Video poker is the best casino game.
I get some flak from my gambling buddies about my affinity for video poker.
That means I spend a decent amount of time defending the game from some pretty serious blackjack and poker players.
Is it a little discouraging? I guess so. But it’s also led me to really think about my favorite game as I defended it from guys who regularly played for hundreds of dollars a hand.
Over the year, I’ve come up with 7 solid reasons that video poker outclasses any casino game.
In this post, I’ll put all those arguments together into one convenient location.
These aren’t in any particular order, but I think the way I’ve got it written down here is nice.
So go ahead! Take your shots, America. Let’s argue about it in the comments.
Reason #1 – Video Poker is Fun
How many hardcore poker players still love the game? What about blackjack sharps – do they love the game? Does playing it make them happy? Would they play it if money weren’t involved?
I think the amount of fun I have when playing a game is more important than any other single factor. I’m not a professional gambler, I do it for entertainment value. The fact that video poker keeps me entertained for long periods of time is the most important reason on this list.
You can distract me for an hour or so with a classic table game like blackjack, and I’ve been known to sit at a poker table well into the night. But I don’t have as much fan in those settings as I do playing video poker, mostly because I’m losing a lot more money, but also because I’m not very good at them.
Video poker gives me the dopamine surge of a slot machine with the opportunity for a lot more skilled play. I’m not breaking my brain trying to outsmart the poker bros, but I’m not mindlessly pressing a button either.
Reason #2 – Video Poker Offers Variety
Look through a list of video poker variants to get a sense of the many versions of the game available online and in brick & mortar casinos. I browsed a little with my Google machine and found several lists of more than 100 game variants each. Admittedly, some of the rules of these games aren’t all that different from one another, and some just add a progressive side bet to a well-known game.
But I like to have choice, and while my local casinos may offer just one or two versions of most table games, I know I’ll find at least a dozen different video poker pay tables and rule formats every time I visit.
The variety of video poker games is enhanced by the fact that the game rules and pay tables are pretty much standard across the board in casinos. Whether you’re betting in Macau or online in Tennessee, when you see Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild video poker games, you know what to expect. This makes me comfortable in otherwise unfamiliar gambling situations. I can always look for a Jacks or Better machine, check the pay table, and play a few rounds to get my bearings.
Reason #3 – No Huge Crowds at Video Poker Machines
I’m not a big fan of crowds. I get a little claustrophobic in a group of people. I start to feel a little like I can’t breathe. So, for me, the banks of empty video poker machines look like a warm and cozy nest. A safe space where I can slip into a familiar rhythm and play a game I love.
The list of games on the casino floor that could potentially draw a breath-stealing crowd of bettors and hangers-on is really long. Blackjack? Sure. Craps? Of course. Have poker tables ever drawn a crowd in a cardroom? No doubt. About the only game you can’t say has ever drawn a crowd is the familiar video poker.
I’m not necessarily a loner. I like to have a few close friends around. I don’t mind gambling near a few other folks. But I don’t like playing at a crowded table, with cigar ash and spilled drinks and people all perilously close to colliding.
If you like to avoid crowds, you may be a video poker fan without even realizing it.
Reason #4 – Video Poker is Ubiquitous
If you like to play live blackjack at a real blackjack table with a real blackjack dealer, your options are pretty limited. You can go to Vegas, Atlantic City, or maybe a handful of native casinos in Louisiana, New Mexico, or Arizona. The same goes for poker – if you want to play live poker, you better hope you live near a legal cardroom or a casino with a poker room.
Video poker players don’t have this problem. Slots and video poker games get lumped in together, and since this machine-style gaming is a big moneymaker for casinos, these are by far the most common games in the Us gaming industry. Slot machines are more common, but no game of chances besides slots are as common as video poker.
You can play video poker in the Las Vegas airport, just like those infamous slot machines. I dare you to get a blackjack game going at your gate.
Fall in love with video poker like I did, and you’ll almost never run out of opportunities to play. Become the country’s biggest baccarat nerd, and you’ll be spending tons of money flying back and forth to Nevada and New Jersey.
Reason #5 – Video Poker is Easy to Learn
Most American kids learn to play poker. Usually, it’s a cool uncle or older cousin that teaches you how to play and bets you pennies and nickels until you’ve got the basics down.
But, even if you come to video poker play with no knowledge of poker, no understanding of hand hierarchies or anything like that, you can learn the basics of the game in just a few minutes. Thanks to existing strategy guides (more on that in Reason #6) you can become a pretty skilled player after just a few more minutes of quick study and practice.
The only gambling I’ve ever done that was easier than video poker is slots – pull the lever (or push a button) and wait for your result. Video poker is based on the rules of traditional poker, so there’s a tiny learning curve for those who don’t already know how to play that game.
Practice the game (for free) online, buy a strategy card in the gift shop, and settle in with a couple of free sodas. It won’t take long before you feel like something of an expert.
Reason #6 – Video Poker Strategy is Easy to Implement
Better and smarter people before me have completely broken down the various video poker variants and created basic strategy, similar to the basic strategy available for blackjack and other games of chance.
Video poker strategy is so simple that it has been recorded on a palm-sized card, a different set of strategic moves depending on the rules of the game you’re playing. I’ve committed some of this stuff to memory, and I’m not exactly a memory champ.
If you want to play at something close to an advantage (or even, in rare cases, with an actual advantage against the house), video poker strategy is easy and free to find and use.
You don’t have to stick to video poker strategy charts in order to have fun. In fact, sometimes I have the most fun playing video poker without using strategy at all. Still, it’s nice to know that this game isn’t some mysterious cash-eating demon sent to drain your wallet.
Reason #7 – Video Poker Offers Better Odds than Most Games
I debated putting this reason at the top of my list.
Ultimately, I decided not to lead off with this one, because it felt a little cliché.
It’s true that video poker can occasionally be played at an advantage (though this is less common these days), and it’s true that some video poker games give you the best RTP on any casino floor. That doesn’t mean every video poker machine is a license to print casino chips. The variety of available odds is just as long and complicated as the long list of available game rules.
The best pay table in the video poker world is so-called “full pay” Jacks or Better. This is a Jacks or Better game which pays out 125 credits for a four of a kind, and it’s considered the gold standard of video poker in terms of odds. When played over time and according to ideal game strategy, this game has an RTP of 99.54%. Theoretically, that means you’re losing less than $0.50 per hour while playing. What other form of entertainment do you know that costs less than $1 an hour?
But take that with a grain of salt. Your results playing full pay video poker will vary. You might have a huge day and bring home a stack of cash, or you might lose a lot more than you expect. It’s gambling, and it’s meant to be fun. It’s not meant to be a cash cow.
Conclusion – Video Poker Is the Best Casino Game
Some people never accepted Michael Jackson as a solo artist once his time with The Jackson 5 was up. Sure, hundreds of millions of people adore Michael Jackson, and he created a global phenomenon, leaving an indelible imprint on pop culture. But, to a small but dedicated group of wet blankets, he’s nothing without Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie.
I’m making a point here. The guys that I hit casinos with tend to look down on certain games for reasons that have nothing to do with the game. They won’t play table-style poker games with me, and they definitely won’t go anywhere near a slot machine or video poker screen. I know for a fact that these guys would get a lot of value out of machine gambling, but they refuse to even give it a chance.
I’m looking for games I understand that give me entertainment. I don’t want them to cost me a bunch of money. And I don’t need them to make me look cool in front of attractive women. Video poker ticks all those boxes for me, in its own way, and it remains my favorite game in any casino.
No matter how much guff I get from the guys. To heck with them… video poker is the best casino game.