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Poker vs. Video Poker

27th March, 2006
My wife enjoys playing the slot machines, a little too much in my opinion, and as most of us know, they drain your bankroll pretty quickly, sometimes as much as 10% of every dollar played.

She also plays poker, mostly Texas hold em, so I decided to teach her how to play video poker so she could play longer on the same amount of money than she can on slots. Correct strategy on some video poker games returns over 99% to the player. As it turns out, this whole plan may have been a mistake on my part. I have tried to teach her correct strategy at the Texas hold em tables for years, and she has become a pretty solid player. The problem is the correct regular poker strategy can vary greatly from what is correct in video poker.

In Texas hold em, or Omaha Poker or 7 Card Stud Poker for that matter, most of our decisions take many things into account such as pot odds, position, opposing players, etc. Of course each game has slightly different variables and correct strategies, but overall they all operate along the same lines. On the other hand, video poker has exactly one central theme of importance. This is the pay table and the chance to draw to one of the hands on it. As an example, it is often incorrect to draw to an inside straight in Texas hold em, but there are many times it is correct in video poker.

The moral of the story is this. If you are a video poker player who wants to learn how to play hold em or some other table poker game or if you are a table player who wants to learn video poker strategy, realize that you have to forget everything you have learned and look at it as an entirely new game that requires an entirely new set of skills and strategy.

Of course video poker tends to be a consistent drain on your bankroll, as the casino still has an edge, it just isn't a very big one, so I recommend learning Texas holdem or Omaha strategy and concentrating on it. You can gain a long-term edge playing them. Until next week, good luck at the tables (or at the video poker machines)!

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