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Online Casino Video Poker Vs. Video Slots

June 17, 2009

Video poker and video slots are popular online casino game categories. They share a common characteristic. Even in land based casinos both these types of games are played on computer screens and run on software that uses a random number generator. But other than that the games are very different.

Video poker requires a certain level of skill whereas video slots are games of pure chance. In all variants of video poker players are dealt five cards and have to decide which cards to hold and which cards to discard. This choice requires skill. The players need to have an understanding of which cards will maximize their chances of ultimately holding a poker hand that figures in the payout tables. Since the payout table differs from variant to variant of video poker, the criteria for holding and discarding the cards also differ slightly. There are several web sites that outline the strategy for the various video poker variants and in the end it boils down to the player memorizing a set of rules. But making moves that are not optimum will result in lower payouts in the long run. As against this video slots do not require any skill whatsoever. Players have to place their bets, spin the reels by clicking a button and the software does the rest. Some video slot games like the i-slots from Rival Gaming have introduced an element of skill in the bonus games.

Another area of difference is the average payout ratio. Video poker games offer an average payout ration between 98% and 99%. The exact payout ratio depends on the game variant and the payout table offered. The payout ratios for the different video poker games can be calculated and are given on several sites on the Internet. It must be noted that these payout ratios are based on the assumption that the player engages in best play. If the player’s does not make the optimum choices the average payout ratio can fall sharply. Online slot games usually offer an average payout ratio between 95% and 96%. The payout ratios for each game cannot be calculated but can be arrived at by running a large number of spins. Usually the payout ratios for individual video slot games are not reported. Only the payout ratio for all slot games taken together at an online casino is reported. Correct or incorrect play is not applicable in the case of video slot payout ratios. A good video poker player will benefit from playing video poker games instead of slots but a bad video poker player may well benefit from playing slots.

The third parameter of comparison is the level of sophistication and here video slots are far ahead of video poker. Video slots are no longer a matter of spinning the reels and reaping the payouts. Wild symbols, scatter symbols and multipliers increase the paying opportunities in many interesting ways. The graphics have become much better with increase in technology. Animation and sound effects are common. Some video slot games even include video clips. The bonus games that offer free spins or bonus credits are highly sophisticated. Everything put together creates a thematic ambience that compels the player to wager on video slots despite the lower payout ratios and lack of skill requirements. On the other hand video poker has largely remained a game of being dealt five cards, replacing some of them and comparing the final hand with the payout table. The recently released Level Up video poker games from Microgaming have introduced some innovation and sophistication.

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