Casino gambling is all about minimizing the House Edge. Part of minimizing this edge is choosing the right game. Games like slots can give the casino a House edge as high as 25 percent, whereas in a game like blackjack the House edge is often as low as one percent or less.
The other part of the game is playing the correct strategy. Incorrect strategy in a game like Roulette can bump the House edge from around five percent to close to eight percent. Incorrect craps strategy can inflate the House edge as much as 15 percent!
Video poker is a great choice of game since it is among the best games in the casino in terms of House edge, and correct strategy can knock this edge down to less than half a percent.
No. 1: Always Play Full Pay
Different video poker machines may pay out at different odds. If you’re playing the standard Jacks or Better machine, where you need a pair of jacks or better in your hand to win, you should only play if you can see the pay table offers at least 9-to-1 for a full house and 6-to-1 for a flush. These are called “full pay” or 9/6 machines and they pay back over 99 percent of the money they take in.
No. 2: Play the Maximum Number of Coins
Many machines offer a substantially increased payout for a royal flush if you play the full number of coins, usually five. While hitting a royal flush is rare, you’ll want to get the largest benefit if you actually do it. In addition, you cannot get paid the progressive jackpot on a progressive video poker machine if you do not play the full amount.
No. 3: Know the Machine You’re Playing
There are many different types of video poker machines. Some machines have wild cards, others special bonuses for hitting certain hands. These machines usually have worse payout odds to make up for whatever bonus they offer. Know what to expect before you start pumping coins in.
No. 4: Don’t Break Up a Winning Hand
Breaking up high pairs in order to go for straights and flushes seriously increases the House edge. You should generally hold onto pairs, even low ones, rather than chasing straights or flushes. The major exception is if you have four to a royal flush with your pair. Here the potential payoff is so great that it is worth giving up the sure thing.
No. 5: Know Your Bankroll
Make sure you have a bankroll that is large enough for the game you want to play. If you have $100 to risk, you won’t get very far on a dollar machine playing five coins a spin unless you get lucky fast. If you don’t have enough to play for the amount of time you would like without getting very lucky, move down to the next lowest denomination. You can still make plenty of money if you hit a big hand or go on a winning streak.
No. 6: Consider a Stop-Loss Point
You may increase your enjoyment of the game if you choose an amount that you are willing to lose and stick to it. This amount should be a small percentage of your bankroll. If you plan to only risk $200 each session, you will be mentally prepared and can still have fun even if you don’t have a winning session. To avoid having an exciting winning session become a potentially depressing losing one, set a stop-loss point for winning. If your stop-loss point is $300, once you go down $300 from your highest point it’s time to quit. For example, if you reach $1,000, you can play until you are down to $700.
No. 7: Play for the Right Reasons
It’s very difficult to make a living playing video poker. The deck is literally stacked against you in that the game has a built-in edge that favors the casino. It is possible to find 100 percent payback machines, but they are few and far-between and even if you find one, you can only expect to break even over the long haul. Your goal should be to have fun and come out ahead every once in awhile. This is an achievable goal and will increase your enjoyment of the game.
No. 8: Use Comps and Bonuses
While you may not get rich playing video poker, correct strategy combined with online bonuses or comps can tilt the odds in your favor. Take advantage of these incentives whenever you can.
No. 9: Don’t be Afraid to Dump Your Whole Hand
If you have five cards with no high cards or legitimate straight or flush possibilities, like 5d 9h 3c 7s 2c, go ahead and start over. You have a better chance of hitting a winning pair with five new cards than you do holding two or three random cards to try to make a straight, flush, trips or two pair. This is especially true in a game like Deuces Wild where there are wild cards in the mix.
No. 10: Don’t Abandon Your Jackpot
If you do happen to hit a jackpot at a live casino video poker machine, don’t leave your machine until the jackpot is verified by casino personnel. If you do, someone else may try to claim your jackpot.