Debunking common video poker myths
By John Grochowski
With almost all things that have been with us for a while, myths develop. Some myths are based on fact, others are based on the way the human mind thinks the facts should be.
Video poker myths have been around since shortly after the introduction of the ﬁrst video poker machines. Some myths no longer are relevant since the technology on which they were based has been replaced. One of the myths that falls in this category has to do with the temperature of the coins played. This myth says that putting cold coins in a video poker machine will improve your results. Another myth along the same lines states that if the coins paid out are warm the machine is ready to pay big. While there is no real validity to the cold coins in myth, one could put some stock in the warm coins paid out myth. Some stock that is, though it is not anything to put good money into. The fact that the coins are warm simply meant that they had been in the machine long enough to be warmed by the heat of the machine. If the game had been in play for a long period of time and had not paid out anything, it MIGHT be ready to pay. There is no mathematical or scientiﬁc proof of that, however. If the game sat idle for several hours, the warm coins mean absolutely nothing.
Regardless of the validity of the cold and warm coins myths, the advent and general acceptance of coinless machines have rendered these myths moot. But there are still dozens of myths centered on video poker where the technology has not rendered them moot. Let’s explore some of them.
MYTH: Avoid any machine that has recently had a royal ﬂush.
BUSTED: This is a very common myth. It only makes sense that since a royal is a very infrequent event, it won’t appear two times in short succession—right?
While the odds of getting a royal are around 40,000 to one depending on which game is played, each hand has the same roughly 40,000-to-one chance of becoming a royal ﬂush. Just because the last hand was a royal, there is no guarantee that the next hand won’t also be a royal.
MYTH: Video poker machines become due.
BUSTED: Since the odds of getting a royal ﬂush are about 40,000 to one, if the machine has gone a very long time without a royal ﬂush, this means it will eventually hit. The closer to (and beyond) 40,000 hands have been played without a royal ﬂush, the more “due” the royal ﬂush becomes. This same logic is applied to any hand such as four of a kind, straight ﬂush or others. This myth is not true for the same reason the previous myth is not true. Each hand is an independent occurrence and is unaﬀected by previous hands. Each hand has a roughly 40,000-to-one chance of being a royal ﬂush– period.
MYTH: Someone else got MY royal.
BUSTED: Has this ever happened to you? You play a video poker machine for an hour, slowly losing money as you play. Finally, after a particularly fast loss of the last $20 bill you put in your machine you decide to move to another machine. Someone else sits down at your old machine and within a few hands—bang! They get a royal ﬂush—YOUR royal ﬂush. If only you hadn’t moved you would have gotten that royal ﬂush, right?
The makeup of each hand is determined by a random number generator (sometimes depicted by the initials RNG). The RNG is constantly cycling. The cards that are dealt are determined at the exact instant you hit the deal/draw button. There is virtually no chance that you would have hit the draw button at the same instant the other person did. In fact, you would have had to hit the deal/draw button at exactly the same instant two times if the royal ﬂush was not dealt in the original hand. Face it, it was not your royal ﬂush—it was theirs.
MYTH: Play quickly to win more.
BUSTED: Again, this myth, in general, is false. The speed of play has no eﬀect on the overall payback of the machine. That is determined by the pay table. However, this myth can be true if certain conditions are met.
First, the machine must have more than 100 percent payback. Fullpay deuces wild (100.76 percent) and full-pay double bonus (100.17 percent) are two examples. Alternatively, the machine and bonus point cash back can add up to more than 100 percent. Some casinos oﬀer multiple points on certain days. During these times it is possible to exceed 100 percent payback if they have good enough pay tables on the games available.
Secondly, you must play perfectly. If you are playing so fast that you make mistakes, they will wipe out any slight advantage you have.
Since you are playing at a slight advantage in the long run, the more you play the more you will win. And, the faster you play, the more hands you will play in a given time to the more you will win—on average. You must keep in mind, however, that you will not win every time you play. You will have losing sessions along with winning sessions. In the long run, however, by playing perfect strategy on a positive video poker game you will ultimately win more that you lose.
MYTH: Betting the max is best.
TRUE: This myth is actually true. Virtually all video poker games pay a bonus for the royal ﬂush with the maximum number of credits played. This is usually ﬁve credits. Playing the maximum credits reduces the house edge. A reduced house edge is better for you. So, betting the maximum is best.
Keep in mind that video poker games that require an extra bet for added features such as Spin Poker or Super Times Poker are diﬀerent than betting the maximum on regular video poker. The extra bets over and above the ﬁve credits may or may not be best depending on the particular game.
MYTH: You can’t win as much when you use a player’s card.
BUSTED: Some players believe that when they insert their player’s card into a video poker machine’s card reader, their chances of getting winning hands diminish to compensate for the free play and comps the casinos gives you by using the card. Unfortunately, this misconception results in players not using their player’s card when they play. This is a BIG mistake. Bottom line: The electronics that are used to track your play when you insert your player’s card into the card reader on the machine are not connected to the electronics of the software program residing on the computer chip that randomly deals the cards. (The latter is known as the Random Number Generator, or RNG.) The only thing you accomplish when you don’t use a player’s card when you play video poker is to miss out on a lot of potential cash back, free play, and comps.
So, there you have several video poker myths and the truth about them. The real point to remember is following myths doesn’t make you a winner, learning proper play and following good discipline does.