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 penny.
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:
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:
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:
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 Polls.
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 open:
- 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, 2016?
- Do you believe that most VP in Nevada is random and fair?
- For tax record purposes, what do you use as a "session"?
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:
5 Aces Double Double Bonus
Video Lottery Terminal
Jacks or Better
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 airfare.
- 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 period.
As of this writing, here are the inductees:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A pioneer among Internet communications for video poker players, this 2006 inductee was also a skilled VP player, writer, and consultant.
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.
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.
This 2003 inductee is a respected figure among video poker players thanks to his books and other assorted publications.
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.
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.
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.