Most of the time, video poker is one of the best games to play in a casino, however, this is not always the case. It is important to know how to identify a good video poker machine and why you should avoid the poor ones.
Las Vegas is by far the largest casino market in the United States, and video poker returns can vary widely from one casino to another here. The best games are found in the locals market away from the Strip, while the worst games are located at McCarran International Airport. With that said, there are also a lot of games that land somewhere in between.
Outside of the airport, the Las Vegas Strip is usually the worst place to play video poker. The returns are typically lower than ones that are located elsewhere. Locals never play these games. They are reserved for tourists that do not know any better.
What Makes a Video Poker Machine Terrible?
The return on video poker games without wild cards is usually decided on flush and full house hands. A good video poker machine will return 6 on a flush and 9 on a full house for every coin wagered. This includes Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker Deluxe, Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus. Most poor games will pay 5 on flush and 8 on a full house. This is a good pay table for standard Bonus Poker, but not for its variants.
Deuces Wild machines that short pay will return just 3 on a full house. They will also pay less than 10 on a straight flush and 15 on five of a kind. A poor Joker Poker or Double Joker Poker game will make a pair of aces or two pair the lowest paying hand, as opposed to a pair of kings. It may also pay just 5 on a full house and 4 on a flush.
All of the games that short pay the hands described above should be avoided.
Playing Higher Denominations
Most of today’s video poker machines spread multiple games and denominations. A single game may offer nickels, quarters, half dollars and dollars. Some may go as high as $5 coins per bet. These video poker machines will often have better payouts for quarters and above, shorting the nickel players. Some higher end casino will not provide a decent pay table until $1 coins are played.
Playing Max Coins
Players may increase their return by playing the maximum number of coins. This is usually five. It is better to play five nickels than a single quarter, even if the pay table is improved on the higher denomination. That is because a royal flush will pay 800 coins for every one bet when a royal flush is made. Bets of less than five coins will only return 250 to 1.
Players Card Restrictions
It is difficult to learn all of the video poker returns. There is one sure sign that a machine offers a better return than others at a casino. If there is a sign that discloses a player’s card restriction then that game is a good one to play. The restriction may be that it returns fewer points or is disqualified from promotions. The device may not take a players card at all.
It is better to play a restricted game than it is to earn points on one with a lower return. The difference in the pay table will more than offset the lost points and comps.
Coin Operated Video Poker Games
Downtown Las Vegas and the surrounding locals market still spread old coin operated video poker machines. These typically return higher paybacks than newer ones that operate on tickets. That is because the pay tables cannot be altered from the superior returns from the past.
Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming resorts away from the resort corridor spread games that return almost 100 percent. In fact, a few games at these casinos pay more than 100 percent of every coin wagered. Many will be advertised with this fact. The return is based on playing the maximum number of coins per hand and following proper strategy.
Proper Video Poker Strategy
It is imperative to learn proper strategy when playing video poker. This will teach you when to throw a pair away to go for a straight or flush. It will also help you hit more royal flushes. Not knowing how to play the game correctly will result in you losing 5 or 10 percent more of your wagers to the house.