There was a time when I concluded that knowing the names of the parts on video poker devices was unimportant since stating technical names or how they work had little impact on results. I have since revised my thinking, because misconceptions can lead to bizarre and costly decisions. Here are some standard thingamajigs and Whatchamacallits by name along with what you should know about them. Display Glass: The glass that covers both slot and video poker machines. Two things that matter are: A). If the machine you are using for a VP tournament has been used for keno it may be badly scratched and handicap your play. (That’s because some keno players tap and scratch their numbers hoping it makes them come out.) If you’ve paid an entry fee you should ask to be assigned to a different machine because making correct holds is crucial and unclear graphics will handicap your play. B). If you bang the device too hard in frustration it could crack and you’ll have to pay for the expensive replacement glass. (I’ve witnessed this happening on more than one occasion.)
Pay Schedules: Payouts are perhaps the most important thing to examine before depositing money. Either on the front panel or on the video screen – find a list of winning poker hands along with the return for each hand. Never assume the pay tables are identical for the same game. For example, Double Bonus Poker may have a different payout for a full house and a flush. To know the expected return, either run the data through your tutorial software (I recommend WinPoker) or remove a copy of pay schedules from my book, “The Video Poker Edge” then match it with the one you find in the casino. Ticket Dispenser: This slot on the device prints a bar-coded ticket when you push the cash out button.
If you’re going to leave your machine for a few minutes it’s best to take your ticket with you. However, if you decide to leave your credits then you should at least push the draw/deal button and then make the card holds when you return. That way if a thief just pushes the cash out button the ticket won’t come out. If you’re playing a slot machine, then you can wait until you hit a bonus round to leave for a few minutes and play the bonus when you return. Again, the ticket won’t come out until after the bonus has been played. Slot Card Reader: This is an opening designed to hold your player’s card. Make sure the lights are green (not red or yellow) before you deposit money. Always play with a card inserted and never believe players when they tell you that you’ll win less or other rubbish when your card is in the device. The micro-processing unit is located in an entirely different part of the device and it’s impossible for the card to impact either the cards dealt or drawn. Most casinos offer cash, comps or both based on your play and the number of promotional entries is usually based on coin-in. Arizona casinos will provide you with win/loss statements at tax time when requested. So if you win a big jackpot generating a W-2G ($1,200 or more in a single play) you can fade your winnings against your losses in Arizona.
Many states don’t allow that but the federal return does. So you’re actually paying taxes that you don’t owe when there’s no data indicating gambling loses. With no card, there’s no way to have win/loss records. Micro-Processor Unit (MPU): I won’t go into detail about the MPU or “guts” of the device since I haven’t seen the logic board on the newest devices and the chips don’t impact how you play anyway. I will say it’s important to know that the program chip includes the random number generator) and Erasable/Programmable Read-Only Memory. There is no way the casino anywhere in the state of Arizona could cause or prevent hands from being dealt or drawn. That’s precisely why you want the best pay schedule available within the casino, say a 9/6 Jacks or Better instead of an 8/5JOB. If you’re told that the casino set certain hands, say a royal flush – they are incorrect. Final Thoughts: Knowing how some parts of slot and VP devices work you’ll be able to dispel some of the ridiculous rumors floating around the casino floor. Nobody is guaranteed to go home a winner, but those that play smart get the best odds of doing so. Linda Boyd, a long-time table game player before turning to video poker, also writes for “Southern Gaming” her book, “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules & strategy cards for the most popular games. Look for her story in current editions of “American Casino Guide” Her radio shows will soon be available on iTunes. The 2010 Second Edition of her book is available in both paperback and kindle – Available at amazon.com, bookstores or Square One Publishers. www.squareonepublishers.com Toll Free: 877-900-BOOK