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Best of Elliot Frome

Gaming Guru

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VP Heaven Updated

23 August 2005

A long time ago, my father, Lenny Frome, gave Las Vegas the nickname of Video Poker Heaven. He gave it this name for obvious reasons. Las Vegas was the home of plentiful high paying video poker machines. Full-pay jacks or better paying 99.5% could be found in almost every casino. Similarly, it wasn't too hard to find one of the even better paying Deuces Wild games. Mind you, we're not talking about a single teaser machine per casino or even a handful of machines. We're talking about many machines all over the casino.

To make it Las Vegas look even better, was the fact that many other casino locales, such as Atlantic City were filled with lousy paying machines. Atlantic City was filled with 6-5 jacks or better machines paying 95.5%. Atlantic City had it's very own Double Joker Wild available paying 97.7%, but quite frankly, I doubt too many people had a clue as to how to play it in order to achieve this payback.

So, basically, video poker in Las Vegas was not only the best place to play video poker, but they were the best gambling option found anywhere. The paybacks at their worst compared to blackjack, and in many cases, by going over 100%, were superior to any bet found in a casino. Of course, to achieve these paybacks required learning some complex strategies, which only a small percent of people were willing to do.

Over the past ten years, while Atlantic City paytables have been increasing, Las Vegas paytables have been slowly decreasing. Why is this? Atlantic City, when it came into existence was able to draw in large numbers of Players from the East Coast. Over time, however, people began to realize just how bad the paytables were and after hearing about Las Vegas, many of these people decided that a trip to Las Vegas could actually be cheaper when everything was taken into account. Also, casinos opened in Connecticut that added to the competitive pressures. As a result, Atlantic City has made its paytables at least respectable and occasionally you can find a true full-pay machine in the mix.

On the other side of the country, Las Vegas has become more and more popular. People are flocking to the casinos in large numbers, and quite frankly playing anything the casino is putting on the floor, without even doing a quick scan of the casino to find out what is worth playing. Additionally, in the past 15 years, a lot of players have been educated as to how to play video poker. So, even if these players are not playing perfectly and not playing the best paying machines, they are still better than they used to be. This has put pressure on the casino to lower the paytables in order to keep their profit levels up.

In fact, these top paying machines have become so rare, that this past week, when Wynn's added a handful (9?) full-pay machines to their floor, it actually became news worthy. Professional players rely on these machines for their living. While the recreational player will accept machines with a small house and hope that lady luck shines on them for their short trips, professionals require machines that either play at over 100% or at the very least just below 100% so when they add in comps and cashback that the total goes over 100%. Many of these professionals are hoping that the media attention that Wynn's is getting will cause other casinos to add more full-pay machines to their inventory.

As for me, I'm a little skeptical that this will occur. At best, a few casinos will add a few of these machines. If these machines bring in hundreds of players where only a few can play the full-pay machines and the rest wind up playing the rest of the inventory (i.e. lesser paying machines), these machines may stick around. In the end, however, this will really mostly help the professional players. I have nothing against these players, of course. However, if we want the casinos to put in more better paying machines, enough for all of us, this will only be accomplished when Players STOP playing the lesser paying machines. When you find the good paying machines all taken up, either tell the casino that you want more better paying machines and that you're leaving, or just wait until there is an open seat.

So long as a lousy paying machine has a Player, there is no reason for the casino to increase the paytables on the machine. Why would they? If, however, they see empty video poker machines and they realize it's because people refuse to play them because they don't pay high enough paybacks, the casino will have no choice but to replace them with machines people will play.

This is not to say that you should only play 100+% games. While these are especially nice, I realize that they are exceptionally rare and to expect to go to a casino and play games with a Player advantage should not be expected. Full-pay jacks or better paying 99.5% pays better than most other casino games. If, however, you can only find games paying below 98%, perhaps it's time to consider one of the many table games that pay 98% and up. Just remember that Expert Strategy applies to these games as well.

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome
Elliot Frome is a 2nd generation gaming author and analyst. His father, Lenny Frome was considered one of the premier authors of Video Poker books. Titles include, Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas and Winning Strategies for Video Poker, which includes the strategy tables for 61 of the country’s most popular versions of Video Poker. Check out Compu-Flyers website at www.vpheaven.com, or drop Elliot an e-mail at compuflyers@prodigy.net.

Elliot Frome Websites:

www.vpheaven.com

Books by Elliot Frome:

> More Books By Elliot Frome