More to Video Poker Than Pay Tables

The most important factor when choosing a video poker machine is probably its pay tables. These can vary widely, even within the same casino. It is imperative to find the best one in your area. However, this should not be the only factor you consider when choosing a game to play.

There are several items in play. The list includes progressive meters, progressive meter rate, promotions and players club perks.

Progressive meters

Some banks of machines offer a progressive jackpot. It typically hits when a player makes a natural royal flush. Some add other hands, such as four of a kind or a straight flush.

There is value in these meters. A royal flush typically reflects about 2% of the return on the game. A quarter royal flush usually pays $1,000. A $2,000 progressive would add about 2% to the return of the game. Every $100 adds 0.1%.

Some players may argue that a quarter progressive above $1,199 is not worth chasing. That depends on your tax situation. It should not be considered a factor for active $1 players.

The amount on the meter is not the only consideration. The amount the machine adds to the meter with each bet should also be included in your comparison. A progressive meter usually holds from 0.05% to 0.2% of the bet and adds it to the progressives. I consider this to be part of the return of the game as the house eventually pays this money out.

Players club returns

Players clubs vary widely from one casino to another. Some locals casinos, such as Station and South Point, return 0.3% when playing video poker with a players card. Others, often ones that cater to tourists over locals, may only return 0.05%.

The return is not the only aspect of the players club to consider. Some may be looser with comps that you prefer over others. For example, Caesars Rewards, also known as Total Rewards, returns little on video poker, and even less on games with quality pay tables. On the other hand, a Las Vegas visitor may enjoy generous hotel comps that can offset hundreds of dollars on a trip. Other casinos may give better mailers for free slot play and food than others. Play an even amount at several companies to determine which best fits your needs.


Casinos, especially ones that cater to locals, may offer daily promotions. This may be a point chase, point multiplier day, drawings and slot tournaments. Each offer value. It is up to you to determine how much an entry into one can increase your return. It is possible it can go up a full percentage point.

Example of how a good game can become a great one

A common game found throughout Las Vegas is 8/5 Bonus Poker. The game returns 99.17% with perfect play and five coins wagered. However, the game can return much more if you look for good deals or progressives.

Playing this game at a casino with a 0.3% return instantly puts it at 99.47%. This game can be found on machines with progressives. The ones I find tend to hold 0.125%. This puts the game just under 99.60%.  A quarter royal progressive of $1,200 or $4,800 on dollars puts the game around 100%, give or take a few hundredths of a percent.

Locals casinos with this game may offer a point multiplier day. It could be a regular occurrence or a personalized offer. Doubling the normal number of points puts the game at 99.9% with the meter at its $1,000 reset. If the royal flush progressive is around $1,100 on quarters or $4,400, it will be in the 100% range.

The numbers above do not reflect the future value of mailers. These offers may include free slot play, food or hotel comps.

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