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VIDEO POKER: RIGHT STRATEGY, WRONG GAME

by Dunbar

Dunbar is a professional gambler with a strong mathematical background and a Ph. D. in biophysics. In 2005 he created his acclaimed software Dunbar's Risk Analyzer for Video Poker 1.0, which enables video poker players to assess risks and bankroll requirements for short- and long-term trips. Now Dunbar's Risk Analyzer for Video Poker 2.0 is available for about $20 from any of these fine establishments: http://www.shoplva.com/collections/video-poker/software, http://bj21.com/ads/dunbaar_ra_vp.html, and

http://gamblersbookclub.com/DUNBAR-S-RISK-ANALYZER-FOR-VIDEO-POKER-689.html#.VlW_0HarTBQ.

Introduction

Have you ever stumbled upon a good video poker promotion without having a chance to fully prepare? For example, you might be checking out a new casino and find that they are having a 10-times points day, and the base cashback is 0.25%. So you scout the machines and find that they not only have 9/5 Jacks or Better ("JOB"), but also 9/6 Double Double Bonus ("DDB"). You know that 9/5 JOB returns 98.45%, and you remember that 9/6 DDB is very close to 99% when played correctly. With 10-times points, the DDB game could be worth 102%. The only problem is this: You don't know how to play DDB. You play JOB like a champ, though. You wonder, am I better off playing the 99.45% JOB game or should I play DDB with my JOB strategy and hope I still have more than the 99.45% return?

Even when you do have time to learn a new strategy, you might wonder if it's worth it. If learning the exact strategy for a new game is going to save you 50/hour and you're not expecting to play it for more than several hours on your next trip, is it worth it? If you're like me, after a few months you're probably going to forget parts of it, so it's not like investing some time now will gain you 50/hour two years from now.

There are other situations where you might be tempted to use the "wrong" strategy. Let's say you do know 9/6 DDB strategy very well, but you chance upon a 25c progressive at $2000 for the Royal Flush. If you play the standard 9/6 DDB strategy, how much of the optimum payback are you giving up?

Some Examples

Often, there is almost no cost to using the optimal strategy for one pay table to play a different pay table version of the same game. For example, when playing any common JOB pay table, the 9/6 JOB strategy will do fine. Even if you've been sentenced to video poker hell where only 6/5 JOB is available, you can at least take solace in the fact that your 9/6 strategy will cost you a miniscule 0.01% extra.

Sometimes there is very little cost to using the strategy of one game to play a different game. 8/5 Bonus Poker can be played with 9/6 JOB strategy at a cost of a few cents an hour. Playing 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe with 9/6 JOB strategy costs a little more: 75 cents/hour for a $1 player, but that's probably still not enough for most players to worry about. (A 25c player would be sacrificing less than 19 cents an hour.)

Things change dramatically when a player tries to use...

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