Mastering Video Poker with Ted Knuden
Mastering Video Poker with Ted Knuden
Mastering Video Poker with Ted Knuden
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Video Poker Strategy


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Before I go into some good video poker strategies, I need to clear up one thing: there is not such thing as a strategy that guarantees you will win - not when it comes to gambling. The purpose of casino games is to make someone a fortune, and they do. This doesn't mean that there's no possible way to win, as you already know. People have and still are walking away with large sums of money, but only after others have lost those large sums of money to the casino. That's the way the game works, and you take your chances on possibly losing more than you gain.

Many individuals believe that knowing how to play table poker is enough to take on video poker. That might be the case, but only when it comes to knowing the ranking of poker hands. The reason is that when playing table poker, you are playing against others, where is pays to be second best. In video poker you are still playing with an evenly shuffled deck of cards, and everything has the same random occurrence as with table poker, the only difference is that your success is relative to the pay table of the machine that you are playing. So, you see, the odds of winning are completely different depending on which of the games you play and having a strategy for one won't necessarily work for the other. That is why it is important to have a separate video poker strategy.

There are a few things you can do to better your odds at video poker, the first being choosing the right machine. The way to pick is easy: play the one with the highest payout rate. It is not uncommon to find machines that pay out over 100%, but you have to play many hands to take full advantage of this and your strategy must be flawless. Any good video poker strategy involves a lot of skill and knowledge. It's not just a matter of pulling the lever and waiting for the reels to stop spinning, as is the case with roulette; playing video poker requires greater concentration and you need to know which moves are best in which case, thus, a video poker strategy.


Selecting a Machine

Selecting the right machines is more important than one might think. Each one is different in its own way, offering different payouts, taking in various coin denominations, and giving you different chances of winning. Here are a few things to be aware of when choosing a video poker machine.

  1. Make sure you read what's in front of you, especially the payout rates. Some casino's purposely set the payoff rate for certain hands lower than the standard full pay, just to make a little more money.

  2. Don't let yourself be lured by a game's title, because often it's not what you would think it to be. Double Double Bonus pays lower than Double Bonus and Bonus Poker Deluxe, as promising as it sounds, only pays back 98.5%.

  3. Try to avoid newer machines; there's nothing better than the ones that have been tried by many and proven to be true. It's more difficult to figure out what you're really getting yourself into with new machines. The appealing look of the machine often hides the true colours, namely the extremely low paybacks.

  4. Keep in mind that the best machines to play are always the hardest ones to find. You might have to spend more time looking, but it will pay off in the end. The reason for this is that the casinos will try to get you on the machines that they can profit off the most and make those that would profit you as a player next to invisible. They do however want them on the floor to attract more ambitious individuals and give them a chance as well.

  5. Naturally, for the best selection of machines you don't have to be picky - Vegas is the way to go. Although video poker machines with good odds and good paybacks are not impossible to find, Vegas still has the best choices available, no matter what casino you choose to visit there. Take it from the expert - you'll find forms of video poker generosity in the desert that will never appear anywhere else.

So, what is the best machine to select? The one that has the highest payoff rate. Once you have identified the type of game you want to play, whether it's Jacks-Or-Better or Deuces-Wild, select among those the one that pays the most for each hand. Then, depending on the game you have chosen, a particular video poker strategy comes into play.


Working out a Strategy

Since there are so many variations of video poker, all having different payouts, there is no one strategy that would work for each one. So, if you know which machine you want to play, you'll have to sit down and calculate strategic moves yourself by looking at the expected return. The expected return is the long-term expected win of each different combination of hold and discards (choices). Let me show you an example.

Say you were dealt the following hand:



Should you get rid of the 9 of clubs and go for the flush or get rid of the 2 of diamonds and go for the straight? The answer depends on the payback. The pay table gives you 6 to 1 for a flush and 4 to 1 on a straight. The answer might seem logical, but let's look at it in terms of the expected return.

Flush - There are 9 diamonds left in the deck of 47, so the chance of getting a diamond to get the flush is 9 out of 47. The probability of getting nothing is the reverse (38 out of 47).

Expected return = [9/47 x 6] + [38/47 x 0] = 1.1489

That means that on average, a bet on 1 coin will return 1.1489 coins.

Straight - There are four 7s and four Queens left in the deck of 47, so in total the chance of getting a straight is 8 out of 47. The probability of getting nothing is, again, the reverse (39 out of 47).

Expected return = [8/47 x 4] + [39/47 x 0] = 0.6809

That means that on average, a bet on 1 coin will return 0.6809 coins.

So, the better strategic move is going for the flush since the bet will return more money in the long run. This is not to say that you will always get the flush, because you can't change the randomness of certain cards occuring, but overall the chance of getting a flush are much better than getting a straight in this case. So, although that little voice in your head might be telling you otherwise, stick to what has been mathematically proven.



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