One of the most head scratching moments for those who have never been to a major Las Vegas casino before is that first trip to the bar – sometimes in order to get away from the game – when the patron notices that video poker machines are actually positioned inside the bar-top. There is no escaping the gaming floor.
It’s no surprise that it is video pokers that have been selected to line up inside the bar-tops of Sin City. They are, after all, hugely popular, and the game’s brevity is perfect for someone to have a few rounds while waiting for a drink.
Yet, there have been signs that video poker is losing its pull in the world of online casinos. Not only do new online casinos often not stock the games at all, but some operators ‘bury’ video pokers, only allowing you to find the games when searching manually by title.
It isn’t all bad coverage, of course. Most of the top casinos in Canada, the UK and elsewhere have plenty of video pokers. Moreover, despite video pokers being almost laudably resistant to change (of all casino games, video pokers look most like they did 20 years ago), there have been some innovations like progressive jackpot technology to make them more attractive to players.
However, what, then, is the reason that many new casino sites decide to forgo video poker all together? It’s not quite clear, to be honest. You could speculate that there is a desire to put the latest blockbuster slots front and center of the site, certainly some slots developers will require their wares to be promoted prominently, a kind of nudge theory for casino players.
Yet, we also know that slots, which do get the most coverage, have a better return for online casinos than video pokers – markedly so. A standard video poker game, let’s say Playtech’s version of Jacks or Better, will have an RTP of 99.54%, giving the casino a house-edge of just 0.46%. Slots, meanwhile, will have an RTP averaging around 95%, but sometimes significantly lower when it comes to jackpot games. You can see how it makes sense for the casino to push players towards the option with a higher house-edge.
Of course, there is also the argument that video pokers need to step out of the past – it really is remarkable how little they have changed – and embrace the new technologies and graphics as other casino games have done. This seems like a strong argument, but is it really that necessary? The reason video pokers are positioned in those Vegas bar-tops is because they are simple, with that facileness encouraging people to play, as it takes little thought. Think about it: Why wouldn’t Vegas casinos put touchscreen slots in there if they knew they were more profitable.
That, in the end, is the point of video slots. Their beauty lies in their simplicity. Poker aficionados have a wealth of options to play at online casinos, including live dealer games with stunning graphics and levels of immersion and interactivity. They play video pokers, not in spite of their simple graphics and basic gameplay, but because of those factors.
As mentioned, you can still find plenty of video poker online, but it does feel like it is being overlooked more often these days. It would be a shame if they disappeared altogether.