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How to figure out the perfect video poker game for you


personalityConsidering all the varieties of video poker, do you really know which games are right for you? Do you get frustrated because you go through your bankroll too quickly, or do you ever get bored while playing? Since everybody has different bankrolls and tolerances for risk, there’s no one “right” game for everyone.

How do you choose what you play? Some people try playing several games to see which they enjoy most. Others ask friends or read books for recommendations. There’s also a third approach, one that involves looking at the pay tables of the games and the probability of getting specific hands, and then matching your personal preferences with the results. Analyzing the pay table and examining the variance tells you how much risk is involved and how much reward (if any) can be expected over time playing that game, with that particular pay table.

The variance reflects the likelihood of receiving each possible hand over time. This is a factor used to help determine the bankroll needed (statistically) to last from one big hand to the next. Many of the popular video poker software packages let you look up the variance of games with different pay tables you can expect to see. Variances range from 15 to over 100, and generally speaking, when you compare games at the same denomination, the rule is this: the lower the variance, the less money you’re likely to put into the machine and lose between big hands.

Most of us don’t want to take the time to research the underlying theory, but we still want the scoop. Take this quiz, and learn which of today’s most popular games are best suited to your personality (and bankroll).

1. Which statement describes you best?

a) I like to make my gambling money last as long as possible. I’ll give up getting frequent jackpots if it means I won’t lose a lot of money.

b) I sometimes get bored while playing. I’ll accept some short-term losses in exchange for some challenge.

c) I need excitement. I don’t mind losing as long as I can get the “big hit’ occasionally.

d) I love big jackpots. Give me life in the fast lane, baby!

2. When you go to play video poker, do you…

a) Set your gambling budget on a daily basis, and stop playing for the day when you’ve reached your maximum.

b) Set your gambling budget on a trip basis, and stop playing for the trip when you’ve reached your maximum.

c) Set your gambling budget, but dip into the next day’s allotment (or previous day’s winnings—or get more money)when you’ve reached your maximum.

d) Not bother to establish a gambling budget before you leave for your trip?

3. How much do you typically bring with you for a session of quarter video poker games?

(Note: if you play at another denomination, adjust the choices accordingly. That is, if you’re a nickel player, divide the dollar amounts in the choices by five. If you’re a dollar player, multiply the dollar amounts in the choices by four.)

a) Less than $100

b) $100-$249

c) $250-$499

d) $500 or more

4. How often do you play video poker?

a) Hardly ever—once or twice per year

b) Occasionally—once or twice per quarter

c) Regularly—once or twice per month

d) Frequently—at least once per week

5. How long is one of your typical video poker sessions?

a) More than 5 hours

b) 3-5 hours

c) 2-3 hours

d) Less than 2 hours


Give yourself 1 point for each “a”, 2 points for each “b”, 3 points for each “c,” and 4 points for each “d”.


If your score is 5-7, you are a “Maximizer.” You want to make your gambling budget last as long as possible. You’d rather avoid big losses, and are willing to sacrifice big wins to make sure that your gambling budget lasts for your entire trip. You like getting comps, but you don’t want to pay too much for them. You probably enjoy playing games with a potential payback over 98.9% and a variance under 25, such as 9/6 Jacks or Better and 8/5 Bonus.


If your score is between 8-12, you are a “Player.” You want to have fun and can tolerate reasonable swings in your bankroll. You understand that you’ll lose money during most of your sessions, but you believe that in the long run, you’ll win (almost)all of it back. You read about gaming strategy and may even practice playing on your computer before your trip. You probably enjoy playing games with a potential payback over 98.9% and a variance between 25-35, such as 15-9-4-4-3 Deuces Wild and 9/7 Bonus.


If your score is between 13-17, you are an “Adventurer.” You get bored easily and want the thrill of frequent big jackpots—and you’re willing to pay for that thrill. You take a big bankroll with you on your vacation, and you don’t expect to come home with all of it. You expect to get good comps and want the status of being a hosted player. You probably enjoy playing games with potential payback over 98.9% and a variance between 35-45, such as 9/6 Double Double Bonus and 9/5 White Hot Aces.


If your score is between 18-20, you are a “Thrill Seeker.” You know that one of these machines will “hit,” and that you’ll probably make back your losses. In the meantime, isn’t that what vacation budgets are for? Your bankroll is healthy, and you enjoy the freewheeling feeling of a big player—and the status that comes with being hosted. You probably enjoy playing games with a potential payback over 98.9% and a variance over 45, such as 9/7 Triple Double Bonus and Loose Deuces.




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