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Video Poker - FAQ
Jan from Ontario, Canada
There are two software programs that can produce near optimal strategies for almost any video poker game. One if Video Poker Strategy Master by Tom Ski and the other is Frugal Video Poker by Jean Scott. Winpoker 7.0 promises to offer this feature as well but as of this writing it is not out yet. I don’t like to give away too many video poker strategies for free because other experts have to make a living selling video poker software or strategy cards.
Vance & Ashley Dennis
No! You can get a near optimal strategy for almost any game with Video Poker Strategy Master or Frugal Video Poker.
Video poker does not suit itself well to books. There are so many different games and pay tables, and they add new ones so quickly, that a book would be dry and quickly outdated. I recommend getting video poker software that can produce a strategy for almost any game. Two examples of such software are Video Poker Strategy Master and Frugal Video Poker.
Ray and Katherine from Florida
Given the same pay table the strategy is exactly the same for 1-play, 3-play, 100-play, and any-play. Personally I prefer the multi-play games if the pay tables are the same. However the multi-play games usually have stingier pay tables. The more the hands, the worse the pay table.
I think different video poker makers do it different ways. On all at least the draw cards are determined when the player presses the button. I think some also determine the draw cards at this time. Others keep shuffling the remaining 47 cards until the player presses the button to draw the replacement cards.
Often with progressives part of each dollar bet goes to seeding the next meter. This way when somebody pops the jackpot the next meter does not start at a small amount but the secondary meter has already grown to a respectable amount. The percentage devoted to the second meter is not necessarily constant but sometimes increases as the primary meter grows. Not that you asked, but in some games like those at Be the Dealer there is a different jackpot for each coinage, and each jackpot is proportional to the coinage. The way I think they do that is what I call a "super meter" that all coinages contribute to. Then each specific coinage gets a share of the super meter in proportion to that coinage divided by the sum of all coinages. For example if they had a progressive video poker game in coinages of 5 cents, 25 cents, $1, and $5 and the super meter had $100,000 then the $1 game meter would have (1/6.75)*100,000 = $14,814.81.
Most machines I’ve seen that tell you what to hold do use the proper strategy, but the better the paytable, the less likely the machine will be to offer advice in the first place. And I’ve never seen a machine with a positive expectation that told you what cards to hold.
As for the accuracy of the advice -- Microgaming Internet casinos do follow optimal video poker strategy. However I’ve played some machines at a racetrack in Delaware that advised the player on which cards to hold, and the advice was clearly incorrect.
Yes, I take notes in the casino all the time. The only time I have had trouble was when the Suncoast prohibited me from playing slots and writing at the same time when I was taking notes for my Las Vegas slot machine survey. Camera usage seems to be much more tolerated lately, so lately I have been taking pictures of rule screens and pay tables when I have my camera available. I also usually have cheat sheets in my possession when playing video poker, in case I run across a hand I don't know how to play, which is rare. I keep the cheat sheets hidden but have never had a problem whipping them out in a pinch. The reason you don't see other players with cheat sheets is about 99.54% of video poker players don't know what they are doing and the rest have the strategy memorized.
Kevin from Fallon
Thank you for the kind words. I passed along your question to an industry insider. Here is his reply.Manually stopping video reels early has no impact on the outcome. If it did, this would make it a true physical skill game, which is not legal in any US class 3 gaming jurisdiction that I know of. In fact, in some states, physical slot games which can award cash or prizes are allowed only if they offer a true physical stop mechanism which turns the device into a physical skill game.
Jack from Georgetown
Video Poker strategy charts are not an exact science. There is always a tradeoff between brevity and accuracy. There are also issues about the best way to express a rule. Unless there was a huge emphasis on simplicity, it is unlikely two writers would come up with the same strategy.
Diana from Albuquerque
It is probably not a real video poker machine, but a "pull tab." In jurisdictions with heavy regulation, like New Mexico, players should be careful that they understand what they are playing. With a pull tab the win is predestined. The cards are just for show.
Omer from Freemont, CA
I think that theory holds water. When I did my Las Vegas slot machine survey, I found the looseness of a casinos slots and video poker was highly correlated.
My best guess is Royal Aces Bonus Poker. I’ve seen it only once in Mesquite years ago. It pays 800 for four aces, but compensates with a lowest paying hand of a pair of aces, as opposed to the usual jacks. Here is the return table.
Royal Aces Bonus Poker
|Three of a kind||3||1,470,711,394,284||0.073782||0.221346|
|Pair of aces||1||1,307,753,371,584||0.065607||0.065607|
The standard deviation is 13.58! That is over three times as high as 9-6 Jacks or Better at 4.42.
However, if you limit me to games that are easy to find, my nomination is Triple Double Bonus, with a standard deviation of 9.91. Here is that pay table.
Triple Double Bonus Poker
|4 aces + 2-4||800||1,402,364,496||0.000070||0.056282|
|4 2-4 + A-4||400||3,440,009,028||0.000173||0.069031|
|4 aces + 5-K||160||2,952,442,272||0.000148||0.023699|
|4 2-4 + 5-K||80||6,376,626,780||0.000320||0.025592|
|3 of a kind||2||1,468,173,074,448||0.073655||0.147309|
|Jacks or better||1||3,944,045,609,748||0.197863||0.197863|
This question was raised and discussed in the forum of my companion site Wizard of Vegas.
Yes! There are lots of situations where there is a tie for the highest expected value. For example, a dealt four of a kind in Jacks or Better. It doesn't make any difference whether you hold the kicker or not. Another is with a dealt two pair in full pay deuces wild. The correct play is to hold just one of the pairs, and it doesn't matter which one. However, in both these examples the chances of each possible outcome is the same on the draw.
A hand where there is a difference in variance is in full pay deuces wild with a hand that could be played as three to a straight flush with two gaps or four to an inside straight. For example, suited 8-6-4 with an off-suit 7 and king. The following two tables show the expected return of each viable play.
Holding Three to a Straight Flush
|Three of a kind||1||45||0.041628||0.041628|
Holding Four to a Straight
The bottom right cell of each table shows an expected return of 16/47 (34.04%) for each hand. However, the variance of holding four to the straight is 0.564962 and three to the straight flush is 1.397524.
My thanks to Bob Dancer for bringing this hand to my attention.