All Video Poker Machines Don’t Pay the Same for Four of a Kind

 All Video Poker Machines Don’t Pay the Same for Four of a Kind

On many video poker games — Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Super Aces and more — most four of a kind hands pay 250 coins for a five-coin bet. A friend was surprised recently when casino with high pay tables overall had games that paid only 239 coins on those quads.

“Why would that be,” he asked. “Why cheap out by 11 coins?”

The reason was that the machines he saw were in the $5 denomination, and a 250-coin payoff would be $1,250. By paying 239 coins, or $1,195, the casino stayed below the $1,200 threshhold at which the IRS requires paperwork before payoff.

If you itemize on your federal taxes and keep detailed records, you are allowed to deduct gambling losses up to the amount of winnings. If you do that, then perhaps you want a game that pays the full 250 coins on four of a kind or straight flushes.

If the casino where you’re playing offers 9-7-5 Double Bonus Poker, with the numbers meaning a 9-for-1 payoff on full houses, 7-for-1 on flushes and 5-for-1 on straights, the game returns 99.1 percent with expert play. If the payoffs on straight flushes and on four 5s through Kings are dropped from 250 coins to 239, the payback percentage drops to 98.7 percent. We lose a little less than half a percent of our return in exchange for dropping those paybacks below tax-form level on a $5 machine.

On many games, $5 video poker players average an IRS-qualifying jackpot once or more per hour. Would you rather have the full payback percentage, or save yourself some paperwork? That’s the choice a casino that offers 239-coin returns gives you.

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