I remember playing video poker games at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and noticing that it didn't matter what cards I threw away and what cards I kept.
That's because I was playing a Class II Bingo-style slot. That meant that each slot was actually a game of instant bingo -- with the winnings merely displayed as a slot machine -- rather than the strategy-laded video poker machines that are prevalent in Las Vegas.
The games were upgraded after the Seminoles and the state reached an agreement that brought Class III slots to their casinos.
Now Steve Bourie notes that the New York racinos offer the same Class II game. And he doesn't like it at all.
"All New York racinos, are using bait and switch tactics on their video poker customers by not clearly explaining that the games they offer are not based on skill," says Bourie, author of the "2014 American Casino Guide."
"Unlike slot machines, where no skill is involved, video poker games in almost all U.S. gaming jurisdictions are based on skill," says Bourie, who also has a YouTube channel at youtube.com/americancasinoguide where his "how to be a better gambler" videos have garnered more than 4 million views. "This means that there is always one best way to play your hand and a knowledgeable player, who knows how to play correctly, will achieve a higher return on a machine, in the long run, than someone who guesses as to how to play their hands."
Bourie says the New York racino machines have no tipoff like the bingo display, and an unwary player could be fooled into thinking their skill makes a difference just as it does at non-bingo tribal video poker games and at commercial casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Mississippi, Illinois, Colorado and other American jurisdictions.
To be fair to players, Bourie thinks that "all New York racinos should have signage on each video poker machine telling users that no skill is involved when playing these games. Otherwise, it's very misleading."
A plug for his book: It retails for $18.95 but it can be ordered online for only $12.95 at http://www.americancasinoguide.com/order-now.html. Other major online retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Walmart, also stock the book. Bourie also has a free app for iPhone and iPad that can be used to find any U.S. casino by name, city, state or zip code, plus a GPS locator to show casinos within a 100-mile radius, provide turn-by-turn directions, and display casino discount offers. Just go to the App store and search "American Casino Guide" to download it.