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Important video poker tips

20 June 2013

  • Video poker players often find themselves with four parts of a straight, but before you draw, remember that not all straight draws are created equal.

Dealt 5-6-7-8, you have eight possible cards to complete the straight -- the four 4s remaining in the deck, and the four 9s. You also have four parts of a straight when you’re dealt 5-6-7-9, but there are only four cards that will complete the straight -- the four 8s.

Here’s the tip: In Jacks or Better video poker, if you’re dealt four parts of a straight that’s open on both ends, go for it. But if your draw for the straight is on the inside, don’t bother unless at least three of your cards are Jacks or higher.

  • My e-mail brought this question: “In Jacks or Better video poker, I get 125 coins for four aces. In Double Bonus Poker, I get 800 for the same hand. Does Double Bonus give you four aces less often to make up the difference?”

Actually, we hit four aces MORE often on Double Bonus than on Jacks or Better. That’s because we adjust our drawing strategy to yield more chances at that 800-coin bonanza.

Here's the tip: Video poker games need not tinker with frequency of winning hands to change the odds. It’s all done within the pay table. The cards you see remain randomly dealt.

  • The late Lenny Frome, one of the first video poker analysts, a pal to players and a more than worthy candidate for the Gaming Hall of Fame, was a friend of mine, and we often talked video poker.

In Las Vegas one night he told me, “I have people tell me they never hit straight flushes,” he said, "and then I watch them play. The reason they don’t hit straight flushes is that they don’t play for them.”

Dealt a hand such as 4 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 10 of diamonds, jack of spades, queen of clubs, most players don’t even notice the 8-10-queen of the same suit that is a potential straight flush.

Here’s the tip: In most video poker games, a three-card straight flush with a high card such as 8-10-queen is a better play than two unpaired high cards of different suits. Watch for those straight flush opportunities.

  • In video poker, about 2 percent of long-term payback percentages comes from royal flushes. On machines with progressive jackpots, the long-term payback percentage rises about half a percent for every 1,000 coins added to the royal flush payoff.

That’s important to serious players who play only high-yield games. They know that a 9/6 Jacks or Better game that usually pays 99.5 percent with expert play exceeds 100 percent when they see a jackpot of about 5,000 coins.

Here's the tip: When progressive royals push a video poker payback percentage past 100 percent, that doesn’t make it any more likely that you’re going to win in any one session. The royal still will turn up only about once per 40,000 hands, and in between, you still have a lower-paying game.

  • Most video poker games pay 4,000 coins for a royal flush if you've wagered five coins. But if you've wagered four coins, the royal pays only 1,000. Essentially, 3,000 coins of that payoff comes for betting the fifth coin.

One consequence is that the casino makes all its money on the first four coins of video poker wagers. On the fifth coin, the player has an edge, one that reduces the overall house edge on the game.

Here's the tip: Stay within your bankroll -- if you can't afford to bet five coins and want to play one or two, that's your business. But never bet FOUR coins on a video poker game. That maximizes house profits, while you pass up the good part that comes with the fifth coin.


  • Double Double Bonus Poker is the most popular video poker game around, largely because of the 2,000-coin bonanza for four aces when the fifth card is a 2, 3 or 4.

The smart player keeps an eye on the aces, know that one big hit will make up for a lot of missed smaller payoffs.

Here's the tip: In Double Double Bonus Poker, break up a full house to keep three aces, break up two pair to keep just two aces, and hold just a single ace instead of holding king-queen or king-jack of different suits. However, even in Double Double Bonus, queen-jack is a stronger drawing position than a single ace.

Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski