You Probably Don’t Know This About Professional Video Poker Players


Video poker is a house-banked game that actually gives you a chance to win long-term profits. This is rare and different from any other casino game.

Card counters, shuffle trackers, and ace sequencers can also beat the house. But the casino doesn’t willingly offer these players a chance to beat them.

Instead, players need to develop an advantage through techniques that the casino frowns upon. And if the casino identifies you as a card counter or shuffle tracker, they’ll throw you out.

Other forms of gambling that can be beaten include daily fantasy sports, poker, and sports betting. The catch is that you’re competing against humans or a sportsbook line, rather than a traditional house edge.

Video poker contrasts all of these because the casino voluntarily puts certain machines on the floor that can be beaten. These include the following games.

  • Full-pay Loose Deuces Poker = 100.97% payback
  • Downtown Deuces = 100.92%
  • Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76%
  • Full-pay Joker Poker = 100.64%
  • 10/7 Double Bonus = 100.17%
  • Super Bonus Deuces Wild = 100.13%
  • 10/6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07%

Loose Deuces, Downtown Deuces, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker are the only games that offer a realistic chance to become a professional video poker player.

This is an attractive idea because the casino won’t ban you like a card counter or other advantage player. Furthermore, you don’t have to dedicate an endless amount of time to gaining an edge over other players or the sportsbook.

Many people think that any kind of professional gambling is a lucrative activity, including advantage video poker. But you’ll be surprised to know certain aspects about video poker pros and their hourly earnings.

I’m going to discuss these surprising factors below, along with what goes into being a video poker pro.

1- Professional Video Poker Players Need a Combination of Skills to be Successful

The first thing that you may not realize about video poker pros is just how hard it is to become one.

You need to blend several traits to make money with video poker on a regular basis. I’ll cover each one of these skills in depth below.

Fast Play Rate

One of the biggest things that people underestimate with regard to professional video poker players is how quickly they play.

You don’t make much money per video poker hand when playing. If you bet $1.25 (five quarters) on a full-pay Loose Deuces machine, then you’ll theoretically win back 1.2 cents with perfect strategy.

This obviously isn’t very much money, which is why pros play so fast

Anything over 800 hands is considered a speedy play rate. This equals $9.60 in hourly profits on full-pay Loose Deuces with flawless strategy.

The best video poker players can play 1,000 hands per hour, which leads to $12.00 hourly profit on Loose Deuces.

Of course, it takes a tremendous amount of practice and experience to achieve this play rate. The pros also look for good comps to further increase their hourly profits.

Large Bankroll and Good Bankroll Management

Video poker machines feature pay tables with a wide range of payouts. This includes a 4,000-coin royal flush payout for players who bet 5 coins per turn.

The only catch is that video poker machines don’t deliver these huge prizes often. In fact, you only have around 1 in 40,000 odds of getting a royal flush.

Considering that you need a royal to complete your payout cycle and win long-term money, you need a big bankroll to last this long. The bigger your bankroll, the more confident you can be in not losing everything when trying to become a pro.

I suggest that you have at least a $4,000 bankroll before embarking on a professional career with quarter machines. You need an even larger bankroll if you find a dollar machine with high payback.

Minimize Errors

Nobody who plays video poker for any considerable amount of time plays mistake-free. This is especially the case as you begin playing faster and going for a higher win rate.

But the goal is to minimize your errors as much as possible when playing. The key is to start slowly and build your way up to playing video poker at a quicker rate.

You should start with making the right play on each hand, no matter how long it takes. From here, you can reach for short-term goals of playing 50 more hands per hour.

If you continue meeting these goals again and again, you’ll eventually reach 800+ hands an hour.

Support at Home

Do you have a spouse or significant other? Do you have a family with children?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you also need to worry about having support at home before chasing a video poker career.

This is a highly underrated aspect that many people don’t think about with regard to video poker pros. But professionals absolutely must have support from their family or significant other before beginning this journey.

First off, serious players spend countless hours in the casinos grinding out profits. Then there’s the matter of inconsistent earnings in comparison to a normal job.

Your family/partner needs to be okay with the uncertainty in video poker and long hours spent away from home.

Tolerance for the Tedious

Many gamblers fantasize about making a good living through video poker or another game. But few realize just how boring it is to play hand after hand.

It’s you against the machine for countless hours. You may occasionally talk to a nearby player, but video poker is a solitary activity for the most part.

Sociable people won’t enjoy being a pro player. But anybody who doesn’t mind spending hours alone should be fine with this aspect.

Willingness to Improve

None of this means anything if a video poker player isn’t willing to put the time in to improve their skills.

A great way for new video poker players to improve is by starting with Jacks or Better. Four reasons why I suggest a new player begins here include:

  1. 9/6 Jacks or Better (9 coins for full house/6 for flush) pays back 99.54%
  2. Jacks or Better has the simplest pay table
  3. All video poker games are derivatives of Jacks or Better
  4. You can practice strategy with free video poker trainers, which point out mistakes as you play

The only problem with developing your skills on Jacks or Better is that it doesn’t offer over 100% payback. This is great in terms of all casino games, but it doesn’t cut things for advantage players.

Once somebody becomes good at an easier non-advantage video poker machine, they should graduate towards one of the games I covered in the introduction.

Unfortunately, free video poker trainers don’t cover positive expectation (+EV) games like Downtown Deuces, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker. Instead, you need to purchase software like Video Poker for Winners ( or WinPoker ( to practice these games.

The reason why is because they have customizable pay tables that allow you to practice any video poker machine. Contrast this to free video poker trainers, which only cover a handful of variations.

Important:Buying software is just a small part of the battle. You also have to practice for hours until you develop a machine-like ability to make the right decisions.

Even when you become a really good player, you should still go back and practice with your trainer. This keeps your skills sharp and ensures that you’re not making small mistakes.

Volatility Proof

One more thing that people don’t always think about with regard to professional video poker player is volatility, or how short-term results fluctuate from the statistical average.

This is exactly why you need a big bankroll to be successful in video poker. Royal flushes, straight flushes, and 4 of a kinds don’t come around often.

This creates tremendous volatility in regard to your short-term winnings.

You could get lucky and hit a royal flush with 10,000 hands. But you could just as easily be waiting for 70,000 hands.

You need to properly prepare with a large bankroll and be willing to ride out the losing streaks until you hit the big payouts.

2- Finding the Right Video Poker Machines and Comps Is Hard

Most casinos don’t have +EV video poker machines because they don’t want to give advantage players an easier chance to beat them. The best that you’ll do in many cases is a 9/6 Jacks or Better game or a Not So Ugly Ducks machine (99.73% payback).

Another problem is that online casinos don’t offer +EV games. This means you have to live in a land-based casino area with the highest-paying video poker machines to be a pro.

The best way to find places with good video poker is This website lets you search different areas of North America to see what video poker machines are offered.

Here’s an example.

  • I visit the “Casinos” tab at the top
  • I select the “Las Vegas” option
  • The site displays a number of casinos and the different video poker games they have
  • I can see that several casinos offer full-pay Deuces Wild and Joker Poker
  • El Cortez features a game called Downtown Deuces, which has 100.92% payback

Looking at the other tabs on vpFREE2, I can’t find a casino outside of Nevada that has +EV video poker. This means that any aspiring professional must live in the Silver State to be a full-time pro.

Many casual gamblers and/or people who don’t play video poker may think that you can find the best games anywhere. But if vpFREE2 is completely accurate, then all of the top-paying games are located in Nevada.

Note:Taking advantage of the best video poker machines is only part of it. You also need to find a solid comp rate to boost your winnings.

This has become tougher in today’s casino climate because gambling establishments are stingier with rewards. The reason why is because gambling resorts have shifted their focus to all-around entertainment.

But Las Vegas again saves the day since they have some casinos that are primarily dedicated to gambling. Furthermore, the same casinos offer good rewards to video poker players.

El Cortez has one of the best reputations for delivering comps to gamblers. Combine this with the fact that they offer Downtown Deuces, and El Cortez is a hot spot for serious video poker players.

You especially want to play at generous casinos when they’re offering double and triple points. Commonly offered on holidays and other special occasions, increased points boost your winnings by a significant margin.

The first thing that you need to do before receiving rewards in a land-based casino is sign up for the slots club. This gives you a card that can be used on any video poker machine you play.

Important:Most land-based casinos comp video poker players at a rate worth 0.1% of their total wagers. Many beginning players are surprised by how little comps they receive.

But the pros fully expect to earn low rewards with video poker due to the +EV aspect. Some casinos even offer 0.05% or 0.025% comp rates when players are on +EV machines.

The obvious reason why is because they don’t want to comp advantage players too much. But you may not have to deal with this if you shop around casinos with +EV to find the best rate.

3- Hourly Video Poker Winnings Aren’t Great

I’ve seen accounts from video poker players who claim to have made/make over $100,000 per year. Bob Dancer, who is the most famous video poker player, says that he earned $250,000 per year at one point, including VIP rewards.

Maybe this was possible at one point when there were +EV dollar coin denomination games, which I can’t find anywhere on vpFREE. But the average video poker pro doesn’t earn a high pay rate today.

Here’s an example that assumes you play on a Downtown Deuces game and satisfy the following conditions.

  • Perfect 100.92% payback
  • 1,000 hands per hour
  • $1.25 bet size
  • 1,000 x 1.25 = $1,250 gambled per hour
  • 1,250 x 0.0092 edge = $11.50 in profits per hour
  • 0.001 comp rate
  • 1,250 hands x 0.001 = $1.25 in comps per hour
  • $11.50 + $1.25 = $12.75

Even with perfect play, a speedy hand rate, great machine, and 0.1% comp rate, you’d only be earning $12.75 per hour. This is barely above minimum wage in the US.

Is it really worth dedicating so much time and effort to making such a small amount of money? Especially for a solitary and thankless job?

I venture to say that few people will say yes. The only thing that truly makes becoming a video poker pro feasible is if you can find a dollar coin denomination game.

In this case, your earnings would skyrocket to $51 an hour. This is more in line with what people expect when they think of a professional video poker player.

But again, I can’t find any good +EV games with a dollar denomination on Perhaps they exist in some downtown Vegas casino, but this would require a lot of work and effort on your part to find.


The biggest misconception about professional video poker is that it’s a lucrative opportunity, just like card counting, DFS, poker, or sports betting.

Pros in these games can make hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in a year

Video poker, on the other hand, doesn’t pay much over $10 an hour for the average pro.

You can increase this amount by taking advantage of double and triple points promotions. And you’ll earn far more with a dollar-denomination Downtown Deuces, Deuces Wild, or Joker Poker game.

But the problem is that it’s rare if not impossible to find a dollar denomination game with these variations. Another drawback is that casinos only run double and triple points promotions on certain days.

Don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to improve your speed rate and limit your mistakes. This challenge is worth dozens of dollars per hour, which video poker does doesn’t pay.

I’m not saying this to discourage you from trying to become a professional video poker player. You’re more than welcome to pursue this path if you love the game and casino environment.

But the main takeaway here is to be aware of how little the average video poker player earns. Casinos are stingier with comps and +EV video poker machines than ever before.

Recommended Reading:I suggest that you stick with playing video poker for fun and the challenge. In this case, you can still have fun on any video poker machine with over 99% payback.

But if your goal is to become a successful advantage player who makes a good living through gambling, then dedicate your time to more lucrative pursuits like card counting, poker, and sports betting.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.