What video poker games and slot machines have in common.
To the untrained eye, slots and video poker machines look pretty darn
similar. They both come in cabinets designs. They both display their
visuals on a similar sized screen with colorful graphics. They both
have pay tables and game rules accessible at the push of a button.
This alone tends to convince first-time casino goers they have a lot
On the contrary, a seasoned gambler might tell you that these two
types of games are incredibly dissimilar. One has reels, and the
other has playing cards. One is based on dumb luck, while the other
offers in-depth strategic game play that can effect the player’s odds
of winning. This is also true, but there’s so much more to this
presumed juxtaposition than meets the eye.
Commonalities Between Video Poker Games and Slots
You might be surprised to find out just how much these games have in
common, but it’s mostly trivial stuff. For instance, both accept
wagers in the same way. Being electronic games, you’ll have to insert
money in the machine to play it. That money will be converted to
credits, based on your chosen bet size. For instance, if you insert
$10 and set your bet size to $0.25 per play, the machine will display
When you finish playing a video poker or slot machine, assuming you
have any money left, you’ll press the Cash Out button. The game will
spit out a cash voucher – a piece of paper that says how much money
you are owed. You can take this ticket to the cashier, or insert it
just like cash into another gaming machine that uses the same Ticket
Both types of games are also powered by an algorithmic random number
generator (RNG). How the RNG is set up differs, so we’ll talk more
about that in the next section. Either way, the RNG is what chooses
what images will appear on the screen, and the combination of certain
images is what instigates a payout.
Differences Between Video Poker and Slot Machines
I’ll start with the RNG since we already touched on that topic. In
slots, the RNG is programmed with a specific return to play, or RTP,
that tells the game how much of its intake to pay back out over the
long term. A 96% RTP means that, after the course of many years, the
machine will pay out $96 for every $100 it takes in.
Video poker RNGs are based on genuine probabilities. A deck of cards
has 52 cards, each having a 1 in 52 probability of being dealt. Thus
the poker game’s RNG is set to randomly shuffle the deck and pick a
card with the exact same odds of dealing from a physically shuffled
That brings us to the RPT, and how it differs in slots and video
poker. In a slot machine, the manufacturer sets the RTP for the game.
In video poker, the RTP is based entirely on the genuine
probabilities of receiving all possible hands, and the payout for
each winning hand. A typical 9/6 Full Pay Jacks or Better VP game
will have a 99.54% RTP.
Obviously, a slot machine is played by lining up matching symbols
across paylines. It may be loaded with all kinds of features, like
free spins and bonus picks. Video poker is more straight forward. The
player is dealt cards and chooses which ones to keep or discard. If
the final hand matches any hands on the pay table, the corresponding
amount is paid.
In this way, VIP games are different because player can actually make
decisions that will effect their odds of winning. A smart decision
increases the odds, whereas a bad decision can decrease the odds. The
end result is that slot machines are more like simulations wherein
the player sits back and watches, whereas video poker games give
players more control over their destiny.
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