Video Poker Myths and Misconceptions
Video poker myths are legion, mainly based on a misunderstanding of the random number generator which drives card selection in video poker. Many of the misconceptions are similar to what you’ll find among the slot machine myths, because they’re also based on ignorance of the RNG mechanism. Read this list of urban legends about machine gambling, understand how this site busts those myths, and have a more logical understanding of the game of video poker.
Machines Which Just Paid out Won’t Give Another Win Soon
This is based on the idea there’s some pattern to the sequence of numbers which come up on a video poker machine. The flip side of this myth is that you can figure out the pattern and predict with some degree of accuracy when a jackpot is going to happen. Let’s discuss each of these in its turn.
First of all, video poker machine do not have a set sequence of numbers. Without getting into a discussion of random number generators and pseudo-random number generators, let’s discuss the practical side of RNGs. The random number generator in a video poker machine generates many lists of random numbers any given second. These random numbers coincide with certain card combinations, created in such quantities to simulate the proper odds any given hand is going to come.
When you hit the button to get new cards in video poker, you select a number from one of the random number lists being generated. If you were to select a number a fraction of a second later, you would get another number. This is true randomness with constantly generated lists. Just because a jackpot just hit, does not mean the next jackpot won’t hit 30 seconds later. The odds are against that happening 30 seconds or 30 days after the last jackpot, but whether a video poker machine has paid out recently or a long time ago, your odds remain the same.
What should be clear is that anyone claiming to be able to predict when an RNG is going to give a jackpot is either crazy, clueless, or trying to sell you something. Unless you have a system for predicting jackpots down to the fraction of a second (and you don’t), no system works.
The Faster You Play, The More You Win
I see this fallacy mentioned often. The idea is, the more hands you play, the more chances of winning a jackpot, so the more you win. Unless you are playing at a game which offers greater than 100% expectation for perfect play and you can play perfectly at top speed, this is faulty logic. Sure, you have more hands to hit a jackpot, but if you’re playing a game you expect to lose money (less than 100% expectation), you’re more likely to lose more money. This is similar to the logic that buying two lottery tickets gives you two chances to win the grand prize, so you cut in half the odds you’re going to lose. Since you’re not likely to win the lottery, buying more than 1 ticket only means you lose your money twice as fast, while barely increasing your odds of winning.
It’s better to play video poker at the speed you can make good plays. This gives you as close to an expectation of 100% as possible, so making the best play increases your odds of winning over anything else. Every hand has an equal chance of winning.
Machines Next to Your Machine Decrease Your Odds
This myth suggests there’s something magical about having an electronic device next to your machine that makes its RNG give you worse hands. This makes no sense whatsoever. I’m convinced this rumor got started because people just don’t like having someone sitting next to them at the casino.
Betting More Gives You Bad Cards
The idea here is the machine knows when you make a max bet and dishes out bad hands instead. State laws keep casinos from changing the odds on a machine while someone is playing. If a casino’s managers got caught switching the odds when the game was in-play, the manager would go to prison and the casino would be closed. Since owning a casino is a license to take people’s money in games weighted to help the casino owner win, that would be insane for casino management to do. This doesn’t happen. Even if it does somewhere, it’s so rare you might as well worry about getting hit by lightning on a clear day.
Many video poker games pay out more for the max bet jackpot than they do for less than 5 coin bets. On these games, it’s much better for you to bet more than less. It pays to know which games require a max bet and which ones don’t, so study the pay charts and know what to look for.
Two Video Poker Machines with the Same Pay Table Have Different Payouts
This makes no sense whatsoever, but you’ll hear this one mentioned. The idea is you have two machines that offer the same payout schedule–let’s say 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker–but one of the machines pays out more than the other one. You might find a broken machine somewhere which doesn’t pay out what it advertises, but casinos won’t advertise one payoff and give you another. Once again, that’s bad business and someone is sure to notice, especially if it goes against the gambler.
Machines Closer to the Door Pay Out More
This is a slots story that may or may not have some basis in fact. Casino managers wanting to lure people to slots row or to a video poker carousel might place machines that pay out more nearer to the door, main casino traffic, restrooms, and refreshments, hoping players see people winning and want to join in the fun. This used to happen a lot. It might still be used in some places, but isn’t nearly as widespread as it once was.
The fact is, casinos move machines around all the time. They like to keep things fresh and present old players with new looks, experimenting with what works. So it’s not necessarily true that the best machines are near entrances, exits, and other well-trafficked areas. When you’re looking for which video poker machine to play, look at the payout tables, not the casino exits.