VIDEO POKER BACKGROUND
You are reading this guide because you either want to learn how to play video poker or you want to learn how to get the most out of your video poker play.
Well, you have come to the proper place. This guide is the result of decades of experience and painstaking research. Everything I have been able to glean from my video poker research, my video poker play, the books I have written and classes I have taught is presented in this guide. Everything I have learned, I will share with you.
Are you ready to begin? Great, then let‛s get started.
|VIDEO POKER BACKGROUND|
In this opening chapter:
You will learn the strange history of video poker including information about how the house edge was originally estimated.
You will learn why video poker is the slot game of choice for knowledgeable gamblers, as well as how the inner workings combine to give you the video poker game we know today.
You will learn the difference between two major classifications of video poker games and also some common video poker terms that are used by players and casino employees alike.
VIDEO POKER HISTORY
Video Poker is the clear choice of knowledgeable gamblers for several reasons:
- It is simple to play – similar to a slot machine.
- Unlike a slot machine, the player has a say in what happens. You can choose how many and which cards to save before drawing to your final hand.
- You play video poker alone – no reason to interact with other players.
- Of all electronic casino games, video poker has the lowest overall house edge.
- You can determine the casino edge by just looking for key information on the face of the video poker game.
While the game of video poker is wildly popular today, that was not always the case. There have been major changes to the game since it was first introduced. Let’s take a look back.
POKER MACHINES – PRECURSORS TO TODAY’S VIDEO POKER GAMES
In order to properly understand the development of video poker we have to start with predecessors of the game.
In 1891 the Sittman and Pitt Company headquartered in Brooklyn, New York invented a poker machine that had five reels or drums as they were called at the time. Each drum contained the images of 10 playing cards. Once a coin was inserted the player pulled the handle. Each drum would then spin and eventually stop on a playing card, making a final poker hand.
In 1898, Charles Fey (commonly known as the father of the slot machine) invented the “Card Bell” – a poker machine that would pay up to 20 coins for a royal flush
In 1901 Fey created the “Skill Draw” poker machine which had a hold feature. The player could hold one or more of the cards and re-spin in an attempt to improve his hand. This was the first five card draw poker machine.
In the early 1900’s Sittman and Pitt also manufactured draw poker machines. During this period poker was the preferred card game of the people. The introduction of the draw feature made players feel they had a say in the game; that it was not all just blind luck like slot machines. The demand was so high the two companies could hardly keep up with it. The machines were ubiquitous. They were in nearly every liquor store and tobacco shop throughout the United States.
Since gambling was not legal in most of the country at this time, winning hands were paid off in prizes such as drinks, cigars or cigarettes.
Players believed that a full deck of 52 cards was used in these games. But since each of five drums had only 10 cards, only 50 cards were actually used. The ten of spades and the jack of hearts were usually missing. Because of this the odds of getting a royal flush were cut in half since it was not possible to get a royal flush in spades or hearts!
THE EARLY VIDEO POKER MACHINES
In 1970 Dale Electronics introduced the world’s first video poker machine. It was called “Poker-Matic.” It was installed in virtually every casino that existed in Las Vegas at that time. Even though it did not become a big hit, the Poker-Matic laid the groundwork for future games that would capture the gambling public’s imagination – and dollars.
In the mid 1970’s a distributer for Bally’s Gaming named Si Redd promoted a new game to the executives of his company in Chicago. It was a game called “Video Poker.” The idea was summarily rejected. The executives did not want to branch out from their core business which was slot machines. This was one of the biggest mistakes made by the company.
They agreed to let Si take the patent. Within months, Si made a deal with Fortune Coin Company in Reno and formed Si Redd’s Coin Machines or SIRCOMA for short. Shortly afterward, he began mass producing his video poker games. Interest in this new game grew slowly, but by 1981, this game was among the most popular additions to the casinos.
- The early versions of the game required at least two pairs in order to make a winning hand. In this configuration, Si’s video poker game did not garner much enthusiasm.
- Once the lowest winning hand was improved to a pair of jacks or better, the popularity of the game took off.
- Original versions of the game were quite primitive, resembling televisions of the period.
- Si took the company public and renamed the company International Gaming Technology (IGT) which became a huge player in casino gaming equipment.
VIDEO POKER POPULARITY INCREASES
Video poker machines had several unique characteristics that players liked, the popularity of the game as well as video poker slots, increased.
- Many people were intimidated by the casino’s table games.
- The same people were not intimidated by slot machines.
- Video poker machines allowed players to have a say in the outcome.
- Slot machine players avoided video slots because they were used to the three spinning reels.
- Video poker machines bridged the gap for these players. Not only did video poker machines enjoy rapid growth, but video slot machines also gained gradual acceptance and growth.
DETERMINING THE HOUSE EDGE – 1980’S STYLE
In order to commit valuable casino floor space to the fledgling game of video poker, casinos naturally wanted to know the size of their piece of the video poker playing action. It may be because the science and math was not yet developed; or, more likely, it may be the management and brains of the newly formed video poker company did not know how to calculate the edge. Whatever the reason, the method chosen to determine the casino’s share of the video poker pie (the house edge) was as follows:
- Put several newly manufactured video poker machines in a large room.
- Hire dozens of people.
- Position the employees on each of the video poker machines and have them play the machines and record their results.
- Continue this process for weeks.
- Compile and summarize the results to determine the house edge.
Believe it or not, this is how the casino edge was originally calculated. Of course the casino’s edge on today’s video poker games is mathematically determined based on the odds of a particular hand occurring and comparing that to the amount paid for the hand.
FROM A TINY ACORN A MIGHTY OAK GROWS
From these very humble and unsophisticated beginnings, video poker has exploded; currently commanding a very impressive section of casino’s floors. The crudely put together Poker-Matic machine has been supplanted by scores of variations ranging from the basic Jacks or Better to bonus games such as Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, and Triple Bonus Poker to wild card games such as Deuces Wild and Joker Poker. There are multiple play games where the initially dealt and saved cards of a hand are played three, five, 10, 50 and even 100 times. There are video poker ‘action’ games such as spin poker (a combination of video poker and slot machine) and multi-strike poker where a winning hand leads to up to three additional hands that each double the payback of a winning hand from the previous winning hand. This is the exciting reality of today’s video poker scene.
In 1891, Sittman and Pitt Company invented the first poker machine – the precursor to modern video poker machines.
In 1901, Charles Fey invented the “Skill Draw” poker game – the first draw poker machine.
Early draw poker machines used only 50 cards so the odds of getting a royal flush were half what they are with a full deck of 52 cards.
In 1970, Dale Electronics developed the first video poker machine, the “Poker-Matic. Though it did not catch on, it prepared the gambling public for what was to come.
In the 1970’s Si Redd attempted to sell his employer, Bally Gaming, on a game he developed which he called Video Poker. They rejected the idea and Si formed his own company (SIRCOMA – which later became IGT) to manufacture the games. The first version required a hand of two pairs or better as a winning hand. Once the lowest winning hand was changed to a pair of jacks or better, the popularity of video poker took off.
Because of unique characteristics of video poker, it not only became popular in its own right, it helped video slot machines to gain acceptance.
The procedures used to determine the house edge of the early video poker machines was far from sophisticated, but it was good enough to convince casinos to install the games.
WHY PLAY VIDEO POKER
With all the various games in a casino, why should you consider playing video poker? In order to get the most out of the game, you must spend time to learn and practice the proper playing strategy for the particular version (or versions) of the game you want to play. Let’s take a look at some of the main advantages of (and therefore reasons to play) video poker.
A LOW HOUSE EDGE MEANS MORE MONEY FOR YOU
The slot machines in today’s casinos generally have a house edge of six to around 20 percent. To put that in terms that might be easier to understand, for every 100 dollars played through a slot machine, the casino will keep between six and 20 dollars. While it does not happen at an even pace, over the long haul and depending on the machine, you will lose six to 20 dollars for every 100 dollars you play through a slot machine.
Video poker games are quite dierent. They have a much lower house edge. In fact, 20 to 30 years ago, video poker games that actually made money for skilled video poker players were bountiful. Those golden days of video poker are, sadly, a thing of the past; but it is still possible, though uncommon, to find games that return more than 100 percent of the money played through them over time. Most video poker machines have a house edge ranging from about one quarter percent up to about five percent. This means that rather than lose six dollars to 20 dollars per 100 dollars played, you will lose from 25 cents up to five dollars per 100 dollars played – quite a dierence. At these rates you have a much better chance of having winning sessions. In the worst case your bankroll will last considerably longer, allowing you to enjoy your casino session longer and give you more chances of hitting a jackpot.
This is the primary reason that video poker is the favorite game for knowledgeable casino players.
YOU CAN AFFECT YOUR OUTCOME
Video poker is one of the very few casino slot games where you can have a say in your ultimate outcome. Once you have made your bet and hit the Deal button, you are dealt five cards. What happens to each of those five cards is entirely up to you. You can save them all, discard them all, or pick and choose each card you wish to save. You are in control. If you prefer to forget about lower paying hands and just shoot for a royal flush, you could only save those cards the give you the best chance of hitting a royal flush. While this is not the best method of overall play, it is totally your choice.
Many skillful blackjack players enjoy playing video poker as a secondary game. Just like it is best to play a basic strategy developed specifically for the rules of the blackjack game being played, so it is with video poker. You will get the most out of video poker by playing a strategy that is developed specifically for the exact video poker game you are playing. Also, just like you can buy basic strategy cards for blackjack, you can also buy video poker strategy cards for some of the most popular games. But, in order to obtain the proper playing strategies for almost any video poker game, you should consider a computer program or app. Several are available and can be found by searching the Internet for “video poker strategy app” or “video poker app.”
Being able to modify your results mid hand is unheard of in standard slotmachines. This makes it the second most popular reason for choosing video poker as your game of choice.
VIDEO POKER SHOWS YOU JUST HOW GOOD THE GAME IS
Imagine having a spot on each slot machine where you could look to see how much that slot machine pays the player. For example, one slot machine would actually tell you what you need to know to determine that it takes seven percent for the house and returns only 93 percent to the player. If this machine was sitting next to another machine that was the same denomination (penny, nickel, quarter, dollar, etc.) and it told you it takes 15 percent of your money for the casino and only returns 85 percent back to you, which machine would you choose to play? Of course you would pick the machine where you would lose the least of you hard earned money.
Well each video poker machine in today’s casinos gives you exactly what you need to know to determine its long term casino edge. Everything you need is contained in the pay table which is located on the front of the game. Most of the time, all of this information is displayed in its entirety. On some machines, however, only the first several lines of the pay table are shown. The rest of the information needed is displayed when you select “More Pay Information,” or something similar in meaning.
NO CASINO HEAT WHILE PLAYING VIDEO POKER
Maybe you have friends or acquaintances who are skillful blackjack or craps players. Maybe you play blackjack or craps and have noticed casino pit personnel asking someone at your table to leave. Casinos hate skillful players. They hate people who knows how to count cards and dice “controllers” at the craps tables. They hate them because even though they are not cheating, skilled card counters and dice controllers can get an edge over the house. If these skilled players do not employ tactics to mask their skill – if they play too long, or if they get greedy, they will be asked to no longer play the game or may even told to leave the casino and never return under penalty of arrest.
You do not run this risk playing video poker. Even though your skill will give you the highest possible return, the casino knows their video poker machines will make money for them and will leave you alone. You can play for hours, days and years and never be told to stop playing. This is another reason many skilled players choose video poker.
PLAY AT THE PACE YOU PREFER
In blackjack, the dealer dictates the pace at which the game is played. The same is true of roulette, craps and most other casino table games. Video poker games, as well as all slot machines, do not have a dealer so the pace is entirely up to you. If you want to take a tortoise pace and very slowly and deliberately play, you can. If you want to blaze your way through hundreds of hands an hour, you can do that too. It is your choice when to slack o, speed up or take a break.
This is why millions of people prefer a machine based game – no hassles.
Video poker games have a much lower average house edge than slot machines thereby giving you a better chance of winning – or at least not losing as much. This is the major reason skilled players choose to play video poker.
Unlike standard slot machines, when you play video poker you have the ability to choose what you save and what you discard. You are therefore able to aect the results of your play. This is the second most common reason for choosing to play video poker.
Also, unlike standard slot machines, video poker games give you the information you need to determine the house edge of the game. You will know exactly how good a game you are playing. This is not the case with slots.
Unlike a skilled blackjack or craps player, there is no need to be concerned about being ejected from the casino for video poker play.
Finally, you are entirely free to play the game at your own pace, unlike many table games.
THE INNER WORKINGS OF VIEDO POKER
In order to get the most out of your video poker playing experience, it is important to understand exactly how a video poker machine operates. Don’t get me wrong, you can still be a skilled video poker player without knowing how things work inside the game. Just like you do not need to know how electricity works to turn on a light switch or plug in an appliance, it helps to make sense out of things should something out of the ordinary happen.
RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR – THE HEART OF VIDEO POKER
According to Wikipedia, a random number generator is computational or physical device designed to generate a sequence of numbers or symbols that cannot be reasonably predicted better than by random chance. Today’s slot machines and video poker games use a random number generator that uses computational algorithms that produce long strings of apparently random results. These seemingly (but not) random numbers are also called pseudo random numbers. The algorithms used in today’s casino games are sophisticated enough to pass several tests of random properties required by gaming control officials to ensure unbiased games.
EARLY VIDEO POKER MACHINE INNER WORKINGS
Early versions of video poker machines chose a fairly basic and straightforward method of using the random number generator to shuffe and deal all the cards required to complete a hand of video poker. The random number generator continued to cycle through thousands of numbers per second until the player hit the Deal button. At that instant, the next 10 numbers from the random number generator were used to determine 10 cards to deal; five cards to make the initial hand and an additional five cards to replace any cards that were discarded. Each of the first five cards had a card “behind” it. If a card was discarded, the card that was behind it became the card played. The random number generator continued cycling, but was not used for the duration of that hand.
This method worked well for years. That is, until a couple of sharp and enterprising video poker players started to notice patterns in the cards dealt.
Even though the random number generator passed all the gaming commission tests for randomness; there was, indeed, a pattern to the numbers. The two played a lot of video poker. As they played, they began to notice that when a certain five cards were displayed in order, the cards replacing the discarded ones were also the same ones as previous hands containing the original five cards.
Through painstaking observation and documentation, they were eventually able to document enough patterns to be able to gain an advantage over the house.
Feeling invincible with their newfound knowledge, the pair began to hit casinos throughout Las Vegas. They played quarter machines, and then they played dollar machines. They played longer and longer sessions. The money was rolling in.
Then, as is so often the case when people get greedy, the casino started to notice that at certain times, some of their video poker machines paid out much more than was reasonably possible. The casinos started a surveillance program.
Not long after, the pair was caught. The casinos tried all the heavy handed tactics they could to prove the pair was cheating but eventually dropped charges in exchange for information about how they did it.
Armed with this information, the casinos contacted the video poker game manufacturer with what they found.
VIDEO POKER MACHINE INNER WORKINGS ARE ENHANCED
Almost immediately, the games were modified to prevent a recurrence of the same expensive situation. Here is what they did.
- The random number generator still cycle continuously until the Deal button is pressed.
- The next five numbers from the random number generator are used to generate the five card poker hand.
- The random number generator continues to cycle continuously until the player selects the cards he wants to save and presses the Draw button.
- It is at this instant that the machine uses the next numbers from the random number generator to determine the cards that replace the discarded ones.
By changing the process, it is virtually impossible to discern any patterns. There are too few cards selected at each point and there can be a significant delay between each call for cards.
VIDEO POKER MACHINE INNER WORKINGS ARE HIGHLY COMPLEX
The very early mechanical poker machines were reasonably complex. While it took some knowledge to make the very first 50 card mechanical poker machines, virtually all of the technology used was already available in the slot machines of the era. It took a lot more mechanical knowhow to create the option of replacing some of all of the cards shown after the first spin.
But as complex as those machines were, they pale in comparison to the complexity of today’s video poker machines. While it is true that the video poker games of today are physically fairly simple, that is, they are basically the same setup as a slot machine; the software programming that controls them is incredibly complex. It contains thousands of lines of code. While the original basic Jacks or Better game might be reasonably simple to program, the vast majority of today’s video poker games have the option to select one of dozens of games to play. Each of those games may have features not available in other games on the same machine. Each of those games, when selected, has to show the state of that particular game as of the last time it was played. Some games may be progressive. Other games may have a double up feature where the player has the choice to go double or nothing with a winning hand. Add the ability to choose the denomination of the game you want to play, whether nickel, quarter, half dollar, a dollar or even more, and the complexity level multiplies.
VIDEO POKER MACHINE INNER WORKINGS HAVE BEEN EXPLOITED
So complex is the programming of today’s video poker machines that despite strict programming controls, rigorous debugging and testing protocols, and follow up verification from local and state gaming commissions, unintended bugs and loopholes have slipped through to games on the casino floor.
One highly publicized example of this type of error happened to be noticed quite by accident. In late April 2009, John Kane was playing a low-limit row of Game King machines in the Fremont Casino. He had been switching among several games and had a modest win so he decided to cash out. To his surprise the machine locked up and the jackpot light on top of the machine lit up. He had won more than $1,200. He had not even played another hand so he knew it was an error. He told the slot attendant about the error, but the attendant thought he was joking and paid him anyway.
Kane called a friend, Andre Nestor, and told him of the strange occurrence. Nestor flew to Las Vegas and the pair went to the Fremont to try to determine the exact string of events that caused the welcomed error.
The main draw of the Game King is its flexibility. That was also the cause of its downfall. The programming that allowed for switching between dierent denominations had a flaw which allowed the player in certain situations to switch denominations retroactively and be awarded the winning credits in the new and higher denomination.
Kane and Nestor found out exactly how to recreate the error and proceeded to rake in the profits. Kane eventually got a bit greedy and was apprehended at the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas. Though the authorities tried, they were unable to convict the pair of anything and ultimately dropped charges, but the error was exposed and corrected.
A random number generator (or RNG for short) is the heart of a video poker machine. While it does not generate true random numbers, the pseudo random numbers generated are close enough to random to pass gaming regulators requirements.
Because early video poker software would generate 10 cards at once (the original five card hand and five to replace any cards the player discarded) it was possible to detect a pattern in the cards. Some sharp players did detect patterns and won large amounts before casino management caught on and forced a change in the process of how cards were generated.
It is now virtually impossible to detect patterns in the cards generated, so today’s video poker machines can truly be thought of as random.
The programming of video poker machines is highly complex. In fact, so much so that on rare occasions, glitches make their way into the code. Some have been noticed by sharp individuals and exploited. However, as soon as glitches are detected, they are eliminated.
CLASS II VERSUS CLASS III GAMES
You can travel throughout the country. In fact you can travel throughout the world and chances are excellent you will find video poker games in any casino you decide to visit. Most video poker games look very similar, which makes sense since most video poker games play the same way. But do all video poker games work the same under their similar exteriors? Find out more in this section of the Ultimate Video Poker Guide.
Disclaimer: If you have never gambled at an Indian casino, and if you never plan on visiting Indian casinos; you may skip this section. The information presented here only applies to conditions and games available in Indian casinos.
LAS VEGAS STYLE VIDEO POKER GAMES CAME FIRST
Everything disclosed about video poker games so far in this guide has been about the typical Las Vegas style game. This is where video poker originated, grew, and flourished. From Dale Electronics Poker Matic to Si Redd’s Video Poker to the hundreds of different games manufactured by several different companies, they all worked on exactly the same principles. A random number generator routine embedded in each machine was used to determine exactly which cards were dealt as well as which cards would be drawn to replace those cards that the player discarded.
As the popularity of casino gambling grew, other locations in the United States began to allow casinos. Atlantic City was the next to welcome legalized casino gambling. On May 26, 1978 Resorts International opened its casino on the boardwalk and things took off from there. All of the same gaming technology that was used in Las Vegas was also accepted and used in Atlantic City.
Legalized gambling continued to grow using the Las Vegas games as the model for the next decade.
INDIAN TRIBES GIVEN AUTHORITY TO RUN CASINOS
The gambling landscape changed dramatically on October 17, 1988 with the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, commonly referred to at the IGRA. Signed into law by Ronald Reagan, this act allowed Indians to operate casinos under some very specific rules.
CLASSES OF GAMING FOR INDIAN CASINOS
This act defined three classes of gambling as it related to Indian casinos:
Class I gambling is the typical and small stakes gambling that is typically present in many ceremonies and social gaming where the prizes are trin kets and other small stakes items.
Class II gambling is defined as bingo type gambling whether using physical balls or electronic versions. Also included, if they occur in the same location as the bingo games, are pull tabs, punch boards and other games similar to bingo. Class II games also include non-banked card games where players play against each other or run the bank and not the casino. The act specifically excludes slot machines or electronic facsimiles of any game of chance from the definition of class II games. Tribes have the authority to conduct and regulate these games as long as the state in which the tribe resides permits such gaming for any purpose.
Class III allows for a broad range of gaming that is neither class I nor class II. This includes slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette. Class III gaming is generally considered casino style gaming. The act restricts authority for tribes to conduct class III gaming. Instead the class III gaming is regulated by pacts between the tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission as well as state authorities.
CLASS II VIDEO POKER ARRIVES ON THE SCENE
Tribal casinos, faced with the popularity of machine based games such as slot machines and video poker felt the need to also provide such games. Most Indian tribes were in states that did not allow class III gaming, so they could not install standard Las Vegas style machines. Instead they developed a bingo game run by a central server and connected to electronic boxes that looked just like their class III cousins, whether slot machines or video poker machines.
The development of a slot machine clone that simply paid the results of play on an electronic bingo card is straightforward. Capturing the nuances of video poker play and making sure the player gets the win to which he or she is entitled, proved a bit more problematic.
CLASS II VIDEO POKER HAS A UNIQUE SPECIAL FEATURE
Keep in mind that the winning (or losing) hand is already decided by a completed virtual bingo card before the original hand is even dealt. When you play a slot machine you simply pull the handle or push the spin button and whatever appears is your winning or losing hand. Video poker is different because you have the option to discard. As long as you play proper strategy, things work well. But what if you did not?
Consider this scenario:
- You are playing a jacks or better game you are dealt a 7, 8, and 9 of clubs, a jack of spades and a king of diamonds. For whatever reason you decide to throw the 7, 8 and 9 of clubs thereby eliminating any chance of getting a straight flush – which was the winning hand determined by the virtual bingo card. What to do? By saving the jack of spades and king of diamonds, there is no possibility of getting a straight flush, yet the game must pay for a straight flush since that is what was won. For instances like this, the game makers invented something called an “angel feature.” An angel appears, removes the king of diamonds and, behold, a 7, 8, 9 and 10 of spades appears to make a straight flush out of the remaining jack of spades.
As you can see, a class II game differs significantly from the Las Vegas style class III game. In a class II game, it does not matter what you save. You win whatever the server determines based on the result of a virtual bingo game.
Remember that class II games are only found in Indian casinos. But some Indian casinos can also offer class III games if a proper agreement is reached with the state in which it resides. Indian casinos could have a mix of class II and class III games. How can you tell whether or not a video poker game is a class II game?
If it is a class II game there will be an image of a bingo card on the front panel. With each hand dealt, some spots on the bingo card will be filled. What you win is dependent on the pattern on the bingo card. Class III games have no such bingo card image.
If you want to get the most out of video poker play, avoid class II games. You will have just as much luck playing a slot machine. Also, none of the information in this guide applies to class II video poker.
Just remember the phrase; class II is not what to do but class III is for me.
The original video poker games were for Las Vegas casinos.
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allowed Indian casinos to operate bingo style games under certain conditions.
In order to complete with Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Indian casinos began producing slot machines and video poker machines that mimicked the original Las Vegas style games. Because these games were merely a virtual bingo card (and called a class II game), even though they look and seem to act like the Vegas counterpart (a class III game), they are not.
Class II video poker games can be recognized by an image of a bongo card on the face of the game.
Class II games should be avoided as there is no advantage to playing them.
COMMON VIDEO POKER TERMS
Whether it is a specific industry, or course of study, or sport, or a branch of science; each has their own lingo. The same is true of the game of video poker. This section defines many of the common video poker terms used in this guide.
Due to the length of the list of terms and the desire to be able to refer to these terms from anywhere in this guide, common video poker terms are found in the glossary.
You can find more poker terms information on 888poker magazine.
In this chapter you learned the history of video poker, the advantages of playing the game of video poker, how a video poker game actually works to produce the poker hands and the difference between “real” class III video poker games and phantom class II games that are in some Indian casinos. You are ready to continue in your quest for skillful video poker play. In the next chapter you will learn some of the video poker basics including exactly how to play the game, the details of the video poker pay table, and proper betting. You will also learn the meaning of the terms payback, return, house edge, variance, volatility, and random as they apply to video poker.
See if you can answer these questions based on the information presented in Chapter 1.
True or False - The first mechanical poker machine – a precursor to today’s video poker games had five drums, each containing 10 poker cards.
True or False – The manufacturers of early video poker machines built in the 1980’s were able to tell the casinos what their house edge was by using the math of the game.
What is the typical range of the house edges for slot machines? What is the typical range for video poker?
Why is a video poker pay table important?
True or False – You should be careful playing video poker because the casino might eject you if you get too good.
What is a random number generator?
What does a random number generator do in video poker game?
True or False – Today’s video poker games deal 10 cards when the “Deal” button is pressed; five for the original hand and five more behind them to replace any discards?
Describe the difference between Class II and Class III video poker games.
Yes or No – Playing Class II video poker games is good for the player because the “Angel Feature" can turn a losing hand into a winning hand.
True. Because there were only 50 cards (the 10 of spades and jack of hearts were missing) the odds of getting a royal flush were cut in half.
False. The company hired dozens of people to actually play the video poker games and keep track of their results in order to estimate the house edge.
The typical slot machine house edge ranges from six to 20 percent. The typical range for video poker is one-fourth to five percent. While knowing the exact range of the house edge is not important, knowing that video poker has a much lower house edge is important.
The pay table has the information necessary to determine how good a game it is and to generate a playing strategy
False. You should not fear being ejected for video poker play. That is one of several main advantages of playing video poker compared to casino table games.
A random number generator is a software routine the generates a series of “pseudo-random” numbers that pass enough of the tests for randomness so as to appear random for the purposes of video poker or slot machine play.
The random number generator determines the sequence of cards that are drawn in video poker.
False. This is how video poker games used to work until some sharp players noticed patterns in the cards. Today’s machines are virtually impossible to decode.
Class III games are the standard Las Vegas style games. Class II games are only seen in some Indian casinos. Class II games are nothing more than a video poker look-alike that pays based on the results of a bingo game.
No. The angel feature is only required to make sure the player is paid for the results of the virtual bingo game his hand represents. Class II games should not be played as they provide no advantage over a slot machine.