Every so often a stream of rumors circulate among video poker players, while some are true, others are out in left field. It's important to know whether or not to believe these stories because it will impact both how you play as well as whether or not you want to place a bet. So here is some of the most recent scuttlebutt along with whether it's true or not.
House Control:Frequently players say the casino fixes the video
poker machines so that they play less during busy times or to pay for a new casino. This accusation is false and if you believe it you are in effect accusing the house of cheating. Why would you even want to gamble at a place you think is dishonest?
The casino can and does downgrade machines from time-to-time and that does increase the house odds. Be aware that this is done by changing the pay schedule so the return for a given hand, say a full-house, pays less than before. An example is if the casino changes a 9/6 Jacks or Better (9/6 JOB) to an 8/5JOB game. The full house will return 8 for each coin bet on a full house and 5 for each coin bet on a flush instead of 9 for the full house and 6 for the flush. This change, known as a downgrade, will cost you approximately 2.2% in theoretical return (ER).
The bottom line is that the casino could not control the virtual cards dealt or drawn even if they wanted to, but they have no need to do so. If they want to increase the houses hold they can do so legally by downgrading the pay schedule. It's your job as a smart player to notice when this occurs by checking out the pay table before you deposit money into a device.
Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs): Word is out thatVLTs in some states do not have random number generators and, therefore, skill is not a factor. Definitely believe this, because it is true.
Recently I was interviewed by New York Times reporter Eric Newcomer regarding the “randomness” of New York's video poker devices. Unfortunately for those playing in New York, their video poker machines are VLTs and do not have a random number generator (RNG). So you are no better off than if you chose to play a slot machine instead of a video poker device in NY.
To further complicate matters some jurisdictions have VLTs that are required to have RNGs while others don't. That means that players have to be diligent to determine whether they are playing a video poker machine with a RNG like those required in both Arizona and Nevada or a slot machine in disguise. I have a large section in my book, “The Video Poker Edge”, explaining other ways to tell the difference.
I will emphasize that Arizona Players are in luck because VLTs are illegal in Arizona and the pay schedule along with your skills are the sole determiners of your VP theoretical return.
Promos Rigged: If you're a frequent player in a local casino you may have noticed the same people win a disproportionate amount of the time. So does this mean the promotional drawings are somehow rigged? Don't believe it since it's not true.
You are probably correct about multiple winners and the fact that it's not solely related to a lucky charm. That's because nowadays contest entries are usually in the form of virtual tickets and the number of chances you have is based solely on your coin-in or total amount of money you played. For example, a casino may give you one ticket for every $10 wagered in any house game. This system is fair since the people who have the best promo equity are also the ones who spend the most.
You can be a clever video poker player and increase the number of entries you have by choosing a less-volatile rather than a more volatile game. For example, if you choose Jacks or Better (JOB) over Double Double Bonus (DDB) you'll increase the odds of playing longer on the same amount of bankroll. This means you'll run more money through the devices and therefore increase your number of contest entries for a drawing.
Final Thoughts: The rules and games are ever-changing so you'll want to take the time to investigate the latest chatter among video poker players. Sometimes preposterous-sounding statements are actually true, like the VLTs masquerading as “regular” video poker devices in New York. Still, it's best to investigate before passing the information on to others.
Linda Boyd – a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, also writes for “Southern Gaming” and “Midwest Gaming and Travel” her book, “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules and free strategy cards for the most popular games. Look for her story in the current editions of “American Casino Guide” (ACG) and her You Tube videos, also with ACG. The 2010 Second Edition of her book is available in both paperback and kindle.
Available Toll Free 1- 877-900-BOOKat bookstores, amazon.com or www.squareonepublishers.com