Video Poker FAQ

by Gayle Mitchell & John Grochowski

For our visitors, there are 12 Video Poker FAQ, frequently asked questions with answers. This lesson is part of the Learn to Play Video Poker program.
1) Video Poker FAQ. I have heard Video Poker versions referred to as 10/7 Double Bonus and 9/6 Jacks+ (Jacks or Better). What does this mean?
1) A. These names are derived from the VP pay schedules.
The first two numbers reflect the payouts for a full house and flush as per one coin payout for 10/7 Double Bonus and 9/6 Jacks+.
10/7 Bonus VP version would pay 10 coins for a full house and 7 coins for a flush for a one coin bet while a 9/6 Jacks or Better refers to 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush.
2) Video Poker FAQ. Could you explain to me what is meant by "a full pay" Video Poker machine, in particular as regards to a Deuces Wild machine?
2) A. 9/5 Deuces Wild full pay schedule refers to nine coins for a straight flush and 5 coins for four of a kind under the 1 coin payout schedule.

3) Video Poker FAQ.  I know you like Deuces Wild Video Poker.  As I look at payouts, it seems that only when you get 4DW do you really get anywhere. Given the fact that you seem to like this game can you help "convert" me?
3) A. Generally, if you don't hit 4 Deuces, you are in for a losing session with this VP version, however, with 4 wild cards, you can also continue to play with enough Royals w/Deuces, straight flushes and four of a kind while awaiting a 'big hit'.
The big difference I have noticed with wild card games is the 'roller-coaster' ride where you never know what payout is coming.
Jacks+ game is slow and steady and certainly an excellent game to play, but sometimes you want to play a different kind of VP, i.e., wild card games including Jokers Wild.
A final word: Be sure to practice and learn optimum strategy for every version you intend to play.

4) Video Poker FAQ. Any advice on the advantages/disadvantages of the various styles of Jacks-or-Better?  For instance, you have "double-double," "triple-double," etc. and then just plain. Which Video Poker game would you play and why?
4) A. Like everything in VP, it depends on the pay schedules.
For the three versions, you gave me I would choose plain Jacks or better, IF you get 10 for 2 pair and it is 9/6. Although the top payouts for double double and triple double are much better, the overall payout is not.
The best version of Jacks+ is 10/7 double bonus and 100% payback whereas plain Jacks+ is 99.54%, but with comps or online promotions, you can do better on both of these versions.
5) Video Poker FAQ. On the  machines with multiple games, i.e. Bonus Poker, Super Aces, etc. Does each game use a different deck or do all games use the same deck? 
5) A. There are separate decks utilized for each Video Poker game. In addition, there is a separate RNG program for each game.
For multi-denominations game, there is again a separate RNG for payouts.

6) Video Poker FAQ. The common wisdom is that the cards are randomly dealt and the payout percentage is based completely on the posted pay schedule.  Yet in playing video poker, they seem to go through distinct cycles that challenge that data.
In addition, at various casinos the stated average payouts are different despite the fact that the posted pay tables are the same.
Is it a fact that the cards are dealt at random, or do the casinos have the ability to control the payout percentage other than the pay table?
6) A. Yes, you are right all picks are random, however the game is volatile. I'll give you an example. I just went through 5 losing sessions and today I hit for $1000, so you never know.
As far as changing machine payouts at any casino online or off, there is a gaming license and reputation to consider.
I contend that it is just not worth fooling around with the % payouts when you could lose your license or reputation for a small amount of money.

7) Video Poker FAQ. I was playing video poker when along came 4 to the royal. My wife was standing by so I called her over noting I have never gotten the royal on anything except a 50 hand game (neither had she and several other people standing around watching and waiting for me to push the button).
I waited and I won. A fun story since there was a bunch of people hanging around waiting as we were for a give away car drawing.
My question is: When did the little brain make up its mind to give it to me, after I selected but before I actually pushed the button (several minutes passed, building anticipation) or when the 4 came up in the first place. I guess I'm just curious if it was already there or was the wait worthwhile. Mike
7) A. If you listen real close, you can hear my applause, also :-).
I know that the cards are still shuffling before you hit the 'deal' button on most VP versions and eventually the card you want is there, but knowing how long to wait--there's the rub!
I often will do a bit of waiting myself even when dealt three-of-a-kind, especially Aces.
In addition, if I am getting a 'string of losing hands', I will sit back and wait for a while.
There is nothing scientific about this strategy and it does not make a difference whether you wait or not, but we all have ‘our little quirks’ and you just hit on one of mine.
8) Video Poker FAQ.  I have a sincere, but strange question. I have won playing 10-7 full pay Double Bonus Video Poker. If I told you, I have won 7 straight trips (51 out of 58 winning days), would you say this is A) Impossible. B)Very Very Lucky or C) Simply a Hot Streak?
I play at least 11 hours a day. I'd like to hear any comments.
8) A. First, Congrats on your win. I would say this is a hot streak and I have had several, especially with this version. Just be sure, you are insulated against that 'cold streak'. 

The following 4 Video Poker FAQ are from the mail bag of John Grochowski

The most common video poker games, online and off, requires you to wager five credits to get the best odds. The big change comes in the Royal Flush jackpot. Most of the time, drawing a royal with one credit wagered will bring 250 in return. You’ll get 500 for a two-credit wager, 750 for three, and 1,000 for four.
That’s all proportional, until you get to a five-credit wager. Then the jackpot goes up to 4,000 coins, an 800-for-1 proposition, and a Royal Flush brings joy and full pockets.
Still, the temptation is there for a short-bankrolled player to make bets of less than one coin, as with this reader who wrote of her experiences:
Video Poker FAQ. I hit a Royal Flush on a Video Poker machine. I was thrilled, but now I get lectured from everyone when I tell them I was betting only one quarter at a time. Everyone tells me I should have been betting five coins, and then I’d have won $1,000. I thought my 250 quarters for one coin bet was pretty good, but everyone wants to rain on my parade. Did I make a mistake?
9) A. This is an issue between you and your budget. If your bankroll and comfort level with wagering tell you that you should play one coin at a time, then that's what you should bet. You get a better payback percentage if you bet five coins at a time--that royal would have paid 800-for-1 instead of 250-for-1. I play five coins at a time, and if I can't afford to do it, I don't play.
But if you're enjoying your day's entertainment while settling for the lower percentage, it's your quarter. That being said, there is a price for playing fewer coins than the maximum.
When we say that 9-6 Jacks or Better Video Poker is a 99.5% game with expert play, well, part of expert play is betting maximum coins. If you bet fewer coins, it's only a 98.4 percent game.

I would warn anyone against betting four coins at a time. Then, you're paying most of the price of VP without getting the best benefit. Look at it this way. If we break 9-6 Jacks or Better down to five one-coin bets, on the first coin we're getting a 250-for-1 payoff on a Royal Flush, and our return is 98.4 percent. Same on the second coin, the third and the fourth. But on the fifth coin, our royal pays 3,000-for-1, right?
If we bet four coins, we get only 1,000 back on a royal, but if we bet five, we get 4,000. With that bonus payback in mind, our return on the fifth coin is 106.2 percent.
That's true on nearly every VP game. The return on the fifth coin brings back in excess of 100 percent of what we put in. When we stop at four coins, we give away so much return in exchange for so little savings.
Betting one coin at a time may be budget-conscious; betting four is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Video Poker FAQ. Video Poker machines can be programmed to pay off for any hand.
So why can’t drawing an inside straight, which has only four chances to win, pay more than an open-ended straight that has eight chances to win? Also, why does a flush pay more than a straight? When you have four cards to a flush, there are nine left that can complete the flush, but with an open-ended straight, you have only eight cards to make a straight.
10) A. It is true that the odds are longer against you filling in an inside straight --- a hand such as 4-5-7-8 in which only a 6 will bring a winner, than an open-ended straight such as 4-5-6-7, where either a 3 or an 8 will complete the straight.
However, the goal of VP game designers isn’t to best reflect the odds of drawing a hand. It’s to design a game that’s playable and fun, one that’ll keep the customers coming back for more.
If you're playing five-card draw around the kitchen table and you win with a straight, you don't get extra credit for drawing to the inside, do you? 

The Video Poker pay table is not meant to be a  precise mathematical model of the relative frequency of paying hands. It's meant to draw players in by giving them a familiar-type game, one in which full houses outrank flushes and flushes outrank straights even though those three hands occur with about the same frequency in video poker.
To give a bonus for hitting a straight on an inside draw would mean that the pay table would have to adjusted down elsewhere to keep the payback percentage the same. By splitting hairs like that, we'd create the need for a more complex strategy. You can find situations like that all the way up and down the pay table.
Instead of 800-for-1, shouldn't Royal Flushes pay close to the 40,000-1 odds of hitting one? The answer is no, because other paybacks would have to be adjusted down so far that the game would be unplayable.
Video Poker FAQ. I found a Video Poker game with an interesting chance to double your winnings. A card spins on the screen, and you pick high (9 through Ace) or low (2 through 7). 
An 8 is a push, and you just keep your original winnings. This seems to me like a true even-money bet and therefore the best bet this side of the free odds in craps.
Is this correct, and is there any strategy as to when to do it and when not? Also, if you win the first time do you double again? You can double up to four times.  
11) A. The Double-Up bet you describe is, indeed, an even wager with no house edge, provided the machine draws the cards randomly. There are six denominations from 2 through 7, and six more from 9 through Ace. And since the remaining cards, the 8’s, are a push, there's no edge on this bet either way, just as there's no edge on the free odds wager in craps.
It's the electronic equivalent of a coin flip.
Remember, though, that although the house has no edge here, neither do you. If you enjoy the doubling option, play it; if not, don't. In the long run, you'll wind up the same either way.
Let your own tastes and bankroll guide you in deciding when and how many times to double up. On an even bet, the odds against  winning two consecutive trials are 3-1; the odds are 7-1 against winning three in a row and 15-1 against winning four in a row. However, the odds on winning your next bet always are even.
If you've already won three in a row, the odds of winning the fourth no longer are 15-1; they're even.
Video Poker FAQ. I have always considered a 1-for-1 payoff to be no payoff at all. If I, as the bettor, wager five coins on a Jacks or Better machine and get back five coins for a pair of Jacks, I am merely getting the return of my money that I have put up to bet. In effect, the house has put up nothing on the wager. I feel there should be nothing less than a 2-for-1 payoff.
If the bettor puts up one, two, three, four or five coins, then the house should put up the same, and any minimum winning payout would have to include the return of the original bet plus the equal amount in payout.
How does one get this changed, if that’s at all possible?  
12) A. Video poker machines that merely return your bet for a pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces are so well entrenched that I don't think you could change it. I also don't think such a change would be desirable.
A 1-for-1 payoff on the minimum winning hands are video poker's equivalent of a push in blackjack -- and many's the time I've sat with a 17 against a dealer's Ace and been grateful to get a push when the dealer turned up a 6. From ties in baccarat to split hands in pai-gow poker, pushes are a part of the fabric of gaming.

The outcome that leaves your bet alive for another chance is a perfectly legitimate outcome.
You’re also asking the house to “put up” at least as much as your wager on all paying hands, but I notice you’re not offering to put up at least as much as the house. On a Royal Flush we can get back 4,000 coins even though we put up only five.
That aside, I think VP games that had no payoffs of less than 2-for-1 would be unplayable. The pay table would have to be kept in balance -- a casino that offers 7-5 Jacks or Better, paying 96.2 percent to experts, isn't suddenly going to start paying 120 percent or so by raising payoffs on high pairs to 2-for-1 without making some adjustments. Pairs of Jacks and Queens would have to become zero-pay hands.
That would drastically reduce the number of paying hands and make results more volatile -- most of the time, you'd heading for the exit quickly.
In most Video Poker games, the 1-for-1 payoffs are the most common paying hands on the machine, and they keep you going until something better comes along. They are important to the player -- too important to give up for a belief that a bet ought to be met with more than a push.

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Tips, Terms & Wins

Jokers Wild VP:
Version may seem similar to Jacks+, but different strategies.
Almost as volatile as Deuces Wild, because original 5 cards dealt are discarded more frequently than Jacks+.
Go for a Straight Flush when possible for the higher return with a wild card.

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