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It’s easier to earn a high theoretical playing slots than it is video poker

By Frank Scoblete


Slot players rule the casinos. They do. Just walk into a casino and look around. This fact is not hard to see.

Some 60 to 90 percent of slot losses make up the casino coffers. There would be no casino “industry” if the seemingly countless millions of slot players were removed from Lady Luck’s domain. They haven’t been removed. Look at the world of casino gaming and you will see a world of slot machines.

Casinos have spread all over America, Canada and, yes, the world. They are the mechanical cousins to the terrifying monsters called the blobs, so to speak, and they just expand and expand as they eat players’ bankrolls.

[Please note: Certainly, you remember the blob, that gelatinous creature from somewhere “out there” in the galaxy. It was a gooey but ravenous eating machine. Given the chance, it would consume the earth and all beings on our planet. But a young Steve McQueen stopped it.]

Still, not all “slot” machines are real slot machines in their appeal. No, sir. Some slot machines are video-poker machines. They give us a multitude of variously named poker-themed games that a small segment of the casino-playing world enjoys. In fact, these players love playing video poker to the exclusion of everything else.

Now, certainly a video-poker machine runs just like a slot machine in its internal workings, but it has certain distinct features that make it appealing to some players.

Slot machines can give you games based on television shows, movies, cartoons, images and heroes (heroes now also means heroines), also political figures, wars, sports, space travel and countless other things. Slot players eat this stuff up.

The insides of the video-poker machine has the RNG (technically the Pseudo Random Number Generator) but it deals with “shuffling” and dealing cards. Each video-poker game has a pay table for given hands, all the way up to the best hand in the game—a hand that might take an average of 40,000 or more spins to hit. Patience is a key ingredient of the game—as is the proper playing strategy.

There are many excellent analyzers of the video poker games. Math and computers make those analyzers relatively important people for video-poker players. Play right, play long, and you can hit some good hands now and again.

Will such a player be ahead for his or her playing career? Almost definitely no. Most video-poker players find themselves down until they hit a premium hand, but sometimes even those hits can’t bring the player back to the land of the living. Today’s video poker players are not longing to have machines that can be beaten; they know better.

In the past, there were video poker games where perfect play could actually give players the edge over the house. Those machines have almost all vanished into the misty casino glory days. You won’t find many (or any) of those machines anymore. Most video-poker players do not expect to get an edge over the house when they play their favorite machines. (At least, I don’t think so.)

So, what do they want? I didn’t have to wait long for an answer to my question from a couple of video-poker aficionados.

Bess and Brian are a husband-and-wife team of players. When I say “team” I do not mean it as if they both play the same machines and pool their money and beat the house in order to live a life of yachts and luxury. This is not blackjack, where such “let’s beat the house” teams might still exist.

Bess said, “I love the games I play. I really do. But I think we are not treated properly by the casinos. We’re treated like the poor cousins.”

Brian added, “The house doesn’t give a hoot about us because the games we play don’t generate too much revenue for the casino like the typical slot machines do. You play a quarter or dollar slot machine and you are treated like an emperor. Us?”

Bess chimed in. “Garbage. We are treated like garbage.”

I am not so sure that “garbage” is the right word. Casinos base their comps on how much they expect a player to lose in the long-run play of the game the player is playing.

If you take a look at a typical 25-cent slot machine with a 10 percent house edge (stated as a 90 percent return) and you compare that to a 25-cent video-poker player facing a two percent house edge, the 25- cent slot player is more valuable because such a player is expected to lose more over time.

Brian jumped in [he was getting heated]: “Listen, we come here and we spend money. We buy stuff and we bring friends and relatives. Not my relatives because my wife doesn’t like them.” He eyed Bess.

“I come to have fun,” said Bess, eyeing him back. “I don’t want to put up with anything but luck when I am in a casino, okay?”

Video-poker players are in fact their own category on the casino landscape and most video-poker players accept that fact. They play games that are closer contests between casino and player. Casinos are not generally going to comp them the same way they comp slot players.

That’s a given.

“I want to be treated right,” said a steaming Brian. “Treat me right and I am fine.” He doesn’t seem to get it, does he?

All the best in and out of the casinos!


Frank Scoblete’s website is His books are available from, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and bookstores.

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