VIDEO POKER 

STRATEGY

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VIDEO POKER STRATEGY

Video Poker is a simple game that is quick and easy to learn. The rules may vary depending on what version is being played, but they all operate under the same concept. You always get five cards. The normal poker hand ranks are used, and players can discard or hold as many of their cards as they like. All cards discarded will be replaced at random. If your hand matches any of the winning combinations, you receive a payout.

There is a minimum hand rule that governs how much can be won. The minimum hand rule means a player has to have at least the minimum hand to be eligible and claim a payout. It differs from game to game and depends if the game uses wildcards. Wildcards increase the minimum hand because the player has more chances of creating big winning poker hands.

The minimum hand can be as high as Three Of A Kind, which means the player has to get at least a Three Of A Kind to claim a payout and as low as a pair of jacks. A pair of jacks or tens is the standard minimum for most games. The minimum will vary, so it’s important to check the game before beginning play, to avoid confusion.

The wildcard is always a joker or 2, which means that jokers and 2s can be used to substitute for any card to create winning poker hands. So if a player has three jacks, a joker and one six. It can be four of a kind because the joker, substitutes as a jack. It can also be a Full House but it’s a lower ranked hand, so there is no point in substituting it for a six.

INDEX

1. Video Poker Hands

2. Video Poker Odds

3. Strategies

4. Video Poker Frequently Asked Questions


Video Poker Hands

There are nine poker hand combinations that players will be trying to build; they are ranked from lowest to highest in the following way.  High cards are rarely used in Video Poker because the lowest option in the pay table is usually a pair of 10s or jacks, so they are not counted as an option.  Video poker hands are the same as all other poker variations. The Royal flush is the best and pays the most, except it’s the hand value that matters. Unlike in other poker variants, similar hands are not ranked higher in than each other in Video Poker. A low straight of 3, 4,5,6,7 is the same rank as a high straight of 8,9,10, J, Q and a pair of Aces pays the same as a pair of Queens.

  • High CardHas no combinations. The highest ranked card determines the strength of the hand. Most of the time high cards are useless in Video Poker and pay nothing.
  • A PairTwo cards of the same denomination. The lowest that is payable is usually 10s or jacks. Low pairs can still form a full house or quads though.  
  • Two PairTwo sets of pairs. Two cards of one denomination and two of another.  
  • Three Of A Kind (Trips) – Three cards of the same denomination.
  • StraightA straight is a set of five cards in sequential order. It doesn’t matter about suits as long as the numbers are in the right order.  Ace is counted as 1 in the event of a low straight and is the only card that can be used both high and low. When drawing for a straight, there are two different kinds of draws, and it’s handy to know the difference because one is vastly better than the other. They are
    • Open-ended Straight DrawIs a poker hand with four out of the five cards needed for a straight except the missing card is the next one in sequential order. So 5,6,7,8 X. The term applies to a Straight Flush and Royal Flush as well.
    • Inside Straight DrawAlso known as a gut shot draw is a poker hand with four out of the five cards needed for a Straight. The missing one is always a middle card, for example, 5, 6, 7, X, 9. This concept applies to a Straight Flush and Royal Flush as well.  
  • FlushFive cards of the same suit. There are four suits diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs.  It doesn’t have to be in the correct sequential order; the suit is the only thing that matters in a Flush.   
  • Full House (A full Book)A Full House is three cards of the same denomination along with two of another. It’s a combination of Three Of A Kind and A Pair.
  • Four Of A Kind (Quads) – Four cards of the same denomination. Suits don’t matter.
  • Straight Flush – Five cards in sequential order that are all the same suit. A Straight Flush is a combination of the Straight and the Flush.
  • Royal FlushA Royal Flush is an unbeatable hand in poker and has the highest payout odds in Video Poker. A Royal Flush has to consist of a 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit. It’s a combination of the Straight and the Flush with the added stipulation that it has to be a high straight. 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. In some games of video poker, it will trigger a large jackpot because of its rarity.

 

Pay Table

Players can also access the payable before starting and calculate any theoretical returns to play the best game possible, with the highest payouts.

The odds and payout differ for each version, the example below is from the “Jacks or better” Video Poker Game, which is one of the more widely used variants.

Video Poker Odds

Video poker has some of the best player odds of out of every casino game. It has a low house edge of about 3%, which is the casino’s profit on each play, so in theory, 97% of that should go back to the player. Players also get a choice in the outcome, unlike games of random chance.

Strategies

Bankroll Management Tips

Bankroll management is an essential strategy that players often neglect. Bankroll management can be just as important as knowing the rules.
First and foremost it’s highly recommended that you only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Keep the money for household costs, food, rent and other everyday expenses separate from gambling funds.

It’s a good idea for players to have a set amount they are willing to lose and then stick to it. No matter how tempting it is to exceed that level. Discipline is essential when gambling. Doing anything for long periods of time can get monotonous and dull the senses that’s when Video Poker can get dangerous because impatience starts to kick in. Chasing long shots, switching to higher stakes games to win back losses, are all behaviours that seem like a good idea in the heat of the moment.

A general rule for players could be to quit after losing 50% of their coins and save the rest for another day. A string of losses can have a negative effect on emotions and force silly mistakes that only make matters worse. Players should also have a rough idea of how much they are willing to win. Luck can change like the wind, and even though Video Poker can be a slow skill based game, it can still compound losses at an alarming rate. Knowing this information before playing will help limit losses and keep the games fun because you won’t be worrying about money.

Gameplay Tips

Video Poker isn’t as complex as other forms of poker but there are still many different strategies and angles to consider while playing.

  1. Video Poker has many benefits over the traditional live version. One of the big advantages is that there is no rush when playing online. There are no other players to contend with and zero pressures when making decisions. Players can take a few minutes to think about their poker hands before deciding what to do. It’s crucial when dealing with a tough hand to keep calm and think about the right course of action. Stopping to think can often mean the difference between a Two Pair and a Full house.
  2. Aim for wins rather than huge payoffs. Winning on a Pair is still a win. The goal, other than having fun, is to win and win as often as possible. Patience and a calm mind pay off in poker. Reckless plays like going for inside Straight draws or long shot hands in the vain hope of winning is a fast way of losing all your coins.
  3. Check the pay tables before playing and know the rules, a lot of Video Poker variants have different pay tables. For example in the game Deuces Wild, the 2s can be anything, so hands are easier to make and the pay scale is less because of that. For players who enjoy big risks and going for the jackpots, always bet the maximum to be eligible for all big jackpots. The Royal Flush Jackpot in Jacks Or Better is only payable when you bet the maximum 5 coins.
  4. Practice before you play, there are free versions online that can help players hone their skills and learn the different poker hands. Consider using a strategy table, they are available online and can walk you through each hand as they come up, so you’ll never be confused how to act.

Basic Guide To Playing Hands

The play style and risk-taking attitude of the individual will depend on what hands they like to play. A basic guide could be, if you have one pair, draw three cards and try to make Two Pairs or better.

If you have Three Of A Kind, draw two cards and try to make Four Of A Kind or a Full House. If you have Two Pairs, draw one. These strategies won’t give you big wins, but they have higher chances of not losing. Chasing a Straight or Flush has a high probability of failure, so it’s unwise to discard a pair to chase. When you only have a high card, it’s best to hold it, get four cards back and hope for the best. Play at your own pace and work out what you want to do. Learn the hands, and eventually, you’ll figure out what you like to play and risk.

Three of a kind should be the primary goal when first starting out because in most hands you will be dealt at least one pair initially. Three Of A Kind opens the door for quads and a full house. This strategy aims to make a low paying hand frequently rather than making a strong, high paying hand rarely. Above all though, have patience and keep clam. Every player is different and what works for one person will not always work for another.

Video Poker Frequently Asked Questions

The only goal is to make the best five card hand possible and beat the computer. The rank of the hand depends on how much the payout is. Refer to the games payout tables for more information on how much.
Video Poker is based on the simplest version of poker, Five Card Draw, it’s the easiest poker variant and a good introduction for new players to learn. Video Poker doesn’t require bluffing, reading players or complex betting strategies. It’s even simpler than Five Card Draw, and shouldn't be too hard to pick up. There are also help screens in the game browser if you are need help figuring anything out.
Texas Hold Em is played with several other players and has a whole different style of gameplay. The hand values are the same though. So if you already know Texas Hold Em poker hands, you are already one step ahead.
Maybe. Some players structure their whole strategy around bluffing and reading other players. In Video Poker there is no bluffing or reading, the computer cannot be bluffed or tricked. There are less things to worry about when playing Video Poker but whether it’s easier depends on your playstyle and how you win hands.
It’s a comment on a games payout. A loose machine or a loose game refers to one that pays out frequently and in large amounts.
Video Poker depends on a random number generator that is constantly ticking regardless of whether the player is interacting or not. Legitimate casinos want people to be repeat customers, rigging their games is the fastest way to drive people away and isn't a common practice anymore.
To play Video Poker, all you need is a device that can play the software. A computer, phone, a tablet should work and a good internet connection, plus a basic understanding of the rules.
No. Straights can only be in the correct sequential sequence. Any other combinations are invalid and won’t receive a payout. So 4,5,6,7,8 and 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King are two examples of straights in the correct order.
No. A normal Flush can consist of any five numbers as long as they have all the same suits. A Straight Flush and a Royal Flush, however, require the correct sequential sequence and the same suit which is why their payouts are significantly larger.
The house edge is how legitimate casinos make money. It’s very small in Video Poker and a clever player, with a solid strategy should not notice the small amount. While it is inconvenient it’s the easiest way for casinos to make money, if the house edge is taken away, then many casinos wouldn’t be able to function.
A bad beat is when you lose with a strong hand that has a high statistic for winning. The phrase doesn’t generally get used up much in Video Poker because most of the game revolves around forming payable hands rather than defeating other players.
That depends on your goals. If you just want to win, then aim to get Pairs, Two Pair and Three Of A Kind, they have the lowest odds by far and are relatively easy to get frequently. If you get a pair discard three in hopes of getting at least another Pair or better. If you want to try and go for the big jackpots then aim for Straights and higher and always bet the max because some jackpots, such as the Royal Flush jackpot only count if you bet the max.