Harry’s Problem With Video Poker
I was teaching a NSU Deuces Wild class at the South Point, although the distinction I’m making here is valid for EVERY pay schedule for either Deuces Wild or Joker Wild. At that moment we were covering an instruction that read:
‘QJ’, ‘QT’, ‘JT’
These combinations were lower than higher-ranking combinations, including all 3-card straight flushes not including an ace, and higher than lower-ranking combinations, including all 3-card straight flushes with an ace. What this means is that from Q♥ J♥ 3♠ 5♠ 7♠ or J♦ T♦ 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ you hold the spades but from Q♣ T♣ A♥ 3♥ 5♥ or J♣ T♣ A♦ 4♦ 5♦ you hold the clubs.
Part of what I wanted to discuss in that part of the class was that the three combinations do not have the same value. To get to the answer quickly, ‘JT’ is more valuable than either ‘QJ’ or ‘QT’, which have value equal to each other.
The way the class operates is that I go around the class and ask everyone in turn a question. I was coming up to Tom, Dick, and Harry — likely not their real names.
Video Poker Can Be Hard
I asked Tom whether ‘QJ’ or ‘QT’ was more valuable. He said ‘QJ’. It was the wrong answer — but a common one. ‘QJ’ has two consecutive cards and ‘QT’ has a gap there. This is unimportant when you’re this close to the ace, but some players instinctively believe that no gaps is always better than one gap.
Also, if you’re used to games where you get your money back for a pair of jacks or better, such as Bonus Poker or Double Double Bonus Poker, among many others, ‘QJ’ LOOKS like it has two high cards whereas ‘QT’ LOOKS like it only contains one high card. Part of learning Deuces Wild is that there are no high cards in this game because you need 3-of-a-kind or better to get your money back.
Then it was Dick’s turn. I asked him which was more valuable, ‘QJ’ or ‘QT’, and reminded him that ‘QJ’ wasn’t the correct answer. He smiled and quickly said ‘QT’. To his mind, if ‘QJ’ wasn’t the right answer, then ‘QT’ must be.
That was wrong too. I finally asked Harry, who informed me that he had no idea. I repeated the problem. We only had two combinations we were comparing and neither ‘QJ’ nor ‘QT’ was better. What did that tell us? He still had no idea. I rephrased the question a couple of different ways and he still didn’t have a clue.
I then gave him the answer — which was that ‘QJ’ and ‘QT’ had the same value. He nodded okay. He was willing to take my word for it, I suppose, but he wasn’t able to make the inference that if neither of two things was more valuable than the other then they must have equal value.
That was disturbing to me. One of the keys to playing video poker well is to be able to compare various combinations and determine which one is better. An ability to make inferences is important. If A is better than B and B is better than C, in most video poker circumstances then A is better than C. This is another type of “simple” logic — although perhaps not to Harry.
If you can’t make these inferences, then I infer you will never be a competent video poker player. This isn’t a terrible fate. A huge majority of people are not competent video poker players.
That was only a problem if Harry WANTED to become competent. That was not his first video poker class, nor was it his last. He apparently wants to become a good player, but his answers to that and other questions lead me to believe that it just isn’t in the cards for him.
While this is my judgment/opinion, I do not believe it’s my place to tell him he doesn’t have what it takes — unless he asks me. Each of us can get better with more study, but to get really good you need some facility for logic. Perhaps Harry has lesser goals.
Learn more about video poker:
How To Play Video Poker The Smart Way – Part 1
How To Solve The Video Poker Puzzle – Part 1
Video Poker | Listening To My Mentor – 10x Points At Borgata
Why You Might Be Disappointed With A Straight Flush Jackpot
Be sure to check out some of our other articles on casino loyalty programs & casino gaming:
Casino Loyalty Cards are Similar to Those of Airlines and Hotels — But Not the Same
Video Poker vs. Regular Poker
Why I Prefer Video Poker To Slots
Video Poker vs. BlackJack
Bob Dancer is the premier video poker writer and teacher in the world. He has created a number of how-to-win products available at bobdancer.com. He co-hosts a weekly radio show called Gambling with an Edge, which is also archived on his website. (The show is also available on iTunes.)