CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Video Poker Versus Live Poker

4 August 2006

While I was playing video poker a few days ago, I overheard a gentleman coaching his wife in the finer points of video poker play. He said, "No, don't hold that inside straight. Don't ever hold inside straights when you're playing poker."

His admonition to her caught my attention because there are definitely several situations in which you would keep an inside straight while playing video poker even though you wouldn't in table poker. I started thinking of other differences between the two games, and the following points are some of those I came up with.

Even though the hand rankings are similar between video poker and regular poker, the values differ because of varying pay tables.

For example, a jacks-or-better video poker machine starts out with the exact same ranking of hands as live poker: royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, two pair and one pair. But in table poker, a king-high straight flush has only a little smaller value than a royal flush because either hand has high odds to win the pot.

However, in video poker, the difference between these two hands is enormous, especially when a progressive jackpot is involved.

And that's just the beginning. Different video poker games will change the rankings altogether. For example, in a game where you receive a bigger payback for four-of-a-kind, that hand will outrank a straight flush. Strange but true.

Of course, the most obvious difference between video poker and live poker is that in live poker you're playing against fellow players, while with VP you're playing against only the machine. This one difference, in turn, leads to several other differences. For example, with live poker, the casino doesn't care who's winning. It makes its profit by collecting a fee, the "rake," for providing the room, tables, dealers and refreshments. In video poker, if you're playing against the machine, you're playing against the house.

In video poker, if someone asks for advice, it's quite OK to give it. But helping someone at a live table is definitely a no-no. It's known as "collusion" and is forbidden.

Which brings us to our next difference - cheating. With video poker, you can trust your opponent, the machine. But with live poker, you have to be constantly alert against scams. Collusion, marking cards and stealing chips are just a few. Here, the casino does have an interest in protecting its game and reputation, but the player also has a responsibility to be on his guard.

Video poker can be played at one level - strictly by the numbers. You can devise a playing strategy for a specific game with the help of a computer program and never deviate from that strategy.

But, of course, you can't do that with live poker, which is very much a people game where both psychology and mathematics are useful. Throughout the game, you have to watch each opponent in order to assess his playing and bluffing skills. At a poker table, players come and go, so you're constantly evaluating and re-evaluating a changing slate of opponents.

And all this while you're trying to concentrate on the best way to play your own hand.

With video poker, whether you're playing for low stakes or for high stakes, your playing strategy does not change. As long as the pay schedules are the same, you play a nickel game the same way you play a dollar or $5 game.

But with live poker, the playing skill of your opponents rises with the stakes. Generally speaking, that is. Of course, you'll find terrible players at all tables, but usually you'll find that the best playing strategy changes as you move from a $2-$4 game on up to a $100-$200 game simply because you have to adjust for the other players' skills.

There are many other differences besides those mentioned. For example in video poker there are no "bad beats." Not so in live poker. A four-of-a-kind, a great hand, can still lose to a straight flush.

Does any of this make it any easier to decide which game to play? Probably not, just because of different strokes for different folks. So, until next week, aces and faces to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com