Playing Video Poker
Video poker offers players a better chance at winning than any other machine game. This is because, unlike slot machines, the random number generator at work in a video poker machine is programmed to mimic an actual deck of cards – in other words, the player has an advantage if he plays with strategy in mind. Think of slot machines as Connect Four, while video poker is Chess.
Another compelling reason to play video poker is its availability -- video poker machines are everywhere. Casinos, diners, bars – even online. Between its ready availability and the fact that the player can attain an advantage over the machine, video poker is the ideal game for those who want to spend a little and win a lot.
Let's face it, sometimes you don't want to play table games. Perhaps your casino's poker table is deserted – or full of sharks looking to bankrupt you – head on over to the video poker machines. There you can bet as little or as much as you want without fear of a backseat driver taking over your game. Maybe you like the convenience of picking your own game – this can actually benefit you in video poker, as different machines pay different amounts.
Machine games at casinos are often thought of as the senior citizen's domain – and most of the time the slot machines are this way. Video poker, however, has something to offer everyone. Those who like machine gaming will be impressed with the variety of games (from Jacks or Better to Pick'em) as well as the technology and beauty of the games themselves. For poker players, video poker offers an opportunity to hone your skills without a table full of people breathing down your neck, and without losing your shirt. Serious poker players can have just as much fun with video poker as machine players. They'll appreciate the realism of the games and the strategy used to beat them.
So you're ready to play – you're in Vegas or Reno or another gaming city – with your bucketful of quarters and a bright room full of video machines in front of you. What now?
It would help to have a basic understanding of each game and its payout table. There are plenty of places to find out the rules of each specific game – suffice to say, they're all variations of draw poker. Some games you'll see are Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Double Donus, Deuces Wild . . . the list goes on and on. After gaining a basic understanding of how to play these games, be sure to study their payouts – some games will pay higher amounts for good hands than the game right next door. A good example is Jacks or Better – a game which usually pays 8 :1 on a straight and 5:1 on a flush. However, a good number of Jacks or Better games pay 9:1 and 6:1 respectively. So a smart player can start out with an advantage just by studying the payouts. Otherwise, its simple – pick your machine, insert your money, and wait for the deal. In most games, you're attempting to make the best hand you can out of 5 cards – with the option of drawing once. You aren't competing against anyone but yourself – unlike regular poker – so take time and practice your game.
Let's take a look at a sample hand – we'll pretend we're
playing Jacks or Better
You approach the machine, put your money in, press the Deal button, and your five initial cards appear on the screen. Based on your strategy, you select which cards to hold – the others will be exchanged for new cards. Your win or loss depends on the combinations created by this second round of cards. If you have a pair of Jacks or better, or any hand above that, you've just won money.
There are tons of places to play video poker. A great place to start is online – most casinos allow you to play their games for free, and you should use this to your advantage. The online casino Bodog, for instance, has a number of games to practice on, full-color and authentic, just like the real thing. Other excellent websites for online video poker include Golden Palace, Rushmore, and English Harbor. Of course, there's always traditional casino video poker play – every casino these days stocks video poker machines, as it is the most popular game in most places. For beginners – look for nickel machines which are ever-present. Say you're a high roller? Some video poker machines accept bets as high as $25 per hand. With video poker, you make the experience you want for yourself.
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