Video Poker Speed

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Video Poker machines have come a long way since the ‘pioneer days’ of the early to mid 80’s. Those machines were, of course, coin operated only and prone to the problems associated with hand feeding large amounts of metal into a mechanical device. Often the coins if fed too fast would jam. Many player would keep a roll of coins handy to use a hammer to push on the coin release “button” which (unless you have been studying karate and hardening the side of your hands to break bricks with) are extremely painful to the bare hand. Just the wear and tear of constantly manipulating the coins and feeding them into the machines can be quite painful after many hours of play.

But the most obvious result of feeding coins into a machine, then and now, is that you are going to be playing at a very slow rate. The fastest play using coins is about equal to the slowest using the “max bet” button to bet 5 credits. Now for some folks the slower they play the better. I’m sure you have all (many times) sat next to สล็อตมือถือ persons who continually cash the credits out so that they can put coins into the machine. Most of them are older folks and I suspect that many of them just don’t trust the machines with their money. Others may actually enjoy dropping the coins into the machine. I think most of them, however, just like to put the coins in manually because they ‘last longer’. None of these are the kind of people who will be reading these words so it really doesn’t matter what their motivation is I suppose, but as long as I’m on the subject, let me give you my personal feelings on the subject.

I hate using coins with a passion! They are filthy, oily, disgusting collectors of God-Only-Knows what kind of germs. They will turn your hands black with the yuck. They often get further contaminated with ash from cigarette butts and even ashtrays thrown into the coin bins by less than genteel smokers. Of course all money is loaded with germs but most of us don’t handle it with anywhere near this kind of frequency outside the casino. Bank tellers would be an exception. Handling coins in a casino is like shaking hands with thousands of strangers in a few hours. If you want to rub your eye, wipe your mouth, pop an antacid (I eat them like candy) or something else into your mouth, you are risking contracting whatever kind of bugs any of them may have had at the time. Have you ever seen someone pick his nose while he’s playing Video Poker? Like Roseanne Roseannadana (“I Thought I was gonna Die!”) I have been grossed out many times in the casino. I find myself, when unable to avoid coin input, cleaning my hands often with the hand wipers supplied by all casinos (some are a lot better than others.) Ok, maybe I’m a fanatic, but actually it’s even worse. Occasionally I can be found, once I’ve cleaned my hands, to be cleaning the keys on the machine with the hand wipers also. I do draw the line at wearing the surgical gloves, I see some people use. I’d rather just avoid the coins as much as possible. Which (FINALLY!) brings me back to my original topic.

A few years after Video Poker was born, credit play was introduced. This was a real breakthrough for folks like myself who hate dealing with coins, but it’s been the emergence of bill acceptors on the machines that has really liberated the video poker player. Now you can sit down, put in a $20 – $100 bill and start playing at top speed immediately. How fast is that? Well, obviously that depends on a great many variables, including your knowledge of strategy, manual dexterity, experience and most importantly, your ability to concentrate on the game. Among the distractions available to slow you down are: talkative players and bystanders; smoking, drinking, neighboring players smoking and the occasional drunk or just plain oaf who lurches against you while passing by. Notice I left out cocktail waitresses and Change persons. You should be able to tune out the cries of “cocktails” and “change” that are as much a part of the casino milieu as the constant music.

Let me go back to the list of factors in a little more detail. First, having committed the strategy for the game you are playing to memory is a must for fast and accurate play. Ok, obviously you can play quite fast if you don’t care if you’re making errors – but you won’t play very long. To play accurately you don’t have to have every little nuance down to memory necessarily, but you should be able to handle 98 – 99% of the hands correctly without resorting to your reference, which should be one of the laminated cards available that you can set right on the machine to assist you in the 1 or 2% of the hands for which you need assistance. Still, ideally you should be able to learn a game well enough to play automatically, not only without using a reference but without really thinking about it. This will require a great deal of practice. Even then it’s good to have a reference handy for when you a cerebral hemorrhoid and just draw a blank.

As for manual dexterity, I don’t know how to advise you there, but just playing fast will help. Experience is self-explanatory but my advice is to gain experience by playing a lower limit game than you would normally choose. Play nickel machines and play the correct strategy for a full pay machine even if the nickel machine doesn’t have a full pay schedule (you will be paid pack later for the few bucks you might lose) and play where they give you points for the nickel machines, if you can.

Ok; let’s address those concentration distractions. Is there any way to eliminate or reduce them? As far as the occasional drunks or oafs that bump into you, no, there isn’t. As for smoking while you play, it’s going to cost you in speed and concentration and the more you smoke, the more it will cost you. As a former smoker I realize that NOT smoking may be an even bigger drain on your concentration , so the best solution is to quit! If you do I wouldn’t advise playing during the first two or three weeks after you stop. I couldn’t concentrate on anything for longer than about 30 seconds for the first few weeks after I quit. I guess another solution would be just to chew one of the nicotine gums while you’re playing.

For the non-smoker I have a suggestion or two. The first and most obvious is to try to play in a non-smoking area or a non-smoking casino (Harrah’s Laughlin has the only one that I know of.) The problem is that the non-smoking areas often have the non-playable games. If you have to play in a smoking area try to get an end seat, preferably with movable chairs, so that you can adjust your position. Ultimately, and ONLY if you’re up to it (see below), play two machines. You should try to find (assuming you’re right handed) two machines open on the right end of the bank. By sitting at the right hand machine (or somewhere in between) you will have a one seat buffer between you and the nearest warm-bodied distraction.

Drinking alcohol while you play is strictly for people who are not real concerned about how well they are playing. That’s obvious and probably needs no further discussion. However, drinking non-alcoholic beverages also creates some distraction. I will ignore altogether the distraction some cocktail waitresses themselves can cause for (especially younger) members of the heterosexual male community. What I am concerned about here is that not only do you have to stop playing to order your drink and then again to pay for it, but you may possibly feel obligated to order again the next time she comes around and to keep sipping the coke or water in between. Each sip requires a break in the action. Not only that, after a while a noticeable high pressure system somewhere right around the equator will presently make itself known and will continue slowly evolving from pressure to pain, not only disrupting your concentration but causing you to abandon the session altogether for at least the time it takes you to cash in (if you have no partner with you) and run to the nearest restroom (these are the times when the term ‘comfort station’ seems much more descriptive.) The solution is simple just get a water (preferred) or soda and take a sip only when you actually need to wet your lips or quench your thirst. One drink, nursed like this will usually last an hour or more and will not send you scurrying to the Bladder Relief Chamber. Also, you can usually get a change/floor person to watch your machine(s) for a minute or two if you don’t abuse it (and tip them when you come back.)

A little more about playing two machines. I do not recommend this for everybody. In fact, I do not recommend it for most people. It requires a lot of skill and concentration to do it effectively. And as much as I sympathize with someone who wants to put a buffer between themselves and potential hazards, it is rude to have control of two machines but only be playing one at a time. I have seen many people do this and I find it offensive, especially when there are no other seats available in a bank of good video poker machines. The primary advantage to playing a pair of machines (at least as far as this article is concerned) is that you can increase your playing speed by approximately 25 to 50% depending on your skill and the speed of the machines themselves. I have found that playing two actually helps to focus my concentration, as I am forced to give my complete attention to what I’m doing. When I achieve this kind of concentration I found myself truly in a “zone” where, to quote Pete Townshend, I’m “part of the machine”. This Zen-like state unfortunately seldom lasts for more than a very few minutes until I find I have to stop and actually think about a hand for a couple of seconds. Another break in the rhythm occurs when people stop behind you to admire your technique. They can sometimes be ignored but it’s difficult.

There are, of course, other benefits to playing two machines including the fact that when one machine needs attention from a floorman or mechanic for one reason or another (hopefully to collect a royal flush), you can turn your full attention to the other one and still play at a rapid clip, but I realize that this kind of action is not everybody’s cup of tea and will probably appeal more to pros than to weekend players, and definitely more to younger players (I’m probably an exception at 54) who have put in many hours fighting aliens, driving race cars, etc. on their home video games or at the arcade. After all, this is supposed to be fun and if stretching it to the limit sounds more like pain than pleasure to you than don’t even think about it.

Ok, so here’s the numbers. The average inexperienced player can probably play a machine at about 300-500 Hands Per Hour. An experienced player can easily average 600 – 800 Hands Per Hour on a good machine. An extremely fast player on an extremely fast machine (some of the new ones allow you to adjust the speed) can probably play one machine at 900 – 1000 Hands Per Hour. Expert players that are very experienced can play two machines at a combined 1200 – 1400 Hands Per Hour. I believe that if one could stay in the ‘zone’ for a long period of time that last figure could be increased to maybe 1600 – 1800 Hands Per Hour on the fastest machines, but I’ve never been able to do it myself. As a matter of fact I’ve never been able to play faster than about 1350 Hands Per Hour and I’ve never seen anyone else do it either. I’m not saying there’s nobody doing it, I just haven’t seen them. Most of the time, I play two machines at about 1000 HPH and I am quite relaxed and comfortable with that. Of course all of this speed means nothing if you are increasing the percentage of errors greatly while you increase your speed. You have to be able to recognize that and adjust.

Finally, you may be wondering how to track your speed. Using a program such as VPTUTOR will give you some idea, but it is not a good indicator of casino speed. It’s quite easy to track, however, by using your slot card. Every casino has a countdown rate for the number of coins in required to achieve a point. Most of them will show this count down on the little display and it will also show the number of points you have accumulated for the session while you play. Let’s call the number of coins required for a point “X”. Simply subtract your ending number of session points from your starting number of session points, multiply the result by x and divide by five to get the number of hands you have played. Divide that by the number of hours and you have your HPH.

Example: The video poker machines in Fred’s casino require 70 coins in to achieve a point. Let’s say you were already playing a machine and decided to track your speed for the next 15 minutes. You play until you have run the countdown down to zero to display your current session point total which is 58. You start your timing session and 15 minutes later find you have 73 points (if you’re in the middle of a countdown just round it up or down – it’s not brain surgery.) Ok, subtracting 58 from 73 give us 15 points times 70 coins = 1050 coins in. Dividing by 5 we get 210 hands. Dividing 210 hands by the number of hours ( 15 minutes = .25 hours) gives you 840 HPH (yes, if it’s a nice fraction of an hour like 10,15, 20 or 30 minutes it easier to just multiply by 6 , 4, 3 or 2 respectively.) I suggest a minimum of 30 minutes to track your speed.