Video Poker: How To Determine Your Risk Tolerance

determining your risk versus your reward when playing video poker.

When gambling online, video poker is hands down my favorite casino game. It involves a certain element of risk and one of the few games where a skilled player can beat the house consistently.

In this article I’m going to tell you how to determine your risk tolerance when playing video poker online since it takes into account the amount of cash you’ve spent and winning. Risk stems from the Latin word riscare which means to dare. So, what exactly is risk tolerance? In layman’s terms it describes how much money you are prepared to lose before you start panicking.

Most people normally consult a financial consultant before they purchase shares or before they invest into a project. This person guides you by pointing out the risk/s and the possible return on your investment. Nowhere is this concept better illustrated than on the casino floor. To become a successful video poker player you must be able to handle both winning and losing. It’s essential that you know how much you can risk and which coin denomination to play.

In my opinion there are two types of video poker players: the recreational and the serious player. The recreational player is in it for the entertainment aspect. Their sole purpose is just to understand the basics of the game and not to earn a doctorate in it, so to speak. The serious player wants to know the ins-and-outs of the game; winning strategy, the best return on the amount of bets made and so forth. Whichever direction you take, ”Know yourself”. Knowing your own personal risk defines you as a player. Take myself for example. I tend to become over confident especially if I had a couple of good wins. I then tend to play reckless and start losing. Luckily I’m a disciplined player and when this happens I stop playing immediately.

Three of a kind win on Joker Poker

How To Assess Your Risk Tolerance

A key component when gambling online is to find your own level of monetary risk. If your decisions are in line with your risk tolerance, you’ll know how much to bet per hand, the type of video poker game to play and your daily gaming limit. Divide the amount of cash you’re going to gamble on a daily basis and don’t deviate from it. If you’re not a disciplined player, you won’t be a successful one either. In order to determine your risk tolerance when playing at your favorite cyber casino, ask yourself the following:

  • How much money can I afford to lose this month and if I experience a huge loss will I still be able to pay all my bills? Divide the amount of cash by the number of times you plan to wager online. This will give you an idea of your average daily stake. Let’s assume your monthly budget is $250. Based on the decisions you make your average daily stake may fluctuate.
  • How much money can you afford to lose without experiencing gambler’s remorse? Gambler’s remorse is pretty much the same as buyer’s remorse. Once you’ve lost your cash in a casino it’s gone. If you’ve lost a lot of money will you be able to handle it? Can you honestly say to yourself, it happens, live goes on? If you answer: Yes I can handle it since any form of gamble entails an element of risk.
  • If lady luck smiles upon me and I win a substantial amount of cash, what are my goals for the gaming profits? Profit is the amount you have left over after you’ve transferred your initial bankroll back to your e-wallet account. If you wagered $300 and ended up with $450, then your for that session is $150. Visualize what you’d like to buy with the cash you’ve just won. If your goal is to take your wife or husband out to a nice dinner, you’re on the right track. 
  • Picture yourself playing a video poker game, how much money are your prepared to spend on the max bet? Can you afford to bet $15 or $60 per hand? If you can answer this question, you’ll know which coin denomination will suit you best. If you’re not comfortable with the bet amount rather wager less. Always remember, when in doubt leave out.
  • Can you say without any conviction that you really enjoy the game whether you win or lose? In gaming you’ll always experience a loss no matter what you do or how disciplined you are. Unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast. If you can’t keep your losses within your budget and if your stakes are too high then video poker isn’t your game.

Once you’ve asked yourself the above questions, you’ll more or less know in which direction your heading. If you’re a first time player, see it as a learning curve even if you lose. As you become more comfortable with the game by applying the proper game strategy, your win ration will improve. Confidence plays a pivotal role since it normally leads to the expansion of your risk tolerance.

Determine your risk tolerance and do not play beyond your means.

Don’t Play Beyond Your Risk Tolerance

How much are you prepared to bet on one hand? Your play will be affected negatively if you’re gambling above your risk tolerance. Here’s an example. If you’re playing a $5 dollar machine, bet max, therefore the hand will cost you $25. You manage a straight that is one card off a straight flush, open ended. You’re sitting with a dilemma here.

You must decide whether to hold all your cards or sacrifice it for the straight flush. If you manage a straight flush, you’ll win $1,250 (250 coins x $25). But if you’re not sure and afraid of forfeiting the $100 for the straight, you might blow your chances of making a great play. This is a shining example of playing beyond your personal risk tolerance.

Don’t Play With Worried Money

Don’t confuse risk tolerance with need or desire. It so happens that you need a specific amount of cash, say $500 to get your car repaired. Don’t let this influence your play, stay with the game you know and the level you can afford to lose. There’s a saying among gamblers: ”Never play with worried money.” If you do your judgement will be clouded by greed or desire and will result in a negative experience.

Choosing A Video Poker Game That Matches Your Risk Tolerance

Now that you have an idea about your risk tolerance let’s choose a video poker game that matches it. The first video poker machine invented used the game of 9/6 Draw Poker. It means that a full house paid nine coins per coin bet, forty-five coins for the maximum bet of five coins. On a flush it paid six to 1 or for the max bet of five, thirty coins. A great game and one of my favorites is Jacks or Better.

Many versions of video poker evolved from this game. Each game comes with its own statistical analysis and probabilities. As it is the traditional 9/6 draw poker has one of the lowest risk factors of any video poker game. I’ll be quite surprised if I find this version online. In high-risk games, you’re betting on the return to player being made up of the less probable hand, like four kings, rather than smaller wins like two pair. The volatility of a game is determined by the swings between winning and losing hands.

Games that are volatile offers less reward on lower-paying hands. Strictly speaking it will cost you more money to play since you must ”prompt” the machine until a high-paying hand pops up.


It’s important that you understand your risk tolerance before you become a serious video poker player. Choose a game that matches your risk tolerance by selecting a game that is less volatile. If you’re not familiar with a game rather bet lower stakes instead of higher ones. Never play with worried money, if you can’t afford to lose rather don’t bet. The volatility of the game must match your budget and personal needs.


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