a flush, play on a progressive where the jackpot is more than $250 on a nickel machine, $2,500 on a quarter, and $10,000 for the dollar.

o Always bet the maximum amount of coins on a progressive machine to get the bonus for royal flushes.

o If you are a novice player, play on the lowest denomination machine until your level of expertise rises.

o If your casino offers it, use a casino slot card to get credit for your play. You might as well get a return as a comp benefit for your play on their video poker machines. Be sure to ask how many points you will receive per dollar played, and then find out what those points are worth in comps. This will help you shop for better value on your play.

o Take your time to study every hand. Because you are playing against a machine, no one will intimidate you if your play is too slow.

o All hail the jack! Some players don’t realize the ace is not the most important card in the deck, but the jack is. Holding the jack over the ace gives you more opportunities of making more lucrative hands than an ace would.

o There are more than a hundred different video poker machines to choose from. Games like Joker Poker, Louisiana Jacks, Gator Poker, etc. offer you a supermarket selection, but all have different paytables needing distinct playing strategies. I recommend learning and limiting your play to two, such as Deuces Wild and Jacks-or-Better.

o Acquire video poker skills using either a computer or a hand-held video poker game. The major benefit of this type of training is the ability to test your skills with no financial risk or ruin. You can gather data, and later review it, enabling you to nix trends that would be costly on a video poker machine. This information would take you years to accumulate under normal casino conditions. And again, the key here is that any knowledge obtained without a casino outlay lets you net out better down the road.

And now, Marge, some playing strategies.

First, never keep a kicker with any pair. Holding a kicker to any pair reduces your return by 5%.

2nd, never draw four cards if you can draw three to a royal flush.

3rd, always keep five-card winning pat hands with on exception: if you can, draw one card to a royal.

4th, don’t break a flush even if you can draw one to a straight flush, but

5th, always break a flush to draw to a royal.

6th, never break a straight to draw to a straight flush.

7th, never draw five if you have a jack or better, and

8th, don’t keep a ten for a four card draw.

Gambling thought of the week: “The dice of God are always loaded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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