Picking Loose Video Poker
The reasoning of slot oﬃcials who stay away from oﬀering the highest-paying video poker does not make sense
By Frank Legato
Our sister publication, Strictly Slots, this month publishes its annual “Loosest Slots Awards.” Each year, this report takes actual statistics on slot payouts publicly reported by casinos in different jurisdictions and recognizes those casinos or casino regions that oﬀer the highest payback percentages on the games.
What you will not ﬁnd in the annual Loosest Slots report is video poker. None of the jurisdictions separate video poker from standard slots in reporting the “return-to-player” percentages, known in the trade as RTP.
What we’ve often told players about this is that the casinos with the highest all round payback percentages generally have great video poker pay tables as effectively. That’s a great basic rule—just appear at casinos in Reno like the Atlantis and Peppermill, which have for years been at or near the top in slot payouts, and you’ll consistently ﬁnd very good video poker there.
By way of background, video poker is special on the slot ﬂoor in that with a small bit of easy research—that is to say, half a minute on your cellphone—you can know the overall return on a video poker machine by merely hunting at the spend table. Even though on the internet casinos often list the RTP for each and every slot game, in a physical casino, there generally is no such information accessible. Two identical-searching slot games—same title, identical features—can have programs at the opposite ends of the accessible payback range.
Savvy video poker players know to appear at the single-credit payouts in the table to ascertain regardless of whether the best game is becoming oﬀered. For instance, in the classic Jacks or Far better Draw Poker game, they appear for a table that oﬀers 9-for-1 for the full property and six-fo-1 for the ﬂush. Video poker players in numerous community chat rooms tell each other exactly where to ﬁnd the “9/six games.”
Numerous slot operators are terriﬁed by this reality. They see that a 9/six game returns 99.54 percent of all wagers to players, offering they are played with best technique. Slot operators in tourist spots, like the Las Vegas Strip in certain, will oﬀer reduced-paying schedules, like 7/5 Jacks or Better, or even 6/5 Bonus Poker.
Last month, I talked to existing and past slot operators although carrying out a big feature on video poker, and I asked about these policies. Many had been operators like Cliﬀ Paige, slot director at the South Point, and Buddy Frank, who ran slots for years at Pechanga Resort in California. These two always adopted the policy of oﬀering the best spend tables in video poker, and they explained why oﬀering only lousy spend tables is a misguided policy.
Making use of Jacks or Far better as a simple instance, each noted that the only way a 9/six payback percentage is accomplished is by way of ideal strategy— an specialist, typically a professional. The general majority of players are receiving at least two or 3 percentage points significantly less, or even reduce returns. Every single-one particular thinks they know how to play poker, but the fact is that novices and recreational players more than make up for the couple of specialists and “advantage players” who can play the excellent strategy on the game.
The most compelling argument, made by Frank, for oﬀering the highest pay tables is that video poker players know when the return is decrease, and if they do not ﬁnd a good return, they’re not going to go seek out a slot machine to give away a 10 percent or greater property benefit. They’ll vote with their feet—they’ll walk out the door. The operator will simply drop that client.
Frank and Paige each noted that it’s a really very good client they are losing by tightening up the pay tables. Video poker players don’t just play on trip. They normally play numerous times a week. They bring folks with them who do play the lower-paying slots. They invest funds in a property’s hotel, restaurants, sportsbook—they are high-worth customers to the casino. It just doesn’t make sense to discard them as consumers more than a couple of percentage points they’re not most likely to achieve in any occasion.
Frank even ran the slots for a couple of years at the Atlantis in Reno, a place rife with benefit players on any provided evening. The games oﬀered the highest paybacks, and according to Frank, they have been often proﬁtable.
My preferred Buddy Frank quote from that post, published in the April edition of Global Gaming Enterprise:
“To me, oﬀering 7/five poker is like obtaining a produce division in a grocery retailer only oﬀering rotting fruit. If you are going to oﬀer poker, you ought to have a excellent paytable.”
You might not be capable to ﬁnd the excellent pay tables seeking at the payback charts we publish in our magazines, but from extended encounter as a lover of the game, I can inform you this: Go exactly where the locals go. If you are in Las Vegas, go to the South Point, or go oﬀ the Strip to 1 of the Station, Boyd or other locals haunts. If you’re in Reno, go to the Atlantis or Peppermill. If you are in Atlantic City…
Atlantic City has truly tightened up its video poker in current years. In previous years, the answer was always the Borgata. When that spot was co-owned by Boyd Gaming and MGM, it had a wide collection of the very best video poker. Soon after MGM Resorts bought out Boyd to personal the casino outright, the great video poker disappeared.
I live close to Atlantic City, and I have three areas exactly where I know there is nonetheless half-decent video poker—Caesars Atlantic City has a good inventory. Harrah’s Resort has a few in the higher denominations. Bally’s has 1 wall exactly where, at least the last time I was there, had exactly 3 decent games.
There are still places to play fair, higher-return video poker. Seek them out. The other locations are just oﬀering you rotten make.