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HOME > Gaming > The importance of speed at video poker

The importance of speed at video poker

31 August 2014

By John Grochowski

QUESTION: Playing video poker the other night, I noticed something. One, the guy on my left was playing VERY fast. It seemed like by the time I made a draw, he was three hands down the road. Is there any advantage to that? How fast can you play?

ANSWER: Fast play is to the advantage of whoever has the mathematical edge on the game. In most cases, that’s not you. However, there are a few video poker games in which those who play at expert level can get an edge. Full-pay Deuces Wild – rare even in Nevada, and all but non-existent elsewhere – returns 100.76 percent with expert play, and 10-7-5 Double Bonus Poker returns 100.17 percent to players in the know.

There also are some opportunities for sharpies if player rewards are high enough. If you’re playing at expert level at 9-6 Jacks or Better, a 99.54-percent game, and player rewards are adding another half-percent or more in free play and comps, then fast play can be to your advantage if you are able to play at speed and still maintain accuracy on strategy.

However, most games have pay tables under the 100-percent threshold, even if you add player rewards. On those game, it’s the house that makes extra money when you make more bets per hour.

How fast is fast? I’ve been timed at more than 800 hands an hour – though I play a little slower nowadays as I age – and I know others who play faster. Those who take their time over strategy still can play 500 to 600 hands per hour.

Let’s say your neighbor was playing 300 hands per hour faster than you, betting five coins at a time on a quarter machine. That means he was betting an extra $375 per hour. In full-pay Deuces Wild, that means an extra profit of about $2.85 per hour for an expert. But if the game is the more common version nicknamed “Illinois Deuces,” with a 98.91 percent payback to experts, those 300 hands mean an extra $7.12 in profit for the casino.

You didn’t say what you were playing, so I don’t know if he was an advantage player taking advantage of a profitable situation, or just an impatient player contributing something extra to the house’s bottom line. But given the rarity of profit opportunities for players, he was probably the latter.

QUESTION: I have a video poker question for you. Not strategy, it’s about the equipment. The other night, every time the woman playing next to me pushed the button for a new hand, it made a noise like electronic bells ringing. You listen to that hand after hand after hand every few seconds, it got VERY annoying. It seemed like this was the only machine at the bank that was doing it. Why set up just one machine with that noise?

ANSWER: It probably wasn’t the way the machine was set up. More likely, it was in the way your neighbor was playing.

Many IGT video poker games are set up so chimes sound when you hit the max coins button. After you’ve used that once to establish your bet level, you can use the draw button to start subsequent hands. When you do that, there is no noise.

It become automatic – you probably were doing it yourself. After you hit draw to complete one hand, you leave your right hand in the same place and hit draw again to start a new hand. Most likely, every player at the bank was doing just that, except the woman who kept moving her hand between max bet and draw.

The odds are the same either way. Maybe she learned to play that way and it’s become habit. Maybe she feels luckier switching between buttons, or maybe she just likes the noise. But it makes no difference in results.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

John Grochowski
John  Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field. Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago.

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