7 Reasons Not to Play Video Poker

By in Video Poker on
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Things to Hate About Video Poker

I used to play quite a bit of video poker. I always liked playing Jacks or Better because it was easy, and I memorized the best strategy. But I rarely play it anymore.

You don’t have to look around for long to see that the entire video poker industry is in danger of disappearing. Fewer machines are available, and the ones that are left usually are terrible.

In this list of seven reasons not to play real money video poker, you can see why the game is in danger of dying completely. Sadly, I don’t see any of these things changing in the future.

1 – Limited Availability in Most Casinos

While video poker machines have never been as popular as slot machines, at one time, they were at least as popular as table games in many casinos. But those days are long gone. Now, you have to do quite a bit of searching just to find any video poker machines in some casinos.

Most establishments operate on a profit-per-square-foot basis. They evaluate how much each game is making in profit per square foot of space that the game takes up. Casinos also know the high and low traffic areas in the building.

This has lead to fewer video poker machines being available, and it’s going to continue making the games scarce.

Casinos figured out that video poker machines, and especially the machines with decent pay tables, weren’t providing as much profit as they wanted. So, they started replacing them with machines with worse pay tables.

Smart video poker players stopped playing on these machines because of the bad pay tables, which resulted in the casinos not making any more money even though the machines were worse for players.

This, in turn, compelled the casinos to replace some video poker machines with slot machines or another low-paying option. The cycle of replacement is a big reason why it’s harder than ever to find video poker machines in the casinos.

2 – No New Games

What’s the name of the last new video poker machine that was released? I’m sure there have been some more since it happened, but the last one I remember is Pick’em Poker. And that was a long time ago.

Playing Poker

With very few new video poker games being released, there aren’t many new casino players playing the game anymore. And the reason why there aren’t new video poker games being released is because the machines are making less money for the casinos.

This is just another cycle, similar to the one you learned about in the last section. And I don’t see either of these factors changing anytime soon. It’s pretty much to the point where if you want to play video poker with decent pay tables, then you have to play online or on a mobile device. From what I’ve seen in recent years, video poker is close its deathbed and it’s even almost completely dead in a lot of land-based casinos.

3 – Multiple Strategies

I mentioned earlier that I liked to play Jacks or Better video poker, but I also play Pick’em Poker and Deuces Wild sometimes. But the strategy for all three games are completely different from one another.

Pick’em Poker strategy is pretty easy, while Deuces Wild is a little more difficult than Jacks or Better strategy. And the strategy for any single video poker game isn’t too hard for most people to learn. But the system that works best for one game doesn’t work the best for a different game.

I never play a video poker game if I don’t know what the best strategy to use is. When I play, I take a strategy chart for each variation that I might play, because it can be challenging to switch from 1 machine to another and keep the right strategy straight.

4 – Too Many Pay Tables

As I’ve already covered, casinos are run with a profit motive. If they weren’t, every video poker machine would have the same pay table and it would be a decent pay table. It might not be the best pay table, but it would be decent.

Instead, almost every video poker game is available with multiple pay tables. And each machine only has one best pay table. If you’re going to play video poker, you should only play on machines with the best pay table for the game.

Of course, this means that you’re not even going to be able to play video poker in most casinos, because machines with these pay tables aren’t available.

The best thing you can do is focus on one video poker game, learn what pay table you need to find, learn the best strategy, and start building a list of where you can find the right pay tables. And you probably need to find a backup plan, because you’re not going to be playing much video poker.

5 – Forced Bigger Wagers

When you play most games in the casino, you get the same odds if you bet the minimum amount or the maximum amount. But when you play video poker, you get punished if you bet less than the maximum amount.

Your only option for risking less is to take the reduced payment punishment when you get the top-paying hand or see if you can get lucky and find a machine with the same pay table with a lower coin amount.

Poker Game Cards

Good luck when you try to find a nickel machine with a good pay table. The only place I’ve found these machines to exist is online and in mobile casinos.

And just to be clear, you should never play video poker with a lower than max coin wager. The punishment in reduced payment for the top hand reduces the return to player percentage too much. You’re better off learning how to play blackjack than playing fewer than the max coin amount when you play video poker.

6 – Dirty Video Poker Machines

I’m far from a clean freak, but casinos are not the cleanest place to spend time. And many of the machine-based games don’t seem to get cleaned as often as they should.

Video poker machines are usually placed in low traffic areas because they aren’t big profit makers for the casinos. So, the machines that are in the casino aren’t at the top of the cleaning schedule.

Some casinos are better than others, but often, when I sit down to play video poker, it just seems dirty. Of course, the same thing can be said for slot machines in some casinos, but this doesn’t make me hate playing a video poker game any less.

7 – Royal Flush and/or Bust

Even when you do everything right when you play video poker, you’re going to fall behind on your losses by quite a bit until you hit a royal flush. I’m using royal flush because it’s the top paying hand on machines that don’t use wild cards. On machines that use wild cards, there’s a different top-paying hand.

Video poker machines are designed to make money for the casino, and even the games with a high return to player are making money for the casinos.

You need to play on machines with a high return to player percentage, but even on these machines, you’re going to be far behind when you get lucky and hit a royal flush or other top-paying hand most of the time.

Here’s what usually happens: Let’s say that you’re playing Jacks or Better and finally hit the 4,000-coin royal flush. But you’ve been playing so long that you were 4,349 coins down. So, even though you finally hit the elusive royal flush, you’re still losing money to the casino.

This is why I titled this section royal flush and/or bust. Because sometimes, when you hit a royal flush, you’re still losing.


Every time I go to the casino, it seems like there are fewer video poker machines available. And the ones that are available usually don’t have good pay tables. There aren’t any new video poker games being launched, so there’s not much hope for more exciting play in the future.

Every video poker variation requires a different strategy, and most pay tables are so bad that strategy can’t even save you.

With the built-in punishment for wagering fewer than max coins, you can’t even play video poker for cheap anymore. Sadly, with all of the things there are to hate about video poker, I’m not sure any of us should be playing.

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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