7 Video Poker Lies You Probably Believe

Video poker was first conceived in the 1970s after computer technology became more widely available. While video poker wasn’t created yesterday, it’s relatively young when compared to other casino games like blackjack and roulette.

Given that it’s not as old as many other games, video poker is still subject to a lot of myths. Some of these myths border on outright lies, which are perpetuated by gamblers who fully realize that they don’t know the truth.

Your bankroll can take a beating if you subscribe to some of these falsehoods. That said, I’m going to discuss seven of the biggest video poker lies.

Lie #1 – Video Poker Pros Make Serious Profits

The vast majority of casino games feature a house edge, meaning the casino will usually win in the long run. Video poker, in contrast, is one of the few games that allow you to win long-term profits.

But the catch is that you must play the right video poker variations to have a chance at positive expected value (+EV). You also have to use a near-perfect strategy to win with these games.

Here are examples of video poker variants that can be beaten:

  • Full-Pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% return to player (RTP)
  • Full-Pay Joker Poker = 100.64% RTP
  • 10/7 Double Bonus = 100.17% RTP
  • 9/6 Double Double bonus = 100.07% RTP

Considering that one can win profits with video poker, some gamblers believe that there are professionals making a killing with this game.

They would’ve been right when going back a couple of decades ago. But today’s video poker conditions make it impossible to make a decent living.

The biggest problem is that you’re playing for peanuts with any existing +EV variation. Even if you use perfect strategy on full-pay Deuces Wild, you’re looking at a fairly small profit rate.

The best video poker players can play around 1,000 hands per hour with minimal mistakes. At this blazing-fast rate, you’d still only earn $7.60 per hour with Deuces Wild (1,000 hands x 0.0076 edge).

Of course, casinos offer rewards to video poker players. But considering that the comp rate is usually 0.1% or less, the rewards barely add anything else to your winnings.

The reason why people used to be able to make a living through video poker is twofold:

  • Higher-paying games existed
  • $1 and $5 denomination games were available

Some machines paid up to 103.2% RTP up until the turn of the millennium. These variations offered 4x more profits than Deuces Wild (3.2% edge vs. 0.76% edge) per hour.

Even in the absence of these games, combining a $1 Deuces Wild game — as opposed to a quarter game — with 100.76% payback is also a winning combination.

Here’s an example of how profitable these games are:

  • You play a full-pay Deuces Wild game with $1 bets
  • You bet all five coins ($5 total)
  • You play 1,000 hands an hour
  • 1,000 x 5 x 0.0076 = 38
  • You make $38 per hour

+EV video poker machines with dollar coin denominations don’t exist today. You also won’t find any games that offer 103.2% RTP either.

Even the +EV video poker games that still exist are all located in Nevada. They’re not always open, either, due to the fact that many gamblers like playing them.

You should still pursue +EV video poker when you get the chance. But don’t fall for the lies that people are earning lots of money through video poker today.

Lie #2 – Casinos Change RTP When You’re Winning

Unlike a live poker game, such as Texas Hold’em or Omaha, you can’t physically see video poker results play out. Instead, software programs determine what cards you’re dealt and the hands you receive.

This process leads some players to question their results. They may even claim that casinos change the RTP when they’re winning money.

This idea is one of the oldest myths in video poker and slots. Some players envision a floor manager flipping a switch to lower video poker RTP whenever they see somebody winning too much money.

Another variation of this falsehood is that casinos change payout percentages during busy evening and weekend hours. This process allegedly helps them make more significant profits thanks to the larger crowds.

The easiest way to cut through these lies is by understanding that land-based casinos are heavily regulated. They won’t risk losing their license and tarnishing their reputation by changing payback whenever they felt like it.

Most gambling jurisdictions have special rules in place for how a casino must go about adjusting RTP. in Nevada, for example, a casino needs to leave a machine-based game down for four minutes before and after they change the payout percentage.

Therefore, employees can’t just watch for winners and adjust the RTP to win back the money.

Casinos don’t even need to stoop to such low tactics to make money.

They usually have an edge in all of their video poker games (save for a few Vegas casinos). Gambling establishments win even more money when considering that the average player doesn’t use perfect strategy.

As for online casinos, they’re not all are subject to heavy regulation like brick-and-mortar venues. But gaming sites in prestigious jurisdictions like the UK, Denmark, France, and New Jersey must also uphold high standards.

Part of these standards include not switching payout percentages without warning. Online casinos could also lose their license with such moves.

Gaming sites don’t normally have the chance to alter video poker RTP anyway. They instead pay a software developer (e.g., Microgaming or RealTime Gaming) to provide games for them.

The provider doesn’t stand to gain much by cheating for one of their casino clients. The only real concern is if their software has a bug.

But this is exactly why many developers have their games tested by a third party, such as eCOGRA and iTech Labs. These neutral third parties offer their seal of approval to any software provider that passes their test.

Lie #3 – You Have to Get a Royal Flush to Win Any Real Money

Many video poker players fixate on royal flushes — and for a good reason, too. This hand, which consists of 10 through ace suited, pays 4,000 coins on a five-coin max bet.

A royal flush’s high payout leads many gamblers to believe that it makes up a significant amount of all video poker RTP. They believe that they can’t win much money with video poker unless they get a royal.

Some of these same players use a “royal only” strategy, which means they only keep cards that can help them get a royal flush.

Here’s an example of this strategy:

  • Greg is dealt Js-Qs-Jd-10d-Ks
  • Greg has a made two pair
  • But he discards Jd-10d to go for the royal flush

The idea of chasing royal flushes sounds appealing because you boost your chances of earning video poker’s biggest hand. But you also dump a number of paying hands in the process that would help you win more money in the long run.

In the example above, keeping the made two pair offers higher EV than keeping the three royal flush cards.

Players who obsess over royals often fail to account for how video poker strategy is well defined. Mathematicians have worked out how to properly play every variation of the game to achieve the highest RTP possible.

Gamblers need to understand that a royal flush usually only makes up around 2% of the overall payback for a video poker machine. Looking at 9/6 Jacks or Better, a royal makes up just 1.98% of the RTP.

A high pair, which would normally be dumped in pursuit of royals, comprises 21.46% of Jacks or Better payback. A two pair is even more significant, making up 25.68% of the RTP.

Of course, you’ll come across situations where it’s worth keeping royal cards over a made hand. But for the most part, you need to keep made hands to improve both your short-term and long-term chances of winning.

Lie #4 – Video Poker Machines Pay Out in Cycles

Each video poker game offers a variety of payouts for different made hands. Some players claim that each of these prizes is determined by a payout cycle.

They often base this cycle on a royal flush, which is dealt approximately one out of every 40,000 hands. Those who believe in cycles think that a royal will be delivered after exactly 40,000 hands have been dealt.

This belief leads gamblers to think that they must play at the exact same machine during their entire session. They may refrain from going to the bathroom, or they’ll at least mark their seat with clothing articles when they do have to go.

What these players are missing, though, is that the odds of video poker hands merely represent the average in which they’re dealt.

A royal flush rarely comes out exactly 40k hands from the last time it was dealt.

You might get lucky and receive a royal after 10,000 rounds, or you could be waiting 200,000 hands.

The same goes for any other video poker hand. Their listed odds merely indicate the average of when you can expect to receive each type of hand.

Therefore, you don’t have to stay at the same video poker machine for hours. You theoretically have the same chance of getting a royal on the next machine as you do on the one you’re currently playing.

Lie #5 – Don’t Even Bother Playing If You Can’t Bet the Max

One of the simplest video poker strategies to follow is to bet the maximum number of coins. Wagering the max allows you to win the largest royal flush payout.

Here’s how much you’d win with a royal based on your bet size:

  • One coin wagered = 250 credits
  • Two coins = 500 credits
  • Three coins = 750 credits
  • Four coins = 1,000 credits
  • Five coins = 4,000 credits

You can see that the royal flush payout increases proportionately up until five coins. At this point, the royal prize increases 4x, which means you’re getting more overall value on a 5-coin bet.

However, certain players obsess over the idea that five coins must be wagered. They may even claim that you shouldn’t play video poker if you don’t have the funds to bet five coins.

Again, wagering the max is the best strategy, but you don’t have to avoid video poker if you don’t feel like risking five coins on every hand.

As I covered earlier, a royal flush only constitutes 2% of the overall RTP. This means that gamblers are fixating on a payout that means very little in the long run.

Betting four coins versus five means that you’ll lose 75% of the royal flush’s value (4k vs. 1k coins). Going further, you’ll lose around 1.5% of the overall payback (0.2 x 0.75).

9/6 Jacks or Better normally offers 99.54% RTP. You’d therefore be playing for 98% payback without the 5-coin max bet.

But sacrificing a small amount of RTP in order to make a 1- or 2-coin bet can be worth it. After all, you get to play for far cheaper in this case and don’t have to risk five coins every time.

Lie #6 – Don’t Use Your Rewards Card Because the Game Will Pay Less

Some gamblers advise that you shouldn’t use your player’s club card with video poker. They believe that the games are programmed to pay less when you do.

The reality, though, is that using a player’s club card has no bearing on your results. Casinos already factor in comps in relation to the house edge.

Gambling establishments make enough profits off video poker machines that they can afford to reward players. In fact, comp rates are purposely kept low so that the casino still ends up with a profit at the end of the day.

Here’s an example to explain:

  • You’re playing 8/5 Bonus Poker
  • This game offers 99.17% RTP with perfect strategy, which leads to a 0.83% house edge
  • You bet $5,000
  • 5,000 x 0.0083 = $41.50 in theoretical losses
  • The comp rate is 0.1%
  • 5,000 x 0.05 = $5 in rewards
  • 50 / 5 = 8.3
  • Your theoretical losses are 8.3x higher than the rewards

8/5 Bonus Poker offers you a better chance to win than many other casino games. But even in this case, you can see that your theoretical losses are much higher than the rewards.

You’re not going to win more money just because you avoid using a player’s club card. Instead, you’re just going to miss out on comps.

Lie #7 – Multi-Line Video Poker Pays More

A multi-line video poker machine lets you play multiple hands within the same turn. Triple Play, for example, means that you can play three lines/hands simultaneously.

Multi-line video poker is the same as a normal game. The only difference is that you’re playing more hands, so you need to wager more as well.

Considering that you’re betting more in each round, certain players claim that you’ll receive higher RTP with multi-line machines.

It makes sense in theory to believe that you’d earn more money back. After all, you’re giving the casino extra action on each hand.

But the reality is that multi-line games offer the same RTP as their respective variation. A 9/6 Jacks or Better machine will still have 99.54% payback, even if you’re playing three or more hands per round.

You should never play multi-line machines under the guise that you have a higher chance of winning. Instead, these games are more about getting extra stimulation out of video poker.

Conclusion

Video poker will always be the center of various lies made up by players to justify their losses and odd strategies. But you can easily see through these mistruths just by understanding how the game works.

First off, a royal flush doesn’t play as large of a role in video poker as some players believe. It certainly offers a nice payout at up to 4,000 coins, but it only makes up around 2% of overall RTP.

Adopting a royal-only strategy is, therefore, a bad idea. You’re giving up a lot of EV just to chase a rare hand.

You also shouldn’t feel obligated to bet the max every time to play for the 4,000-coin royal flush. Given how little royal flushes occur, you don’t lose much value by betting 1-4 coins per hand over five.

Another silly video poker lie is the idea that casinos change RTP when you’re winning. Casinos already have the edge in these games, which would make it foolish to risk their license just to earn a few more dollars.

Gambling establishments don’t program games to pay less when a player’s club card is used either. They comp players based on a rate that still sees them earn plenty of profits.

Also, note that casinos don’t pay more on multi-line machines. These games offer the same RTP as their respective variation (e.g., 8/5 Bonus Poker), regardless of how many lines are played.

Finally, nobody is crushing video poker and making $40 or $50 an hour these days. While some variations offer +EV, the profit margin isn’t significant enough to offer a decent living.

In summary, video poker is an entertaining game that features plenty of strategy and big wins. It’s all the more entertaining when you can see past the lies and improve your chances of winning.

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.