Don’t quit your day job to play video poker

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This past week, I received an order for a copy of our Expert Strategy for Las Vegas book. Shortly after, I received an e-mail from the person who ordered it, who wanted to know if this would help him win money on a nearly daily basis.

The reader was looking for a $200-$300 daily win on average. Assuming a 250-day work year, this equates to a $62,500 per year job. Not a bad salary and I’m guessing if it were that easy, many more people would be doing it. 

Regrettably, I had to tell him that I certainly could not make any guarantees of this type. The vast majority of full-pay machines still have paybacks below 100 percent and thus are long term losing propositions for the player. Using the strategy in my books will help you minimize your losses in these cases and give you a reasonable chance of winning. 

There are still a few machines out there with paybacks over 100 percent. They are getting harder and harder to find and generally speaking, are in lower denominations. The casinos have figured out that you can’t offer paybacks over 100 percent on large denomination machines or some video poker pro is likely to capitalize on the situation. 

There is a website called vpfree2.com which has a search engine which can help you find these machines. The database is player maintained, so it may not be up-to-the-minute accurate. In doing a quick search through the database, the highest payback machine I could find were full-pay Deuces Wild at about 100.76 percent, playing quarters at most. 

Playing seven hours per day at 800 hands per hour, a player can expect to average about a $50 win per day. This is well short of my reader’s hopes. If they had $1 machines, then his goal might be more attainable. 

But this is just an average expected win. Video poker is a very volatile game. If you could play blackjack at 100.75 percent, you might be able to count on this type of win most days. In video poker, roughly 2 percent of the payback comes from the Royal Flush (a natural Royal in the case of Deuces Wild). So, on any day you don’t hit one, you’re essentially playing a 98.76 percent game. In other words, a net loser. 

On the days you hit that Royal, you’ll be a big winner. Royals occur roughly 1 in 40,000 hands. Using my prior example, you would hit one about every eight or nine days on average. But, you could easily hit three in nine days or go 25+ days without hitting one. 

At the end of the year, you should be fairly close to that target of $50 per day. This translates to $12,500 per year. This sounds like a nice win on a yearly basis, but this requires that you play five days per week for seven hours per day. It is essentially a full-time job to make below minimum wage.  

Admittedly, these numbers do not take into account the benefits of using a slot club card which will increase your net win a bit. 

Video poker, like most casino gaming, is a form of entertainment. My strategies will help you minimize the cost and give you a good shot of winning on any given day. 

I would strongly suggest you not try to make a living at it. The only exception might be live Poker where you are playing against other players and not the house. 

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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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