Debunking Video Poker Myths

by Marilee Ryan of

You can’t avoid the elusive power of luck in a casino. Superstitions, myths and inside secrets are not in short supply. I have seen women drape their video poker machines in purple and gold garments covered in crystals for luck. Some regular players will stare you down mercilessly to get you to give up their favorite progressive seat. I, personally, believe that those nice casino employees who clean around you while you play are chillers. Here are a few myths or superstitions stripped down:

1. Machines on the end of the row pay better.

TRUTH The video poker machines at the ends are played more. There are lots of reasons that they are played more, for example, people generally like the idea of not having people on both sides, smokers choose ends to avoid nasty non-smokers fake coughing spells, or its easier to wave down a cocktail waitress. Probability dictates the one gambling law: The more it is played, the more it will pay.

2. Some machines are tighter than others or machines are tighter on holidays or weekends.

TRUTH Machines should be set the same all the time. There are laws and regulations enforced by the gaming commission on how the machines are set with huge fines for non-compliance. Most Las Vegas casinos make plenty of money from gamblers without cheating them unnecessarily. That being said, it is impossible to know for sure. Im sure we can imagine cheating or corruption in that system, but if you dont have an inside line, you just don’t know. Assume that each machine is set to play the actual probabilities of a new deck of cards on each deal. There have been stories of casinos that intentionally tighten up machines because the extra money they make is a lot more than the fines they pay. You may be able to discover these habitual offenders if you wish to check with the gaming commission, but for the occasional gambler, you may have to simply trust the casino here.

3. Playing runs or streaks.

TRUTH Luck is something that can be described but never controlled. If you are a frequent player, you know there are lucky streaks and unlucky ones. Yes, you should play a lucky streak. You might lose all your gains, but you might also keep winning, which is what gambling is all about. Your luck is as good as your intuition. I have had winning streaks that lasted as long as a month without a break. During a winning streak you can accumulate enough to cover your losing streak. The winning gambler is the one who is lucky enough, persistent enough and brave enough to have the winning streaks exceed the losses. The reverse is also true. If you lose your daily bankroll with no winnings, it is time to give it up for the night. This is an unlucky streak. Come back and try again tomorrow. After a time, a regular gambler gets a better sense, or intuition, about the ebb and flow of luck.

4. Lucky socks, underwear, trinkets, or machines.

TRUTH These things are personal and usually dont hurt anything. In fact, if an object makes you believe you are a winner and you do win more, then go for it. The fact is that none of that can be proven or disproven except by your own resulting luck. Dont be crazy and refuse to wash your socks for two weeks, but if you want to wear the same socks cleanly laundered, no one cares so go ahead and do it. If you believe that you will win, you are much more likely to win. That is the law of attraction.

5. Progressive video poker machines pay more small jackpots.

Again, typically progressives are played more and it follows that they pay more. Beware of progressive bays with drastically reduced paytables they do not pay more over the long haul. If you see a bay of progressives with lots of players and lots of hits, yes, this is a good place to play. Winning streaks sometimes happen in bays of machines. I cant give you the math or science to streaks but they do appear to be real.

Conceivably, there are as many superstitions and myths as there are gamblers. Knowing the facts, you can create your own gambling mythology. If it works for you, then believe in it. If it fails you, get back to the playing and forget the fairy tales. That is the bottom line.