Las Vegas casino video poker vs online video poker

Video poker machines have been popular in Las Vegas since their introduction in the 1970s, and are a staple of casino revenue. For the casual player they can be appealing because they present an opportunity to play poker for real money without the intimidating atmosphere around a poker table. For more serious players, video poker has one of the lowest house edges to be found and with the right pay table and a sound use of strategy, the advantage can actually be in the player’s favour (albeit only slightly).
Although all video poker machines are essentially a version of draw poker there are a growing number of variations; at last count, there were 56 different types of video poker games on offer in Las Vegas, and literally hundreds of different titles. From the traditional 9/6 Jacks or Better game, to the extravagantly-named Double Bonus Super Triple Play, these variations can be subtle or dramatic with each requiring a distinct strategy and approach to playing (see this full list of video poker machines from Lasvegasadviser).
Video poker can be played at a level to suit most bankroll sizes, although the number of machines in Vegas offering a coin size smaller than 25¢ are diminishing. Nevertheless, there are still games with a coin size as low as 5¢ while games offering $100 coin size are common. Almost every video poker machine gives the option of playing between 1 — 5 coins on each hand, but when choosing a game to suit your bankroll it’s important to remember that the biggest jackpots are only available when playing the maximum number of coins.
Video poker games also offer progressive jackpots, where machines are linked and a percentage of each losing hand contributes to a potentially unlimited jackpot that continues growing until someone on a networked machine hits a Royal Flush. These can grow rapidly, and have substantive effect on both payout percentage and strategy as they increase in size.
For the casual visitor to Vegas, or someone not overly familiar with casinos, there might not appear to be much difference between playing video poker or slots. However the differences are substantial, both in terms of how the games are played and the potential returns.
Superficially similar in appearance, and having some points in common such as progressive jackpots and variable coin sizes, there are ultimately few similarities between video poker and slots. Both games may run on a RNG, but there is nothing random about playing video poker successfully. It’s a game that rewards strategy, thought and practice, while playing slots leaves players with very few choices to make and almost nothing they can do to influence the outcome of a spin or game.
Given the technology involved and the nature of the game, it was unsurprising when video poker became one of the first land-based casino games to migrate successfully online, where it is just as popular as it is in Vegas. There are some distinct advantages to be gained, however, from playing online.
One of the biggest complaints about recent video poker developments in Las Vegas is the significant reduction in the number of full pay games (games where optimum play can see a payout percentage of slightly over 100%) that casinos offer, much to the chagrin of full-time and committed players who now have to spend increasingly large amounts of time searching out machines with favourable pay tables. Playing online removes that frustration, in that there is no need to search for rewarding games—they are always available and easily accessible.
There is greater consistency in pay tables online too. It’s not uncommon in Vegas to find two identical machines next to each other, one offering 9/6 JoB, the other offering 8/5. Online video poker doesn’t have these variations within the same title, and this is also applies to payout percentages. Without the overheads and running costs of a land-based casino, it’s not uncommon for an online casino to have a payout percentage of 99.8% across all of its video poker games, not just a few, and this means that the
House edge is reduced right across the board when you play online — see this article on online video poker for a more detailed explanation.
At the same time however variety can be a virtue when it comes to seeking out new games and variations, and again online casinos have the edge over its Vegas rival offering a much bigger choice of gams. The quality of game play is also generally better online, with superior graphics and sound quality as is to be expected from casinos who do all of their business in the virtual world.

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