Most video poker players are members of the player’s clubs at the casinos they frequent. Most of these players are also aware that in most cases video poker is treated differently than standard slot games – sometimes very differently.

This article discusses the trade-offs between player’s club benefits and video poker returns.

Hopefully this information will help the reader pick the best options for their style of play.

Table of Contents

1. The current video poker landscape

To put it quite bluntly, the current video poker landscape is nowhere near as good as it was a decade or more ago.

In the past, returns of near 99% or higher were common. Today, returns approaching 99% are rare. Mediocre returns of 95% or so, which were rare years ago, are now readily found.

2. The current state of player’s club benefits

Unfortunately, player’s club benefits have suffered the same fate as video poker returns. In the not-so-distant past, comps were fairly generous. 

As casinos were taken over by large corporations and the monthly and quarterly bottom line became the business drivers, comp levels came under scrutiny. Many casinos once awarded $1 for each $1,000 played through video poker games – the same rate as standard slots.

Casinos soon reduced the cashback to $1 for each $2,000 of video poker play. While a few casinos still offer that level of video poker cashback, most offer far less.

It is also common for today’s casinos to offer no cashback for video poker games that have good returns.

Even though casinos offer some cashback for video poker play, they preclude play from earning other benefits such as point multipliers, chances to win free play or other prizes, as well as many other promotions.

This seems to be the direction most casinos are going – fewer (or no) player’s club points and/or video poker exclusion from other promotions.

Video Poker

3. Tradeoffs between player’s club benefits and game returns

Player’s club points and benefits are real and tangible. Higher returns from video poker games are also real and tangible. The question is – what are the tradeoffs between the two?

Advantages: 

  1. Player’s Club
    • Fixed amount of cash back/free play based on points earned for play. For example:
      • $5 played through video poker earns 1 point.
      • 1,000 points is worth $1 in free play, cash back, or credit on meals or in the casino’s logo shop.
      • $5,000 of play earns $1 which equals 0.02%.
    • Player may be eligible for other promotions not directly calculated on play:
      • Free tournament entry.
      • Free meals or meal credit.
      • Free room or room credit.
      • Free gifts.
      • Free drawing for prizes.
      • Free cruises, sporting events, or other outings
  1. Higher video poker returns
    • Long-term bankroll improvement due to lower house edge. Depending on the game and pay table, the player could see a one to 2% increase in the long-term return.

4. High-value perks for video poker players

Video poker players, indeed casino gamblers in general, are an eclectic group of people. Things that are very important to some are not even considered by others. 

Some video poker players enjoy the challenge of getting the highest return from their play. They have no desire to spend a night at the casino. They have no desire to eat at gourmet restaurants. They do not drink alcohol, so free drinks do not matter to them.

Other players tolerate playing the lower-return games. Their sights are set on all the other little goodies that are available. They come from a distance and enjoy spending a night or two away from home. They enjoy the finer things in life so gourmet restaurants are important. They also like to let go and thoroughly enjoy themselves so free alcohol is welcomed. They also enjoy the excitement of free tournaments and other promotions.

Casino management knows this and tries hard to cater to all types of players. I suspect they will continue to do so if it brings in the players and, more importantly, their money.

Video Poker

5. Analyzing all perks to determine the best option

As mentioned above, players have different motivations. Some of the motivators are driven by the player's personality. Others are driven by the availability of casinos in the local area. If there is decent video poker close by, spending nights at the casino hotel is not important. However, if the closest casinos are hundreds of miles away, spending a couple of nights is the way to go.

Players not interested in all the perks of a player’s club might very well try to find casinos that offer high-paying video poker games even though they do not qualify for any player’s club perks. Taking home more money is their driving motivator.

Players who enjoy the whole gamut of casino offerings will make sure that their player's card is always inserted and stay away from games that offer drastically reduced or non-existent player’s club points.

Still other players will try to find a casino that offers decent (though not necessarily great) returns and good comps.

Most video poker players look for the best combination of all the possible perks and frequent those casinos. They take advantage of what the casino has to offer. If there happen to be certain games that offer high returns but no player’s club points, they may play those games for a while. Then they return to lower-paying games that supply the free food, drink, rooms, and other promotions.

6. Summary

  1. Deciding between very good video poker returns and other casino comps is a very personal decision.
  2. Easy, close access to casinos with good pay tables might obviate the need for free nights.
  3. Possibly the best answer is to choose the casinos and games that give the player what they crave most.

Fortunately, there are still lots of choices of casinos that have a wide variety of offerings for all types of video poker players.
 

About the Author
By

Jerry “Stickman” has been involved in casino gambling for nearly 30 years. He is an expert in blackjack, craps, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He started playing blackjack in the late ‘80s, learned several card counting systems and used these skills to become an advantage blackjack player and overall winner of this game. He also acquired the skills necessary to become an overall winner in the game of craps, accomplishing this by a combination of throwing skill and proper betting techniques. Stich is also an overall winner playing video poker.