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Should I Try a New VP Game?

25 December 2021

A question from Dan A.

Stickman,

I play 9/6 Jacks or Better and 8/5 bonus poker well. Is there a point or an advantage to learn a new game?

If so, what should it be?

Double Bonus Poker?
Double-Double Bonus Poker?
Or, a game with a wild card such as Deuces Wild?

I know that the games that I mention are becoming scarce, and they have a higher variance than the games I currently play.

So, is it worth learning a new game? Or is it better to sticking to the ones I currently play?

Sincerely
Dan A.



Hi Dan,

You pose an excellent question. It is one that most, if not all, video pokers players have considered at one point or another in their video poker-playing life.

Here are my thoughts on your questions: My opinions are directed toward video poker players that play regularly and play tens of thousands of hands a year. By playing this much, the variance of the game will not be as large a factor.

Much of what I say here is personal opinion and what I prefer. You seem to have many of the same traits as I do, so I suspect my preferences may be yours as well.

While I enjoy playing video poker, the major reason I play any video poker game is the return. The higher the return the better. Ideally, I will make money playing the game over the long run. Or, at minimum, my play combined with casino comps will be positive.

When pay tables are degraded to the point where one feels it is not worth their time (and expense) to play the game, there are three choices.

1) Find another casino that has a decent pay table for the game.
2) Find another game that has a decent return and learn to play that game.
3) If neither of these options are available, stop playing video poker.

Hopefully, the situation never deteriorates to the point where number three is the only option.

I believe that you have already followed the first choice because you mentioned the games you play are getting harder to find. Let’s concentrate on choice number two.

As stated above, return and return plus casino comps are my main drivers. If the only way of obtaining the returns and comps that you require is to play a different game, you might want to consider doing that.

Factors to consider when looking for a different video poker game are:

1. Return – the most important in my opinion. If the return (or return including comps) is not there, I don’t play the game.

2. Variance – While this factor is not as important as the return, it impacts bankroll requirements.

a. When the variance is high the player can be faced with very long losing streaks.

b. This can take an emotional toll that affects how the player plays.

c. This factor should not be trivialized.

d. Playing tens of thousands of hands (or more) per year helps balance the highs and lows of variance. Overall return will trend more closely to what the math says.

3. Complexity of the playing strategy – Simple strategy is easier to learn and, more importantly, easier to play properly when at the casino. Mistakes in strategy cost the player, so fewer mistakes mean higher returns.

Look for the high-return games with the lowest variance possible. One of the games you currently play, 8/5 Bonus Poker with a 99.11 return is a good choice. The return is only 0.43 percent less than full-pay (9/6) Jacks or Better and the variance is still fairly low at 20.9 vs 19.5 for Jacks or Better. This game can also still be found in many casinos.

Both full-pay Deuces Wild and full-pay Double Bonus poker have positive returns of 100.76 and 100.17 respectively, but are nearly impossible to find. If you do happen to find these games, by all means learn the strategy and play them. The variance is low – 25.83 for full-pay Deuces Wild and 28.55 for Double Bonus. The strategy for either is a bit more complex than for either Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker, but I am sure you can master either of them.

There are many short-pay versions of both of these games. Make sure you can live with the reduced return or return with comps. In most cases the variance and playing strategy complexity is similar for short-pay versions of these games.

Even though there are high return, low variance games available, there are other reasons to consider playing a different game, even if you can get the same return from your current preferred games - the “Excitement Factor.”

Playing the same low-variance games can become a bit boring. The only real jackpot on a Jacks or Better game is the royal flush. Anything less than that is really just more hands to play. When playing at least 500 hands per hour, the win for a four-of-a-kind (125-for-5 or 25 hands worth) is only three minutes of play if there are no winning hands.

Games such as Double Bonus poker, Double-Double Bonus poker, and Triple Bonus poker add more chances for jackpot-sized wins. These certainly add to the overall excitement of the game.

On the other hand, the return tends to be lower and the variance (sometimes much) higher. Seriously consider the impact of both as well as strategy complexity when considering playing these types of video poker games.

In my opinion the only time to consider a high-variance video poker game is when a jackpot on a progressive game has become very high. Even then, before sitting down at the game, factor in the potential loss from playing without hitting the jackpot. It is very likely that you will lose money at this game considering progressive games have lower base returns and higher variances.

I certainly hope this helps and makes sense to you. I suspect you already knew everything that was stated. Please let me know if you have any questions.

As always, may all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”


Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com
Jerry Stickman

Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com