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New Year’s Resolutions

Make your video poker experience better in 2014


2013 is now gone and 2014 is here. I hope that the old year was kind to you in the casinos. If it wasn’t, now is the time for putting the old year behind and looking forward to the coming year with renewed hope and resolve. Many of us make resolutions each January. In keeping with the tradition, here are some resolutions to help make your video poker play in 2014 more enjoyable and profitable.

Not all video poker games are created equal. Resolve to locate and play only the best games.

Gone are the days when 100 percent and greater payback games were common. There are still enough very good paying games to make it worthwhile to seek them out. There are positive games such as 10/7 Double Bonus (100.17 percent) and full pay Deuces Wild (100.76 percent) available in selected locations of some casinos. When these games aren’t available, look for games that return at least 99 percent. Some of these games are 25/16/10 Not So Ugly Deuces (99.73 percent), 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.54 percent), 9/7 Double Bonus (99.11 percent) or 8/5 Bonus Poker (99.1 percent). Playing only the high paying machines will give the best chances of winning or of losing less while playing.

It is also a great idea to avoid games with a high variance. Variance is a measure of the size of your bankroll swings while playing (both up and down). The higher the variance, the more dramatic your bankroll swings. Generally those games with larger pays have higher variance. Games such as Double Double Bonus, Triple Bonus, and Triple Double Bonus have significantly higher variance than the previously mentioned games.

While there is nothing wrong with playing higher variance games if the return is sufficient AND you have a sufficient bankroll, it can get disheartening when riding through a vicious losing streak that happens much more frequently in a high variance game.

Progressive games (the games with a jackpot for a royal that climbs as the game is played) can become positive if the royal jackpot is high enough. Unfortunately, as the royal jackpot climbs, so does the variance.  As an example, the fairly common 8/5 Double-Double Bonus progressive game returns only 96.78 percent instead of the 98.98 percent of the full-pay 9/6 non-progressive game. The variance of the non-progressive game is 41.98, which is more than twice that of Jacks or Better and nearly twice that of full-pay Deuces Wild or Not So Ugly Deuces Wild. The royal jackpot must increase to 9,600 credits from the 4,000 credits at reset value in order to become a positive game. At this level the variance also skyrockets to 141.6. If you choose to play this game, be prepared with a very large bankroll. If you do not snag the royal you will lose at a very high rate, so be prepared.

As the royal jackpot climbs, the playing strategy also changes.  Actually, it tends to get a little more straightforward as the jackpot climbs since more and more decisions are focused on seeking the royal. Regardless, the strategy changes so it is important to try to use the most accurate strategy possible in order to maximize the results.

Resolve to learn the playing strategy for one or more of the best games.

In order to maximize wins—or minimize losses—not only must you choose the best game(s), you must also play that game properly. To do that, you must learn the proper playing strategy. Strategies are available in books, software or even online. Pick one, two, or three games and learn the strategy or strategies perfectly. I recommend 9/6 Jacks or Better, full-pay Deuces Wild, or Not So Ugly Deuces. These strategies are fairly simple, the games have decent payback, and the variance (bankroll swing) is fairly low. Learning proper playing strategy takes work, but the effort will pay off in the casino.


Resolve to play at your pace.

Playing video poker is not a sprint or a speed contest. There is no need to play fast. Instead play at a relaxed pace—one that is comfortable. Playing Video Poker should be fun, and playing at a comfortable rate helps. Also, the faster you play the better chance you will miss something and make an incorrect play. While many of the incorrect plays may not cost you much, some could be downright expensive. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.


Resolve to play only when rested and alert.

Similar to playing too fast, playing after you become tired, or after a few too many drinks, causes mistakes in strategy that cost you money. It is natural to want to continue to play. Maybe the next hand will be a royal flush. However, if you become tired, stop playing. If you find you are not thinking clearly due to consuming a few drinks, stop. If you catch yourself making more than one mistake every half hour, stop. Actually after you catch yourself making your second mistake it may be time to take a break. It makes no sense to work so hard to learn the proper strategy and then give some of it back to the house by making mistakes.


Resolve to play the full five credits every hand.

Many people have some sort of method of determining how many coins to play. Some play one coin each hand until they win a few credits before they increase the number of coins. Others play a series starting with one coin, then two, then three, etc. When playing video poker never play less than five coins. The reason: the royal flush pays 250-for-1 when playing one to four coins and 800-for-1 with five coins played. By not playing the full five coins, payback is reduced about two percent. If you can’t afford five coins of a certain denomination, play a lower denomination game. Your bankroll will benefit.


Resolve to have an adequate bankroll.

Bankroll is critical for any casino trip. Even though you only play the best games, play them with perfect playing strategy, only play at a relaxed pace and while rested and sharp, there is no guarantee that you won’t lose. In any random game, there are fluctuations. You may win more than you lose for a while and then lose more than you win for a while. Sometimes you lose a lot more than you win and sometimes you lose more than you win for a very long time. All of these happenings are part of the natural flow of a random game. To enjoy your trip to the casino you must have enough money to last through the losing times. Make sure you have enough, and make sure it isn’t your next mortgage payment you are using. A losing streak doesn’t have to end at any particular time, so make sure you can afford to lose whatever you are putting into the video poker game.


Resolve to always use your player’s card.

While some believe inserting a player’s card changes to outcome of play, there is no truth to that.  An inserted player’s card tracks your play for future comps such as food, drink, rooms, free play or even cash. Take advantage of this additional incentive by always inserting your card. It is also a good idea while playing to periodically check the display to make sure it is still recording your play. Sometimes after a period of inactivity, the card will “time-out” and no longer record any of your play. Simply extracting and reinserting the card corrects the situation and you once again will get full credit for all your play.


Most of all, resolve to have fun!

This is the most important resolution. You play video poker to have fun. By getting the most from your gambling dollar, you will have the most fun.

Follow these resolutions and have a great 2014!  ´




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