Betting Less Than the Max at Video Poker

 Betting Less Than the Max at Video Poker

An old friend of mine is an occasional video poker player. He likes to play the game, but he doesn’t really like to risk money. In his lifetime, he’s drawn three royal flushes, one on a dollar game, and two on quarters. Every time, he’d wagered only one coin, meaning his jackpot was 250 coins instead of the 4,000 that comes with a five-coin wager.

After the dollar royal, he told me, “You could see people’s faces sag when they saw I’d only bet one coin. I’d say, ‘You’re not going to make me feel bad about this. I just drew a royal flush! I’m thrilled!”

While it does take a five-coin bet to get the highest payback percentage from most video poker games, I have no problem with single-coin bettors. “Stay within your bankroll, and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose” is Rule No. 1 in any casino game.

One thing I recommend you NEVER do, however, is to bet FOUR coins. Most video poker games pay 4,000 coins for a royal if you’ve wagered five coins. But if you’ve wagered four coins, the royal pays only 1,000. Essentially, 3,000 coins of that payoff comes for betting the fifth coin.

One consequence is that the casino makes all its money on the first four coins of video poker wagers. On the fifth coin, the player has an edge, one that reduces the overall house edge on the game.

Betting four coins maximizes house profits, while you pass up the good part that comes with the fifth coin wagered. Bet one coin if that’s what your bankroll dictates, five coins if you can, but don’t sabotage your own bankroll with four-coin wagers.

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