Video Poker – The Risk Factor Part II


Two months ago I explained the risk factor, or variance, for deuces wild games. In Part II, of the series you’ll see that you have to look at a different part of the pay schedule to gauge the likelihood of running out of money on non-deuces wild games. It’s important that players have reasonable expectations before choosing a video poker device to play.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                     *Note that non-deuces wild video poker games derive their labels from the payout for the full-house and flush hands, respectively. For example a 9/6 DDB pays the same for all hands except the full-house and flush as does a 9/6 JOB game. The flush pays 9 times the coins wagered on a full house and 6 times the coins wagered on a flush

Understanding Pay Tables:You should always have a look at the game’s pay schedule before inserting money into the device. If it’s a multi-game machine simply select the game and then push the “see pays” button. Be aware that this will give you the amounts returned for each winning hand, but will not indicate either the all-important expected return or the variance. For that you’ll have to bring a table with you to the casino. Free removable tables can be found in my book “The Video Poker Edge”.

Tables 1.1 and 1.2:Referring to Tables 1.1 and 1.2 you’ll notice that 9/6JOB has a variance of approximately 19.51 and an ER of 99.54% while 9/6DDB has a variance of 41.98 and an ER of 98.98%. In layman’s terms, it means 9/6 JOB has a higher return and a significantly lower risk to your bankroll. In fact, you are more than twice as likely, even with correct play, to run out of money in 9/6DDB than in 9/6JOB. In my latest YouTube video in conjunction with American Casino Guide I give 10 good reasons to play 9/6 JOB rather than a high risk game. Now, guess which game is infinitely more popular with players? It’s DDB and never mind that the version found in most casinos is 8/5DDB (ER 96.7861% and variance 41.99487, assuming computer-perfect play)! It’s true that getting special 4-of-a-kinds (4OAKS) is great fun, but you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations or accuse the casino of gaffing the machines if you choose a high risk game.

Estimating the Risk:It would be nice if you carried around pay schedules with both the ER and variance, since the casino’s machines have the pay schedule but not the ER or variance, but that’s unrealistic, so what can you do to get a general idea of the game’s risk to your bankroll for non-deuces games? Check out the payouts for 4OAK hands, especially “special” 4OAKS, like Aces with a kicker in DDB. If these pay large bonuses and frequent hands less, then expect a high variance number. An even bigger give away is the return for two pair. If the game returns double your wager, like any version of JOB as opposed to just even money like any version of DDB then the variance is low and you can hang in there longer. Be sure you don’t confuse the variance with the ER or theoretical return. If the game’s ER is low, say 7/5JOB (ER of 96.1472%), then that’s a good reason not to play even though the variance (19.17910) is low as well.

Final Thoughts:If you want to play longer sessions without running out of money, your odds are better with a low variance game. If you choose a non-deuces wild game – look for good versions of JOB or Bonus Poker (BP). To me this means 9/6JOB or 8/5JOB progressive or 8/5BP.

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 her free strategy cards for the most popular games. Look for her story in the 2013 Edition of “American Casino Guide” (ACG) and her YouTube videos, also with ACG. The 2010 Second Edition of her book is available in both paperback and kindle. Available at, bookstores, toll free: (877) 900-BOOK or Square One Publishers.

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