Video Poker for Fun and Profit Erik February 7, 2020 Poker The fascinating game of video poker can be played in most casinos for real money or it can be played online for play money. It can also be played on most computers for the fun of it. Playing video poker can be done either because it is profitable or because it is fun or because both fun and profit are desired. Playing for fun alone can be done on the internet or by installing an inexpensive program on a home computer. Playing strictly for fun allows the player to make any decision they wish and be exultant if the outcome is good. It isn’t costly if the outcome is bad. Playing for profit requires both skill at the game and a knowledge of the games offered. Just as in sitting at a poker table at home and playing with friends, there are various games such as deuces wild, jokers wild, and regular jacks or better. Each of these games requires different skills and pays differently for the resultant hands. A game of jacks or better might pay three coins for each one bet if the player winds up with 3 of a kind while the machine might only pay one coin for the same 3 of a kind when playing deuces wild. A player can play just one coin at a time but most video poker games pay a bonus if certain hands are obtained when a maximum number of coins are played. If one nickel is bet, most games pay 300 nickels if a royal flush comes up. However, if a 5 nickels are bet, the games usually pay 4,000 nickels for a royal flush. The difference is $15 or $200. The normal maximum is five coins but it can range up to twenty coins. This difference in payoff and the difference in frequency of hands causes each game to have a different expected percentage return. Some game might return 99.5% of the coins inserted. Some return 97.3%. A very few return over 100%. If an expert player finds a game paying over 100%, they should expect to win money. If, more normally, an expert player finds a game paying less than 100%, they should expect to lose money. If a person is playing a five cent video poker machine and plays five coins at a time (the normal maximum bet), they are playing $.25 a hand. If they play 400 hands, they will have played $100. If they are playing a game that has an expected return of 99%, there is a negative expectation of 1% and they should lose $1.00. In the same vein, if they are playing a game that has an expected return of 101%, there is a positive expectation and they should expect to win $1.00. To some extent it is true that video poker games where the return is over 100% for perfect play are much like a loss leader at Kmart. They are being offered by the casino to get you in the door and be tempted by other games. Only a few machines in a casino will have video poker games that offer returns of more than 100%. Some casinos offer no machines that return more than 100%. Therefore, if profit is a motive in playing video poker, the player must find a game to play where the percentage of payback is greater than 100%, the player must become expert in that game, and the player must find casinos that have machines offering that game. An exhaustive listing of video poker games and their respective return percentages can be found at Wizard of Odds Video Poker Returns.. This listing can be used to isolate the games desired. A strategy for the play of each beginning hand is also included. There are books available at reasonable cost that will specify how each beginning hand should be played in order to achieve the best payoff. Some libraries have these books on their shelves. There are computer programs for sale that will prompt the player to make the right plays and provide warnings if the player should select an incorrect play. These tutorial programs are helpful and can be used for extensive practice. One of the better programs can be found at Wolf Video Poker. Other tutorial programs are easily found through an internet search. Once a video poker game has been selected and a desired skill level has been reached, a search can be made to locate the casinos that have that game. Finding a casino that offers the game is the next necessary step and can be done online. Skill in play, research in game availability, and casino locations are the primary factors in playing video poker for both fun and profit.