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 Jean Scott is the co-author (along with Viktor Nacht) of the new book, "The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide." In this article, Jean describes how to use the Guide to instantly determine the best video poker game in any casino.

(Note: The book is available at 10% discount in our BJI store. Click here.)

Are you a blackjack player that has added some video poker play to your repertoire of games? Or, you've thought of making that move?

Of all the products that have the Frugal name on them, I'm probably proudest of my latest baby, "The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide." Itís not because I was "in hard labor" for so long, although this was certainly the project that drove me the most crazy with so many minute details. I would've never made it without some major help from Viktor Nacht and Bethany Paige, and the input of many of my video-poker-playing friends.

However, the main reason for my pleasure with this work is that it's a tool that video poker players have really needed for many years, and especially now since the good games are rapidly disappearing in casinos all over the country. I've said so many times in my writings that choosing a good paytable is the cornerstone of smart VP play. All the skillful strategies you learn and the big bankrolls that you can amass, although helpful, canít overcome a bad game in the end.

This guide will be helpful to both the casual recreational player and the serious VP student. It can be easily understood and used by the most inexperienced player, and it can fill in some information gaps for the veteran pro. It's perfect for the blackjack player who has been playing some VP on the side, or wants to start doing so, since it gives so much basic information in one compact booklet.

Casual and recreational players will love this guide because it contains almost 200 pay schedules from 37 games (Iím sure most players donít know this many pay schedules), and now they can scout a casino and donít have to guess what's the best game to play. However, many serious VP students have told me that they love this guide because it lets them get rid of all those papers they carry around in the casino that contain scribbled notes and/or printed information from the Internet to aid them in their scouting. Now this information is condensed in one sturdy booklet that they can carry in a shirt pocket, fanny pack, or purse.

In the first three pages of the booklet, Viktor and I summarize the key factors in winning VP and how to read the charts. We give the 1-coin values for each paytables, but when there's a bonus for 5 coins, we mark that with a superscript "5." We warn to watch for machines that require more than five coins to pay the maximum jackpot bonus. Reading pay schedules while you're scouting for a good game takes extra care because a casino can make a change on ANY line. We try to help you keep from being fooled by using yellow shading on pay schedule lines that are often changed by the casinos (usually for the worse). We also highlight numbers in red when there are really unusual or tricky changes.

Key information on the chart is the theoretical long-term return for each paytable assuming you use a computer-perfect playing strategy. This is the percentage number that you can use to compare games. The closer this number is to 100% or higher, the better the machine for the player. There's also a separate line for the return of games in both the Multi-Strike and Super Times Pay format.

We added a volatility rating at the top of each chart because that factor often influences a playerís choice in games. Each person has his own tolerance level for the short-term monetary ups and downs of video poker. These volatility ratings will help players choose a game that fits their financial and psychological bankroll.

One of the most important lines on the charts will be the one that gives the break-even (B-E) point for a royal jackpot on a progressive machine. This will give you a starting point in judging whether you think a progressive is high enough to be a good play.

You may already have other Frugal tools in your Frugal VP Tool Kit: Any or all of the Frugal Gambler books, with "Frugal Video Poker" especially a must; and the Frugal VP software for practicing and printing out strategies. Now, you can add "The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide" in your tool box and you're equipped to do VP battle in the casinos.


Editorís Note:

Hereís how I recently used Jeanís new booklet. While playing in Vegas, I heard from a colleague about a new pay schedule for a deuces wild video poker game located in a Biloxi casino that I frequent. I had been playing a 9/6 Jacks-or-Better game there with a return of 99.54% - the best VP schedule I was able to find. However, this particular deuces wild machine in this casino has this pay schedule for a one-coin return:

Royal Flush

4000 (5 coins)

Four Deuces


Wild Royal




Straight Flush




Full House








Veteran video poker players might notice that the above pay schedule is similar to the common NSU Deuces Wild pay schedule except the Five-of-a-Kind pays one coin less and the Straight Flush, 1 coin more. What I wanted to know was the return for this game, and if there are any playing strategy changes from the NSU strategy, which I already know. One quick glance at "The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide" gave me the answer to my first question. The return for this new Deuces Wild game is 99.96%, which is higher than the Jacks-or-Better game I was playing in this casino. As for any strategy changes that I need to make before I tackle this game, thatís a work in process using the Frugal Video Poker software (I can key in the pay schedule for this game, and the software will generate a playing strategy that I can print). By the time I get home and visit this casino again, Iíll be prepared to play a higher-paying VP game (the return on this new game plus the free play and comps will give me an overall return of over 100%). Thank you Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide for providing me with the instant information I need to evaluate this new game.

Note: The Frugal Video Poker Scouting Guide is available in our BJI store at 10% discount. Highly recommended when you play video poker. To order Click here.

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