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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Is video poker worth playing?

23 July 2007

Hi, John,

Is video poker worth playing during a couple of days' visit to the casino? I played recently (one short game only) during a two-day stay at Borgata. I thought it would be a good change while playing slots (as you have suggested in "Declare Your Independence from the Slots"). It ate up the $20 (5-cent VP) but it felt good to break the ice. I know some strategy from playing at home with the Masque multi-play VP. I've played Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus and Triple Double Bonus at home. So I figured a little next time at the casino along with slots.

The slot play was successful this time. I went home with all the session money ($500) plus $242 profit. My wife made a profit too. But don't get me wrong. It's not easy. Just chance hits playing many machines. My wife and I were saying we must have walked a couple of miles around the casino that trip. In fact there were very few hits those two days. The major hit was on a Triple Lucky 7s slot. The cash out ticket was $151 with session money of $10. There you go, your Lucky 7s . But I'm still annoyed about many slots giving blanks on the first reel. After a few of those spins, I'm saying come on give me something. What do you have to say, John, about that? Come on, can that be random on so many slots? Programming the virtual mapping? Nevertheless, when I walk into the casino, I forget all this and take the situation as is and manage the ups and downs calmly. It took a while to do this (and still as you can see).

Summary of questions:

Is playing VP worth it on day visits or is it a long run game? Can any benefit be achieved on short term play and will the session money be always eaten up for short-term play? Then it would part of diversion from slots and entertainment only for short-term play? True or false?

Are slots known to have more blanks on the first reel than the other two? Or mapped that way on the virtual reels? Or CAN be?

Are three reels slots fading out and being replaced by video slots? Video slots there are plenty but are expensive. Even nickel 9-2(90 cents) is the more than max 3 coins a spin on a quarter slot. People may not think of this but concentrate on the game only. I play some of them but seems like people are really taken up by these slots. Because of the requirement of so many coins, it seems that the days are short for me.

Thank you,
Frank

Dear Frank,

Video poker is definitely worth playing on a visit of any length. Most strategies have fairly high hit frequencies, so they usually give you a good amount of play for your money. Note that Jacks or Better, especially 9/6, is better for keeping you in "tray money" than Double Double Bonus and Triple Double Bonus. Those games are much more volatile and can eat up your bankroll if you don't hit the premium hands.

I suggest you get a couple of books about video poker and a program that will help you learn the right strategies to use.

The virtual reels in slots are usually laid out to have fewer blanks on the first two reels than on the third reel. The game is over once you hit a blank on the first reel and then waiting for the other reels to stop is just annoying.

Video slots are definitely replacing reel-spinning slots, but the reel spinners won't go away. You'll still be able to find them on the slot floor for the forseeable future.

As you point out, you have to be careful with the video slots. If you're used to playing max coin, you could be surprised to find 90 or more nickels at risk on one spin. I usually play one coin per line per spin, and rarely if ever full coin.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, John,

We enjoy your newsletters.

I couldn't resist the temptation to answer the statement written by you regarding Indian Casinos that "I've yet to hear from someone who thought the machines were rigged because they won."

We play at an Indian Casino every week and can tell you which machines are likely to pay AND at what times AND which days you should be playing them. It's more complex than that, but suffice it to say that knowing the patterns and payout times has allowed us to win many hand payouts.

It doesn't necessarily mean you can do it every time you play, but we definitely prefer the "rigged" and predictable slot machines at the Indian Casinos to other venues. Oh yes, and you still end up paying more to the casino than you win over time.

So now you've heard from someone that counts on the way the slots are rigged at the Indian Casino to win.

Sincerely,
Mark

Dear Mark,

So your system doesn't work every time. That might mean that your wins were just the result of good luck and not any manipulation of the machines. Just something to think about.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots