Video Poker Strategies

Posted by Dave on December 3rd, 2013 filed in Video Poker
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There are many strategies for playing video poker. These strategies come in one of two forms: either it is a general theory for how to wager and the best practices for gambling or it is a direct strategy for playing the individual video poker variations. This article will give you both types of advice to give you the best possible chance of winning some money.

First, you need to know where you should play video poker. Most people will play the video poker machines that are located inside of the casinos across the country. You can also play for real money at some of the online casinos; however, you will want to make sure that you visit a website with a good reputation. Also, mobile games are all the rage these days. You can check out some cool video poker games for mobile devices as well.

The one advantage of playing in a casino is that each video poker machine has a guaranteed payout rate that is regulated by the state where the casino is located. Before you start playing video poker for real money, either at a casino or while playing on a website, you should read this overview of gambling laws and regulation. This will answer a lot of the legal questions that you may have.

Video Poker Advice

The first strategy that most players will need to know is the payout percentages that the various video poker machines offer. The two most popular version are Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. Jacks or Better offers a return of 99.5% when the appropriate strategy is applied. Deuces Wild has a return slightly over 100% when using the proper strategy. Of course, these payout percentages are base upon the operator of the video poker machine or video poker software.

The return percentages and hand payouts can be manipulated. This is something that you will need to be aware of because some shady operators (primarily online casinos) will change these features to give the house a better chance of winning. The most obvious of these is when a casino changes the normal payouts of the winning hands. Here is an example:

video-poker-payouts

This is two screenshots from separate online casinos that are using the exact same software. The one on the top has the appropriate payouts for Jacks or Better. The one on the bottom is a shady online casino that reduced the payouts for the Full House and Flush on the same Jacks or Better game. This is what you have to watch out for. If you would like to see the normal pay schedule for several different video poker variations, you can check them out on this strategy page.

On the other hand, there are many different variations of the traditional Jacks or Better game. This is any video poker game where there is no wildcards and the minimum winning hand is a pair of Jacks. This would include Aces & Eights, Bonus Poker, All American Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Jackpot Poker, Double Jackpot Poker, and several others. All of these games have slightly different payouts than the Jacks or Better game. Each game will add a bonus to a particular winning hand; it will also reduce the payout for another more common hand to even the return percentage of the machine.

For example, All American Poker will offer an 8x payout per coin for a Full House, Flush and Straight. The Flush and Straight hands receive a bonus, while the Full House is reduced and the Two Pair payout goes from 2x to even money. Other games will offer bonuses for a particular hand, most often a 4 of a Kind. You might receive a very large bonus when you receive 4 Aces for example.

The trick with all of these variations is to use the basic video poker strategy for the base game (Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, Double Joker, Deuces and Joker, Tens or Better) and slightly adapt you play to go after the bonus hand on that machine.

Basic Strategy for Video Poker Games

As I stated above, there are six basic types of video poker games available: Jacks or Better (52 card deck, no wildcard, Jacks or better wins), Tens or Better (52 card deck, no wildcard, pair of 10’s or better wins), Joker Poker (53 card deck, 1 wildcard, Kings or better wins), Double Joker (54 card deck, 2 wildcards, Two Pair or better wins), Deuces Wild (52 card deck, 4 wild cards, 3 of a Kind or better wins), and Deuces and Joker (53 card deck, 5 wild cards, 3 of a Kind or better wins).

Of these games, most casinos only will offer Jacks or Better, Joker Poker and Deuces Wild. The others are specialty games that are only rarely offered. These are the three games that have a general basic strategy.

Jacks or Better

(In order of lowest hand to highest hand, follow the highest number possible)
* High card = Jack, Queen, King, Ace *

1) Discard all 5 cards when you have no high cards and no connectors.
2) Discard 4 cards if you only have one high card.
3) Keep a suited 10/Jack, 10/Queen, or 10/King.
4) Discard 3 cards if you have two high cards. Keep the lowest 2 if you have 3.
5) Keep 3 cards to a straight flush.
6) Keep 2 suited high cards.
7) Keep 4 cards to an inside straight draw (one possible card to complete).
8) Keep a low pair.
9) Keep 4 cards to a flush or an outside straight draw.
10) Keep 3 cards to a Royal flush.
11) Keep a high pair.
12) Keep two pairs.
13) Keep 4 cards to a straight flush.
14) Keep a three of a kind.
15) Keep a pat hand (completed straight, flush, full house).
16) Keep 4 cards to a Royal flush.

When you keep the cards, the other cards that don’t match are discarded.

Joker Poker

* High card = King or Ace *
(Always keep a Joker/Wildcard)

1) Discard all 5 cards when you have no high cards and no connectors.
2) Discard 4 cards when you have one high card.
3) Keep a low pair.
4) Keep an Ace/King.
5) Keep 3 cards to a straight flush.
6) Keep 4 cards to a straight draw.
7) Keep 4 cards to a flush.
8) Keep 3 cards to a Royal Flush.
9) Keep a high pair.
10) Keep two pairs.
11) Keep 4 cards to a straight flush.
12) Keep a 3 of a kind.
13) Keep a pat hand (completed straight, flush, full house).
14) Keep 4 cards to a Royal flush.

Deuces Wild

* With no wildcards or winning hand *
You will discard all 5 cards except:
1) Keep 2 cards to a Royal Flush.
2) Keep 4 cards to an inside straight draw.
3) Keep 3 cards to a straight flush.
4) Keep 4 cards to a flush or outside straight draw.
5) Keep 3 cards to a Royal Flush.
6) Keep 4 cards to a straight flush.
7) Keep 4 cards to a Royal Flush.

* With 1 wildcard *
You will discard the other 4 cards except:
1) Keep 3 cards to a straight flush.
2) Keep 3 cards to a Royal flush.
3) Keep 4 cards to a straight flush.
4) Keep any 3 of a kind or higher.
5) Keep 4 cards to a straight flush w/ 3 natural connectors.
6) Keep 4 cards to a Royal flush.

* With 2 wildcards *
You will discard the other 3 cards except:
1) Keep 4 cards to a straight flush.
2) Keep 4 cards to a Royal flush.
3) Keep any 4 of a kind or higher.


Becoming a VIP at PokerStars

Posted by Dave on November 5th, 2013 filed in Poker Tips
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PokerStars is currently the most popular online poker room in the world. They have between 100,000 and 150,000 real money players at any given time. Therefore they also offer the best perks for VIP members. You might ask yourself, “How do I become a VIP poker player at PokerStars?” That is what this article is going to answer in a simple and straightforward way.

First, when you create a new account with PokerStars, you are automatically enrolled into the VIP Club. However, this VIP Club has many different levels. You will begin with the BonzeStar status. This is followed by ChromeStar, SilverStar, GoldStar and Platinum Star. You will attain these different levels by collecting VIP Player Points (VPPs).

These VPPs are based off of the number of Frequent Player Points (FPPs) that you earn. The VIP levels will offer a multiplier to the number of FPPs that you earn. The higher the VIP level that you attain, the faster you will earn these FPPs. There are a variety of things that you can do with the FPPs. This includes buying poker items at the VIP Store, win seats for live or online events, enter cash tournaments at PokerStars, enter VIP Club satellites, or get cash and bonuses in exchange for these FPPs.

When you earn a certain number of VPPs during the course of a month to gain a VIP level, you will instantly earn the benefits for that level for the rest of that month as well as the following month. Here is the number of points and the benefits that each of these VIP levels will offer to you.

* Note – The FPPs that you receive when you make a deposit or receive a bonus do not convert to VPPs. VPPs are only earned by playing in raked hands or by participating in tournaments.

pokerstars-vip-club

BronzeStar – Less than 100 VPPs per month. You have no special rewards when you are at this level.

ChromeStar – Between 100 and 499 VPPs per month. You can receive up to $100 in VIP Stellar Rewards. You will also gain access to the 100K Privilege Freerolls and the Weekly $5,000 VIP Tournament.

SilverStar – Between 500 and 2499 VPPs per month. You will earn 1.5 FPPs per VPP earned. Receive up to $300 in VIP Stellar Rewards. You will earn $25 per 2,250 FPPs earned. Monthly VIP Club Statements and Tournament Tickets. Access to the Weekly $30,000 VIP Tournament, the Monthly VIP Bash satellites, and satellites to the Monthly $100,000 VIP Tournament.

GoldStar – Between 2500 and 7499 VPPs per month. You will earn 2.0 FPPs per VPP earned. Receive up to $900 in VIP Stellar Rewards. You will earn $75 per 6,250 FPPs earned. Access to the Monthly $100,000 VIP Tournament. Access to satellites for the Quarterly $1,000,000 VIP Tournament.

PlatinumStar – 7500 VPPs or more per month. You will earn 2.5 FPPs per VPP earned. Receive up to $1,000 in VIP Stellar Rewards. You will earn $200 per 15,400 FPPs earned. You will have access to the Live Event packages. Access to the Weekly Sunday Million VIP satellites.

The top poker players can also earn the best two VIP levels: Supernova and Supernova Elite. Once you earn one of these two levels, you will stay at this VIP level for the remainder of the calendar year.

Supernova – 100,000 VPPs per year. You will earn 3.5 FPPs per VPP earned. Receive $1,200 in VIP Stellar Rewards. Up to $23,200 in Milestone Cash Credits. Receive $1,600 per 100,000 FPPs earned. Ability to earn a Porsche Cayman S. Access to the Concierge Service. Receive quarterly exclusive newsletters, prioritized support, and live event benefits. Access to the Quarterly $1,000,000 VIP Tournament.

Supernova Elite – 1,000,000 VPPs per year. You will earn 5.0 FPPs per VPP earned. Receive at least $43,200 in Milestone Cash Credits. Gain entry to the WCOOP Main Event ($5,200). Get monthly access to the exclusive newsletters.

Earning VPPs

How do I earn VPPs?

Earning VPPs for poker tournaments is relatively straightforward. You will earn 5.5 VPPs for each $1 USD paid in tournament entry fees. This translates into 7 VPPs for every €1 or 8.8 VPPs for every £1 in tournament entry fees paid. Freerolls and Play Money tournaments do not charge a fee, so no VPPs can be earned.

The rake contributed during the cash games is very different and will need to be calculated on a per hand basis. The rake collected is based on the total cash in the pot. If the total pot is $100, $3 of rake is collected. This means a total of 16.5 VPPs are awarded to the table for this hand. This is broken down to award the individual player the points for the percentage of the pot that they contributed. The fractional VPPs are awarded in hundredths.

VPPs awarded per $1 USD in rake collected: $0.01/$0.02 tables earn 10 VPPs; $0.02/$0.05 tables earn 8.5 VPPs; $0.05/$0.10 tables earn 7 VPPs.


William Hill Poker Review

Posted by Dave on August 15th, 2013 filed in Poker Room Reviews
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For the UK visitors to the website, I’ve decided to review several of the poker rooms that are based over in England. Of those that specialise in British poker players, I find William Hill to be the top flight. You will find up to 20,000 poker players at the tables during peak hours (evenings and weekends).

Now, I know what you’re going to say; “Your not from England so how can you review these sites.” You have a good point. I can’t play at these poker rooms for real money. That doesn’t mean that I can’t play at the Play Money tables. It also doesn’t mean that I can’t watch the players at the Real Money tables and tournaments.

That just means that I can’t comment on how fast the transactions are. But, I know for a fact that depositing and withdrawing from poker accounts in the UK aren’t an issue. Unlike the U.S., England regulates the poker sites and gives a lot of different fast deposit and quick withdrawal options such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, PayPal, Neteller, CashDirect, Ukash, Click2Pay, ClickandBuy, and many more.

William Hill Poker Features

Getting started is easy. Simply download their free software and create your poker account. Then, log in and choose a Nickname. You will have access to the poker lobby as you can see below.

william-hill-poker-lobby

Next, click on the green Cashier button at the bottom of the screen to fund your account. Once you have done this, you will have access to enter and join any of the Cash Tables, Sit & Gos, Scheduled Tournaments, and Casino Games.

You will see all of the these options on the left side of the screen. You can filter out any of the table stakes and card games that you don’t want to see by sorting through the Choose Game section.

willhill-poker-table

Above, you can see the poker room that you will enter. You can choose from Texas Hold’em, Omaha High, Omaha High Low, 7-Card Stud, Sit & Go Tournaments, Multi-Table Tournaments, Cash Games, Speed Poker and Casino Side Games.

If you have some down time, you can click on the Blackjack link to play a couple of hands while you wait for the next hand or between breaks during tournaments.

Poker Promotions

You can find a lot of promotions here including the William Hill Poker Bonus for new players who make their initial deposit at the poker room. It is a £10 Free with No Deposit Required. This way, you can give their Real Money tables a try without having to make a deposit. Use the Coupon Code WHP2000 at the Cashier.

In addition to that, there are monthly rewards, Summer Freerolls, Points Booster, Casino Refund, and the $20,000 Summer Spirit. View the Bonus Terms for more details. This winter, you can play in the Caribbean Poker Tour at Will Hill (8th to 25th November) as well as Irish Winter Festival (26th to 28th October).

Poker Tournaments

There are plenty of tournaments to play at weekly and in the upcoming months. This includes the £45,000 Super Series, the Friday $40,000, the Saturday $25,000, and the Sunday $150,000 guaranteed.

There are also lots of daily poker tourneys with more modest prize pools. Check out the Sit & Gos if you want a better chance to win some money. Simply sit down at a table and wait for the one to four table poker tournament to begin. You can choose the stakes to match your bankroll. The general rule of thumb is that you should always have at least 20 buy-ins left when you are choosing a poker tournament.


Bovada Poker Review

Posted by Dave on August 7th, 2013 filed in Poker Room Reviews
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Bovada has been earning their reputation as the best choice for players in the United States. You will usually find roughly 500 players in the Cash Games section even during non-peak hours (I.E. working hours and in the middle of the night). This easily goes over 2000 players during the peak hour in the evening.

The Scheduled Tournaments section offers at least 1500 players at any given time. This increases two or three fold when you play during peak hours. This lets you know that the state of online poker USA isn’t dead yet.

The number of players that are in the Sit & Go Tournaments sections can leave something to be desired, however. You may only want to play in this section during the peak playing hours. Otherwise, you may be waiting for 10 minutes or more to get one of these small one or two table tournaments started.

The state of online poker in the US has been in decline now for more than 2 years. However, there are companies that are taking steps towards the complete legalization of this game for Americans. You can find several of these companies promoting themselves in the states that have already legalized online poker rooms such as Nevada and New Jersey.

Bovada Poker Features

One of the features that some people like about Bovada Poker (and also some people hate) is that there are anonymous tables when you play. This means that the tracking software that a lot of the pros use will not work. It also means that you will not have a clue who is a great poker player until they start beating up on you.

Most of the times, this only really affects the Cash Games that are offered. It is the only time where you can sit down for hours at the same table and face the same players. People can tell based on your experience level with the numbers that they get from the trackers how they should play against you.

Most of the tournaments are played differently. Since everybody starts with the same amount of money in the tournament, you just have to be aware of which players are aggressive and which players are tight. This is just the same as if you were going into a live poker tournament against players you’ve never played before. It usually doesn’t take more than 30 hands to figure most non-pros out.

bovada-poker-screenshot

You will find most of the normal features that are found at any online poker room. However, there are a couple of nice ones that I’ll point out. For instance, you can check the box to Hide Empty Tables if you don’t want to be the first one to enter or save a table. This way you can at least start to play against someone else right away.

There are the normal check boxes that will allow you to sort between the various card games, the buy-in amount, and the table limits. You will find three sections where the Cash Games, Sit & Go Tournaments and Scheduled Tournaments can be found.

In addition to that, you can find the new Zone Poker tables. This feature mimics the Rush Poker tables that you may have encountered if you played at Full Tilt Poker. You can choose to play the hand that you are dealt or you can Fold Now and be moved to a new table where you will quickly be dealt another hand.

Since the Zone Poker is new, there isn’t a tremendous number of players that are participating yet. However, I do see one table where there are almost 100 players in action.

There is also one other option in the poker section which is the Single Player Blackjack tables. This is the one casino game that you do not need to log into the casino in order to play. You can play these blackjack games from the Poker Client while you are playing at the tables. This can be useful if you are waiting 5 or 10 minutes for the Tournament Break to finish and start play again.

Customer Support and Cashouts

Everyone that plays these online games knows that depositing and making money is only half of the battle. Many of the poker rooms or online casinos will take up to 2 weeks to get money back into your bank account. Not with Bovada! They have by far the best customer support and the fastest cashouts by far for the USA facing sites.

* Note – Citizens of the following US states should not participate at Bovada: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington. There are specific state laws that forbid playing online poker in these states. *


Full Tilt Poker Games & Tournaments

Posted by Dave on April 24th, 2013 filed in Poker Room Reviews
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full-tilt-logoFull Tilt Poker offers a wider selection of poker games and tournaments than the majority of competitors.

With traffic starting to grow at the poker site again (5000+ Players on Average) the tables are filling up quickly and there is plenty of action on the felt.

Types of Poker Games at Full Tilt

Full Tilt Poker spreads over a dozen poker games that can be played on real money tables. Full Tilt offers Holdem, Omaha (Hi/Lo), 7 Card Stud (Hi/Lo), HA, 5 Card Draw, Razz, 2-7 Triple Draw, Badugi, 2-7 Single Draw, a-5 Triple Draw, 10-Game Mix and HORSE.

full-tilt-poker

The poker games above can be played at varying limits (NL, PL & FL) and stakes ($.01/$.02 to $2000/$4000). No other poker site has as ring table games with stakes as high as Full Tilt Poker (click here for source), which is why FTP is home to many of the world’s pro players.

Watching the nosebleed tables was a popular pastime for many aspiring poker players. Action on the high stakes poker table is starting to pick up again at Full Tilt Poker with the likes of Phil Ivey, Scott Seiver, Tom Dwan and Viktor Blom all playing.

From time to time Full Tilt runs promotions where their team pros play on designated low stake tables. Keep your eye out for these promos because it could be your chance to play against a player like Dwan or Blom in a real money cash game.

Full Tilt Poker spreads real money games and play money games that allow you to practice with play money chips. If you don’t know how to play one of the more exotic poker games like 10-Game Mix you can learn how on the play money tables for free.

Types of Poker Tournaments at Full Tilt

Full Tilt runs a lot of great poker tournaments with millions on the line every week. They have the common tournament formats such as re-entry, multi-entry, double/triple chance, turbo, super turbo, rebuy, knockout and shootout tournaments.

One of the unique tournament formats is the “Cashout Tournament” where you have the option to cash out your chips. You can opt to cash in 10% of your chip stack or 100% of your stack during a tournament at anytime when playing this tourney format.

There are a variety of sit and go tournaments as well at Full Tilt. You can play heads-up 4-way, 6-way, single table or multi-table sit and go tournaments 24/7. There are also steps S&G’s and Matrix S&G’s, which is a format where you play 4 S&G’s at once.

Full Tilt offers players the chance to win and purchase (FTP’s) tournament tickets (T$). T$ is basically a second currency, but it can’t be exchanged for real money. You can only use your T$ to enter tournaments at Full Tilt Poker.

Tournaments are Full Tilt Poker have synchronized 5-minute breaks, so that if you’re playing in multiple tournaments your break will be at the same time in every tournament. Some tournaments also allow you to register late in case you missed the start.

Signing Up to Full Tilt Poker

The only way you can get in on the action at Full Tilt Poker is to download the free software from FTP. Full Tilt will only work on the computer and not mobile devices currently. The software is compatible with Windows and Mac computers.

Players in the United States won’t be able to play in the poker room, but almost every other country is welcome. You need to fill out a simple registration form and make a deposit using one of the many deposit methods before you can play for real money.


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