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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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More about Thrifty Video Poker Play

9 July 2002

Last week I addressed the general lack of good single hand 5-coin quarter video poker in the Chicago-area gaming market. This forces many thrifty gamblers to gravitate to multi-hand Triple Play, Five Play, Ten Play, and even Fifty machines where a modest bankroll can disappear in a twinkling if you wager maximum coins and just don't get the cards.

The general lack of good single-hand 5-coin quarter video poker in the Chicago-area gaming market forces many thrifty gamblers to gravitate to multi-hand Triple Play, Five Play, Ten Play, and even Fifty machines, where a modest bankroll can disappear in a twinkling if you wager maximum coins and just don't get the cards.

One way in which I combat the severe toll that maximum coin play can take on smaller bankrolls is to bite the "greed" bullet and play less than maximum coins, at least until you are able to build your bankroll up a bit. If you get a couple 4-of-a-kind hands, especially the ones with bonus payoffs attached, you will have a money cushion that will allow you to venture a max coin play here and there.

But as with all thrifty gambling play, be it video poker, slots, or table games, be sure you set a "cash out" level so that you'll be able to garner some profit from a lucky session.

Now let's get down to some specifics. Say that you are comfortable playing 5-coin quarter video poker. That's a buck and a quarter a hand. You walk up to a multi-hand machine and wish to restrict your gambling to that level of expense or thereabouts. On a Triple Play machine that means you should start off by playing two coins per hand or $1.50. Sure, you won't be eligible for the top award in any particular category of hand but you won't be depleting a smaller bankroll by playing 15 coins (or $3.75) either.

On a Five Play machine try playing one coin per hand ($1.25) to start off. When you're not playing for a progressive jackpot, you're working with a pay table that's perfectly graduated according to the risk you are willing to take. You are not penalized on a payoff because you bet fewer coins per hand. You're simply going to get less because you bet less.

I'll give you a practical example of this method. Not long ago my wife and I were at Jack Binion's Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana. For the first half of my gambling session, my bankroll was experiencing some hard times at Triple Play video poker. Then I decided to move over to a Ten Play machine to try my luck.

I was sticking to my one coin per hand strategy and pretty much playing even. I do know that had I started off with maximum coins (50 quarters or $12.50) I wouldn't have lasted long enough to savor the good fortune I was about to receive. That's one way I rationalize the greed feeling that sometimes overtakes me when I do get a big hand and wish I had played maximum coins.

My game of choice was Super Aces. There's a bonus payoff for drawing four aces. I like the game because even though the big hit is still tough to get, it's only four cards as opposed to the five cards you need for a Royal Flush. If I can hit a jackpot for drawing four cards out of 52 as opposed to five cards out of 52, I'll go where my chances are better.

Anyway, on one of my original dealt hands I got three aces. That meant I held those three aces, discarded the other two cards, and therefore gave myself 10 chances to draw that fourth ace. It's a euphoric moment for a video poker player. I paused before I hit the deal button. Past experience told me I should be prepared for not drawing the fourth ace on any hand!

Lo and behold the cards starting popping up and I was delighted to discover I had drawn the fourth ace on two of my hands. It was a 400-coin ($100) payoff per hand. Remember that if I had played two coins per hand it would have been $200, three coins $300, four coins $400, and five coins $500. But I was happy with what I had won.

If you want to reach a happy medium with this method, you can play odd numbers of coins per hand if you like. Any way that works for you to stretch your bankroll.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp