Video poker offers an amazing 99% return to player – so why isn’t it more popular?

You may or may not be aware that video poker is one of the casino games that offers the highest possible Return to Player (RTP).

Video poker has an RTP not far off 100% - so why is it behind other casino games?
Video poker has an RTP not far off 100% – so why is it behind other casino games?

What is return to player? Well it’s a magic little number that tells the player, on average, how much of their stake will be returned to them. So a return to player figure of 90% will see, on average, a player returned 90 cents for every dollar wagered.

Whether you are familiar with video poker machines or not, this article will explain the reasons behind these big returns and try to tackle why, if this is the fact, these machines (and their online variants) aren’t much more popular with the players.

Video Poker RTP

There are numerous variations of video poker these days, online and offline, all played in a similar fashion, but with certain different features in terms of gameplay and payouts. Many of these variations like Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better offer the RTP of 99%+, which means that, on average, players get back $0.99+ for every dollar they bet on the machine.

It is safe to say that video poker is the only type of game that offers this type of returns. Expert blackjack players who card count might beg to differ, and some slots can get to or near 99% RTP, but video poker seems to top the lot.

Certain machines even offer progressive jackpots. When these jackpots reach certain levels, it can even become profitable, on average, to play video poker, meaning that at particular times these games offers RTPs exceeding 100%.

So, with all this in mind, how come there are many more people flocking to slots, roulette, and blackjack, than to video poker machines?

Too much work?

To achieve RTPs we’re talking about, players need to learn certain basic game rules.

A variant of video poker, Joker Poker, seen here available at LeoVegas casino.
A variant of video poker, Joker Poker, but is the knowledge required to play optimally off-putting?

Unlike most casino games, the success in video poker partially depends on players’ skills. It is necessary to know what cards to hold in particular situations and which ones to discard. You need to know whether it is better to keep a low pair or three to a straight flush; a high pair or an open-ended straight draw, etc.

Although all of these rules can pretty much fit on a single sheet of paper, it seems that most people aren’t particularly keen on learning them – even if they know this would increase their return.

Even many of those who play video poker don’t really know all of these rules. They play by the feel and experience, and once they get tired of it, they move to the next casino game.

Not enough excitement

Looking from afar, slots and video poker machines look very similar. So, why are there many more players enjoying slots, which usually only offer the RTP of 95% or so, instead of video poker?

Although they may seem similar at the first glance, slots and poker machines are much different.

Video poker is linear and rather repetitive. Fine if you love the idea of pure mathematical return and probabilities of certain hands, but less fun if you like all the bells a whistles of a slot, or the interaction with a dealer.

There's no getting away from it, video poker is an old-fashioned type game by modern standards. But comps and perks coupled with its high RTP can make it a good deal for real life casino players.
There’s no getting away from it, video poker is an old-fashioned type game by modern standards. But comps and perks coupled with its high RTP can make it a good deal for real life casino players.

There are no unexpected events or surprise big wins you don’t see coming. It is one hand of poker after another, without any special visual effects and usually with rather simple and unimpressive sounds.

Slots, on the other hand, are full of bright colors, interesting sounds, and impressive features. There is something going on all the time and every spin can bring in a big win. And, even when this doesn’t happen, slot designers have made it so that even small wins feel like big ones.

Similar applies to table games, where there is banter with the dealers and other players, people betting and winning big, etc.

All of this is hardly found at video poker machines.

Fun trumps profit

For most players, casinos are about entertainment and enjoyment. Unlike a small majority of serious gamblers, a majority of people visiting a casino are there to have a good time. Video poker machines don’t offer the kind of stimulation that’s required to achieve this goal.

So, despite of being the best returning game types in a casino, video poker machines will never be as popular as slots and table games.

Some simply can’t be bothered to learn all the rules and constantly think about right decisions just to earn a few more cents per bet. Others are more than happy to give up on a few RTP points in exchange for having a good time.

But, if you like comps, like free drinks, meals and even rooms – in a land-based casino, the net gain of a high RTP game + some freebies, can result in a more than satisfying entertainment experience.

Ultimately though, for most casino players, fun trumps profit, which is probably why the casino industry has managed to develop into the giant it is today – it is, afterall, an entertainment business.

As the saying goes, ‘you pays your money, you takes your choice’.

If you want to get in to video poker, why not read our in-depth guide first?

Want to jump straight in to some hands? Betsafe Casino has a couple of video poker variants.

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