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Video Poker Payback Volatility

Short-term fluctuations are both the bad side and the beautiful bit of Video Poker. They're the bad bit when you sit down to play, lose a few hands in a row and have to walk away a hundred bucks down. They're beautiful when you realize you're up by a bunch after only 20 minutes and decide now would be a good time to leave.

One of the hardest aspects of playing Video Poker seriously is learning to swing with the curves volatility throws at you. Volatility is the word used to describe just how much up and down your bankroll will experience for any given machine. The term applies to almost every casino game, in a way unique to the game in question. Craps players for instance, know they can lower the volatility of their bankroll by hedging bets. Video Poker players have the ability to play a machine with low volatility if that's what they're after, but often find the games they enjoy most have a larger swing.

Before anything, the most important concept to understand about volatility in Video Poker, is that it's always present. This means you can sit down at a machine, play with perfect strategy for the game, and still lose half your bankroll right away! Don't be discouraged, you'll learn soon enough that you need a decent bankroll to weather the ups and downs volatility will bring.

Let's have a look at what makes a machine volatile. You'll hardly be surprised to learn that this variable too, is revealed by the pay table. This makes sense logically. If a machine pays more for hands that occur less frequently, then you wont receive much of your bankroll back until you hit those hands. During the spell between these larger than normal payouts your bankroll has more of a chance to dip down low. This is volatility in action.

For a Deuces Wild machine for example, a good portion of the machines total return comes from the royal flush and four deuces hands. These hands aren't common, and without them the machine only pays out around 95%. The four deuces hand should only come up a three or four times over the course of a long session (say, 10 hours). The royal flush will only come out every 90 hour or so. This means if you happen to be playing when these hands are hit, you'll have a high return percentage, and if you play when they're not hit, you'll have a low one. Volatility itself.

As you may expect, the machines with the highest overall return percentages, also have the highest levels of volatility. Simply put, with these machines you will either win a lot or lose a lot in the short term, and if you play over the long term, you'll come out near even, or a bit ahead.