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Most of the country was out on Black Friday, looking for the best sales as the holiday shopping season kicked off. Who doesn’t love a good bargain or saving some money?

A few make no attempts to shop on Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) and simply buy whatever they want without regard to price but I’m guessing most make a reasonable attempt to stretch their budget.

So, why should gambling be any different?

If you’re willing to brave long lines today to save $100 on a high-def TV, why would you be willing to sit at a slot machine paying you 92 or 93 percent when there are so many better choices in the casino?

Would you buy the off-name 32” TV for $500 when you can have the top of the line 37” for $400?  I don’t think so!

Who am I kidding? Playing slots is more like buying a used projection TV for $900! The quality won’t be as good, you’ll be broke and wind up with a hernia trying to get it upstairs.

Then again, I would hope that you’ve all given up slots and figured out that playing video poker is the better plan. That’s a good start.

But, to find a bargain, you have to learn to play the right machines the correct way. Unlike slot machines, a knowledgeable player can know the payback of a video poker machine just by looking at the paytable.

Video poker machines deal the cards randomly. The likelihood of any card being dealt at any point of time is the same as any other card. Slot machines don’t work this way. There may be 20 symbols on a reel, and it doesn’t mean each one is showing up five percent of the time.

As a result, we can use computers to determine the best way to draw for each five-card initial deal and follow these results to the end. With video poker, if two machines have the same paytables at the same variation of the game, the paybacks must be identical.

With slot machines, two machines could sit right next to each other, with identical paytables and programmed so one pays 92 percent and the other 82. The player has no way to tell.

But knowing the payback of a video poker machine is only the start of the process. Unlike slots, there is an element of skill involved in video poker as well. Knowing which cards to discard become critical in order to achieve the theoretical payback.

You could sit down to play a Deuces Wild machine that can pay over 100 percent, but if you have no idea what the strategy is, your odds of achieving that figure may be near 0.

At the same time, playing a short-pay 95.5 Jacks or Better machine perfectly may not leave you any better off. If you want to find a real bargain, know which machines to play (i.e. the ones with good paybacks) and learn to play them properly (learn which cards to hold/discard).

So, during this holiday season, if you want a real bargain, give up the slots habit and play America’s national game of chance – video poker. To make this the best bargain ever, learn how to play video poker the expert way.

It just so happens I’m offering some great holiday specials through my books (America’s National Game of Chance and Winning Strategies for Video Poker) for just $15 including priority mail shipping!

Order additional copies for just $5 more. Stuff everyone’s stockings with 200 pages of Lenny Frome’s best articles! We’ll take check or money order if you send it to Compu-Flyers, P.O. Box 132, Bogota, NJ 07603.

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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