Whether you’re a video poker novice or a seasoned professional, it’s a wise
idea to seek help from every available source. Fortunately, the Internet is rife
with such opportunities, and a dedicated player can find almost everything
they’ll ever need to succeed at land-based or virtual machines. vpFree is one
such example, and it offers a tremendous amount of information without costing a

In case you’re unfamiliar with the site,
vpFree is a public
group on Yahoo that includes around 11,500 members. It can be joined with a
single click of your mouse, and doing so allows for a free and open exchange of
information and ideas as they relate to video poker and associated topics.

If you’re still uncertain about this Yahoo group, I’ve written a
comprehensive guide on the subject to help make up your mind. It might seem like
overkill to some, but I think those with a meticulous streak should appreciate
my thorough nature (at least I hope they will).

How to Sign Up

If you’re interested in joining vpFree, the sign-up process is about as easy
as it gets. Once you’ve arrived at the site, you’ll notice a purple icon near
the top of the screen marked “Join Group.” If you wish to proceed, just click on
it once.

For those who are already signed into their Yahoo account, you’ll be granted
immediate access to the online VP community. Otherwise, you’ll need to sign in
or create a Yahoo account from scratch before continuing.

It’s refreshing to see a community that welcomes everyone, especially since
most visitors are likely eager to jump right into the action. I always get
irritated when I come across a public group that makes you wait for approval, as
sometimes this can take days or even weeks to get resolved. Luckily, that’s not
the case.

The Main Page

Once you’ve joined the group, you’ll be taken to the main page. For all
future visits, this is also where you’ll wind up.

New messages and trending topics are presented near the top of the page, with
a small list of the most recent items available being displayed. Other options
include “Conversations”, “Photos”, “Files”, “Links”, “Polls” and more.

The bottom of the page provides access to an impressive list of messages that
have been posted since the group got started back in December of 2001. Forty-two
such messages were posted in the first month of the group’s life, and the most
recent month I saw numbered 152. While the group was busiest from 2003 to 2008,
it still generates a robust collection of information during each monthly period
(usually anywhere from 150 to 250 new messages).

One of things I like about the group is its relatively Spartan design. There
aren’t a lot of pictures to wade through on the main page, and no annoying
videos are going to start playing without your permission. It’s simple to look
at, easy to navigate, and an all-around joy to behold.

Topics of Discussion

So what can you discuss at vpFREE? Well, according to the site, the following
are the most common examples:

  • Machine Inventories
  • Video Poker Theory
  • Trip Reports
  • Las Vegas Restaurant Reviews
  • Las Vegas Entertainment Reviews
  • Comps
  • Casino Reports and Reviews
  • Slot Club Benefits

But what if you really need to blast a certain political party or promote
your religious beliefs? Luckily, the group has you covered thanks to their
FREEvpFREE forum. The latter is unmoderated, so you can mouth off all you want
without fear of being given the boot.


There are four main forums at vpFREE, and each of these is listed below:

  • vpFREE

    This is easily the largest section of the group. If you want to
    discuss any or all facets of video poker, this is the place to go.


    Off-topic ramblings are confined to this unmoderated forum.
    If you like to avoid drama and unnecessary religious or political arguments,
    then I suggest giving this one a wide berth.

  • vpFREE Cruises

    Gambling cruises are discussed here, although new
    messages are few and far between.

  • vpFREE Online

    This section still exists, but it hasn’t had a
    post since 2014.

In addition to those listed above, the group also maintains a number of
regional forums for the discussion of state gambling laws and local casinos.
These include:

  • Biloxi
  • California
  • Canada
  • Chicago
  • Colorado
  • Detroit
  • Kansas City
  • Laughlin
  • Louisiana
  • New England
  • Oklahoma
  • Reno
  • St. Louis
  • Tunica

New Member Moderation

Once you’ve been around the site for a while, you’ll be able to make posts
without any sort of delay. As soon as you’ve written down your thoughts and
clicked the post icon, your message will be visible to the entire group.

However, that’s not the case for new members. In order to prevent spam, noobs
are subject to a moderation process. Luckily, this probationary period ends as
soon as you’ve made a single quality post.


If you click on the section marked “Photos,” you’ll be able to look at a wide
range of images posted by members of the group. The majority of these are
screenshots from winning land-based video poker games, and it’s always fun to
see fellow players enjoying a little good fortune. If you’re suffering through a
dry spell at the machines, looking at these images can be a great way to boost
your spirits and regain a sense of hope.


This section allows users to either post new polls or vote on existing ones.
The area is broken into three categories: Open Polls, Closed Polls, and My

Unfortunately, the polls area doesn’t get as much attention as it probably
deserves. There are only a few closed polls, and the following are currently

  • What was your VP profit or loss in 2016?
  • Which of the following best describes your decision-making approach when
    playing non-progressive video poker?
  • What was your total lifetime VP profit or loss as of December 31st,
  • Do you believe that most VP in Nevada is random and fair?
  • For tax record purposes, what do you use as a “session”?

vpFree Acronyms

An acronym is a word that’s an abbreviation comprised of the first letter of
several words. Examples of an acronym include NATO, NASA, Scuba, and USA.

Across the Internet, there are tons of acronyms being used every second of
the day. Most apply to general topics, but there are also those created to serve
a rather small segment of the population (such as video poker players).

In this section, vpFREE offers up a list of the most common acronyms and
abbreviations that members are likely to encounter while chatting about video
poker on the Internet. While it’s far from essential, brushing up on these terms
can make browsing the message section a much more pleasurable experience.

Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • 5ADDB

    5 Aces Double Double Bonus

  • VLT

    Video Lottery Terminal

  • QQ

    Quick Quads

  • JoB

    Jacks or Better

  • RFB

    Room, Food, and Beverage

This section also includes links to the most common poker names and phrases,
as well as general acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the Internet.


Video poker enthusiasts often have a lot of questions about how to improve,
and this section of the group is aimed at helping beginners answer some of the
more important questions involving the game. Here are five examples taken
directly from the site. I’ve also included the provided answers, although
they’ve been paraphrased to save space.

  • What does double points mean?

    It means you can double the normal amount of
    player points by using your slots club card.

  • What are comps?

    Free items given to players to encourage repeat business.
    Popular comp items include hotel rooms, tickets to shows, free meals, and

  • What is card pulling?

    The act of pulling your slot club card out of the
    machine in order to conceal some of your winning games from the casino.

  • Why play maximum coins?

    Most machines require maximum coins before the royal
    flush payout is available.

  • Is video poker beatable?

    Yes. Advantage players can gain a mathematical edge
    over the casino under the right set of circumstances.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this
extension of the vpFREE forum
. While located at a different URL, this site
is largely monitored by many of the same people who frequent the vpFREE group.

Instead of a message board, though, it offers a massive database devoted to
video poker. Over 480 casinos in the U.S. and Canada are covered, and this list
is growing all the time. If you care about expected value, then this site is
definitely worth checking out.

vpFREE Video Poker Hall of Fame

Starting in 2002, the site set out to recognize some of the most notable
names in the video poker industry by starting a Hall of Fame. Accessed via the
group’s vpFREE Links page, this assembly of legends is an entertaining and
inspirational look at the men and women who’ve shaped the game over the years.

According to the site, future HOF elections are to be held every four years.
All members must vote in these elections, and a nominee must receive more than
33% of the total vote in order to be inducted. If all nominees fail to meet the
33% minimum during a given year, then no new members will be inducted for that

As of this writing, here are the inductees:

Bob Dancer

Perhaps the world’s most famous video poker player, Dancer
is famous for taking a $6,000 bankroll and turning it into more than $1
million during the span of six years. Million Dollar Video Poker tells the
story of this accomplishment, and he’s also penned a number of other books
and strategy guides. Inducted in 2004.

Jean Scott

Dubbed “The Queen of Comps” by Dan Rather, this retired
teacher authored the best-selling book The Frugal Gambler. She’s produced
several other books, and her easygoing demeanor and ability to gamble big on
a small budget has allowed her to appear on shows ranging from Dateline and
48 Hours. Inducted in 2005.

Si Redd

This charter member of the HOF was responsible for creating
and marketing video poker back in 1975. He also helmed renowned game
designer IGT, as well as founding the Oasis Resort Hotel & Casino.

Lenny Frome

A tireless promoter of video poker, Frome wrote an
impressive number of books and magazine articles on the subject in order to
achieve greater exposure for the hobby he loved. A 2002 charter member of
the HOF.

Michael Shackleford

Also known as the “Wizard of Odds,” this
number-crunching gambling authority was inducted in 2007. He’s analyzed some
of the more difficult games on the market, as well as calculating some of
the actual slot machine returns along the Vegas strip. His website continues
to be a major resource for gambling enthusiasts.

Skip Hughes

A pioneer among Internet communications for video
poker players, this 2006 inductee was also a skilled VP player, writer, and

Stanford Wong

Another member of the 2002 charter class, Wong has made
his mark in numerous areas of the gambling world. His contributions to VP
include the first software to provide game analysis, as well as one of the
earliest books designed to help players make a consistent profit by playing
video poker.

Ernie Moody

Inducted in 2012, this game designer is the
president and owner of VideoPoker.com (formerly Action Gaming). The inventor
of the MultiPlay game design, his creation has spawned more than 16,000
titles in casinos across the globe.

Dan Paymar

This 2003 inductee is a respected figure among video
poker players thanks to his books and other assorted publications.

Tom Ski

In 1999, this gambler and stock options trader invented the
influential software known as Video Poker Strategy Master. He’s also written
about the bankroll required for long-term success on a number of VP
machines. Inducted in 2008.

Tom Catlin

A 2002 charter member, Catlin was responsible for
designing Video Poker Tutor, which was perhaps the most popular computer
analysis product for VP players in the 1990s.

Dean Zamzow

Inducted in 2002 as one of the charter members of the HOF,
Dean is notable for developing the 1997 WINPOKER software. This invention
simulates a variety of VP games, allowing players to practice at home in a
simulated casino environment.


Regardless of your level of video poker knowledge, the Yahoo vpFREE group is
bound to serve as a useful tool. It’s packed with essential information, and the
forum ensures that players are kept up-to-date on all the latest happenings in
the industry. The group is also a great way to socialize, and anyone looking for
a new friend or playing partner is urged to give it a try.