Gaining an edge at video poker is more difficult than most players first suspect. Players can gain an edge at video poker by practising and by using a strategy card to reduce errors. Its safe to assume that most gamblers don’t realize how video poker is beatable. Most gamblers lump video poker in with other slot machines, and I bet most video poker players themselves don’t realize how to beat video poker either.
Whenever I play video poker, I make sure to bring my laminated strategy card with me. I place my laminated strategy card right in front of me on the machine’s lap the whole time I’m playing; just in case there is a hand that I’m unsure of how to play. There is no prohibition against bringing a non-mechanical aide to a casino game in Nevada (or most other North American jurisdictions). And I’ve never had a problem from any casino regarding my laminated strategy card. Sometimes, when I’m at a bar-top game, the bartender will ask me about my laminated card. I usually smile and explain that its a strategy card that helps me play each hand correctly. I tell the bartender that when I don’t know how to play a hand, I look it up the correct play on the strategy card. I usually show the bartender the strategy card with the hand codes listed (I made my strategy card using excel and I use colour codes for different types of hands). After this explanation, the bartender inevitably rolls his/her eyes and smiles back at me; they assume I’m a crackpot similar to someone who claims to have a roulette system. Great! The casino does not care or understand my video poker advantage play.
The vast majority of casino staff is clueless when it comes to video poker advantage play; and its not against any casino rules to use a strategy card while you play, so I suggest every video poker player should have a strategy card with them each time they play. You’re only putting yourself at a disadvantage by not having a strategy card with you at all times. Some players that claim to know the strategies cold, but I don’t believe them. I suspect a very small fraction of video poker players can play perfectly. Even Bob Dancer practices regularly, because he knows how easy it is to make errors, and how costly those errors are. If you’re not practising your video poker skills using training software, you don’t know how bad you really are.
Sometimes, other players ask me about my laminated strategy card. Each time I’ve been asked about my laminated strategy card by another player, its from someone who doesn’t know what a video poker strategy card is. There are a lot of seniors in a typical Nevada casino, and most of those players don’t use information technology the way younger players do. Frequently, after I explain to the inquiring player what a strategy card is and how to use it, they ask me where they can purchase one. I explain that I made my strategy card on excel, but I let them know there are websites where strategy cards are sold. I also let inquiring players know about websites where they can get video poker information. More often then not, other players seem dumbfounded. I think to myself, “well at least this person is building the meter”. Without foolish gamblers, most advantage plays would not exist.
Video poker is a game of luck AND skill. You can test your own skills to see how good or bad you really are. There are lots of websites that offer video poker trainers. There are also a few apps. The apps have been very helpful to me since I can practice while on the subway or in transit. A good video poker trainer will not only tell you when you make a error, it will tell you how much that error costs.