Ten Common Video Poker Mistakes
Although video poker can be the best game in the casino, many players reduce it to a slots-like gamble by consistently making huge mistakes. Most players don’t understand how you can improve your odds in video poker, and therefore they sit on the machines and dump their money as a result.
This article is going to lay out the ten most common video poker mistakes that are costing you money, and will also teach you how to correct each mistake.
Mistake #1 – Not Playing Five Coins
It is ridiculous that players still mix this one up because it is such a simple fix. If you look at any video poker pay table you’ll notice that royal flush payouts are huge for five coin bets. In fact, they are actually too big if you look at the one coin, two coin, three coin, and four coin bets. Most royal flushes pay out 250 coins for a one coin bet, 500 coins for a two coin bet, 750 coins for a three coin bet, and 1000 coins for a four coin bet. However, the five coin bet pays out 4000 coins for a royal flush.
Since the five coin payout is proportionally larger than the payouts for smaller bets, betting five coins actually increases the return of the game and decreases the house edge.
Mistake #2 – Not Joining the Slot Club
This is another no brainer that people screw up all the time. Every casino you play at (both online and offline) will likely offer some form of a slot club. These slot clubs award cash back for playing slot machines and video poker, and base the amount of cash back on how much play you put through the machines. If you run the numbers you’ll see that you usually get anywhere from 0.25% to 1.25% cash back.
That doesn’t seem like much, right? However, when you’re talking about the extremely low house edges in video poker, a couple of percentage points can make the difference between a losing machine and a winning machine. The slot club is always free, so make sure to get your card before playing.
Mistake #3 - Playing the Wrong Games
This is another foolish blunder that costs video poker players time and money. Video poker, unlike slots, allows you to calculate the exact expected return on any game you play. With that sort of information, you can always figure out which video poker machine pays the highest. If you can easily figure out what machine pays best, why would you play anything else? We don't understand it, but people are always sitting on lower paying machines every time we walk into a casino.
Check out our listing of video poker games to find the highest paying machines.
Mistake #4 - Using Incorrect Strategy
This mistake is often committed by the players who commit mistake number three. Most players don't realize it, but playing with even a slightly incorrect strategy can cost you 1-2% off of the maximum payout percentage. And if you're using a strategy that isn't even close, you'll be at least 5% off of the max return.
With all of the odds and information available online, any player can find a solid strategy chart to use for almost any machine type. In fact, we have free video poker strategy charts on our site for over half a dozen games. All you have to do is print them out and head to the casino, and you'll be at a near-perfect level of play. If you can't find a strategy chart here for the game you are playing, check out our listing of video poker tools to see if any other sites offer the strategy you need.
Mistake #5 - Not Bankrolling Properly
Another huge mistake that newbies as well as seasoned players commit is not playing with an adequate bankroll. Even if you find a game that has over a 100% return, you still have a great likelihood of going bust if you don't have enough money on hand. Royal flushes are few and far in between, and if you go a few months without hitting one you can find yourself in a huge rut, and even possibly broke.
The more mild games like 9/6 Jacks or Better aren't so bad, but the extremely volatile games like Double Bonus and Progressive 6/5 JoB can really put a hurting on your bankroll if you have a cold streak at the machine. A good rule of thumb is to have a bankroll equal to at least three royal flushes for the level you're playing. If you're a professional player and rely on your video poker income, you'll want much more.
Mistake #6 - Following Hunches
I can hardly begin to explain how many video poker players I know who follow their heart instead of the cold hard numbers. One player I know refuses to break up a full house in Double Bonus when he has three Aces because "you should never throw away a guaranteed hand." Even after I explain to him that the three of a kind Aces has a higher expected return because of the potential quad Aces payoff, he won't hear it.
This also comes into play when players start believing machines are hot or cold, or that you need to play them a certain way or tip a certain dealer or drink a certain beverage to have a good session. When it comes to video poker the numbers are the numbers, and the only way you can move them when using hunches is in the house's favor.
Mistake #7 - Losing Focus
Let's face it - what kind of man likes to turn down a cute girl in a short skirt offering him a free cocktail? Or stroll right by a craps table with forty players gathered around it and a shooter on a hot roll? Casinos are houses of temptation, and being able to avoid temptation separates a winning video poker player from a losing video poker player.
A few other pitfalls that can suck in a weak-willed player:
- Playing flashy, new, cool, but -EV games just because you want to.
- Getting drunk at the casino.
- Playing high stakes to impress others, even though you don't have the bankroll.
Mistake #8 - Quitting Early
This mistake doesn't actually lose you any money, but it'll make you miss out on money that you could have won (and in my book, that is the same as losing money). When you find an amazing promotion you need to hammer it.
It's only a matter of time before the casino wises up and pulls the promotion, so you need to do everything you can to play as many hours possible while you have the edge. I'm talking 12 hour shifts and alternating with a partner to cover the machine while you're gone. Winners always get it while the gettin's good.
Mistake #9 - Taking Too Many Shots
Sure, every once in a while you are going to find a game that is a little bit outside of your bankroll, but has a great promotion that you are dying to play. It doesn't hurt to figure out your risk of ruin and take a quick shot to see if you can get lucky, but you should only do it once in a while and when you know you can recover if you miss.
If you're continually taking shots at machines that are out of your bankroll, you will go broke at some point - the numbers will make sure it happens.
Mistake #10 - Not Practicing Online
Nowadays there are so many tools available to video poker players it is almost overwhelming. There are calculators, pay table analyzers, strategy programs, and more that are all available for free or pretty close to it. Also, there are tons of online casinos and other websites that offer free video poker machines for you to practice on without spending a dime.
You need to take advantage of these opportunities if you want to become a consistent winner. I personally practice online at Win Palace Casino, because you don't even have to make an account or download any software - you just start playing.
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