Choosing the correct machine is very important in video poker. When most people talk about choosing the right machine they are referring to which machine will pay off next. For that kind of insight,Bob 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 I have no clue. My crystal ball doesn't give me that information.
By far the single most important thing to consider is the pay schedule. How much you get for a full house? How much you get for a flush? Knowing the schedules where you have the best shot and not playing unless you have such a machine is critically important. I talk about this regularly, but that is not the thrust of today's discussion.
The second most important thing to consider is the casino. How much does the slot club return? Are they having double points? Is it relatively easy to get the comps you need? Again very important. And again not the thrust of today's discussion.
What I want to talk about today is how to choose the best physical machine, once you've already decided upon the type of game and the casino. You've decided, for example, to play dollar 10/7 Double Bonus at Arizona Charlie's East, and you go in and see that there are 30+ of these machines. How do you decide on the particular one?
First let's mention what doesn't work. The number of credits cashed out by the previous player is irrelevant. Likewise, checking to see whether the last hand was a winner is also irrelevant. The Random Number Generator in each machine is not affected by whether a machine is ahead or behind today, this week, or this year. Change people who tell you which machine has hit recently are giving you totally useless information --- but they make up for it by expecting to be paid for providing this service.
The first thing to look for that does work I call "manna from heaven". Did somebody leave credits on the machine or coins in the tray? This doesn't happen very often, but being alert to it can pay off.
You'll find some machines there with progressives and some without. Would you rather a royal paid $4,000 or $4,705? Would you rather four aces paid $800 or $823? There are people who avoid progressives because they are too confusing, but to me this is just passing up free money. While expert players modify their strategy somewhat as the progressives increase, even using a basic strategy and taking the bonuses as they come will put you dollars ahead. Playing on the progressive machine must be worth over $10 per hour MORE than the same machine without a progressive.
Some machines are upright and some machines are slant tops. Which do you prefer? Everything else equal, you can play longer on a slant top because supporting your own arms playing an upright machine can be tiring. Sometimes the glare off of slant tops is more than the glare off of uprights.
Being next to or away from other players can be an important factor. Smokers may irritate you. For that matter, self-righteous non-smokers may irritate you. You may see somebody you know and thus want to sit next to them. You may see somebody you know and want to leave the casino. Whatever. I, for one, need to concentrate when I play, and although chatting with a friendly person is fun, it is distracting.
Machines have different speeds. Some of the newer machines have adjustable speed controls. I like the machines very fast. Most people prefer them slower than that.
I check out the screen images. Some are fuzzier than others are. Sometimes the card images are too tall or too short. Do you know from experience that one of the machines has sticky buttons? I would avoid that one.
If the machine is close to the lounge entertainment, this can be good or bad, depending upon whether you think the performers create good music or just loud noise. I personally prefer good country western music, but I have many friends who think the term "good country western music" is a self-contradicting term.
The IGT card images are flat. The CDS card images are 3-dimensional. I prefer one to the other. Similarly the button placement on IGT machines is different from that on Bally, Williams, Sigma, and others. Is one more comfortable to you? The machines for different manufacturers even sound different.
How about the seats? Some are slightly higher or lower than the others. Depending upon your body size and shape, one of these might be better than the other.
What about credit storage? Do the coins spill into the hopper when credits reach $401? This is a big nuisance in Double Bonus, where quads pay $250 or $400 or $800. When the coins are spilling into the tray you have to put them into buckets or trays and schlep them over to a change booth. Newer machines allow the credits to go up to $5,000 or more. (If it is over $400 at the end of your play, you get a hand pay.)
Are some machines coinless and some not? I'll take coinless everytime. Dealing with a cash voucher is a lot more convenient than dealing with buckets of coins. Only a few casinos have coinless options now, but within a few years, you'll see them all over and it may well influence where you choose to play.
This isn't rocket science and it doesn't always give you one unique answer, but it can frequently eliminate the worst choices. Choose a more comfortable seat and your enjoyment factor will increase. It will increase the bottom line only indirectly. If you are less irritated, you will make fewer mistakes.
That's it for this week. Until next time, go out and hit a royal flush.
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