It seems counterintuitive but as the availability of casinos and specifically video poker has grown in the United States the environment for the player has deteriorated. Actually, it only seems strange at first glance simply because more widespread availability does not in this instance equate to a greater level of competition. To the contrary, in most states the competitive marketplace most beneficial to players is tightly regulated for the benefit of the major casino corporations. In some states, they make no pretense about limiting competition to a few companies that have proven to be financial benefactors for politicians. In these states, they have law and regulations that limit the number of casino licenses to a precious few. This is great for the companies that have them but terrible for casino players. Of course the states that do this could care less–they’ll gladly do the bidding of those with the deeper pockets.

There are still a few jurisdictions here and there that offer decent video poker. Nevada still has a highly competitive video poker marketplace particularly in the ‘locals casinos’ of Southern Nevada. These properties are off the strip and target a clientele made up of local residents who are typically more savvy about odds, payback percentages and disadvantageous rules. Since they don’t have exquisite properties, world class shopping, or gourmet restaurants to bring in business they compete in other ways–good value food and drinks, a generous slot club, a good buffet and player friendly rules and odds on games like slots and video poker. It’s not easy to find good video poker on the Las Vegas Strip but if you get away from the tourist areas you can still track it down.


There’s a number of gaming jurisdictions–likely a majority across the country–where games are available that might look like video poker but in actuality aren’t. As we’ve discussed often here at this website video poker games are completely random and controlled by an on-board computerized random number generator (RNG). These RNG’s use technology to guarantee as completely as possible a completely random outcome on every card draw. The games you’ll find in Nevada, Mississippi, New Jersey and Oregon and a few other places operate by this method.

In most other areas there are devices that *look* like video poker machines but operate in a drastically different manner. In many areas, only ‘Class 2’ devices are legal–basically, these are machines that are based on bingo games that are conducted at the server level. The player may be pushing buttons but the outcome is not in the player’s control. This is also true in many lottery operated games that resemble video poker. These games are actually ‘Video Lottery Terminals’ and are similar to the Class 2 games in that the player isn’t in control. The games are distributed from a central server in the lottery administration headquarters. If this central server decides you’re getting a prize, you’re getting a prize. Your input just doesn’t matter.


The reality circa 2016 is that for most video poker players they’re better off looking for games at one of the many online casinos. From a gameplay standpoint, online video poker is indistinguishable from the casino video poker experience. In many cases, online casinos use the same software packages that you’ll find in land based casinos. Online casinos offer more player friendly rules and more advantageous odds due to the highly competitive marketplace. You won’t find deceptive ‘Class 2 games’ or ‘video lottery terminals’ online meaning that in many places the online games are closer to ‘actual video poker’ than the games found in land based casinos and slot parlors. It’s becoming true for every form of gambling but in video poker it’s definitely a better option to play online.