There are several publications, including Las Vegas Review-Journal and Strictly Slots, among others, that regularly vote on which casino has the best video poker. Sometimes readers vote. SometimesBob Dancer is one of the world's foremost video poker experts. He is a regular columnist for Casino Player, Strictly Slots, and the Las Vegas Review-Journa land has written an autobiography and a novel about gambling. He provides advice for tens of thousands of casino enthusiasts looking to play video poker. Bob's website is www.bobdancer.com
the magazine editors. Sometimes both. I have always found the question perplexing.
First of all, there's the slot club
problem. Successful video poker players add up the return on the game plus the slot club benefits plus the promotions to come up with the best game to play. I personally judge video poker by the sum of all three of these things. Even then it's not easy because some slot club benefits and promotions are tiered --- so that only the top players get them. So a casino could have a really GREAT game if you are one of its elite players and only a so so game if you are an irregular player there. If all casinos gave cash back and didn't mail you "checks in the mail," it would be a lot easier to compare than the situation where every casino has its own formula --- and the formulas are largely unknown to the player and frequently changing.
Second, what denomination are we talking about? It doesn't matter to a $5 player who has the loosest 25¢ games, and conversely the nickel player isn't concerned with the best $10 games.
Third, location is always a factor. I live between Green Valley Ranch and Fiesta Henderson, so I'll never vote for the Cannery or Suncoast having the best video poker no matter what games they have. They are simply too far away from me, no matter how good their games are. Conversely, players in the northwest will never vote for Fiesta Henderson for the same reason. This might seem unfair, but such is the nature of voting. If you compare the votes for Palms and Fiesta Henderson, for example, even if they had identical video poker, the Palms would win --- simply because it's within 6 miles or so of a LOT more voters.
Fourth, do I know and like the best games? NSU Deuces Wild
(99.728%), 9/5 Super Double Bonus Poker (99.695%), and 10/7/239 Double Bonus Poker
(99.794%) have essentially the same return. But how many of you know all three games equally well? And even if you do, you probably prefer one over the others.
Fifth, how many good games do they have? Station Casinos often have one or two banks of "Optimum Play" machines returning over 100%, and most of the rest of their games return under 99%. Coast Casinos have few if any games over 100%, but well over half of their games are over 99%. Which one is better? A case could be made either way.
Sixth, it's hard to separate video poker from the casino ambience. Some people find the El Cortez, for example, to be in an unacceptable part of town, no matter what their video poker inventory is. Arizona Charlie's Decatur and Terrible's are much smokier than average. For some players, that's an automatic disqualification.
Related to this are such things as restaurants, hotel rooms, music over the sound system, typical clientele, how far you have to walk from the parking lot, and a variety of other things. I know the vote is supposed to be about video poker only, but how do you cancel out all of these other things?
Seventh, there's always the luck factor. While it doesn't affect my decision on where to play, several players have told me such things as "I never play at xxxx casino anymore, despite their supposed good games. I never seem to win there." Each of us have a one or more casinos where we've been luckier than average in the past, and another one or two (one or two dozen?) where we've been unluckier than average. For many players, this will definitely affect their decision.
Eighth, our personal circumstances often limit the casinos of choice. For some people, if a casino doesn't have child care facilities it is not a possibility. Or maybe wide aisles allowing easy wheelchair access is important. Or maybe good nearby shopping is valuable to you. While none of these factors affect who has the best video poker, if the only casinos we go into fit a certain category, it might well affect who we vote for.
Ninth, how new are the machines? Ticket-in ticket-out
is found in most casinos, but not all. If the machines have old, fuzzy monitors, is that enough to disqualify the game from being good? It is to me. If the machines were coin-fed, would that be a showstopper? Absolutely, at least insofar as my vote goes.
Tenth, do they let you play? Perhaps I'm more sensitive than most, but a casino that bars good players from playing will never get my vote for best video poker.
Eleventh, stuffing the ballot box. Unfortunately, some publications, including both listed above, have had problems with ballot-box stuffing. Sometimes casinos will buy enough copies of the publication to make sure that each of their employees get one, and employees are "encouraged" to fill them out "properly". Sometimes publications have been known to give an extra few thousand ballots to their major advertisers. At times we've seen very inappropriate winners in this category. But just because knowledgeable players know the award is bogus is no reason why the casino doesn't trumpet the award shamelessly.