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The words “Chapter 11” do not usually come without making people nervous. The most common thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear “Chapter 11” is bankruptcy. Chapter 11 is the portion of the bankruptcy code that deals with reorganizing a company’s debt, etc.

It could be worse as I could be talking about Chapter 7, which is liquidation in bankruptcy-speak. In this case, though, Chapter 11 refers to the 11th chapter of the booklet – Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas (originally written by Lenny Frome and updated by me), which is entitled Beating Video Poker.

Let’s take a look at what this chapter suggests for how to beat video poker. The first item is to learn how to become an expert player, but don’t try to become an expert at all versions of video poker. Pick which game or two you want to learn how to play and become a true expert at it. Very few can master all the different versions and paytable variations. After awhile, they may all jumble in your head and you’ll find yourself making mistakes that you’ll convince yourself is actually the right play.

The next item for beating video poker is to play games that either give you an edge (payback over 100%) or so close to 100% payback that you have a good chance to walk away a winner. While this is getting more difficult to do as casinos have cut back on the top paying machines, they can still be found if you look for them. Obviously, to achieve the paybacks, it becomes imperative that you become an expert player at these games.

Next up is to enter video poker tournaments that offer 100% (or more) of the fees as prizes. Going with the assumption that as an Expert Player you have a better chance to win these tournaments, then the expected values of these tournaments should be greater than 100% for YOU.

While most tournaments will reflect results over a short period of time, meaning that luck still plays a very large part of the outcome, skill will still play enough of a part to give you a better chance to beat out the competition. Take advantage of these situations.

Make sure you join all the slot clubs and play with your card in the machine. I absolutely do NOT subscribe to the notion that the game will play differently if your card is in the machine. Video poker machines deal cards randomly whether you’re in the slot club or not.

While it MAY be possible for casinos to cut back on certain types of comps based on the quality of your play – which they could discern from tracking your play, I don’t believe that casinos currently do this.

Also, casinos are relying more and more on the very objective form of comps and cashback that the slot cards afford them and less on the very subjective form of using humans to decide how much you can get – at least for the average player. In other words, you’ll get more by using your slot club card than you might risk losing if you don’t use it.

Last, but certainly not least, is to land your fair share of royals. Luck will play a fairly large part of this, but so will using expert strategy. If you don’t play those 2-card royals properly, you’re going to give up some of those royals.

When I was younger, I went years without hitting a royal (I went to Las Vegas 2-3 weeks out of the year to visit my parents) and then I hit three in about three weeks. We learn from the laws of probability that something that is to occur once in 40,000 hands can easily occur three times in 10,000 hands or not at all in 250,000 hands. You have to do your part, but lady luck has to smile on you too.

Well, that’s all it takes to beat video poker. Of course, beating is a relative term. No one says you’re going to become a millionaire from playing it, but if you can even eke out a small win, get a few free drinks, a good meal and a good night of fun, well, then it makes going Chapter 11 not so bad after all!

You can try out your strategy by playing our video poker game.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Elliot Frome

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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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