Legal Video Poker Rigging

One of the things I frequently hear from video poker players, and it drives me absolutely nuts, is that the video poker machines are programmed to pay a Royal Flush after a certain amount of time. Furthermore, these people are of the opinion that they will/won’t pay if you have your players card inserted in the tracking device or that the machines will/won’t pay if you’re sitting at the machine for “X” number of hours.

These are ludicrous myths that only feed the hysteria that casinos are rigging the machines in their favor. Well, that’s partially true: They ARE rigging the machines in their favor, but they’re using statistical odds to do it! You will hit a “Royal” one in every 50,000 hands of video poker. If you’re playing a less than stellar video poker payback schedule, they you will (over time) lose more than you win. Take for example, 9/6 Jacks or Better (herein: JOB): The 9/6 refers to the payback on one coin bet for a Full House and one coin bet for a Flush. If you play 9/6 JOB you are playing a game with a payback of 99.54% on the dollar. Essentially, for every $100.00 you bet, you’re going to lose .46₵ over your long term life of gambling.

However, what if we were to change the pay schedule (as most, if not all, Vegas Strip casinos have done) from 9/6 to 8/5? They return on the game drops from 99.54% to a dismal 97.30%! Now, instead of losing .46₵ for every $100.00 bet, you’re losing $2.70 for every $100.00 bet! Woah! That’s two extra hands of video poker at a quarter machine and one hand at a half-dollar machine! I know that may not seem like a lot on the face of it, but when you think about how quickly you can run $100 through a video poker machine, and multiply that over a 3, 4 or 5+ hour session, you can imagine that the hold the casino has on your money (compared to what it would hold at 99.54%) is a LEGAL FORM OF RIGGING THE MACHINE!

The moral of this story: If you’re going to play video poker, make sure you buy a couple strategy cards, maybe a book or two and a software program that will teach you how to properly play the game to maximize your odds of winning (or lets me honest: minimize your loses) before walking into the casinos.

In interest of full disclosure: I play less than “full pay” video poker, as I like to play in casinos on the Strip and stay in hotels on the Strip. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to this mentality I have. I will have to share those with you some other time.

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