Video Poker Chapter 8




Prior to this chapter you have learned everything you need to know about video poker in order to begin live casino play. You now know how the various different video poker games work. You learned about bankroll sizes. You learned about strategy charts; how they are developed and how they are used for live casino play. You now have all the tools you need to become a successful player of live casino video poker – or even online video poker for that matter.

In this chapter you will learn several tips for making the most of your actual live casino video poker play. From finding the best video poker game to play, to tips on live video poker playing etiquette, to how fast to play your chosen video poker game, it is all in this chapter.

Also presented in this chapter are tips concerning when to stop playing your favorite video poker game while in the casino, and the importance of hitting a royal flush in order to achieve a winning position while playing video poker. Finally, there are tips about casino slot player’s clubs and their impact upon your live casino video poker playing results.

Are you ready to have at it?

Alright, let us begin.

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Chapter 8.1


Video poker caught on because it appeared to be easier and less intimidating to play than table games. Video poker games are like slot machines except the players have a say in the outcome. The rules for play were simple; place a bet, deal a hand, select the cards to hold, draw replacements, and see the results. These playing rules are much simpler than all of the myriad bets that are available while playing live casino craps for example. In live casino or online video poker play there is no such thing as a pass line or come bet, a don’t pass or don’t come bet, place bets, lay bets, field bets, “yo-eleven” bets, whirl bets, big red, hard way bets, hop bets and the list goes on.

Even if the playing rules are fairly straightforward as is the case with live casino blackjack, video poker (whether live casino video poker or the online video poker) pits the player against the machine. The player is not a part of a pool of other players. It is therefore less intimidating than blackjack. It is well-known that casino blackjack players cannot resist giving advice to and complaining about other players who may not play exactly as they would.



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A primary (if not the primary) criterion in determining the best video poker game to play is the return of the game. The reason is simple. The lower the return, the faster your bankroll disappears. And the faster your bankroll disappears, the less opportunity you have of hitting a royal flush or other jackpot-sized hand. Several years back it was fairly easy to find games that returned close to or above 100 percent. Those glory days are now long gone but you can still find some games that return 99 percent up to more than 100 percent. They may be a bit hard to find but these are the games that you should seek out. If you cannot find any games with that high a return anywhere in the casino, you should either play the game with the highest return you can find or simply don’t play. I personally will not play any game that returns less than 99 percent. I have worked very hard to acquire and build my gambling bankroll (401G) and I refuse to waste it on a video poker game that returns too little.


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After finding a decent paying game, what is the next criterion? For me, it is variance. As you previously learned, the higher the variance, the larger the swings in your bankroll. The games that have two, three of more very high paying hands at the expense of lower paying and more common hands have a higher variance. In order to play these high variance games, you must be able to ride out the sometimes very severe drawdowns of your bankroll. Having an adequate bankroll can help, but you must also be able to handle these losses from an emotional standpoint. It is no fun feeding bill after bill into the machine with nothing to show for it a few minutes later. It really affects most people’s attitude while playing. You must be very sure that you will be able to handle the loss cycles both from a bankroll and an emotional standpoint if you decide to play any of the high variance video poker games.

If you have an adequate bankroll and, more importantly, you can handle the emotional roller coaster of a high variance game, you could consider games such as Double Bonus Poker (this is an excellent game from a return standpoint if you can find a full pay 10 / 7 / 5 game), Double-Double Bonus Poker, Triple Bonus Poker or any of the other games that have more than one very high paying hand.

However, if you get to the point where you feel like you want to throw something (or someone) through a window when you are experiencing a long losing streak, it is much better for you to select a low variance game. Some good low variance video poker games are Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, and Pick ‘Em / Pick A Pair Poker. These are among the lowest variance of all video poker games available in a live or online casino today.


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The last of the major criteria is the complexity of the video poker game’s playing strategy. In order to get the highest return from any video poker game you must use the proper playing strategy and you must follow that strategy perfectly. Some strategies are fairly simple, others more complex, and still others ridiculously complex.

If you are good at memorizing a long list of rules and you are able to act on them when needed, you might be able to handle any game no matter how complex the strategy. If, however, you have diculty with this, you should select a game with a simpler playing strategy. Having a strategy chart to reference while playing in the casino will greatly reduce the amount of studying and practice that is required to play well, but you should have most of the strategy committed to memory in order to play the video poker game more naturally.

Some of the simpler video poker playing strategies are for the games of Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, some Deuces Wild games, and Pick’Em / Pick A Pair Poker. Later chapters in this Ultimate Guide to Video Poker have the playing strategies included so you will be able to see for yourself just how complex the strategies are for the game or games you may want to attempt to play.

Of course, using the proper playing strategy is not an absolute requirement. It is your money to play as you wish. Using the proper strategy, however, does allow you to stay in the game as long as possible, thereby giving the best chance of hitting a jackpot. If you are taking the time to go through this video poker guide in order to learn to be the best, why would you even consider playing anything but perfect video poker strategy? The bottom line is, the simpler the strategy, the more perfectly you will play it.


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Choosing the perfect video poker game for you to play is entirely up to you. You do not need to use any of the above information in order to choose the video poker game you want to play. But, by making some intelligent choices in choosing and playing your video poker game you will help yourself to increase your fun by giving yourself the best chance of winning. Ultimately, however, you must pick a game that is fun for you to play and that choice is entirely up to you to make.

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KeysIn order to get the maximum return from your live casino video poker play, you should choose a game that has a high return.

KeysDepending on your zest for risk taking, you may choose a low variance (lower risk) or a higher variance (and higher risk) video poker game.

KeysA video poker game with a simple playing strategy is easier to learn and play correctly than a game with a more complex strategy.

KeysUltimately it is you who must decide the degree of thrill you seek as well as the amount of risk you are willing to take in order to decide what type of video poker game you want to play.

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Video Poker Chapter 8.2


“What etiquette?” you may ask. “Did you not say that one of the advantages of playing casino video poker was you did not have to interact with other players like you do when you are playing table games? If that is true, why on earth would I have to worry about my playing etiquette while playing live casino video poker?”

I will admit that if you are playing online video poker from the comfort of your own home and there is no one else around when you play, then there is absolutely no need for any etiquette while you are playing online video poker.

However, a vast majority of video poker play is done in a real live casino. You know, the kind made of brick and mortar or other solid and sturdy materials. In a real, physical casino that offers live casino games to play, there are also real, live people there to play those casino games.

When you play live casino video poker you may not have to directly and intimately interact with other players, but that does not mean that you can be totally oblivious of the other players around you in that casino.

Video Poker

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Practicing a bit of etiquette while playing any game in a casino (whether it is blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat, three card poker, pai gow poker, or any other of the myriad casino table games) is always a good idea.

Have you ever been at a blackjack table where one obnoxious player feels it is his god given duty to tell everyone exactly how each hand should be played? Or, have you played casino blackjack next to a drunken slob who could barely stay seated on the stool next to you, but still wanted to carry on a detailed conversation about current events, or politics, or his wife, or girlfriend, or whatever was on his mind while slobbering all over you and your playing area?

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table games

It is true that for the most part you do not have to interact directly with other casino patrons when you play live video poker. Table games are inherently social games. In live casino blackjack each player in turn must decide whether to hit, stand, double down or split their hand. This is done while all the other players at the table have nothing to do but watch your playing decisions.

In craps, only one person has the dice. All eyes are on this person as the craps game proceeds. The same is true for baccarat, pai gow poker, three card poker, and Caribbean stud. In fact, all live casino table games are social in nature so the entire table watches everyone else who plays at their table.

While playing live casino video poker, however, it is just you and your machine. You do not have to wait for any other players in order to make your bet and play a hand. All of this is good for you. You do not, out of the necessity of the rules of the game, have to wait for others or depend on others to win or lose a bet.

But, even though other players are not part and parcel of the normal flow of the game of video poker, there will be other players around you when you are playing the game. They may be immediately to your left or right. They may be a few stools away from you. But, there are people near you who will be affected by how you act when you play live video poker.

With that in mind, here are seven tips for proper live casino video poker playing etiquette which you need to keep in mind and follow if you want to have a good overall video poker playing experience.


  1. Never (ever) give unsolicited advice to another video poker player. Not everyone will play according to the proper strategy as you will. Every player has their own money that they wager on their video poker play. It is their money to play as they see fit.

  2. If you are asked by another video poker player for advice on how to play a hand, politely defer from answering. You might say something like “I have my own way of playing and you may not get the results you are looking for if you play my way.” Keep in mind that should you tell another video poker player how to hold a hand and it loses, it will be your fault that they did not win.

  3. Do not play drunk where you might end up annoying the player or players next to you (or worse still, spill drinks on them). This should not be any sort of problem for you if you are learning from and following the advice of this guide because you know that you will not be able to play at peak efficiency if you are tired or drunk.

  4. Do not be loud or boisterous while playing live video poker. Again, this will tend to annoy other players that are around you.

  5. If as you sit down next to another player, they pause their play to give you a glance, go ahead and say “hi” to them. Do not, however, take this as an indication that the other player would like to carry on a lengthy conversation. That person is there to play live casino video poker, just as you are, so he or she may want to concentrate on playing. If you are in the mood to chat, take a cue from their body language or responses to your initial comments or questions. Remember that casino table games are social games. Video poker and casino slots are not so much so.
  1. If your machine has a volume setting, consider setting it to the lowest setting. Once again, very loud video poker machines can be very annoying to players around you. Many current live video poker games will make a sound for each card dealt in the initial hand if you press the “Max Credits” button, but will not make any sound if you press the “Deal / Draw” button. You if you have a very loud machine and cannot set the sound any lower you might want to consider using the “Deal / Draw” button to start each new hand. Do not cause any problems for yourself, however. If you do not feel comfortable pressing the “Deal / Draw” button rather than the “Max Credits” button, do not change. Your primary goal is to win all that you can. It is one thing to be courteous when it does not cost you anything. It is quite a different situation when a courtesy extended to others costs you some of your hard earned money.

  2. If you are a smoker, always (always, always) ask the person or persons next to you if they would mind if you smoked. If they do mind, respect their wishes – especially if they were at their video poker machine prior to you sitting down at yours. Even if they say they do not mind and even if they are also smokers, be very careful to keep your lit cigarette away from their space. Even a two pack a day smoker does not like a steady stream of smoke wafting right up their nose.
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As you can see, the above seven tips are really nothing more than common courtesy. Video poker players in a live casino situation play very close to each other. Each player’s actions not only affect him or her but also all of those around them. Playing live casino video poker or any live casino game for that matter can get frustrating – especially when you are losing. You can find more video poker tips on 888casino as well.

Doing everything you can to minimize your impact on others around you will be much appreciated. When it comes to live casino play, just as is true throughout life, the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated is by far the best way for you to go.


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KeysEven though live casino video poker is not a “social game” the way casino table games are, others around you are affected by the things that you do.

KeysProper video poker playing etiquette will make the lives of you and those around you more pleasant.

KeysFollowing the seven tips above is really just following the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated. Keep that in mind and proper etiquette will be natural.

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Chapter 8.3


speed of play

If you are a new live casino video poker player who is just learning the strategy of how to play your current video poker game, your speed of play will no doubt be quite slow. You will want to make very sure that each and every hold you make is absolutely correct.

In fact, if you are at all like most newbie video poker players your actual live casino play will go something like this.

Clearly this process will not be a fast one. In fact, you may be lucky to play more than two or three hands per minute while you are learning how to play the proper strategy. That is just fine. You want to make very sure that everything you are doing is exactly correct. If that means it takes 30 seconds to play one hand, well then, it takes 30 seconds to play each hand.

Over time you will find that you will become more sure of your holds. Repeated practice will gradually speed up your play. As you become more confident, you will refer to your strategy chart less often. As you refer to your strategy chart less often, the time to complete each hand will diminish. Your play will become faster and faster until you find that you never need to refer to your strategy chart.

Hit the max


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Once you reach this point in your video poker playing journey, you are ready for what follows in this section. If you are not now at that point, you can read what follows, but do not worry too much about what is said until you can play your selected live casino video poker game perfectly without referring to a strategy chart.

With that in mind, here we go.

Video poker players each have their own comfort level when it comes to how fast to play their favorite video poker game. That is completely acceptable and normal.


Some set the speed of the machine on the slowest possible setting. They then hit the “Max Credits” button. Next they study the cards that are dealt in great detail. Then, slowly and deliberately, they will use one finger to select each card to be held and then hit the “Deal / Draw” button slowly and deliberately with the same finger. They then study the final hand as if they believe that by staring at it the results of the hand will change. If the hand is a winner, they watch each credit register on the meter. They will then pause a while to make sure the final tally is correct. The process then starts all over. Their playing mantra could be best summed up by William Shakespeare who wrote “Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run too fast.”

Then there are those players on the opposite end of the speed spectrum who seem to be functioning as described by Mario Andretti when he quipped, “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” These players set the machine to play as fast as possible. They position their hands so all the necessary buttons are covered by a different finger in order to have the least amount of wasted motion (and therefore also the least amount of wasted time) during each play. One finger hits the “Max Credits” button. The cards rapidly reveal themselves. In the blink of an eye this player presses all the buttons for the cards to be saved at once using a different finger for each card to be saved. The “Deal / Draw” button is then immediately hit by a still difffferent finger. This player knows that whatever hand appears will not be changed by looking at it.

He knows that the machine will automatically give him the proper number of credits so unless he has a hand that requires a hand pay or one that might require an attendant to check the hand in order to get a bonus of some type, he immediately starts hitting the “Max Credits” button repeatedly to instantly record any credits won on the meter without taking the time to watch them add up. The continued tapping of the “Max Credits” button has the added benefit of immediately dealing the next hand. As you can easily see, the sole goal of this type of player is to get as many hands played in as short a time as possible.

If you have spent any amount of time at a live casino video poker bar, I am sure you have seen both of these types of players as well as everything in between. If you are serious about playing video poker, what is the best speed for you to play the game? Should you play “slow and sure”? Or should you play like a race car driver?

Let us take a look at what all is in play.


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First and foremost, if you are playing a machine where the house has the edge (when you count the return of the video poker game as well as any slot club bonus points, free play, and / or comps you receive), you are much better o pacing your play. The reason for this is the more you play, the more you will lose. Sure you may hit some big winners, but the more you play the closer to the mathematical house edge you will be and the more the house will take of your hard earned money. So if you don’t have an edge (including slot club points, free play, and possibly comps), take your time playing. Don’t rush to give the house any more of your bankroll than you must.

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If, however, you have an edge over the house (including slot bonus points and free play as well as comps) the more you play the more you will win over the long run. You want to play as fast as you can while (and this is a big “while”) still maintaining your accuracy of play. It is possible to play as many as 1,200 hands per hour (and maybe even a bit more) and still play perfect strategy. However, it is difficult to keep such a blistering pace for very long and maintain perfect play. At 1,200 hands per hour you are playing 20 hands per minute. This works out to one hand every three seconds. In those three seconds you have to deal, examine the cards dealt, select cards the cards you decide to hold and hit the “Deal / Draw” button and get ready to deal again.


This is a truly scorching pace to maintain. It can be done, however, for two or more hours if you are rested and alert going into the session. The actual mechanics of play sometimes cause errors. One of the buttons may stick causing a mistake in the hold, but this is very rare. If you find you have a machine with a sticky key, you should either dramatically slow your play to make sure all of your holds are registered or move to another fully functional video poker game.

What does suer over time when play is very fast is the accuracy of analyzing the hands dealt and determining the best cards to hold. This tends to deteriorate over time. You may miss a low pair while instead saving one high card. Or, you may save one pair but fail to notice you have an additional pair. You may find yourself noticing something in the dealt hand after you held the cards and hit the “Deal / Draw” button. What you noticed is something that would have changed your hold. When this happens it is time to slow down. Take a little extra time to make sure you are making the best play possible on each hand. The house makes enough money. Don’t give them more by being reckless. If you find yourself still making mistakes even after slowing down, then it is time to take a break. Get up and leave the area. Take a walk around the casino or even outside. You could even take a nap if that sort of thing works for you. Take time to completely refresh yourself before attacking the video poker machines once again.

When playing with an edge, Wyatt Earp probably said it best when he quipped, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” So make sure you don’t get killed. Make doubly sure you are playing correctly. That is what is really important.


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KeysEarly on in your live casino video poker play you will play very slowly as you gain confidence in your abilities.

KeysOnce you are able to play without referencing your strategy chart you are ready to consider how fast you would like to play your video poker game.

KeysIf the casino has the edge over you when including the video poker game return, slot club points, free play and comps, you should not rush your play. The more you play, the more you will lose.

KeysOnly when you have the edge over the casino do you want to play as fast as you can – that is as fast as you can without making errors.

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Chapter 8.4


stop playing

Video poker or any live casino or online game for that matter can be a lot of fun to play. It can also be extremely frustrating at times. Most video poker players who make a trip to a casino in order to play live casino video poker have a certain amount of play in mind when they arrive. It may be only an hour or so each day, but more likely it is several hours per day.

Some live casino video poker players will have taken some of the sage advice offered in this guide as well as other venues and make sure they have brought with them an adequate bankroll to stake their video poker play for the entire stay at the casino. Certainly you, the reader of this Ultimate Guide to Video Poker, will be among that group, correct?

Of course you will. Not only that, but if you are staying at the casino for more than one session of live video poker, you will split that adequately sized bankroll into separate session bankrolls making sure to keep each of these totally separate and stored in your room safe. You know all the safeguards. You have also taken care to make sure that you have these safeguards in place when you arrive at the casino to begin your glorious sessions of live casino video poker play.

You have checked into your casino hotel. You have placed all of your money in the room safe. All of it, that is, except for the amount you have reserved for your first session of video poker play. You head to the casino with your anticipation running high. You spot an open video poker game which is exactly the game for which you have practiced so diligently to master its strategy. You sit down, settle in and begin your first live casino video poker session.

Like most sessions you have had in the past, the number of credits in your machine goes down a bit. Then you hit a couple of moderate hands and the credits climb. This up and down flow of the credit meter continues for a while and then it happens. It seems you cannot win a hand. No matter how decent the initial hand, you seem to never be able to complete a thing. Every now and then you might get a high pair and get your bet back, but the trend is definitely negative. You feed another bill into your video poker game … then another … and another. The death spiral does not slow down. Soon you have run the last of your session limit through the game. You have burned through your entire session bankroll in what seems like mere minutes.

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What do you do? Do you head back to your room and dip into your bankroll for your next session? After all, this type of luck will certainly change in a short while, won’t it? Or maybe you do consider your session bankrolls as sacred (as you should) and when they are gone they are gone? So you do not head to the room safe, but instead you visit an ATM. After all you have a few extra dollars in your savings account and this streak of atrocious luck will certainly change for the better in a very short while. In actuality, you convince yourself that you are simply borrowing a little bit until your luck changes. You will certainly replace it when you win it back.

Well, I certainly hope that you are not that type of gambler. Nothing guarantees that any bad streak will turn around at any given time. That is why you were given the rules for bankroll management. When you exhaust your video poker bankroll, whether it is your session bankroll or your trip bankroll, you must stop playing. If you do not, you are playing with fire. If you do not have the discipline to stop playing when your bankroll runs out, you very well may not have the discipline to stop until you are completely out of money – including your house payment, grocery money and even the money for your heart surgery.

The first rule for when to stop playing video poker is to stop when your session bankroll is gone. Do not raid your trip bankroll. Do not raid your bank account from an ATM. Just stop – period!

Okay, we have that one totally clarified. Are there other times you should stop playing live casino video poker?


Yes there are. Several of them actually, but none of them are as crucial as stopping when you run out of your session bankroll.

Let’s look at another scenario. You are playing and doing just fine as far as session bankroll is concerned. You are doing so well, in fact, that you have played for several hours and are still basically even or you might be a little bit on the positive side. You have been playing nonstop for three or four hours. You may notice that your eyes are getting a bit blurry at times. You also start to notice that there was a second low pair that would have gone with the high pair that you did hold. You noticed it too late because you had already hit the “Deal / Draw” button. A little while later you may realize that you just let a low pair slip away when you held a lone jack. Again, you did not realize what you did until after you hit the “Deal / Draw” button, so you could not make the correction. A few minutes later, you hold an ace and hit the “Deal / Draw” button. Just as you are doing so you realize you also had a 3 and 4 of the same suit as the ace and you should have included those two cards in your hold.

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Situations such as these do happen periodically, but they should not happen more than once or twice and hour at the absolute maximum. If you find that you are failing to hold properly, either because you just did not see the cards in time or because you did not realize what you actually had in your hand in time to hold properly, you should stop your video poker play for a while.

You do not have to stop for the entire day. Instead you can simply cash out and leave the game for a while. Take your time. Walk around the casino. Better still, leave the casino and take a nice long walk around the area. Try to get your mind completely off the casino and your video poker play. You may even want to go to your room and take a nap.

If after taking this break you feel refreshed and ready to try playing video poker again, go ahead, sit down at a machine and give it another go. It is entirely possible you will have your sharpness once again. If, however, you find that you are still making mistakes, then it is time to leave for the session or perhaps quit for the day.

making mistakes

If you are making mistakes, it is time to stop playing. So stop. You are only hurting yourself if you continue your video poker play.

Now how about another example of when to stop playing video poker? You are playing along and doing okay. Maybe you are a little bit down, but you are holding your own. As you are trying to focus on your video poker play to make sure you are making all the right hold decisions, someone sits down at the machine right next to you. They say “hi” and you respond with a polite but somewhat curt “hello.” But they do not take the cue and try to carry on a conversation. You are as polite as possible, but you really do not want to talk. They continue trying to strike up a conversation by asking you questions about the game or why you made the hold you just made. You are getting a little but edgy and it is starting to affect your play. You miss an easy hold. Then they light up a cigarette. As they puff away the smoke streams right at you. You are frustrated. You are irritated. Let’s face it, you are angry.

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You have two choices; stick it out or quit for a while. The smart choice is to stop playing for a while. When you are frustrated, irritated, or angry it is not possible to fully concentrate on playing the proper strategy. Why give the casino a chance for more of your hard earned money? Whenever you get frustrated, stop playing. It does not have to be for very long. Just take a little walk and let the strong feelings you have slip away until you are once again relaxed and ready to give the game another shot. You are at the casino to make the most you can out of your play, so only play when you are able to do so.

Here is another situation to consider. You have been playing video poker for a while. Things went alright for the first half hour or so, but it has been quite a while since you had anything more than a three of a kind. Your credits are slowly disappearing as you get low pair after low pair and never convert a single one into a paying hand. The person playing next to you has been hitting winner after winner as heralded by the loud staccato sounds emanating from his machine. You are not really frustrated, but you also are not having any fun. You may also be getting a bit tired from playing so long.

Whenever you are not having fun playing your favorite game it is definitely time to stop. Eventually this will turn into frustration and you will start making errors. If you are no longer enjoying your time playing video poker, then stop. Take a break. Take as long as you need until you are ready to once again enjoy the game you made the trip to the casino in order to play.


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Win or Loss Goal

There is one last situation that highlights when to stop playing video poker. You have been playing for quite a while. You have done fairly well. You have won a few hundred additional credits and you are starting to get bored, or edgy. You are really looking for a reason to stop playing. Once to get to this point, you could simply stop, but I like to have a little fun with it. I like to set a couple of stop playing limits – a high limit and a low limit. For example, if I have been hovering in the 400 to 500 credits range, I will set an upper stop limit of 600 credits and a lower stop limit of 400 credits. Notice that I set the upper limit a bit higher in an effort to take a bit more from the game. As soon as I hit either limit, that is it. I am done for that session. By setting the limits when you start getting bored, you are giving yourself something to focus on in order to keep your interest. You are setting the stage to leave before too much more time has passed and you start making some mistakes. You also set the low limit fairly high in order to keep as much as possible of what you have won so far. It is always nice to end a session on an up note. By setting stop limits as described here, you will accomplish that goal.

So far you have learned several situations where you should stop playing video poker. What about a situation where you should not quit playing your favorite live casino game?

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Several gambling pundits pontificate that you should always quit while you are ahead. That is all well and good, but just what does this advice really mean to you and your video poker play? Let us imagine you sit down at your favorite live casino video poker game. You slip a $20 bill into the currency reader. You hit the “Max Bet” button for a $1.25 bet and are dealt a pair of 5’s. You hold the low pair and hit the “Deal / Draw” button. You draw another 5, end up with three of a kind and are paid $3.75. You are ahead by $2.50. If you are to take the gambling pundits advice, it is time to quit playing. You are ahead, so stop, they tell you.


Obviously you made the trip to the casino to play video poker. One hand does not classify as playing video poker. So in this respect, quitting while you are ahead does not really make sense. But there will also be many more times that you will lose your first bet, second bet, third bet, fourth bet and so on. You may burn through your first $20 in a mere 16 hands, never to be ahead for the entire playing session. How can you quit when you are ahead when you are never actually ahead?

While “always quitting when you are ahead” is a nice platitude, it is actually quite unworkable. If you have an adequate bankroll to fund your desired amount of video poker play, you do not have to worry about having to quit as soon as you are ahead. You have the ammunition to continue shooting for the big score – the Royal Flush. It is absolutely fine to have limits (both win and loss) for when you will stop, but always quitting when you are ahead should not be one of them. It just does not work.

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KeysYou must stop play when your session bankroll is depleted. To continue will almost always turn out bad for you.

KeysStop playing video poker if you are making mistakes in playing strategy.

KeysStop playing if you become frustrated, irritated, or angry. You will start making mistakes when in this condition.

KeysIf you are no longer having fun playing video poker, it is time to stop and take a break.

KeysStop playing when you hit a win or loss goal that you have set for your video poker play.

KeysWhile the phrase “always quit when you are ahead” may sound like good advice, it really is unworkable.

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Video Poker Chapter 8.5


As you have learned in the first chapter, one of the main reasons for the popularity of video poker is it usually has a considerably higher payback than slot machines. In fact some games return more than 100 percent for a skilled player. Regardless of which video poker game you play, achieving the long term return percentage is dependent on getting your fair share of royal flushes. By a royal flush I mean the royal flush that really counts – the natural royal flush that is formed without the aid of a wild card. These generally pay 4,000 credits for a five-credit bet or 800 for 1.

royal flush

Most common video poker games return from about 97 percent to more than 100 percent with perfect play. As you learned in chapter 6.2, perfect play means that you are holding for the maximum average return on each hand you are dealt. This means holding cards that will give you the maximum return of all possible hands you could make when starting with the cards you have been dealt. Most of the time you will hold cards in the hope of getting a straight, or a flush, or a high pair. Most often you will not hold in an eort to get a royal flush because most of the time it is not the way to get the highest return from the hand. With perfect play you lose the least possible (or win the most possible if the machine pays more than 100 percent), thereby extending your bankroll for a longer playing time. As you learned previously, most winning hands in video poker are simply considered as just a few more hands that you can play in your quest for a royal flush.

For most of the live casino video poker games currently available, the royal flush adds about two percent to the overall return of the machine. What this means is that you will lose an additional two percent to the casino while playing and not getting a royal flush. That amounts to two dollars for every 100 dollars played through the machine. This is not an insignificant amount and the extra losses can add up fast.

So just how rare are these game altering royal flushes? How frequently can you expect to be blessed by their presence? Here is a look at the math.

In an earlier chapter you learned that there are about 2.5 million possible five card hands that can be made from a 52 card deck. Let us take a look at how that number is determined. In a game that uses a 52 card deck (meaning there are no wild cards) each initial hand dealt consists of:


52 cards

Okay, so what does all this mean to you as a live casino video poker player?

Assuming an even distribution of all the possible hands you should receive a royal flush every 40,000 to 48,000 hands or so. In the rare situation that you are playing Pick’Em / Pick A Pair poker it will be about 352,000 hands. Some advanced players can play over 1,000 hands per hour with great accuracy. The average recreational player probably plays closer to 400 to 500 hands per hour. So an average recreational player will take somewhere between 80 to 120 hours to reach 40,000 to 48,000 hands played. Looking at it from a slightly dierent perspective, you will have two to three standard 40 hour work weeks of play between royal flushes. You can do the math on your own play to see how many playing sessions it will take to play 40,000 to 48,000 hands, but no matter how you look at it you are in for a lot of video poker playing sessions.

There is another fact you must also consider. Royal flushes (or straight flushes, or four of a kinds, etc.) do not appear in an even distribution. You could get two royal flushes back to back, or it might take three, four, five, or more times the average before you see a royal flush.

The only thing that remains constant is that you have about a one in 40,000 plus chance of getting a royal flush on each and every hand you play.

royal flush

What does this mean to you concerning royal flushes?

KeysBe patient. It may be a very long time before you see a royal flush.

KeysPlay perfect strategy. That will help you extend your time playing at the video poker machines and give you added opportunities to get a royal flush.

KeysBe ready for losses averaging at least an additional two percent in between royal flush hits.

KeysPlan your sessions. Have a large enough bankroll to tide you over the losing cycles.

By doing the above, you will have many rewarding hours, days, weeks and months playing live casino video poker.

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KeysOut of 2,598,960 possible hands from a 52 card deck, only four of them are royal flushes.

KeysBecause the return is the same whether the royal flush is dealt or completed with the aid of drawing additional cards the odds of completing a royal flush are generally about one in 40,000 to 48,000 hands.

KeysThere can a very long time between royal flushes.

KeysBy playing perfect video poker strategy and having an adequate bankroll, you will be able to survive the better than two percent loss cycles between royal flushes.

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Video Poker Chapter 8.6



The first slot clubs were introduced in order to generate loyalty to the casino by their patrons. Over time the popularity of slot clubs grew exponentially. Now virtually every casino in the United States has some form of slot club. Casino conglomerates oer slot club benefits that can be earned and used at any or all of their brand’s casinos.

It is no longer a differentiator for a casino to just have a slot club for players to join and earn points. In order to stand out from the other competing casinos, many have chosen to run special promotions for their slot club members.

It seems most of the casinos have special slot club promotions almost every week. Whether it is multiple points on certain days or drawings for free slot play, casinos are scrambling for additional play from their slot club members.

But just how good are todays slot club features and promotions?

The answer is that they vary widely. Let us look at some of the more popular slot club features and promotions.

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Virtually all slot clubs allow the live casino player to earn bonus points which are good for free play on any of the casino’s non-table games. Sometimes the bonus points are even good for cash. The amount of play required to earn a point varies from casino to casino. The norm for downtown Las Vegas as well as most locals joints is one point for every dollar played in reel or video slots and about half that for play on video poker machines (although even these guidelines tend to fluctuate a good deal). On the Las Vegas Strip it might take $5, $10 or even more video poker play for one point. In most cases 1,000 points is worth one dollar in free play (although, again, this figure can vary a good deal). Depending on the formula for earning points and how much the points are worth, this feature can add roughly .05 to .1 percent to the return from the casino’s video poker games.


Slot Membership

Keep in mind that free play differs from cash. Free play must be used for play on games in the casino. If you have $10 worth of free play, you must play that amount of through a machine. Once you have played $10 through a machine, you are free to cash out anything won during play. With cash, you can simply “take the money and run” should you so choose. Cash is worth more than free play because it is 100 percent return, and there is no variance. Free play is subject to the return and variance of the games that are played with it.

Most slot clubs have tier systems in place. As you play video poker or other slot games you earn points. Many of today’s slot clubs have two different types of points; base (or tier) points and bonus points. Tier points are used to determine your tier level and bonus points are used for free play or other comps. If you reach certain thresholds of tier points in a given time period (usually 6 months or one year), you qualify for the enhanced benefits of the upper tier levels. Many clubs oer multiple bonus points as you increase their tier levels. Usually the base level is one times points, the next level two times points, and the next three times. Attaining an elite level can improve the actual casino return by roughly .15 to .3 percent. Actual casino return includes return from the games played plus the value of the bonus points earned.

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One popular promotion for slot clubs is to offer multiple bonus points on certain days. Some casinos may even offer multiple tier points occasionally. These are usually slower days or times so the promotion gets additional activity in the casino. These promotions offer 2X, 3X, 5X or sometimes even 10X the normal base rate for earning points. It can mean as much as .5 to one percent additional return. These promotions can be very profitable if you going to be there on the day(s) and time(s) of the promotion. If it takes a special trip and especially if you need to travel some distance to take advantage of the promotion, it loses much of its value due to the extra travel expenses. Also, many times the multiplied points earned are limited to a few thousand points. This can dramatically reduce the value of the promotion.

Almost all slot clubs give some sort of “bounce back” free play based on historical play. While this is a real bonus, it tends to be a fairly insignificant amount. It is usually about one fourth of one percent of play. More importantly, it cannot be collected unless you return to the casino at another time. This is not a big thing if you regularly play at the casino anyway, but if it means you have to travel half way across the country to collect; its value is greatly compromised.

In addition to the free play and bounce back cash, players can usually earn other freebies such as food, drink and rooms with their slot play. The levels of play required for the additional comps vary significantly among casinos, but they can be of real value. You should definitely check with a slot host in order to get the details of all the benefits and promotions available. It can be well worth your time and effort to join a slot club and you should always use your slot club card during play in order to get all the benefits possible.

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Just how valuable are slot club benefits? It is somewhat cliché, but the answer really is “it depends.” If the casino is close, if you really enjoy the atmosphere and other intangibles, and most importantly if the casino’s video poker returns are excellent; these benefits will add to your long term profits which can be very worthwhile. Even if the video poker returns are just decent, adding good slot club benefits can turn negative expectation play into positive expectation (advantage) play.

If you have several places that are close and you enjoy playing at them, looking at the slot club benefits could help make the decision as to where to concentrate your play.

Occasionally there are some very special promotions offered by casinos.


One of them offers to return all money lost during a certain period of time. With this promotion it appears you cannot lose – when you win, you get to keep your winnings and when you lose, the loss will be refunded. You can’t lose. A great deal, yes? Well maybe not so great. It is true that a losing player will get all of his losses back from one of these promotions. They will get it back, however, only over time and only as free play. To collect the free play for all of the losses usually requires several trips to the casino over several weeks. Only a portion is available on each weekly visit, and the amount available would be subject to the return and variance of the games played. Not exactly my definition of “you can’t lose.”

The bottom line is, whenever you see slot club promotions that seem too good to be true, they probably are. Make sure you check all of the details of the offer as well as the return of the video poker games available before deciding to risk you hard earned money attempting to cash in on them. The return and variance of the available games are the major influence in any decision on where to play. Make sure you do your homework.

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KeysCasino slot clubs are designed to promote loyalty from casino patrons.

KeysMost slot clubs have tier levels where higher levels get proportionately higher benefits.

KeysSlot club benefits add to the return from your live casino video poker play.

KeysSometimes the actual casino return (including slot club benefits) can be over 100 percent.

KeysMake sure you understand all the details about a casino’s slot club and each of the promotions as each one can be very different.

KeysSlot club benefits can make the difference in deciding which casino to frequent, but the selection of good video poker games is more important.

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In this chapter you learned many tips to help your live casino video poker play experience. These tips included how to decide on the best games to play in the casino, the value and necessity of video poker playing etiquette, as well as what is the best speed at which to play live casino video poker. You also learned when you should stop playing live casino video poker and the importance of hitting a royal flush. Finally you learned all about casino’s slot clubs and what are in them for you.

By using all of this very important information in your live casino visits, your video poker playing experience will be greatly enhanced.

Chapter Summary

Beginning with the next chapter you will learn all the specifics required to play actual live casino video poker games, as well as the same online casino video poker games. In the next chapter you will specifically learn all the playing details for several of the Jacks or Better class video poker games.

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See if you can answer these questions based on the information presented in Chapter 8.

TicksName the three criteria to use when you select a video poker game to play.

TicksTrue or False - Because video poker is player versus machine and not a social game like casino table games, you do not need to be concerned about how you act around other video poker players.

TicksTrue or False - If you see the video poker player next to you make a glaring mistake in his video poker play, the thoughtful thing to do is to tell him about it so he will not lose so much.

TicksYou should “slow play” a negative expectation video poker game. Why is this?

TicksTrue or False - You should play just as fast as you possibly can if you are playing a positive expectation (over 100 percent return) video poker game.

TicksName three reasons to stop playing video poker.

TicksWhy is it dicult to always quit when you are ahead?

TicksApproximately how much lower is your return in between royal flushes?

TicksRoughly how many hands will you play between royal flushes (on average)?

TicksWhy should you join casino slot clubs?

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TicksThe three criteria are 1) Return of the game, 2) Variance of the game and 3) Simplicity of the playing strategy.

TicksFalse. Even though video poker is not as social as casino table games, what you say and do while playing video poker will impact other players.

TicksFalse. No one likes to be told what to do. Each player has his or her own bankroll and it is their right to play it as they see fit.

TicksWhen the video poker game you are playing is a negative expectation game, the more you play the more money you will lose so playing slowly limits how fast you lose that money.

TicksFalse. Play as fast as you can while still maintaining perfect playing strategy.

TicksStop playing video poker when you: 1) Exhaust your session bankroll, 2) Are making mistakes in playing strategy, 3) Are frustrated or no longer having any fun, or 4) You hit a win or loss target that you set during play.

TicksIt is hard to always quit when you are ahead because you may play only one hand and be ahead or, more likely, you are never ahead during the entire playing session.

TicksIn between appearances of a royal flush someone playing an average video poker game will have a return rate that is about two percent lower than the total return of the game.

TicksThere are approximately 40,000 to 48,000 hands between royal flushes on average for virtually all games except Pick’Em / Pick A Pair poker.

TicksSlot clubs offer you points for your play that can be used for free play and other casino goodies. As a member of a slot club you may also receive valuable offers that add to the total return of your video poker play at that casino.

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Written 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.