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Frugal Video Poker (The Book)

2 February 2007

By Donald Catlin

Back in February of 2004 I wrote a review entitled Frugal Video Poker, which was the name of a computer program written by Jim Wolf and marketed by Jean Scott (you can check out my review in the archives on this site). Now Jean has teamed up with Viktor Nacht and written a book with the same name.

Video Poker is one of those casino games that require a lot of study and practice if you want to play it well. The practice part was certainly taken care of with the publication of Jean's Frugal Video Poker program. The study part is now achieved with the publication of Jean and Viktor's book called Frugal Video Poker. I should say right at the outset that if you plan to buy the book (I'll tell you how at the end of this article) then you should also buy the program.

You expect a book on Video Poker to explain the various forms of Video Poker available and provide optimal strategies for playing each one and this book (combined with the VP program) certainly has this information. But it has a lot more. There are lots of tips on how to select a machine, how to avoid mistakes while playing, how to play progressives, and even a chapter on odd ball games involving Poker format. In fact there is one whole chapter devoted to a game called Multi Strike Poker. There is also a useful section at the end of the book that lists Video Poker resources. I found the whole book to be crammed with very useful information. Nevertheless, there were three things contained in this book that I found to be especially noteworthy.

The tenth chapter, written by Viktor, is devoted to estimating session bankroll. This is an important topic since it tells you how to get the desired playing time with your bankroll or conversely how large your bankroll should be to have a desired playing time. I found the chapter very interesting. Even more interesting to me was the chapter following this one. This chapter contains a series of charts that were generated by Michael Shackleford, the Wizard of Odds, that give the risk of ruin for various bankrolls and playing times on many of the popular Video Poker machines. These charts make it very easy to see what you can expect when playing a particular machine with a given bankroll. I have not seen these types of charts elsewhere and I think they alone are well worth the price of the book.

The second thing that I found noteworthy were two related chapters, Chapter 8 titled Evaluating Slot Clubs and Chapter 12 which is titled Maximizing Players Club and Comp Benefits. These chapters explain how to actually evaluate a slot club numerically. Jean shows by example that sometimes the best VP machine is not the best choice overall. In fact Jean's Frugal Video Poker program incorporates the ideas explained in these chapters so that you can enter data and the program does the work for you. I should point out, however, that this information is of more use to someone living close to the casinos in which they play since they have the ability to shop around. That is by no means a criticism, merely an observation.

The third thing that I liked was the section at the end of the book entitled Viktor's Frugal VP Computer Lessons. Here is a series of five detailed lessons devoted to using Jean's software. Jean's program has many, many features and Viktor explains how to use them. Viktor spends 50 pages in this endeavor so it is a user's manual in itself. If you already own the software then this book is a must if for no other reason than these lessons.

Frugal Video Poker is published by Huntington Press in Las Vegas. They can be reached by phone at (702)252-0655 or by email at See you next month.


Don Catlin can be reached by email at

Donald Catlin
Don Catlin is a retired professor of mathematics and statistics from the University of Massachusetts. His original research area was in Stochastic Estimation applied to submarine navigation problems but has spent the last several years doing gaming analysis for gaming developers and writing about gaming. He is the author of The Lottery Book, The Truth Behind the Numbers published by Bonus books.

Books by Donald Catlin:

Lottery Book: The Truth Behind the Numbers