6 Reasons Not to Play Video Poker

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Reasons Not to Play Video Poker

Video poker is a great casino option when you know the best strategy and can get a seat at a machine that has a good pay table. But these things can sometimes be difficult to achieve.

I used to play a lot of video poker myself. But I don’t play it much anymore unless there isn’t a better option available. And when there aren’t any other options, even then, it’s rare for me to find a video poker machine that has a good pay table.

Video poker is great when you know the best strategy and can get a seat at a machine that has a good pay table. But these things are hard to do.

Here’s a list of six things that most gamblers don’t like about video poker. Overall, I don’t hate video poker games, but I wish some of the issues on this list didn’t exist.

1 – Good Games Are Rare

When you’re evaluating video poker, you need to consider a few things. The base video poker game is important because it is the start of how much the machine returns when you play. The next thing to consider is the pay table on the machine because it also influences the return. The final thing to consider is if you know how to use the best strategy, because it also changes the return.

Most video poker players, if they even take the time to consider these things, skip the base game consideration. They simply play the game they like the best and look for pay tables that aren’t too bad.

I’m somewhat guilt of this as well. I like Jacks or Better and I like Deuces Wild, so those are the two base games I know the most about. It just so happens that these are both good base games. If you don’t have a favorite video poker game, consider one of these two options.

If you already have a favorite video poker base game, make sure it’s one that has decent pay tables available. A decent pay table gives you a return over 99% when you use good strategy.

2 – Good Pay Tables Are Hard to Find

In the previous section, you learned that a video poker machine with a decent pay table is going to give you a return of over 99%. But you’re only going to get this return when you use the strategy for the game. I cover video poker strategy in the next section.

The pay table is just as important as strategy because it sets the maximum return that you can get. I said a decent pay table returns 99% when you play, but the truth is that I look for pay tables that return a minimum of 99.5% when I play video poker. In fact, if the pay table doesn’t offer at least 99.5% I won’t play.

Casino Games

The good news is that all you have to do once you pick a base video poker game to play is look up the top pay tables. Find the pay tables that offer the minimum return that you’re willing to play and memorize these tables.

You’re only going to need to learn one or two pay tables, because the others are either not going to be available or they’re not going to pay a high enough return.

3 – The Myth of 100% Return Video Poker

If you’ve done some research about video poker, you’ve probably run across some information that states that you can play video poker with a return of 100% or higher. In other words, you’ve probably been led to believe that you can break even or win playing real money video poker.

I’m not going to say that this is 100% impossible, but the days of making money playing video poker are probably in the past. A few video poker machines might exist that have pay tables that can return 100%. But these machines are hard to find, and you have to play using perfect strategy to get this return.

When I say perfect strategy, I mean that it has to be perfect. You can’t afford to make a single mistake.

You can also use comps to help offset your losses at the video poker machines, but casinos don’t give comps as good as they used to. You should get video poker comps when you can, but don’t count on them pushing your return to 100%.

If the base video poker game you prefer has a pay table that has a 100% or higher return, by all means, memorize the table so you recognize it when you see it. Just don’t count on ever finding a machine with this pay table.

4 – Changing Online Pay Tables

You need to be careful when you video poker machines that offers multiple hands at one time. This is especially true when the machine offers a choice of how many hands you can play at once.

This is usually an issue when you play online video poker, but it can be an issue with a regular machine. The thing you need to watch for is if the pay table is the same for the single hand game and the multiple hand games.

This only happened once for me to learn my lesson, but it can cost you money if you’re not careful.

Video Poker

I was playing Jacks or Better on a machine that used the 9/6 table for the single hand game. I decided to play 10 hands at a time and switched without checking the pay table. I played for a long time before I realized that the pay table on the 10-hand game was different than on the single hand game.

This is also the last time I’ve ever played on that machine. I felt that this was unfair so I’m not going to play it again, even on the single hand option. Make sure you don’t fall for the same trick.

5 – Video Poker Strategy Issues

I mentioned that strategy is the third thing you need to consider when you consider video poker games. If you don’t know how to use the right strategy, it doesn’t matter how good the video poker game or the machine pay table is.

Video poker strategy is an all-or-nothing type of game. If you’re going to use video poker strategy, you need to make sure that you do it with 100% accuracy. Either do it the right way or don’t waste your time trying to use it at all.

The reason why you want to use video poker strategy is because it gives you the highest return that you can get. This saves you money in the long run and gives you the best chance to leave the machine with a win as often as you can.

The truth is that even when you use perfect strategy when you play video poker you’re still likely to lose in the long run. But you can use strategy to reduce the amount you lose by as much as you possibly can.

6 – Video Poker Bonuses Don’t Help

Online and mobile video poker bonuses are available. But the problem with almost every one of them is that they only help you play more hands. These bonuses aren’t designed to help you improve your long-term video poker results.

Here’s how most video poker bonuses are designed. If you get a $100 bonus, you’re going to be required to risk so much money that the house edge is going to take back the $100 before you can clear the bonus.

If casinos didn’t set their bonuses up this way, then smart players could make money by abusing the bonuses. In fact, if you find a video poker bonus that has clearing requirements that are low enough to clear while you still have bonus money left, you should jump at the opportunity. But these types of bonuses are rare.

And even if you do find a good video poker bonus, you still need to get lucky to clear it before losing too much money. Unless you hit a royal flush, the odds are that you’re going to lose before you clear the bonus.

You should still consider video poker bonuses if you’re planning to play anyway. Just don’t expect video poker bonuses to help you win.


When all of the stars align and you find a video poker machine with a great pay table, and you know how to use the perfect strategy, you’re not going to find a better gambling opportunity. The problem is that the stars rarely align. And this is the main thing I hate about video poker.

I also hate the common myth that you can play video poker with a return of 100% or higher. I’m sure a machine or two exists with these pay tables, but they’re very rare.

Finally, video poker strategy helps, but every machine uses a different strategy. This makes it challenging to use strategy when you play video poker without making any mistakes.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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