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How Many Coins?

To Max or not to Max: The everlasting question

So Video Poker gives us a choice, just as slots does, of how many coins per hand we want to play. Is the question as clear-cut as in Slots though? Most of the time, just like slots advice, Video Poker players say you should always play the maximum number of coins on every hand. In Slots failing to do so robs you of the possibility of hitting the largest available jackpots. Even if you hit the combo, you simply don't get paid. Avoiding that heartbreak situation alone is enough to convince most.

In Video Poker playing max coins qualifies you for the jackpot hand, which is usually the Royal Flush, so it's no surprise most books advise playing the max. There's a little more to the story though.

If you were to play a classic 9/6 Jacks or Better machine for one hour on a dollar machine (godda love simple math), at a 99.54% payback rate. With five coins per hand, after that hour you'd probably be down about $11.50. With one coin per hand, after that hour you'd only be down $8.15. You're down an extra $3 and change. Why's that? Well, since 9/6 Jacks or Better is a negative expectation game, you can expect to lose less if you bet less. To increase your playing time and slow your losses when the house has the advantage, you can play one coin.

But this logic fails to put a price on the psychological and entertainment value of getting the big jackpot. It will hurt to have only deposited one coin if you hit a royal flush. If you are basing your play on money and not time, you should always play the maximum number of coins. Most people don't say to themselves that they want to play $500 worth of Video Poker though, they say they want to play an hours worth. Another variable to consider in both online play and land-based casino play, is comps. Player frequency comps are higher the more you play through, and can make the difference between max coins being worth it or not.

Always play max coins if you're on a machine with a greater than 100% return rate and you know the proper strategy for it. If your bankroll can't weather the fluctuations of a machine at max coins, consider a lower denomination machine.