Auto Hold Feature in Video Poker

Video poker is a bit like slots. The player is dealt five cards. The objective is to obtain as a poker hand ranking as possible. In the endeavor the player is allowed to hold any of the dealt cards and replace the others. In the normal mode the player clicks on the cards he wants to hold, thereby freezing them. Then he clicks on the "draw" button to replace the remaining cards. Based on the variant of the video poker game being played and the payout table provided there is an optimal strategy that dictates which cards should be put on hold in a given situation. If the player knows and employs the optimal strategy then he will increase his chances of winning. With optimal strategies the average payout ratio for most video poker variants is between 98% and 99%. If optimal strategy is not employed the average payout ratio will be lower.

All players do not have the inclination to learn the optimal strategy. The issue is compounded by the fact that there are so many variants of video poker and each of them has a different optimal strategy. To overcome this problem many online gaming software providers have built in the optimal strategies into the computer software. Based on the strategy the software automatically puts the desired cards on hold. Therefore the player automatically plays according to the optimal strategy. This feature is known as Auto Hold. Since the online casino is helping the player it takes a bit back. Games with the Auto Hold feature are played on a second payout table that offers a slightly lower average payout ratio. Online casinos give players the choice whether they want to play with the Auto Hold feature activated or in the normal mode.

The question therefore arises whether a player should opt for the Auto Hold feature or not. If the player knows the optimal strategy for the particular variant of video poker he is playing perfectly then he should not play with the Auto Hold activated but should take advantage of the more favorable payout table. However most players would not be well versed in the optimal strategy. They should play with the Auto Hold activated because they will lose much more through incorrect play than through the second payout table. Another use of Auto Hold is with the Auto Play feature. The Auto Play feature plays a large preset number of games without manual intervention. This can be done only because of the Auto Hold feature.

The Viper software from Microgaming offers the Auto Hold feature in the Power Poker versions of video poker. In the normal state the Auto Hold feature is turned off. The player should use the Games Menu after opening the game. In the Games menu he should select Options and click on Auto Hold in order to activate it.

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Comment by: Smitty On: September 11, 2009
I like most people do take advantage of the auto-hold feature and have to agree I don't think that I've ever seen an online casino that alters the payout schedule in their games based on whether the auto-hold feature is actually used. This would be a huge rip off and I don't think that players would or should play games that do this as it's really wrong of the casinos to have games like this.
Comment by: Andrew K. On: September 06, 2009
I like the auto-hold feature in video poker I find that it's convenient and leaves you not really thinking about what you have to do. Even if you're a savvy poker player you can still miss things from time to time. It's just as simple to deactivate cards that are auto-held so I think that opting for and keeping the feature on is always a good move!
Comment by: Perl N. On: August 02, 2009
It would be really crazy for online casinos to alter payouts based on whether a game is set to use auto-hold or not. If a player wanted to they could simply use an external application and run each hand though such an application based on the game type to spit out the best possible hand that can be made the odds, etc... and make the most appropriate recommendations based on those facts.
Comment by: Administrator On: July 14, 2009
We just received an e-mail from a user who read this article and it was brought to our attention that some of the information in this article may not be entirely correct.

The users comments were as follows:

===========================================================
I just read the article about the Auto Hold feature in Microgaming's Video Poker software. I take issue with the statement that if you use Auto Hold you are playing a slightly worse paytable. I play at 32 Red and have played both with and without Auto Hold and the paytable never changes. Microgaming do not offer Auto Hold on All Aces because its such a close to break even game with perfect play but other than that I see no difference in the games using Auto Hold. ===========================================================

Just for clarification sake as far as we know online casinos including Microgaming and other software providers do not alter their payout tables based on the usage of the "Auto-Hold" feature. It's been clarified now that this feature would be more found in land based casinos vs. those played online. So you need not worry if you're playing and would like to make use of the "Auto-Hold" feature the payouts will be the same with or without the use of said feature.

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