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Video Poker - An Alternative to Slots

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Many people have now switched from regular slots to video poker in the last ten years since video poker was introduced. Video poker is a form of slots, but for many reasons, it is considered to be more than just another slot machine. Players who switch from slots to video poker often find that their gambling sessions become both more interesting and more profitable once they have switched.

Although many players have switched to video poker, there are still a lot of players who are uninformed about the differences between the two and see no reason to switch. As a result, they lose out on the enjoyment that playing video poker provides for players.

If you go to either Atlantic City or Las Vegas, you will notice that most of the locals are playing video poker. This should be an indication to you of which is more profitable. If the slots were more profitable, the locals would be playing them. Once they discover that they make more money playing video poker, most of the locals abandon the slots for good.

Casinos are getting more video poker machines all the time in order to keep up with the demand. The Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City now has four times as many video poker machines as it did when it first opened.

Here are some things you should know about video poker if you currently enjoy playing the slots. Hopefully, after reading this article you will be convinced to give video poker a try.

Not Just Slots

One difference between video poker and slots is that the payout for video slots is often much better. Video poker machines pay out 96% to over 100%, while regular slot machines normally pay out 90% to 97%.

Because of the higher payouts, you have a much better chance of doing well playing video poker. Many people play for years and remain at break-even or better, counting comps and benefits. Plus, it is pretty easy to locate the best machines in video poker.

Video poker includes an element of skill that makes the game more challenging as well as more interesting. It also increases the level of satisfaction you will feel after playing, whether you win or lose.

Before playing video poker at the casino, you should try to learn as much as you can about the game first. There are many resources available that can help you learn. You can find books, magazines, videos and even computer software to help you learn. That way, you can get good at playing before you go to the casino.

There are three things you need to learn before you play video poker. First, you must learn which machines to play. Then you must learn how to play them. Last of all, you must have a realistic idea of what results to expect.

Deciding Which Machines to Play

Video poker machines bring up cards randomly, and since we know how many and what kind of cards are in a deck, it is possible to determine the payback of each machine by looking at the pay schedule. Each video poker machine must have a pay schedule attached to it. A player can determine from this information what the odds are for winning.

With slots, this is not possible because the wheels do not always stop randomly. You never know what is happening with slot machines.

Here is an example of a typical pay schedule for video poker. This is for a game called Draw Poker.

Royal Flush 250/800
Straight Flush 50
Four of a Kind 25
Full House 8
Flush 5
Straight 4
Three of a Kind 3
Two Pairs 2
Pair Jacks or Better 1

This chart shows the number of credits paid out for each one played. If two credits are played, you would double the amounts to get the payout. The royal flush offers a bonus of 800 credits in this example if you play five credits at a time.

With the use of a computer, you can figure the payback percentage for different machines. There are many charts online that show the paybacks for typical pay schedules. In this example, the payback is 97.3% and the bonus for the royal flush with 5 coins adds another 1.1%. You can use this information to choose the best machines to play on.

Strategy for Playing

In order to maximize the payoff in video poker, you must know which cards to hold and which to discard in the pre-draw hand. In many cases, this is obvious when playing draw poker. In about 25% of the pre-draw hands, however, there are several possibilities for how to play the hand. For these hands, you need to know which option is most likely to result in a winning hand.

For example, if the initial cards are 6D 7D 8D 9H 9S, there are three possible ways to play it. You could keep the 6D 7D 8D, hoping for a straight flush, or the 6D 7D 8D 9H (or 9S) to try for a straight, or hold the pair of 9’s. To make this decision, refer to a “ranking table” to help you with your strategy.

There are ranking tables available for every version of video poker worth playing. You can purchase them online for a reasonable price. Once you have studied the table, you will know which move gives you the best chance of winning. In the example above, you are better off to keep the pair of nines.

It is common for beginning players to take the strategy table to the casino with them and consult it while playing until they learn the strategy well enough to play without the card.

What Results to Expect

Once you know the pay schedule and payback for the machine you are playing, you can determine some additional information that will help you in playing video poker. You can determine how often each winning hand will occur, the streaks that are likely to show up and the percentage of hands that will lose. You can also determine how large your bankroll should be when you play the game.

The royal flush will appear approximately once in every 40,000 games and about 55% of all games will be losers. Approximately 21% of the games will just return the amount of the bet.Knowing these percentages will give you a good idea of what to expect while playing the game. This will keep you from getting discouraged when normal streaks appear during game play.

Now you know the basics of playing video poker. Take some time to learn how to play well, and you will have a much better chance at winning.
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Sarah Harrigan has been involved as a player and researcher on online casinos and online gambling since 1996. She has created this site as a safe haven for all gamblers, new and old. With over 2500 online casinos to choose from, the majority being unreputable she felt compelled to use her experience as a player to give back in terms of online gambling tips and strategies. Because of her research background you will find her reviews very honest and refreshing and we hope you will find this site very useful.
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