Video poker tips

August 13, 2007 11:57 PM
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Video poker is king in Las Vegas "locals" casinos — those gambling halls that cater mostly to the residents of the city.

In these casinos, which include the Station, Coast, Arizona Charlie’s and other brands, the revenue from gaming machines often eclipse 70% to 80% of the casino’s overall win — because of the strong play attributed to video poker.

By contrast, slot machines in Nevada generally account for about 65% of a casino’s overall gaming revenue.

The reasons are many and varied: Video poker has an element of skill, which regular players like because they feel they have an edge. In addition, the machine’s payback percentage is built right into the pay tables, so players can know at a glance whether they’re playing a tight or loose machine.

Plus the game is actually fun, so players can continue to indulge themselves without becoming bored or weary.

Because the game is so popular, IGT has established a video poker’s club on its web site. It’s free to join and members enjoy the latest news, as well as tips on how to play the game.

Here are some of the site’s "do’s and don’ts" for video poker players.

Shop the paytables: Video poker is the ONLY game where the casino actually tells you the "price" or the exact theoretical payback. Learn to recognize the best game returns, which are prominently displayed on the game’s glass or in the game’s help screens and get the most for your gambling dollar.

Bet maximum coins: Always bet the max. It is only at 5 coins bet that your royal flush and other jackpots get ”˜bonused’ or pay top dollar . And isn’t getting paid top dollar what we want? If you can’t afford a max bet at a specic denomination, then find a lower denomination machine and play IT at max bet. For example, do not play a dollar game, one coin at a time. Go and play a quarter game at $1.25 cents per time. You’ll make more money, play longer and earn more comps.

Don’t play over your head: Set a budget for your play session. Leave when you meet it. Set a budget for your winnings, too. Leave when you meet that. Discipline is the key to a common sense approach to gaming. Do not chase the money. Do not double up to catch up. hese are two sure-fire ways of getting in a hole.

Watch your alcohol intake: Drunks and even tipsy people often make bad decisions. This is especially true when playing video poker as inebriated players often make strategy mistakes or just plain miss card combinations they should keep. Serious video poker players who want to fully exploit their casino visit don’t get out-of-hand with their drinking. Finally, one’s willpower is lessened by alcohol and you might find yourself playing more than you should, or more than you planned for. Play to your budget and do it soberly.

Sign up for the slot club: This is a must. Why? Well, the most obvious reason is that you get "complimentary" points for your play which can be used for comps and sometimes you just get offers in the mail. You won’t without a card. Another very important reason is just in case you get taxable winnings, which include any jackpots in excess of $1,199.00. The casino will keep some records for you so you know what to report to the IRS and your win/loss. Remember, they can only tell you about play while using a player tracking card.

Learn how to play your favorite games: Other forms of casino gambling all rely on luck. You are ahead of the curve because you’ve already picked a game where the strategy for winning, or getting the most for your gambling dollar, is known. Not only known, but easily available. There are books, strategy cards and actual courses taught by pros and great software to use and learn at home on your computer. Practice makes perfect, or at least much better. You practice for softball, for bowling, for most leisure activities... why not video poker? This game, like blackjack with the right rules, can be beaten.

Don’t play where the buttons are sticky or don’t work: One sure way to have a really crummy, unpleasant session is to play a machine where the buttons don’t work. When irritated or distracted, you won’t play perfectly and won’t make as much money as you would playing somewhere else. Don’t even play even if it is the only available machine. You will miss holding the right cards, get frustrated and likely not enjoy your session. A better working machine will be available soon.

Don’t play next to a loud or bothersome drunk: Not only will they distract you from playing perfectly, they’ll ruin your fun. Don’t do it! Walk away or come back later.