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Video Poker: The Snake in the Video Poker Eden9 December 2000
The casinos of America are fast becoming video-poker paradises as video poker machines begin to bump traditional slot machines for floor space. No game, be it table or machine, has the sheer variety and number of playing options as does video poker. At latest count, there are well over 100 different games to choose from. If casinos were evolutionary playgrounds, then the survival of the fittest seems to be going to video poker.
That's good news for casinos, who are raking in the profits from these machines, but it is not necessarily good news for most players who seem at a loss to know how to win. You see there is a snake in this new machine Eden, every bit as cunning as the snake that brought down Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In fact, the sheer variety of machines that you can play is simultaneously the charm and the danger of video poker.
Unlike slot machines, a knowledgeable player can get an edge on certain video poker machines or cut the house edge to a bare minimum on others. That sounds good in theory but it's much tougher to do in practice. The first problem appears when trying to figure which machines are which. Is the Jacks-or-Better draw poker machine over here the same as the Jacks-or-Better draw poker machine over there? Maybe. Maybe not.
How can you tell? You have to read the face of the machine. Certain payouts inform us that the machine is a full-pay, close-to-full-pay, or negative payback and by how much. For example, on the archetypal Jacks-or-Better draw poker machine, players know to look for machines that pay 4,000 or more coins on the royal flush when playing full coin, while paying 9 coins on the full house, and 6 coins on the flush on the single coin line. These machines are traditionally classified as "full-pay" 9/6 machines (even though the casino will have a slight edge on them).
However, you could find yourself looking at a machine that looks exactly like a "full-pay" Jacks-or-Better but not notice that the full-house line has been changed from 9 coins to 8 coins and, perhaps, the flush line has been altered and is now paying only 5 and not 6 coins. Suddenly a game that was almost even between the player and the casino will be giving the casino a nice big edge.
That brings me to rule # 1: Know which machines to play.
The second problem comes in when trying to figure out how to play this or that machine. Beatable machines are only beatable if you know the right strategies to employ. If you don't, you could be giving the casinos hefty edges over you on machines that are labeled "full-pay." Now here's the snake: just about every machine has its own distinct strategy to employ to get the best return. Make no mistake about this: video poker is a game where skill in the long run prevails over luck. But how is it possible to know every machine and every strategy for every machine? For most of us it isn't possible. Unless we have a memory like a computer, there's just too much to know.
Luckily, however, we live in an age of ready access to expert knowledge -- knowledge that even the casinos would prefer you didn't know. There are literally dozens of sources of good information on just about every machine the casinos have planted in their gardens -- the beautiful high paying ones and the stink weeds. You just have to know where to go. Frankly speaking, I recommend my own book Victory at Video Poker for starters.
For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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