The same types of lessons you learn from becoming a winning blackjack player also apply to becoming a winning video poker player.
In this article, I offer seven blackjack tips that also apply to video poker. Find out how these tips transcend one casino game and the next. You might just learn a thing or two!
If you’re serious about blackjack or video poker, move to Vegas
You shouldn’t just read this article and decide to move to Las Vegas. You should visit Vegas several times before you decide. And whether you want to become a serious blackjack or video poker player, you should play whatever Vegas game you want while you’re there.
If you are good at blackjack or video poker, you will see profitable results after a few visits. If you really want to get good at either game, you should have enough funds to play at least twice a year, maybe more if you are well off or live nearby.
You should also understand that being successful in games where you have a small edge over the casino means taking advantage of as many casino promotions as possible. Casinos usually have promotions, but no destination has the variety and number of promotions available in Las Vegas. They just don’t do it.
For most mid to mid-sized players, casino promotions represent a significant percentage of your profits.
You should learn how to scratch your gambling earnings
Until you are sure you are playing real money video poker or blackjack with a big edge over the casino, you should only rely on gambling for a small percentage of your income. You’ll also want to get a job that isn’t too demanding, which means it won’t pay a lot either.
If you are just getting started, and if you are serious, you will learn how to keep your expenses as low as possible while gaining experience and skills. This is generally easier for younger people than for older people.
I used to counsel some teenagers in one of my professional roles. I have always advised them NOT to take a gap year between high school and college. As a freshman in college, you will normally be living in a dorm with minimal money to spend. You won’t have a lot of space, your freedom will be limited, and you will be dealing with a roommate.
This is all easier to do if you are moving from a house with a family than for someone who has gone out and found a job with real money.
All of this is also true for gambling. If you want to start gambling, you will have to live on such a low budget that you wish you were a student.
It won’t be like this forever, but for most people it will be like this for a year or more.
You should only play when you have an advantage
Overcoming the casino edge in blackjack or video poker is not only doable, it is relatively easy.
What is difficult is to refrain from playing some kind of game where you have no advantage. If you play a game where the house has an edge, you will lose money in the long run.
A true blackjack or video poker professional will NEVER place a bet where they do not have a mathematical advantage.
Stay away from the craps table. Don’t play roulette just for fun. Don’t get involved in the game of Texas Hold’em unless you are sure you are the best player at the table.
Stick to games and situations where you have a mathematical advantage, and you’ll end up being a net winner in the long run.
Practice doesn’t matter how long you’ve been playing
I started to learn to play guitar a few years ago. I got better than I expected. But if I stop practicing for a long time, my skills start to deteriorate.
Meanwhile, I have a friend who has worked in the music business for over 30 years. He stopped playing when he lost his voice. He told me he could barely play the guitar because he had stopped practicing so long ago.
Heck, there are enough intricacies in basic blackjack strategy that you will need to revisit it periodically. Card counting just adds layers of complexity on top of that.
Your only hope for success is constant, endless practice.
Some days you eat the bear
And some days the bear eats you.
Whether you play blackjack or video poker, you will have days when you win a lot of money. You will also have days when you lose a lot of money.
Usually how you played or played poorly that day has little to do with whether you won or lost. This is because blackjack and video poker are both games of chance. Even though you are likely to win money when you have a long term casino edge, anything can happen in the short term.
Think about it. If that wasn’t true, no one would ever play in the casino because they would never win any money.
But 20% of people who walk into a casino on any given day leave with a profit. It doesn’t mean they were playing skillfully, it just means they got lucky that day.
This acceptance of the randomness of these games can be difficult to achieve. Most people think that if they play well, they will win steadily… You won’t.
You will win inconsistently. But if you play long enough, you will see a net profit. This is the best deal any blackjack or video poker guru can give you.
A casino is just a business
You will be constantly frustrated and unhappy if you don’t remember that the casino is a business. Its goal is unique: to earn money for its shareholders. One of the main ways that casinos make money is by offering games where the house has a mathematical advantage over the player.
You don’t need to be mad at the casino about this. The casino acts only according to its nature.
You are going to run into two different situations.
A casino offering a good single deck blackjack game with good player rules will eliminate that game in favor of a game (or games) with a higher house edge. They could charge all of their single deck blackjack games at 6: 5 instead of 3: 2, greatly increasing their edge.
A casino that offered a video poker payout table with a higher payout will eliminate that game in favor of a game or games that have lower payout tables.
You can spend your time complaining about these situations, but a better use of your time and energy is to accept the casinos for what they are and move on to the next profitable situation.
Blackjack and Video Poker Players Give Bad Strategy Advice
You should ignore the well-meaning casual blackjack and video poker players who want to explain how you should play your hand. Most are wrong. Sometimes people who are wrong can be successful and otherwise smart.
I worked with a VP of Marketing at an Internet travel agency who thought they were a blackjack player. He was convinced that if other players at the table made mistakes in strategy it would affect your results.
This is not true. The house edge for blackjack remains the same no matter what other players are doing at the table.
You might find a well-meaning guy telling you that you should always take insurance, which is the exact opposite of good advice. (You should never take insurance unless you are counting the cards, and even then it could be a mistake even though it is the mathematically correct move.)
And you will find plenty of well-meaning video poker players who will give you bad advice on how to play your hand on the Jacks or Better machine.
The best way to deal with these guys is to smile and thank them for the advice and making the right decisions anyway.
Gain an edge with blackjack and video poker
Both blackjack and video poker are important games of chance because they are among the only games in the casino where you can gain a mathematical advantage.
Many of the tips and tricks that you will get for blackjack also apply to video poker and vice versa. The most important of these is to learn the right way to play mathematically and to stick to it no matter what.