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Ask the Slot Expert: Video poker gimmicks - Part 1

8 May 2024

Last week, a reader wondered where he could find the "latest" strategies for video poker. The strategies for the video poker paytables haven't changed in decades. Different authors express them in different ways, but the math is the math and doesn't change. I interpreted "latest" to mean strategies for the elements added to video poker to give it more sizzle than your father's video poker. I call them video poker gimmicks.

I separate the gimmicks into categories based on how many more credits you need to bet per hand to activate the gimmick. The categories are: None, A Couple, and Double Your Bet.

The gimmicks that don't require betting more per hand are first up.

The granddaddy of gimmicks is multi-hand video poker. I remember when I first saw a multi-hand machine at a gaming show about 25 years ago. It was revolutionary. Manufacturers had been searching for ways to make video poker as exciting as a slot machine and here was a simple solution. It seemed like everyone walked away from the machines and slapped themselves on the forehead and said, "Why didn't I think of that?"

The beauty of multi-hand is that it didn't require programmers to add exotic new algorithms to the program and it didn't require players to learn new strategies.

It should be clear now why I've been careful so say "extra bet per hand" and not just "extra bet." You have to make an extra bet to play more than one hand, but you're still risking just five credits per hand.

Multi-hand has become an integral part of video poker sizzle. Almost all of the gimmicks below are based on multi-hand games.

The most exciting hand you can get playing video poker is a royal flush. Chase The Royal gives you the opportunity to, well, chase the royal. If you're dealt a pair of jacks, queens, or kings, you have the option to trade the pair for a three-card royal. According to the Wizard of Odds, you should always chase the royal when given the opportunity to do so.

Now let's move on to gimmicks that require one or two additional credits per hand to activate the gimmick.

Super Triple Play (and Super Five Play and Super Ten Play) requires betting one extra credit per hand to active the gimmick, which is a bonus on four-of-a-kinds. Instead of getting 400 credits for 4 aces in Bonus Poker, for example, Super Triple Play Bonus Poker pays 1200 credits.

Not to be confused with Super Triple Play is Super Times Pay. This is one of the few gimmicks that can be played single-hand and multi-hand. The extra credit you bet per hand on this game activates a randomly awarded multiplier on the deal. The multiplier multiplies your winning hand from 2 to 10 times. According to the help screen, you get a multiplier an average of 1 in 15 games and the average multiplier value is 4.05.

If you want the opportunity to get a multiplier on the draw too, play Double Super Times Pay and bet seven credits per hand.

Going back to just one additional credit per hand, Atomic Fever lets you win free hands. It is a single-hand game. Four atoms are displayed on the right of the paytable on the screen. Zero or more atoms can be charged (lit up) on the deal. Those atoms are automatically held. Then zero or more atoms can be charged on the draw. If all four atoms are charged at the end of the hand, you win five free hands at 2x.

Those are a few of the video poker gimmicks that either don't require an additional bet or require a minimal extra bet to activate. I have played all of them.

Next time, we'll move on to the gimmicks that require doubling your bet and I'll reveal my favorite video poker gimmick.

Send me an email at the address below to let me know your favorite gimmick and why.


If you would like to see more non-smoking areas on slot floors in Las Vegas, please sign my petition on change.org.


John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots