VIDEO POKER: Play Without Breaking the Bank
I’VE VISITED A VARIETY OF gambling locations lately and have noticed a few visible and somewhat alarming changes. It seems like local jurisdictions, whether they’re in Australia or the United States, have their hands stuck out for more money. It may seem virtuous to say all revenues are to be used for education, but when the piece of the pie becomes enormous, it’s bad for the players. In this column, I will tell you why.
Ultimately it becomes a “playing time” issue since gaming is no longer viewed as a way to make money, but rather a form of entertainment. In a nutshell, if $100 bought you approximately one hour of gambling in the past, the same $100 might not last as long in some casinos. Of course, it’s your decision whether you want to continue frequenting gambling halls or go to a show in the future. However, if you choose to play you should consider your gaming budget beforehand or you may be a sad sack on the way home. Here are some tips for keeping your play in your favor.
DO THE MATH
Use accurate statistical data to determine the game choice and denomination before you find a seat. For example, today it’s difficult to find 9/6 Jacks or Better (9/6 JOB), but you’ll probably be able to find 8/5 JOB, which has a lower expected return (ER). To make sure you are aware of the theoretical return, use the free removable ER tables in my book, The Video Poker Edge or WinPoker software. You’ll find that 8/5 JOB pays approximately 2.2% less than 9/6 JOB. This means that you’ll theoretically lose $2.20 more per $100 wagered when you play 8/5 JOB instead of 9/6 JOB. So if you normally bring $200 to the casino, you’ll need $204.40 to play for the same amount of time. This may seem minor, but some games are downgraded even more and some people bring a bigger bankroll.
Honestly, I choose not to play if downgrading is ridiculous, like 7/5 JOB. However, some people say they are captive players in that they arrived with a group and are too bored to just watch. You should then consider playing a lower denomination. In other words, instead of playing dollars try playing quarters. Make sure the pay schedules are the same since some devices downgrade pay tables for smaller denominations. To check the pay schedules, simply push the “see pays” button.
If lowering the denomination doesn’t appeal to you, then consider choosing a less volatile game. You can refer to statistical tables for the exact variance but remember, the higher the variance the riskier the game choice. Volatile games rely on achieving the ER by getting infrequent hands, like 4 Aces or 4 Aces and a Kicker (Ace, Two, Three or Four) in Double Double Bonus (DDB). If you fail to get these rare hands then your bankroll will disappear quickly. Instead, choose a less risky game like Jacks Or Better. However, I caution you to not give up ER in choosing a less volatile game.
Today you’ll find multi-hand games in abundance on the casino floor. Make sure you determine the total cost of the game so that you’re not fooled into thinking you’re playing the same denomination. For example, if you’re typically a quarter player, a single line game costs $1.25 to play. If you’re suddenly playing 5 hands, then it’s costing you $6.25 per hand – that’s more than it would cost to play a single line dollar device. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad choice, but it’s potentially draining your bankroll. And if you only bring a couple hundred dollars, you could be out of cash fast.
Never bet more than you can afford to lose, even if that means you’re a short-timer. If you tend to abuse your ATM card, leave it at home.
COMMUNICATE WITH MANAGEMENT
If you have tried lowering your denomination, played single lines and selected less volatile games and find you are still running out of bankroll so fast it’s not fun, then you should inform management. You may think that this is a worthless endeavor after learning games are only returning 68% due to the tax rate increases, but that’s not always the case. Management teams understand that without player volume they’ll lose money and will be forced to close their doors.
PUT IT IN WRITING
As tempting as it may be to start venting to the nearest employee out of frustration or expedience, this is rarely effective. Management needs to hear your thoughts first-hand and it’s best to put things in writing.
FOR MORE FREE VIDEO POKER TIPS, VISIT SOUTHERNGAMING.COM/VIDEOPOKER
Author Bio: Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player and knowledgeable video poker player, writes for Southern Gaming, Midwest Gaming and Travel, and Arizona Player. Look for her article in the 2012 and 2013 editions of American Casino Guide. Her book, The Video Poker Edge, includes free removable pay schedules and her free strategy cards for the most popular games. The second edition, published in 2010, can be found on Amazon.com, Square One Publishers and at a variety of bookstores. Kindle edition is now available.