Not All Casino Machines Are Created Equal

Most casino-goers tend to think of games in broad categories, typically slot machines and table games. If they have done any sort of reading on casino advantage and expected value, they know that table games usually give them the opportunity to use skillful play and maximize their expectation, while slot machines are complete luck and carry poor odds.

While this is solid advice for the most part, it can easily mislead bettors. Although they might look like slot machines, video poker machines are a completely different animal, and one that is very worthy of your time.

Video Poker – A Great Opportunity Often Overlooked

In recent years, casinos have unveiled a staggering variety of slot interfaces to build off the popularity many aspects of popular culture including movies and game shows. Despite the flashy graphics, they don’t offer anything different from a standard slot machine. You’ll still lose all of your money in the long run and the odds of a major jackpot are very slim.

But video poker machines are much more than just a gimmick, as they offer fundamentally different game play. Every game is a variety of five-card draw poker, but traditional poker skills learned in live games against other players will not do much good here. The only thing that matters is your hand against a pre-determined pay schedule.

You are often able to reduce the casino edge to a miniscule 0.5% and can even shift the odds in your favor with the right rules.

Similar to popular table games such as blackjack, video poker allows the player to make skillful decisions throughout play that will affect his or her bottom line. This type of control is simply not possible with a typical slot machine.

Although there is potential for skillful decisions, it can be dangerous for a player to head out thinking that video poker will automatically be profitable. These decisions are based on very complicated charts of expected value that have been developed over time. You absolutely must invest a good deal of time and effort in order to give yourself the best chance.

Pay Tables and Different Games

Before you start memorizing what hands to hold in different situations, you need to familiarize yourself with the different game options and the basics of pay tables. The most popular varieties are Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, but you will find a whole host of other options as well. Some of these machines are known as “full-pay” and you will want to seek out these out. While this doesn’t mean that you’ll get back 100% of the money you put in, it does mean that the pay table is the highest you’ll find for that particular game.

While this might seem pretty complicated for a beginner, we have compile a complete video poker bankroll guide which explains all of this in much more detail.

Next time you’re at the casino, don’t think of all machines as equal propositions.

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