Video Poker Luck and Skill?

In December I attended a few video poker “classes” hosted by Bob Dancer at the South Point Hotel & Casino.  Although I focus on a couple video poker games in particular, I was interested in what Dancer might say about video poker in general, or other tips that he might have for serious video poker players.  Bob Dancer asked the class how much they thought video poker outcomes were based on luck and how much were based on skill?  Dancer hypothesized that in the short run, 80% of results were based on luck and 20% were based on skill, and the opposite is true in the long run.

I can understand why Bob Dancer would portray video poker results in this way.  As an author and video poker enthusiast, he has an interest in the overall growth and development of video poker.  Bob Dancer likes to present video poker in a relatively positive way.

But the question of whether video poker is based on skill or luck is an empirical one.  We could find data on the actual hold values of various video poker machines, and then compare these actual hold numbers to the theoretical returns and the difference can be attributed to skill. The luck part of the equation could also be found from casino results or could be assumed based on theoretical volatility.  My guess is casinos hold much more than the theoretical video poker game return would suggest.  Part of this can be attributed to player “error”, but also to bankroll management in the same way that Baccarat has a theoretical house edge of just over 1%, yet the casino’s average hold is well over 10%.

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