Improving at Video Poker

We have spoken about the most basic ways to reach 100% return to player rates in video poker.   However, there are still some lesser known tips that will absolutely help you improve your video poker results. 

Online versus Land-Based Casinos

First of all, the top return to player rates are available primarily at an online casino.  That’s because online casinos have lower overhead costs than land based casinos do so they can calibrate the Random Number Generator to return about 99.5% of all wagers back to players who use correct strategy.  Remember that in all games set at a terminal such as slots and video poker, land based casinos also use a RNG but they calibrate them to return less money to players.

We have also talked about pay tables.  If you want to play a 9-6 game at a land-based casino, it may already be occupied.  This happens often and many players end up at an 8-5 game which gives them an added disadvantage against the house.  This never happens at an online casino.  In addition, online casinos offer free play and many bonuses to help you get acquainted with their games.  The Springbok casino no deposit bonus is designed to help you see the great benefits of gaming online.

Now let’s get to some other interesting video poker tips.

Don’t Save Kickers

Michael Shackleford is also known as the Wizard of Odds.  He has a YouTube video out in which he talks about ways to get better at the game.  One such way is to understand that video poker is very different than regular poker.  In regular poker, you face real opponents.  Even if you are playing a casino poker game, you are facing the dealer.

So, some plays you make are very sound plays in regular poker but very poor plays in video poker.  One such move is to save a kicker.  Kickers actually have no value at all in video poker as you are playing to achieve the highest possible hand so you’ll be paid accordingly.

A pair of kings with an ace kicker is just a pair of kings in video poker.  Had the player discarded the ace, he or she might have achieved a set with a higher payout.

Underestimating Skill

Shackleford talks about recreational video poker players.  He intimates that many video poker players don’t appreciate the importance of skill in the game.  They know poker as such: the ranks of hands and so forth.  So they play by instinct and by whim. 

However, the pay tables in video poker affect the correct strategy in fascinating ways.  For example, if you’re playing Texas Hold’em and you have four cards to a straight flush at the river you still don’t have a winning hand.  If your opponent makes a very large bet, you have to decide if he or she is bluffing or has your hand beat at the moment.

In video poker, if you are dealt four to a straight flush, you always keep those four cards even if it means breaking up a winning pair.  That’s because the payout for the pair is far less than the payout for the straight flush so you go for the higher payout.

Players Must Learn Each Variation Separately

This is another of Michael Shackleford’s points.  He says that many players underestimate the need to learn each video poker game as a single unit.  The strategy for one may be completely different than the strategy for another.  Part of this is because of the different pay tables and part is because some video poker games have wild cards.

Wild cards change the strategy dramatically.

We can add here that learning the rules and strategy of any video poker game that you want to play is not very difficult.  It is an aspect of responsible gaming that all players should know the games they play.  St Springbok, we always encourage players to play any game that they are trying out in free play mode.  We offer unlimited free play so we urge all players to take advantage of that offer and learn a new video poker variation for free.

Understanding Volatility

Michael Shackleford also discusses volatility in video poker.  We can add in introducing this subject that many players think that if the variation is supposed to return close to 100% then they will never be down a lot of money or up a lot of money.

The reality is that there is volatility even in a game with a very small house edge.  That’s because luck runs in streaks.  One of the reasons that many betting systems like the Martingale System fail in the long run is because you have to start with a huge bankroll to be able to cover the inherent volatility in all casino games.

It is understandable that many players become frustrated and even angry if they have a long losing streak.  This gets us back to the discussion about tilt that Daniel Negreanu talks about in one of his videos.  He says that tilt is probably the number one reason players lose at poker.

Tilt also applies to the frustration and tension a video poker player feels when he has a long losing streak.  Gambling is supposed to be fun.  If you’ve gotten to the point that it is more nerve-wracking than fun, quit the game for the time being.

If you’re playing online, as you should be, you certainly have a lot of things to do to get your mind off the losing streak.  And as far as video poker is concerned, when you come back to the game the next day or in a few days, your luck is as likely to change dramatically as it is to stay in the doldrums

Making Unforced Mistakes

There are a few reasons why unforced mistakes happen in video poker.  First, many players who are new to the game mistake a click on a card as a discard move when it is really a hold move.  This mistake might happen once—the very first time you play.  If it happens even one time more, it is a sign that the player is simply not being careful.

Not being careful enough is the second most common reason for unforced mistakes.  The strategy table is quite long so you have to look carefully at the cards you’ve been dealt to know what is the mathematically best way to proceed on that hand.

The third most common cause of unforced mistakes is to continue playing when the player is either too tired to play well, too distracted by other responsibilities to concentrate completely, or has had too much alcohol to drink.  All three of these are common occurrences at land based casinos with too much alcohol probably number one.

Play at Springbok

We hope that everything we have covered in this article indicates that online gaming, especially at Springbok Casino, has advantages over land-based casinos.