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Mar 27, 2023

How to win at video poker - best video poker strategy guide

author Peter Sommer

Video poker is a popular casino game that has been around since the 1970s. It is a digital version of traditional poker and is played on a computerized console similar to a slot machine. The game combines the rules of poker with the convenience and simplicity of slot machines, making it an attractive option for both experienced and novice players.

The game is simple: the player places a bet and is dealt a five-card hand. They must then choose which cards to keep and which to discard. The objective is to make the best possible five-card poker hand from the cards they have chosen to keep. The player wins if they have a winning combination of cards, which is determined by the game's paytable.

The purpose of this article is to provide readers with strategies to increase their chances of winning at video poker. By understanding how to play video poker, knowing the different strategies that can be employed, and following tips for managing their bankroll, readers can become more successful at playing video poker online and hopefully come out ahead.

Understanding Video Poker

How Video Poker Works

Video poker is played on a console similar to a slot machine. The player places a bet and is dealt a five-card hand. They must then choose which cards to keep and which to discard. The discarded cards are replaced with new ones, and the objective is to make the best possible five-card poker hand.

The player wins if they have a winning combination of cards, which is determined by the game's paytable. The paytable varies depending on the type of video poker game being played, and it lists the payouts for each possible winning hand. The payout for each hand is based on the number of coins bet and the rank of the hand on video poker pay tables.

Types of Video Poker Games

There are several types of video poker games available, each with its own unique rules and strategies. Some of the most popular video poker games include:

  • Jacks or Better: This is the most common type of video poker game. The objective is to make a hand with a pair of Jacks or better.

  • Deuces Wild: In this game, all the twos (deuces) are wild and can substitute for any other card to form a winning hand.

  • Joker Poker: This game includes a 53-card deck, with a single joker added. The joker can substitute for any other card to form a winning hand.

  • Double Bonus: This game offers higher payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands, including Aces, 2s, 3s, and 4s.

Each type of video poker game has its own unique strategy, so it's important for players to understand the rules and paytable of the specific game they are playing in order to maximize their chances of winning.

Video poker odds

Hand Odds
Royal Flush (dealt straight away)
1 in 650,000
Royal Flush (created by player holding/discarding cards)
1 in 40,000
Four Aces with a Kicker
1 in 16,236
Straight Flush
1 in 9,150
2s to 4s with a Kicker
1 in 6,984
Four Aces
1 in 5,761
Four Deuces
1 in 4,909
2s to 4s
1 in 2,601
Four of a Kind
1 in 423
Full House
1 in 90
Flush
1 in 85
Straight
1 in 80

Basic Video Poker Strategy

To increase your chances of winning at video poker, it's important to understand and implement basic strategies. These strategies involve playing with maximum coins, choosing the right video poker machine, and understanding the paytable.

Playing with Maximum Coins

It is important to always play with the maximum number of coins when playing video poker. Most video poker games offer a double bonus poker call payout for the royal flush when playing with the maximum number of coins. This bonus payout can significantly increase the overall payout percentage of the game.

For example, if a Jacks or Better game offers a payout percentage of 99.54% when playing with the maximum number of coins, playing with fewer coins reduces the payout percentage significantly.

Choosing the Right Video Poker Machine

Choosing the right video poker machine is also essential to winning at video poker. Look for machines that offer the highest payout percentage and the best paytable. These machines usually offer better odds of winning and higher payouts.

Understanding the Pay Table

Understanding the paytable is crucial to developing a winning video poker strategy. The paytable lists the payouts for each possible winning hand, and it varies depending on the type of video poker game being played.

It is important to note that different video poker machines may have different paytables for the same game, so it is essential to check the paytable before playing. Understanding the paytable allows the player to make informed decisions on which cards to keep or discard based on the potential payout for each hand.

By playing with maximum coins, choosing the right video poker machine, and understanding the paytable, players can increase their chances of winning at video poker. While basic video poker strategy may not guarantee a win, it can certainly improve the odds and give players a better chance of coming out ahead.

Jacks or better optimal play

  1. Always hold a paying hand, such as a pair of Jacks or better.

  2. Always hold four cards to a Royal Flush, even if it means breaking up a winning hand.

  3. Always hold a four-card Flush or four-card Straight Flush.

  4. Hold a low pair instead of holding a single high card (Jack, Queen, King, or Ace).

  5. Hold a four-card Straight over a one or two-card Royal Flush.

  6. Hold a three-card Royal Flush over a four-card Flush or a four-card Straight.

  7. Hold any pair below Jacks only if you have two high cards (Jack, Queen, King, or Ace) in the same suit.

  8. Hold any three cards to a Straight Flush.

  9. Hold any four-card consecutive Straight.

  10. Hold any two high cards of the same suit.

  11. Hold any three cards to a Royal Flush.

  12. Hold any four-card Flush.

  13. Hold any low pair (tens or lower) if you have three high cards (Jack, Queen, King, or Ace) in the same suit.

  14. Hold any two high cards of different suits.

  15. Hold any three cards to a Straight Flush with a gap and one high card.

  16. Hold any two high cards of the same rank.

  17. Hold any single high card.

Deuces wild optimal play

  1. Always hold any four deuces or a natural royal flush.

  2. Hold any four cards to a royal flush.

  3. Hold any three cards to a royal flush if one of the cards is a ten or higher.

  4. Hold any five cards to a straight flush.

  5. Hold any four cards to a straight flush if one of the cards is a ten or higher.

  6. Hold any two deuces.

  7. Hold any one deuce.

  8. Hold any four cards to a flush.

  9. Hold any three cards to a straight flush.

  10. Hold any four cards to an open-ended straight.

  11. Hold any two suited high cards (ten or higher).

  12. Hold any three cards to a straight flush with no gaps.

  13. Hold any two unsuited high cards (ten or higher).

  14. Hold any suited 10/J, 10/Q, or 10/K.

  15. Hold any one high card (ten or higher).

  16. Hold any three cards to a straight flush with one gap, except for A-2-3.

  17. Hold any two suited cards that are consecutive.

  18. Hold any two unsuited cards that are consecutive and both are ten or higher.

  19. Hold any two unsuited cards that are consecutive and both are nine or lower, but only if they are also both six or higher.

  20. Hold any two suited cards that are not consecutive, except for A-K.

  21. Hold any two unsuited cards that are not consecutive, both six or higher.

  22. Hold any single deuce, except when you have only two cards and neither is a deuce.

  23. Hold any four cards to an inside straight.

  24. Hold any three cards to an inside straight with one gap.

  25. Hold any two unsuited cards that are consecutive, one of which is a six or higher.

  26. Hold any two suited cards that are not consecutive, if the highest card is a nine or lower.

  27. Hold any single high card (nine or lower).

  28. Hold any four cards to an inside straight with no gaps.

  29. Hold any three cards to an inside straight with no gaps and no high cards.

  30. Hold any two suited cards that are not consecutive, if the highest card is a ten or higher.

  31. Hold any two unsuited cards that are not consecutive, both five or higher.

  32. Hold any single high card (ten or higher).

  33. Hold any three cards to a straight flush with two gaps.

  34. Hold any two suited cards that are not consecutive, if the highest card is a jack or queen.

  35. Hold any two unsuited cards that are not consecutive, both four or higher.

  36. Hold any single high card (ace).

Advanced Video Poker Strategy

While basic video poker strategy is essential to increasing your chances of winning, there are more advanced strategies that can be employed to further improve your gameplay. These strategies involve knowing the different video poker hand rankings, understanding the different video poker variants and their strategies, and using video poker software and tools to improve your game.

Knowing the Different Video Poker Hand Rankings

Knowing the different video poker hand rankings is crucial to developing an advanced video poker strategy. Understanding the value of each hand and the odds of hitting each hand can help players make better decisions when deciding which cards to keep or discard.

The highest-ranking hand in video poker is the royal flush, which consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit. Other high-ranking hands include a straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pairs, and a pair of jacks or better.

Understanding the Different Video Poker Variants and Their Strategies

There are many different video poker variants, each with its own unique rules and strategies. For example, in Deuces Wild, the presence of wild cards changes the optimal strategy. Similarly, in Joker Poker, the presence of a joker also changes the optimal strategy.

It is important to research and understand the optimal strategies for each video poker variant to increase your chances of winning. The optimal strategies can vary significantly, and understanding the nuances of each game can give players an edge over their opponents.

Using Video Poker Software and Tools to Improve Your Game

Finally, using the video poker software and tools can also help improve your gameplay. These tools can analyze your play, help you practice specific strategies, and provide real-time statistics to help you make better decisions. If you want to know how to win at video poker these tools are really useful.

There are many video poker software and tools available, such as video poker trainers, video poker strategy chart calculators, and bankroll management tools. Using these tools can help players develop and refine their strategies, improve their gameplay, and increase their chances of winning.

By employing advanced video poker strategies, players can take their gameplay to the next level and increase their chances of winning at video poker. Understanding the different hand rankings, studying the different variants and their strategies, and using video poker software and tools can give players a significant advantage over their opponents.

Try video poker games with positive player's edge

The term "edge" refers to the percentage advantage that a player has over the casino. In other words, if the edge in gambling game is 100%, the player would expect to break even over the long term, while an edge of more than 100% would mean that the player can expect to win money over time.

In order to achieve an edge in online video poker however, you need to use an optimal strategy that takes into account the specific paytable and game rules being used. The paytable determines the payouts for each winning hand, while the game rules can affect factors such as the number of decks being used, the number of wild cards, and the payout for the lowest winning hand.

Some examples of online video poker games that can offer players an edge include:

  1. Full-pay Deuces Wild: This game offers a payback percentage of over 100% when played with optimal strategy, thanks to the generous payouts for four-of-a-kind hands and the presence of four wild cards.

  2. 10/7 Double Bonus: This game offers a payback percentage of over 100% when played with optimal strategy, thanks to the high payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands and the bonus payout for certain combinations of aces and face cards.

  3. 9/6 Jacks or Better: This game offers a payback percentage of over 99% when played with optimal strategy, thanks to the high payouts for two pairs and the presence of only one wild card.

It's important to note that even with an edge, video poker is still a game of chance, and you can still experience short-term losses or winning streaks. However, over the long term, using an optimal strategy on a video poker game with a positive expected value can help you come out ahead.

Tips for Winning at Video Poker game

In addition to basic and advanced video poker strategies, there are several tips that players can follow to increase their chances of winning at video poker. These tips include setting win and loss limits, managing your bankroll, and knowing when to walk away from a video poker machine.

Setting Win and Loss Limits

Setting win and loss limits is essential to managing your bankroll and maximizing your winnings. A win limit is the amount of money a player aims to win during a session, while a loss limit is the amount of money a player is willing to lose before walking away from the machine.

Setting win and loss limits helps players avoid chasing their losses or getting caught up in the excitement of a winning streak. By setting limits, players can manage their bankroll effectively and avoid losing more money than they can afford.

Managing Your Bankroll When Playing Video Poker

Managing your bankroll is another essential tip for winning at video poker. It is crucial to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and to never bet more than you can afford to lose.

One common bankroll management strategy is the "5% rule," which involves betting no more than 5% of your bankroll on a single hand. This basic strategy often ensures that players can withstand losing streaks and have enough money to continue playing.

Knowing When to Walk Away from a Video Poker Machine

Knowing when to walk away from a video poker machine is also essential to winning at video poker. It is important to recognize when you are on a losing streak and when to cut your losses and walk away.

Similarly, when on a winning streak, it's important to avoid getting caught up in the excitement and risking losing all of your winnings. Setting win and loss limits can help players avoid these pitfalls and make rational decisions about when to walk away.

By setting win and loss limits, managing your bankroll, and knowing when to walk away, players can increase their chances of winning at video poker. These tips, combined with basic and advanced video poker strategies, can give players a significant edge over their opponents and improve their overall gameplay.

Look for Video Poker Machines with High Payback Percentages

Not all video poker machines are created equal, and some machines offer better payback percentages than others. The payback percentage is the amount of money that a machine pays back to players over time, expressed as a percentage of the total amount of money wagered.

Video poker machines with high payback percentages give players a better chance of winning in the long run, so it's essential to choose machines with the best pay tables and payouts.

Take Advantage of Casino Promotions and Bonuses

Many casinos offer promotions and bonuses for video poker players, such as free spins, cashback, no deposit bonuses or bonus poker and payouts for hitting specific hands. It's essential to take advantage of these promotions and bonuses to maximize your winnings.

However, it's important to read the terms and conditions of any promotions or bonuses carefully, as they may have wagering requirements or other restrictions that can affect your gameplay and winnings.

Practice Good Video Poker Etiquette

Practicing good video poker etiquette can also improve your chances of winning. Etiquette includes respecting other players' space, not hogging machines, and being polite to the casino staff.

Being polite and respectful to the casino staff can also help you gain their favor, and they may offer you comps or other benefits as a result.

Play Video Poker in Moderation

Finally, it's important to only play video poker online only in moderation and avoid becoming addicted to the game. Video poker can be a fun and exciting form of entertainment, but it's essential to gamble responsibly and avoid risking more money than you can afford to lose.

If you feel that you may have a gambling problem, it's essential to seek help and support from professional resources. The National Council on Problem Gambling and other organizations offer free and confidential help for problem gamblers and their families.

Play online video poker

Online video poker offers several advantages over playing in a land-based casino:

  1. Better Odds: Online video poker typically has better payout percentages than land-based casinos due to lower operating costs.

  2. More Varieties: Online casinos offer a wider variety of video poker games with different rules and paytables, allowing players to choose the game that suits their style and preferences.

  3. Convenience: Players can play online video poker from the comfort of their own home, at any time of the day or night, without having to travel to a land-based casino.

  4. Free video poker games: Many online casinos offer free play options for video poker games, allowing players to practice and develop their skills without risking any money.

  5. Bonuses and Promotions: Online casinos offer various bonuses and promotions for video poker players, such as welcome bonuses, cashback, and free spins, which can help boost your bankroll.

However, it's essential to choose a reputable and trustworthy online casino to ensure fair play and secure transactions. Be sure to do your research and read online casino reviews before choosing an online casino to play video poker.

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