Bob Dancer and Liam W. Daily have just released the second edition of Winner's Guide Volume 1 -- Jacks or Better. This new edition has been expanded to 128 pages and features the following enhancements: 1) A complete discussion of the differences between Jacks or Better and other popular games, including Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus and Deuces Wild. 2) Enhanced (more user-friendly) notations --- done in conjunction with the latest Dancer/Daily Strategy Cards. 3) An updated strategy for Level 4 Flush-5
With these improvements, Winner's Guide Volume 1 presents the most comprehensive discussion of Jacks or Better ever published.
I am comparing two somewhat related games. If you missed the first part of the discussion, see the first article in the series.
13. At video poker, helping your neighbor is quite acceptable. (AlthoughBob 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 many neighbors prefer it if you keep your advice to yourself, thank you very much.) Collusion of any sort between players in the same poker game is strictly forbidden. This is not to say, of course, that it doesn't happen.
14. In most live poker games, the "house" has no stake in the game. Usually, the house collects a fee for providing certain services, and the players go after each other. In video poker, the house is the direct opponent of every player. And the players do not play against each other, except in the case of progressive jackpots.
15. In video poker, usually the size of any hand does not matter. For example, an ace-high flush is worth no more than a 7-high flush. To be sure, in some games a pair of jacks is worth more than a pair of tens, but even in that game, a pair of kings is no more valuable than a pair of jacks. In real poker, a low two pair might very well lose out to a high two pair.
16. In regular poker, good players will win most of the time. In video poker, that won't happen. I personally lose about two sessions out of three, even though I always play in games where I have the advantage, play virtually perfectly, and overall am a significant winner.
In video poker, you will usually lose during a session if you don't hit one of the top two or three hands. For example, in 25¢ deuces wild (which is worth about $5.70 per hour, plus slot club benefits), you have less than a 10% chance of being a winner after a three hour session unless you hit 4 deuces or a royal flush. If an expert plays about 600 hands per hour, on average he will hit either 4 deuces or a royal flush approximately once every eight hours. In three hours, he has, overall, about a 40% chance of being plus, and a 60% chance of being minus.
However, his score when he's plus will be higher than when he is minus. Without hitting either jackpot, he will be down, on average, about $130. If he hits 4 deuces, he'll be up $120, and if he hits the royal flush (a once every 75-hour joyous occasion), he'll be up $870. In regular poker, you very well may be close to even after three hours. In video poker, this is not likely.
17. At video poker, you can analyze your opponent (the machine) very accurately. After several hundred thousand hands, your expected win (or loss) will be very close to the mathematical expectation --- assuming you play perfectly. At live poker, your opponents come in a variety of strengths. And each of these opponents has good days and bad days. And many of these opponents will be making adjustments to their game depending upon results. Your score after several hundred thousand hands is far less predictable.
18. At live poker, the competition increases with the stakes. The players in a $2 - $4 game are generally not nearly as competent as those at the $100 - $200 table. Optimal strategy will differ between the games. In video poker this is not true. You can find 5¢ 9/6 jacks or better machines. You can find $100 9-6 jacks or better machines. The strategy for either game is identical.
19. You can trust your opponent at video poker, at least if you play in Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey and a few other well-regulated states. State gaming commissions ensure an honest game. Cheating incidents are very rare. In live poker, most players are always looking for an edge, and several have no scruples about bending the rules. I mentioned collusion before. This can take various forms and may or not include the dealer. Marking cards or stealing chips are other techniques commonly used. Poker players can easily list several more scams that they must be constantly vigilant about.
20. Tournaments abound in both games. In both games, tournament strategy differs widely from "normal" strategy.
21. In both games, bright people who have studied and practiced extensively will do better than not-so-bright folks or those who only dabble at the games. This is true of most things in life. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
So which game is better? It depends upon the player. Computer nerds will do better at video poker. People people will do better at regular poker. I guess that I'm confessing to being nerdy, because I do a lot better at video poker than I do at regular poker. Oh well, could be worse.
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