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Play Video Poker to Improve at Regular Poker

One of the most popular online casino games is video poker.  The return to player rate is quite high, making it about a 50-50 game between the house and the player.  One great advantage of video poker is that the dealer doesn’t play; you play against the pay table.

In this way, video poker is much different than blackjack, even though both games require players to make decisions on every hand.  In blackjack, you can go over 21 before the dealer plays and if you do you lose automatically.  In video poker, you win even if you get the minimum hand on the pay scale.

It is ironic that many poker players look down their noses at video poker.  In this article, we will show you how you can improve your general poker skills whilst playing video poker.  You can improve your poker skills even though there is no bluffing in video poker.

Making the Right Decisions

You can watch YouTube videos of Texas Hold ‘em for hours and hours.  One thing you won’t see clearly is the vast number of times good poker players simply fold even before the flop.  They do this because they are determined to make the correct decision almost every time they play.  In Texas Hold ‘em there are many parameters that players have to consider.  That’s one reason why you’ll sometimes see a player call the Big Blind with a very poor hand.  Since this article is about using video poker to improve your overall poker skill, we’ll concentrate more on what video poker offers.

The first thing that video poker offers is a chance to play many hands in a short period of time.  This helps you develop the skill to quickly recognize the value of your hand.  It helps lead you toward the right decision for that particular hand.

Seeing the Cards as a Language

Really good poker players don’t simply see the playing cards; they read the cards.  Reading is something we need language skills to do so the best poker players see the cards as a type of language.

It is not unusual to see language where there are no letters.  Musical notation is also a language.  The by now old fashioned shorthand that secretaries used to take dictation with was another language without letters.  Anyone who has travelled to a foreign country where most of the people don’t speak the traveler’s native language and where they don’t have a second language in common, such as English, understands the value of hand signals as a language.  Deaf people use a quite developed sign language.  Finally, businesspeople "read" an interviewee’s body language to help decide if they should hire the interviewee or not.

So, the more you play video poker, the more you’ll be able to see the cards as forming a language of their own.  Many poker players who play against real people say that when there isn’t a camera showing them each player’s hidden cards, they have no idea what cards an opponent might have.  This is certainly an acquired skill and by playing video poker, you see as many permutations as possible.  This leads, slowly but surely yet inexorably, to your being able to surmise the possible hidden cards in Texas Hold ‘em or similar poker variations.

Learn to Assess Your Cards

In popular culture we use the term “to fall in love with” in non-romantic ways.  A coach may fall in love with his players even when they are underperforming.  If the coach fails to provide the tough love they might need to get back on track, he or she may ultimately lose their coaching position.

Many car buyers fall in love with a car based solely on its look rather than looking at the underlying value of the car such as reliability, petrol kilometrage, and many other factors.  The public often falls in love with a political candidate based on non-political values. 

In video poker, you may see a hand that offers a nice pay out but the odds favor a different approach.  This is one of the hardest lessons to learn; sometimes a hand that looks good isn’t as good as an alternative.  In Texas Hold ‘em there are videos that show great folds.  The players who can fold a flush because they know their hand is beaten have learned how to determine the value of their cards.

Speed Helps

Another thing we see when we watch YouTube clips of Texas Hold ‘em is that players can take a long time to assess their hand.  Inexperienced players’ have a hard time not just taking their time but staying on track whilst they try to figure out the hand.  Video poker is a small stakes chance for players to think through all the variables in any set of cards. 

It’s good to play video poker both quickly and slowly.  Quick playing trains your mind to make quick evaluations.  For example, in regular head to head poker, a player may give away the strength of his or her hand.  They do this by employing an undesired habit called a “tell”.  Fortunately for them but unfortunately for unobservant opponents, the tell may come and go very quickly.  If you miss it, you can’t use it.

Practicing quick observation helps the better poker players win.

Playing slowly trains your mind to stay on track when evaluating a hand.  Inexperienced poker players lose the sequence of thought they need to make the correct decision.  Since this too is a learned trait, you can benefit greatly by playing video poker and formally running through in your mind what your next move should be based on the many factors at hand.

Inexpensive or Free

Online video poker has a huge return to player rate.  When you play online, you can also play for free for as long as you wish.  Both by playing for free or playing well and breaking even with the house or winning or losing a small amount, you get invaluable experience at the exact skills you need to excel at regular poker.