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by Jerry "Stickman"

Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in craps, blackjack, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps and Golden Touch Blackjack. His current book " Specific Slots Machines That Give the Players the Edge!" provides mathematically proven advantages over the house on some slots! For more information visit or or call 1-800-944-0406. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at


Playing advantage Blackjack can be fun and profitable. However, it cannot be played whenever and wherever and for as long as we want. Play too long at one table, blackjack pit, or casino while counting cards and you can get backed-off, barred, or even trespassed from the casino. Fortunately casinos offer other games that can be played with an advantage.

Video poker is one of these.

Unlike standard slot machines, the payback of video poker games can be determined by looking at the pay table displayed right on the machine. A few years ago there were several video poker machines that would pay back over 100 percent with proper play. Sadly, those days are past. It is rare to find 100+ percent games in today’s casinos. But that doesn’t mean you cannot receive more that 100 percent of you video poker dollars back – if you play wisely.

Here is the way to accomplish this feat.

Select the best games

With the myriad selection of video poker games in the casinos today, selecting the best game is mandatory for advantage play. There are four criteria to consider: payback, variance, play complexity, and denomination.

Payback: Payback can be determined by looking at the pay table on the machine that you are considering. Generally paybacks range from a little under 95 percent up to a little over 100 percent. In order to get the actual payback, make a note of the game type such as Jack or Better, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double-Double B onus Poker, Deuces Wild, etc.

Next, copy the pay table. Almost all 25 cent or better video poker machines require a maximum bet of five credits to get a the top payback for a royal flush, so the pay table should be copied based on five credits. For example, with one credit to four credits played a royal pays 250 times the number of credits played, but with five credits a royal pays 4,000 credits or 800 per credit played. When playing video poker always play five credits because playing less gives the house more than a one percent greater edge than they may already have.

Armed with the game type and pay table, the payback can be determined by looking it up in books, on the Internet, or by using one of the many video poker computer programs available. Obviously you are looking for the highest payback, but there are other considerations.

Variance: Variance is an indication of how big your bankroll will swing. These swings can be both positive and negative. The higher the variance, the larger the bankroll required to withstand the negative swings. The larger the win lines on the pay table, the higher the variance. This is because the winnings are concentrated in fewer relative occurrences. Some examples of variances follow.

    • Jacks or Better 19.5
    • Bonus Poker 20.9
    • Double Bonus Poker 28.2
    • Double-Double Bonus 41.9
    • Not So Ugly Deuces Wild 25.8

I recommend playing low variance games whenever possible. Even though you may have a large bankroll, surviving the inevitable losses between big winners can get you down.

Play Complexity: Getting the maximum payback from video poker requires proper play. Rules for proper play are available in books, pocket strategy cards, and computer software. Buying video poker software is probably the best investment an advantage video poker player can make. You put in the game type and pay table and the program calculates the best way to play the hands you are dealt. In general, the higher the variance of the game, the more complex it is to play. The more complex the game is to play the better chance there is to make a mistake. Jacks or Better is a very good game for a beginner advantage player because it has a low variance and relatively simple rule for play.

Denomination: Selecting the proper denomination to fit your bankroll is mandatory in order to survive the inevitable swings that happen during video poker play. A very rough guideline for bankroll size is three to four times the amount paid for a royal flush. A royal flush generally pays 4,000 credits, so for a dollar machine your bankroll should be at least $12,000 to $16,000. For quarter machines the bankroll should be at least $3,000 to $4,000. This may sound like a lot, but it is surprising how quickly the bankroll dwindles when you don’t hit a royal for a while. If your bankroll won’t support playing five credits per hand on a dollar machine, play a quarter machine. You need to be able to stay in the game until you get the royal in order to be a successful advantage player.

Join the Slot Players Club

All slot players clubs give credits for video poker play. These credits can be used for food, drink, free play or cash. Normally slot clubs pay one-tenth of a percent to three-tenths of a percent of the money played through the machine. Every little bit helps. Joining a slot club is free. You have nothing to lose so go ahead and join the club and use the card.

Take Advantage of Special Offers

Most casinos have special offers for playing in their properties.

Certain days of the week they may offer two, three, and even five times points for play. Play on those days to multiply the value of your play.

Many casinos mail bounce-back cash offers to video poker players. These are coupons that are good for cash or free play when returning to the casino. This is extra free money that adds to your return from video poker play. Use them – you earned them.


By carefully choosing the video poker game to play and playing it properly, an advantage player can achieve nearly a 100 percent payback (i.e., Full pay Jacks or Better pays 99.54 percent with proper play\). Joining and using a player’s club card can add another one to three tenths of a percent. Playing on special multiple point days multiplies your play bonus by 2, 3, or even 5 times. Bounce back cash is additional free play that adds to the total payback.

Combining all of these tactics changes negative expectation games to positive ones. Playing full pay Jacks or Better on a 5-times day with a two-tenths percent slot payback changes the game from 99.54 percent to 100.54 percent. And better still, you don’t have to worry about being back-off or trespassed!

Until next time….

All the best in all your casino and life endeavors.

Jerry "Stickman"

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