The purpose of this page is to provide the answers to commonly asked questions about video poker. We’re not going to waste a lot of time with a lengthy introduction; we’re going to get straight into the questions and answers.
If you have a question about video poker you’d like to see answered here, please contact us via our contact page.
If a Casino Has Loose Video Poker Machines, Does that Also Mean Their Slots Are Loose?
You can tell how loose a video poker machine is by looking at its pay table. We know that a 9/6 Jacks or Better game is looser than an 8/5 game. So doesn’t it stand to reason that if a casino offers loose video poker games, they probably have loose slots, too?
We think it does, but we can’t know for sure. Obviously if the manager of a casino has decided she wants to be aggressive and offer high payouts for the video poker games, she might also have the same philosophy as it relates to the other machines on the gaming floor.
There’s just no way to know for sure, though. We think it’s a safe bet.
At the same time, we’re convinced that video poker is always a superior choice over slot machines, too.
Which Is Better? Video Poker or Blackjack?
We love both games, and they both have their pros and cons. Some of it has to do with your bankroll. Some of it has to do with your temperament.
If you’re an introvert, you might prefer video poker to blackjack just because you don’t really have to deal with other players when you’re sitting in front of a video poker machine. If you’re an extrovert, enjoying the company of the other blackjack players might be a big part of the experience for you.
If you’re a low roller, then video poker might make a lot of sense. You can play for a quarter, and so for 5 coins, you’re looking at $1.25 per bet. You’re lucky to find blackjack games with a $5 minimum, so that’s a big difference there. But when you take into account the pace at which you’re playing, you get a slightly different picture.
An average video poker player is getting 600 hands in per hour. At $1.25 per hand, that’s $750 per hour.
An average blackjack player at a table with only 2 or 3 other players is only getting in between 100 and 140 hands per hour. That’s between $500 and $700 per hour in action.
So even though you’re playing for lower stakes per bet, you’re putting more money into action per hour at the video poker game. So either game is appropriate for low rollers.
Pay tables and game conditions make a big difference, too. If the best video poker machine in the casino is a 7/5 Jacks or Better game, you probably ARE better off playing blackjack—unless it’s one of those lousy 6:5 blackjack games with the reduced payout.
Do Video Poker Machines Get Hot and/or Cold in the Same Way that Slot Machines Do?
Slot machines don’t get hot or cold except in retrospect, and neither do video poker machines.
The random number generator is blissfully unaware of what happened on the previous result. It has no way of seeing that it just paid out a royal flush and therefore shouldn’t deal one for 40,000 more hands.
The odds of getting any give hand on a video poker game are the same regardless of what happened on the hand before.
This kind of thinking is a good example of the gambler’s fallacy. This is a math/logic error that many gamblers fall prey to.
The idea is that if you’ve lost several times in a row, you’re more likely to win on your next bet. Or if you’ve won several times in a row, you’re more likely to lose on your next bet.
Another idea related to this is the idea that if you’re on a winning streak, you’re likely to continue getting luck because the machine is hot. Or if you’re on a losing streak, it’s liable to continue.
The reality is that these streaks are nothing more than standard deviation and volatility in action. Your winning streak can end at any time. So might your losing streak.
But how long it’s gone on has no bearing on whether or not it continues.
No, the machines don’t get hot or cold in video poker. Every deal of the cards is an independent trial, unaffected by the previous trials.
Does the Machine Pay Out Less if I Insert My Slots Club Card?
The random number generator in a video poker game operates independently of the slots club card. The games have no mechanism for adjusting the frequency of winnings hands based on whether or not you’ve inserted your slots club card.
The casino already has an edge. If you play long enough, you will eventually lose all your money. It’s mathematically inevitable, so the casino has no incentive to slow down your winning based on the insertion of your slots club card.
Casino are counting on the mathematical advantage holding true over the aggregate number of players making their aggregate number of wagers. They’re not interested in how well or how poorly an individual gambler does during an individual gambling session.
Where Can I Get the Perfect Strategy for the Video Poker Game I Want to Play?
You can read the pages for each specific video poker game on this site—you can visit our video poker section here:
We include strategy advice for all the games there.
You can also find software which provides you the opportunity to input the rules and pay table for any given video poker game and get a correct strategy chart for it. Here’s a list of software programs to consider:
Frugal Video Poker
Video Poker Strategy Master
You might even be able to find free strategy calculators on the Web, but we’d be more comfortable using a software package that we actually bought from a reputable company.
Finally, we can’t recommend Bob Dancer’s video poker strategy guides highly enough. They’re absolutely terrific, and they’re well-written, to boot. It’s rare to find a gambling strategy book which is accurate while being entertaining at the same time. But Bob Dancer has pulled it off.
He offers books about the correct strategies for the following games:
Jacks or Better
Double Double Bonus Poker
How Does the Random Number Generator Work?
In a real video poker game, as opposed to a pull-tab machine, the odds of getting a particular card are the same as if you were playing with a real deck of cards. But how does a random number generator do that?
A random number generator is just a computer program that cycles through a bunch of numbers constantly, at the rate of a thousand numbers per second or so. When you hit the deal button on a video poker game, the RNG stops at whichever number it’s on.
In the case of video poker, the random number generator has a number that corresponds to each card in a 52 card deck—or a 53 card deck in the case of Joker Poker.
This random number generator works physically in the same manner as the random number generator in a slot machine. The big difference is that the probabilities are all based on a standard deck of playing cards, which enables you to calculate the correct strategy for hands. It also allows you to figure out with some degree of accuracy what kind of house edge you’re up against.
How Does a Progressive Jackpot Affect the Odds in Video Poker?
Some video poker games offer a progressive jackpot for the royal flush. A progressive jackpot is one that grows gradually over time—a tiny percentage of each bet is added to the jackpot. Often these progressive jackpot games are linked, so that if you’re playing one game, you’re fueling the same jackpot as your neighbor. This allows the jackpot to grow even faster.
If you’ve read even one of our other video poker pages on this site, you probably already know that the house edge and the payback percentage are just a function of the payoff for a particular hand. Since we know the odds of getting the various hands, we can figure out the payback percentage based on the payoffs.
Since the payoff for the royal flush has no upper limit, you could theoretically just wait until the jackpot gets high enough that you have an advantage over the casino. You would then be categorized as an “advantage gambler”, like a blackjack card counter. In fact, progressive video poker game players tend to organize themselves into teams to take advantage of these situations.
In the case of a 9/6 Jacks or Better game that you play for a quarter, the payback percentage becomes 100% when the jackpot reaches $1220. Weaker pay tables require a higher jackpot to get to that point. A 7/5 Jacks or Better game would need to have a jackpot of $2600+ before it became a positive expectation game.
These situations happen all the time, though. You just have to watch out for them. Then you have to find a way to get a spot at one of the machines, because the advantage player teams tend to congregate once this situation exists.
Can You Make a Living Playing Video Poker?
Video poker is one of the casino games where you can get an edge over the house if you know what you’re doing. Whether or not it’s a practical way to make a living is questionable. We suppose it’s possible, but it wouldn’t be easy.
For one thing, you’d need to be able to consistently find games where you have an edge. This means watching the progressive games closely to see when you have an opportunity to get an edge over the house.
For another, you’d need a bankroll large enough to last until you actually hit the progressive. A royal flush only comes up once in every 40,000 hands. If you’re playing for $1.25 per hand, that’s $50,000. If you’re playing for $5 per hand, you’re looking at 200,000 hands.
You probably won’t need that much, because you’ll be winning smaller amounts as you go. But it’s obvious you’re going to need enough of a bankroll to carry you through without going broke.
Most professional video poker players either participate in a team or run a team of their own. They watch for opportunities on progressive video poker jackpots, pool their bankrolls, then take over as many open spots on the progressives as possible until someone wins. They split the winnings from that progressive jackpot.
We think playing video poker for a living would be at least as hard as being a card counter who plays professionally. You might be better off learning to play poker with real opponents or figuring out how to make money by handicapping sports.
Can You Combine Online Casino Signup Bonuses with the Low House Edge Available via Video Poker to Get an Edge?
Online casinos offer free money in exchange for you setting up a new casino account with them.
Here’s an example of how such a promotion might work:
Casino ABC offers a 400% matching bonus on your first deposit of $250 or less. That means if you deposit $250, you get a bonus of $1000, for a total bankroll of $1250
Casino ABC also offers 9/6 Jacks or Better, so you figure you can just play video poker with all that free money and make some bank.
There are a couple of countermeasures the casinos have taken to prevent this, though.
For one thing, they require you to make a certain number of wagers before cashing out. These are called “wagering requirements” or “playthrough requirements”. We’ve also seen them called “rollover requirements”.
It’s not uncommon to see an offer like this include a clause where you have to put the deposit plus the bonus into action 35 times in order to achieve your playthrough requirements. You’re not allowed to cash out any winnings until you’ve made at least that many wagers.
35 X $1250 = $43,750
That sounds awful, but keep in mind that on a full pay Jacks or Better game, the house edge is only 0.46%. That’s the amount you stand to lose.
In this case, 0.46% of $43,750 is only $201.25.
$1250 – $201.25 is $1048.75.
But there’s another catch. Online casinos limit which games count toward your wagering requirements. Most of them just don’t count wagers on video poker at all. Some casinos that do allow wagering on video poker only count 10% of those wagers toward your wagering requirement.
That makes a huge difference, because now you have to wager $437,500 in order to fulfill your wagering requirement. The expected loss on that is $2012.50
Since you’re starting bankroll was $1250, you don’t stand to make a profit.
Yes, it’s possible to benefit from a signup bonus and walk away a winner, but you can’t count on it. In fact, you have to get just as lucky (or luckier) than any random person placing any random bet.
You can’t blame the casinos for this, by the way. They’re not in business to be taken advantage of by advantage players. In fact, if they didn’t protect themselves in this way, anyone with a little bit of knowledge and some math skills would be able to take the casino for a lot of money. Then the casino would have to close, and we wouldn’t have anywhere to play.
What Is the Best Video Poker Game to Play?
Full pay Deuces Wild has the best return of any video poker game we’ve seen, but a Deuces Wild game with that kind of pay table is rarer than hen’s teeth these days.
We’re big fans of Double Bonus Poker. With the right pay table, the game offers a 0.17% edge to the player. That’s right—Double Bonus Poker offers a 100.17% payback percentage. You can find this game with the appropriate pay table at many of the casinos located near the Boulder Strip in Las Vegas. Some of the casinos we recommend checking include Boulder Station and the Four Queens in Downtown Las Vegas.
If you play with players club card inserted, you’re playing at even more of an advantage, because you’re earning rewards as you play. Those rewards have a certain amount of cash value, and you shouldn’t ignore them. As we’ve indicated in one of the other answers on this page, inserting your slots club card doesn’t affect your chances of winning.
Is It Illegal to Play Video Poker Online?
It’s not illegal to play video poker online if you stick with the free games. But if you’re playing for real money, the situation is a little bit different. It depends on where you live, mostly.
In the United States, no one has ever been arrested or convicted for playing casino games over their computer. Enforcement activities have been limited to the companies providing the games.
Does that mean you could never be arrested for playing video poker online for real money?
We can’t say that.
Is it likely?
Well, no. Any reasonable person can see that it’s unlikely in the extreme.
What the murky legal situation in the United States does accomplish though is making it hard for a player to transfer money to and from a casino. It also gives a player little legal recourse if an online casino rips him or her off.
These are facts to keep in mind when you’re making a decision about playing online. You can consult our gambling law section for more details.
Am I Allowed to Take Notes or Use a Cheat Sheet When I Play?
Land-based casinos have funny rules about certain things. For example, they don’t like you to take pictures or video of their games. This probably has something to do with preventing cheats, but it seems a little silly to us.
But it also leads to a legitimate question. If you can’t take a picture of the pay table, can you write down the details on a piece of paper? Are you allowed to take notes when you’re sitting in front of a video poker game in a casino?
The short answer is yes, you are allowed to take notes. As gambling writers, we do this all the time.
You’re also allowed to use a cheat sheet, although video poker strategy is probably easy enough that you wouldn’t need one. Cheat sheets are used at the blackjack table all the time, so we can’t imagine a casino would have a problem with your using one at the video poker banks.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Play Video Poker for Real Money?
In most casinos throughout the world, you have to be 18 or 21 in order to play video poker for real money. The age restrictions vary according to your jurisdiction. 21 is the more common age when you’re discussing online casinos, but land-based casinos usually tend toward the 18 years old requirement.
Do All Online Casinos Offer Video Poker?
No, they don’t. A notable example of a casino that wouldn’t offer video poker would be any casino that exclusively offers live dealer games via Webcam. Since they don’t offer any kind of gambling machines at all, only table games like blackjack and roulette, you won’t find video poker among their offerings.
You might run into other casinos which for some reason or another don’t offer video poker, but it is a standard item on the menu at most online casinos. It’s unusual to find an online casino that doesn’t offer the game.
Of course, some of this depends on your definition of an online casino, too. If you think a sports betting site is an online casino, you might find one that doesn’t offer casino games at all. The same thinking applies to poker rooms or bingo halls. They’re not traditional casinos, so they might not offer traditional casino games.
Why Do Video Poker Strategy Charts Vary?
Some video poker strategy charts are different from others, but they all claim to be offering the optimal strategy. How does that work? Shouldn’t they all be the same?
The thing to remember about video poker strategy is that it’s not as easy to put into a chart or a table as blackjack basic strategy. You need to be able to keep a video poker strategy chart short enough to be manageable. At the same time, you want it to be accurate.
Different experts have different approaches to making this happen. That’s why a strategy chart from Bob Dancer might look a little different from a strategy chart from Jean Scott. Both are excellent, and both are experts. They just have a slightly different way of presenting the information.
How Do You Deposit and Withdraw Money into an Online Casino in Order to Play Video Poker?
Various casinos have various deposit and withdrawal methods available. Most casinos accept credit cards, but not all credit card issuers honor these charges. It’s not unusual for such a charge to get declined because of its nature.
Online wallets that specialize in the gambling niche are also commonly used for this purpose. These work like PayPal, but they often have distinctive names like Neteller.
BitCoin is becoming a more popular means to fund your casino account and also to make withdrawals.
Old fashioned bank wires and paper checks are also possible sources, but this depends on the casino’s policies and the size of the transaction.
Cash transfers via Western Union or similar services are also sometimes possible.
Most online casinos have a cashier section you can peruse before you even sign up to play there. We recommend looking at which methods are available before signing up.
Our casino reviews include details about the banking methods in use at each casino, too.
How Big a Bankroll Do I Need for Video Poker?
If you’re playing a game where you don’t have an edge, as in most video poker games, it doesn’t matter much. If the house has the edge, you’ll always lose all your money eventually.
On the other hand, some players want to have enough of a bankroll to see a royal flush before going broke.
And other players want to have a large enough bankroll that they can afford to play professionally.
A good rule of thumb is to have at least 1000 betting units for the game you’re going to play. So if you’re playing for $1.25 per hand, you’re looking at $1250.
That’s the minimum you should have. The bigger your bankroll, the better your chances are of achieving your goal before going broke.
A conservative player might decide to double that amount and maintain a bankroll of $2500.
And of course, if you’re playing higher stakes, like $5 per hand, you’ll need a correspondingly higher bankroll. $5000 or $10,000 would be reasonable sized bankrolls at that level.
Which Casino Offers the Best Video Poker Online?
We’re big fans of both Bovada and Slots.lv, especially if you’re a video poker player from the United States. They’re both reputable operations which provide excellent customer service to USA players. The importance of those qualities can’t be overstated, either. Because of the legal situation in the United States, a casino’s reputation is of incredible importance.
Of those two, the better choice if you have a diverse range of gambling interests is Bovada. They offer casino games, sports betting, live poker, and bingo games. On the other hand, if you’re only interested in video poker, or maybe video poker and slot machines, Slots.lv is probably the better choice.
You can learn more about each casino by reading our detailed reviews:
We think the credit for video poker, at least as it’s played today, belongs to Si Redd, who owned a company called SIRCOMA in the 1970s. In 1979 they introduced a game to the casinos called Draw Poker. It was essentially the same game as Jacks or Better. The big innovation that Jacks or Better brought to gameplay was its even money payout for a pair of jacks or better.
SIRCOMA went on to become IGT, International Game Technology. Video poker went on to become one of the most popular games in the casino, with literally dozens of variations available. It’s one of the newest innovations on the casino floor, still. Most other new games are house-banked versions of poker, which are neat as far as table games go, but they’re not the kind of revolutionary, industry-changing phenomenon that video poker was and still is.
What’s the Difference between Video Poker Games and Pull Tab Games?
Most video poker games are required by law to duplicate the odds and action of a deck of cards. But in some jurisdictions, video lottery terminals look like video poker games without duplicating that action. You’re basically just playing a lottery game that looks like a video poker game.
We think this is deceptive and shouldn’t be allowed by the regulatory bodies in those areas, but no one asked our opinion before rolling those games out.
This page of questions and answers about video poker games can and should continually expand. Please write in with questions that we didn’t answer here. We’ll expand the page using your questions as our source of topics. You can find our contact page here.