Beyond the basic strategy for whichever video poker game I am playing, learning how to manage my video poker bankroll was the most important thing I have ever learned about playing. Once I learned about the expected return odds for particular games and pay tables, I was able to make an educated guess as to how many hands I could see depending on how much I was willing to wager in a session or on a trip to Las Vegas.I will show you an example of figuring out roughly how far your bankroll will go based on the mathematics below, but I want to cover a few additional tips about extending your fun while playing video poker.
- Play a little bit slower. This actually gives you two big advantages. Number one, you will make fewer strategy mistakes than you will if you are playing as fast as you can. As you well know, no matter how good the payback percentage of the pay table you are using is, over the long run you will still lose. Casinos are not in the habit of losing money. Second, your bankroll will last longer if you play fewer hands per hour. I know this sounds like common sense, but I have found I can have just as much fun playing 200 to 300 hands per hour as trying to play 400 or 500.
- Only play on machines that offer the highest possible return pay tables. If you like to play Jacks or Better, only play where you can sit on a 9/6 machine. If the casino where you usually go doesn't have it, but offers 8/5 or heaven forbid 7/5, find a new casino. There is a huge difference in money lost per hour between a 9/6 and an 8/5 machine. By minimizing the casinos house edge, your video poker bankroll will go a lot further.
- Take frequent breaks from playing. Enjoy a show occasionally or a nice meal. Or if things are not going well take a walk around the casino floor, or walk outside and get a breath of fresh air. I always try to take a short break soon after playing for an hour. It doesn't have to be a long break, 5 or 10 minutes is fine, but by taking 10 minutes off for a break after every hour, you only end up playing 6 hours in a 7 hour session.
- If you are taking a trip to play video poker, split your bankroll into even parts. Stop for the day when you lose your stake for the day. Some players take this a step further and will quit for the day if they double their stake for the day. For example, if you are going to be playing for 4 days and have a $1,000 bankroll, split it into $250 a day. If you lose all $250 during a day, quit for the rest of the day. Pocket any money you end the day with and start on your next days stake the next morning.
Remember that the expected return on a game is figured over a long period of time and includes the jackpot or top payout, so if you don't play maximum coins, your return percentage will be lower.
To make our math simple, we will be using a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine which roughly pays out 99.5% and we are playing $1 per hand, times 5, so each hand is a $5 hand. So for every 100 hands you play, you will have wagered $500. $500 times 99.5% means that on average you will have $497.50 left after 100 hands. As you know, in actuality you may have less or more, but that is on average. So if you play 400 hands per hour, your average loss per hour will be $10 (4 times $2.50.)
Of course this assumes you are playing perfect strategy. And you have to have a large enough bankroll to get through the long dry stretches that sometimes happens. To continue our example, if you play 5 hours a day, your average loss per day will be $50.