How to Pick Higher-Paying Video Poker Machines

 How to Pick Higher-Paying Video Poker Machines

There’s no way to look at the outside of a slot machine and tell which is a high-payer and which returns less to players. Two identical-looking slot machines can sit side by side and have radically different payback percentages.

Not so with video poker games. They advertise the probabilities with the pay tables on the screen or on the machine glass.

The places to look on most non-wild card games are the payoffs on full houses and flushes. Each decrease in the payoff costs us about 1.1 percent of our long-term return. A “9-6” Jacks or Better game, meaning full houses pay 9-for-1 and flushes 6-for-1, returns about 2.2 percent more than an “8-5” game, paying 8-for-1 on full houses and 5-for-1 on flushes.

Players don’t always look for the differences, or even realize there are differences. My wife and I once encountered a long bank of Jacks or Better machines that alternated 9-6 games with 8-5. When we played, we sat down with a machine separating us so we could both play the higher-paying version. But looking around the bank, we saw players seated without regard to the pay table, playing the 8-5 version even though there were plenty of seats at 9-6 games.

Different video poker games have different full house-flush payoffs. In Bonus Poker, 8-5 is head of the class, while in Double Bonus Poker it’s 10-7 at the top. All games are available with a number of pay tables.

You’re not always going to find the highest-paying game made, but you can shop for the best where you’re playing.  Often, you’ll find different pay versions of a game within the same casino.

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