When playing at video poker bars, play for fun

It’s no secret that when I go to the casino I like to have a good time. Those good times often take place at a casino bar where there is always video poker available.
While being near comped drinks is nice, the returns on bar top video poker are often the worst in the casino. For example, a casino may have a 9/6 Jacks or Better game on the floor (returns over 99%) but the bar may only have a 7/5 Jacks or Better game (returns just over 96%).
These shorter returns at the bar are noticeable. It may only be $3 for every $100 played but it decreases the amount of time the money lasts in the machine. This also increases the price per drink.
It’s important to remember, when budgeting for your night at the casino bar, even though the drinks are complimentary they aren’t free to the casino. The house advantage the casino has in the games covers the cost of your drinks.
Not every casino bar has lower pay tables but the majority do. Casinos that are geared toward tourists are notorious for having poor returns on their bar top video poker. This is the price of convenience.
Every video poker game, from Bonus Poker to Deuces Wild, has shorter pay tables. There are even a few bars that will include random games not found anywhere else in the casino, like Shockwave poker, in their bar top games. On average the video poker games have returns somewhere around 96%. These are still better returns than video slots or keno options at the bar, but it’s not optimal.
So what should we do when playing video poker at the bar? There are two choices – play smart(ish) or play for fun.
When playing video poker at a casino bar there really isn’t a smart way to play. When I want to play on the smart side I’ll stick with Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker because those are the games where I can play with almost perfect strategy.
I figure playing games where I know the right moves means I should be able to extend my dollar longer. In that time, maybe I’ll hit a hot streak and walk away with a few bucks.
When I’m not paying too close attention to the games, I’ll look to the most outlandish video poker I can find just to have a little fun. Shockwave comes to mind as a game where I’m just looking for fun. I’m just playing to get 4 of a kind to produce a Shockwave where the screen changes colors. Maybe I should learn the strategy but I’d rather focus on games I play more often.
Casino bars usually offer bad video poker returns but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Choose games where you have the highest understanding of strategy or just play a game because it’s fun. Either way, you’re hanging out at a casino bar and that’s fun.

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