Beating the Casino

            A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how a blogger lamented how the last good table game invented was blackjack because none of the games invented since gave the Player a chance to beat it.  I would argue that blackjack is hardly 'beatable'.  It requires an incredible amount of discipline and knowledge of card-counting schemes in order to eke out even the slightest edge.  With the continuous shufflers and regrettably 6 to 5 payouts on blackjack, even with the most sophisticated counting scheme, beating the game is almost impossible.

            There is only one game on the casino floor (barring the occasional game that accidentally makes it to the floor) that is readily beatable.  That is video poker.  There are games all are over Las Vegas with paybacks of over 100%.  If you learn the proper strategy you can earn these paybacks.  I will not, however, promise that you will become filthy rich off them.  Unlike card-counting schemes which would allow you to bet $5 when the count is against you and perhaps $5000 or more when it is in your favor, video poker machines essentially have a constant wager and there are no known counts for you to track.  Each hand is completely random and no matter how many hands you have won or lost in a row, the next hand is still random.

            Over the years the casinos have caught on to this idea and this is why many are still willing to put machines on their floor with paybacks over 100%.  They simply don't put them on the floor with high denominations.   If you are willing to play video poker 40 hours per week (like a job), are able to play 700 hands per hour, you would play 1,456,000 hands per year (approximately).  If you played a quarter machine, you would wager the staggering sum of $1.82 Million per year.  If you can play the entire time on a full-pay Deuces Wild machine paying 100.76%, you'll earn about $13,800 per year.  This doesn't account for any taxes and doesn't account for any cash back and/or comps.  

            Of course, some of you will just suggest playing a higher denomination.  Even playing dollars, the annual 'salary' will get to only $55,000 or so.  This is certainly not a bad income.  Of course, this most certainly doesn't mean you can count on any sort of regular 'paycheck'.  There are going to be weeks you lose and there are going to be weeks you win far more than average.  And, as I said earlier - the casinos have caught on to this.  According to my research, there are no $1 machines playing full-pay Deuces Wild in the Las Vegas area.  So, the casinos are willing to let the resourceful Player make some money, but not enough to really entice large numbers of Players to do them harm. 

            This is also further proof that video poker machines are not slot machines.  Casinos would NEVER allow banks of 100+% slot machines to exist.  Slot machines require no strategy.  Thus, as long as the slot machine were to be played for 40 hours per week the casino would be paying out the $13,800.  To the casino it doesn't matter if this is one person, 10 people, 100 people or 1000 people who wind up winning this money.

            Video poker requires that the Player learn the proper strategy to earn this money.  So, if 52 people took turns playing for 1 week and played using Expert Strategy, then the casino would still be paying out the $13,800.  But the casinos know this is highly unlikely.  Despite strategies for virtually every imaginable game being available for 10-20 years, the overwhelming percent of Players simply choose to ignore the proper strategy.  The reality is that 50% of the Players probably know of no real strategy and just muddle along - playing a Deuces Wild game at no better than a 95% payback.  Perhaps another 25% play using some rudimentary strategy that they learned somewhere and play at 97%.  Another 15-20% have made real attempts to learn strategy but haven't really mastered it and can play at 99%.  The final 5-10% have learned the proper strategy and make a significant attempt to play properly.  Perhaps half of this group truly attains a payback of 100.5% or better.

            The result for the casino is that their machine probably pays out at no more than 96.5% in total.  A number that they can definitely live with.  However, just as the casino doesn't care if it is 1 or 1000 Players that win the $13,800, you do not have to be concerned with how any other Players do.  The casino is very happy with that machine that pays back 96.5% and will net them more than $65000 per year - EVEN if it means one of the Players made a few hundred or thousand over the course of the year.

            But, if you want to be this Player, you have to learn how to play video poker using the proper strategy.  To help you along the way, we're offering up our two full-length books for just $5 each (which includes postage and handling).  Winning Strategies for Video Poker includes strategy tables for 61 of the most common games found anywhere.  America's National Game of Chance: Video Poker is 200 pages of Lenny Frome's best articles, stories and quizzes and is an excellent way to learn how to play video poker in an easy to understand way.

            Send a check or money order to Gambatria, P.O. Box 36474, Las Vegas, NV 89133 and you'll be on your way to becoming an Expert Video Poker Player.