The IDN Poker Strategy Sheets

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It is possible to memorize a strategy for a particular variation and drill yourself with my computer program until you are confident you are playing accurately. However, I have never had a casino complain when I have referred to a piece of paper to figure out my discard. (On the other hand, bringing a “device for the purpose of cheating” into a casino is a felony in Nevada, so I would definitely not want to test the legality of using a laptop computer.) Be aware that gambling is not an inalienable right in Nevada and casino management can ban you for whatever reason they choose.

Over the years I have tried many formats for the strategy sheets and finally settled on a format that lists the hands in the order in which you should save them, together with visual examples to illustrate the hand and the discard. The examples are picked to illustrate the particularly problematic hands.


To save space, the hand names are abbreviated. These abbreviations should be obvious: RF for royal flush, SF for straight flush, 4K for four of a kind, FH for full house, FL for flush, ST for straight, 3K for three of a kind, 2P for two pair, 1P for one pair, and HC for a hand with only high cards. Incomplete straights and flushes are indicated by number: for example, 4FL is a four-card flush, 3SF is a three-card straight flush.


My abbreviation for a wild card is “w”. Thus, a 1w3K is three of a kind that includes one wild card; in other words, it is a pair plus a wild card. A 2wST is a pat (five card) straight with two wild cards (which, of course, you will not find in the strategy sheets because you should never save it).


The strategies contain some simplifications, but on the whole they are accurate to within 1/100th of a per cent. If you use the strategies when playing my program, the program will occasionally correct your choice. You will notice that this is always happens on hands that are very close choices.



So, where does this all leave you? Can you learn the optimal strategy, find a machine in your favor, and then never work again, just living off your winnings? Suppose you do learn to play optimally, and very fast. You can probably get to the point where you play 10 hands a minute, 600 hands an hour. On a quarter machine, that means you are wagering $800/hour. If the machine is 0.7% in your favor, that means, on average, you will win $5.60 for each hour of play. Of course, you are going to slow down occasionally and occasionally make mistakes, so a good estimate is that you could make minimum wage. More about IDN Poker


Again, this is on average. So how long would it take so you could reasonably expect the good luck and the bad luck to “average out”. 10 hours of play? 20 hours? 100 hours? The true number is much larger. You should play enough hands so that you have a good chance that the frequency of royal flushes you have hit is close to the expected frequency. You should expect to play enough to hit on the order of 100 royal flushes, about 4,000,000 hands, about 4667 high-speed hours, about 582 full 8-hour days–a good two years of full-time gambling with occasional week-ends off.


So, if you think of playing video poker as a career I think you are missing the point. Video poker is recreation, and by learning to play correctly you can make it very inexpensive recreation. Or to be precise, you can make it so that the probability is that it will be inexpensive over the long haul.







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