Don’t succumb to video poker superstitions

August 21, 2007 3:23 AM


There’s never a shortage of advice from people who play video poker. But you shouldn’t always believe what you hear in the casino.

Here are some common superstitions and misconceptions about the popular game.

"Hot" and "Cold" machines

Nope. No such thing. Mathematically, anyway. All video poker machines are controlled by a Random Number Generator, and every possible card combination can occur at any time you "deal." There are 2.6 million unique video poker card combinations that can occur. Because there are so many combinations, you rarely see lots of great combos all in the same session, but it is great when you do.

The machine is "due"

As explained above, there’s sadly no such thing. It sure feels like it when you’re on a miserable losing streak, but it isn’t so. It seems even more likely to be "due" when you get three aces time and time again, but you can’t get that fourth ace. That RNG churns through all the combos and, sadly, the plain truth is that there are more losing combinations in 52 cards than there are winning ones.

Slot cards ”˜tighten’ the machine

False. The beauty of video poker is that the pay tables are right in front of you and if you know how to play, or at least which games to look for, the game’s theoretical expected return is essentially advertised. The slot club card and pay table are unrelated mathematically as well as in any game’s outcome. What is relevant, however, is that the slot club has many benefits, including freebies and an accounting of your play, which might come in handy at tax time.


People play their hunches. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. Heck, I even play with hunches sometimes and I know better. Here’s the hardcore truth: The math and the correct play are always the same, and hunches, while they work occasionally, reduce your return on the game if they are the wrong strategic play. Trust the math.


The RNG ensures random card deliveries and "streaks" are truly defined after the fact, when you can kick yourself for playing longer than you should have, or congratulate yourself for "hanging in there" until you hit that great hand. Streaks are in our minds. The machines feel and know nothing.

"Kicker" cards

If you have three aces and one kicker card, you should throw that kicker quickly and get one more shot at the fourth ace. There is a rare exception to this rule in Triple Double Bonus, but if you are keeping kicker cards playing DDBP, please get some training or strategy cards, as you’re hurting your chances of a good game return.