JeffBet by Matthew Gover |
Date of Publishing: 26 October 2022

5/5 - (1 vote)

Video Poker Strategy

People playing video poker for the first time may find it both intriguing and possibly complicated. If this sounds familiar, you might be happy to know that this is a very normal reaction, but things do get much easier as you understand the game. As with other casino games, winning at video poker requires an element of luck. Still, some strategies could put you one step ahead of the competition. 

Are you the type of person who likes to turn on your screen and see what happens or are you the type to go away and study for days to perfect your poker strategy? In this video poker strategy guide, we’ll explore some video poker tips to help you increase your winning potential.

You Need to know the Rules of Video Poker

There are various video poker games in online casinos, and each has slightly different rules and payouts. The diversity of games can be overwhelming, even for those who have some prior experience playing traditional poker. Therefore, before playing video poker games of any variant, you should become familiar with the basic rules. 

Since there is no strategy that can guarantee success, there is every chance beginner’s luck can be on your side but over time a complete disregard for strategy will come back to haunt you. Even the most basic strategy based on the rules of the game will see your chances of winning increase.

A Brief Explanation of Video Poker

Getting your hands on a winning combination of cards is essentially the aim of the game. Players familiar with classic poker should have little trouble grasping the fundamentals of video poker, as the card combinations used are nearly identical to those used in the traditional card game. 

To begin, note that it is a variation of the standard 5-card draw poker game. After a wager is placed and the Deal button is pressed, the poker machine will dispense five cards to the player. After then, you can swap out any one card for another (or all of them) until you have a winning hand.

As soon as the cards are dealt, the computer checks to see if the player has a winning hand. If that’s the case, you’ll get the payout specified for that specific combination. It’s imperative to know the odds of a video poker game because the highest-paying poker hand, the Royal Flush, is considerably less likely to occur than a hand with four Queens or any other face value.

Although many players don’t believe it, it is conceivable to get, say, two Full Houses in a row. The cards dealt to you in a game of video poker are fully random and unpredictable due to the Random Number Generator employed by every legitimate casino. While luck and charms may appear to have some sway with certain people, they have little to no bearing on the outcomes on games of chance.

The Different Types of Video Poker

There are a plethora of other poker variants, each with its own unique set of rules. For example, some decks feature “Wild Cards” that can be used in place of any other card, making it much easier to build a winning hand. There are also several variants with bonus features, some with a jackpot awarded for a specific hand, and variants where you can play multiple hands at once. Below are some of the best video poker variants.

Jacks or Better

Draw Poker, now more popularly known as “Jacks or Better,” was the first video poker game to be released and was introduced in the 1970s. This most popular variation of video poker is based on the traditional 5-card draw poker game that has long been a favourite in casinos. A single 52-card deck is used for the game, and with each draw, they receive 5 cards. The best hand you can have is a royal flush, while jacks or better serve as the lowest winning hand.

Tens or Better

The most well-known variant of Jacks or Better is Tens or Better. Essentially, it’s the same, but the lowest winning hand is a pair of tens rather than a pair of jacks (or higher). As a 6/5 game, the payouts for a full house and flush are pegged at 6 and 5 times the stakes, respectively.

Even with perfect strategy, your long-term winnings will be less than they would be in a game with larger payouts due to the reduced probabilities of winning and higher house edge.

Aces and Eights

Aces and Eights is a variant that is very similar to Jacks or Better and is straightforward for beginners to master. In this version, you gain extra points if you amass a Four of a Kind of either the Aces or the Eights. The pay table for this game is pretty conventional, and it is likewise played with a single deck of cards.

Players also compete against the dealer in a double-or-nothing bonus round if they receive a winning hand. Five cards are dealt to them, all of which are face down. The player must select one of the remaining four cards when one of them is revealed. The winnings from the initial round are doubled if the player’s card has a higher value. The player loses the wager if its value is lower.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is a common form of video poker due to the game’s perceived high payoff rates (over 100%) and its relative ease of play. The essential distinction is that all Twos act as wild cards. For example, if you have two and two sevens, you automatically have three sevens. The Twos in the deck can be used in place of any other card, making it easier to form a winning hand.

Payouts begin with three of a kind rather than a pair of Jacks. When the Wild Card is used to complete a Royal Flush, the resulting hand is the second-best possible one and is known as a Deuces Royal Flush. The highest paying hand is still a Royal Flush, but it’s called a Natural Royal Flush to set it apart from the Royal Flush with Twos.

Video Poker Basic Strategy

The worst thing you can do while trying to win at video poker is to take wild guesses. Keep in mind that if you have the skills and employ the best video poker strategy, your chances of winning will increase. Some newcomers to poker don’t realise that a reasonable sample size of games to judge your skill level could be well over 1000. Therefore do not get too bogged down on short-term results.

You should familiarise yourself with demo or free video poker games before putting down any serious cash at a real machine. In any case, now that we’ve covered the background, we can begin talking tactics. A basic poker strategy is simply knowing what to do based on the specific hand of cards you are dealt. The best cards to hold vary from game to game based on the specifics of the rules and the payout structure. Still, it’s always the best idea to choose the right pay table and get a poker strategy guide that works for the variant you are playing.

How do you know you are choosing the correct pay table?

The fact that the video poker machine displays the theoretical return on your stake before you start playing is a major plus. So, it’s important to look around for the best video poker machines with generous payouts.

Knowing that the return on a given video poker machine is determined by the paytable is essential for selecting the most lucrative machine. Video poker, for instance, often returns a 3% average profit to casinos.

The “house edge” is the term for the casino’s inherent advantage. It is expected that, after deducting the casinos’ take, you will be left with a return of between 97% and 100%, depending on the specifics of the machine in question.

For this reason, it’s important to research several machines and their paytables before settling on a video poker game with the best odds of winning.

What a Video Poker Strategy Chart looks like

All games excluding those using wild cards have identically structured strategy charts. A strategy chart’s top spot should be reserved for the hand that generates the highest average return. A royal flush is the best possible hand in video poker and is rewarded accordingly in most games. In descending order of profitability, it is followed by lesser paying hands and then partial hands. Keep in mind that sometimes, even if they aren’t winning hands in and of themselves, partial hands will be included over winning hands because their average return (for all conceivable outcomes) is greater than a dealt winning hand.

What you need to Avoid when playing Video Poker

Good poker can sometimes evolve around making as few mistakes as possible. Therefore you need to consider what things you should not do rather than just focusing on what you need to do. Here is some advice we think you should take on board.

Ignoring the Paytable: The pay table is the single most important piece of data a player can have about a poker machine’s possible winnings. 

Not learning the rules: After tracking down your desired poker machines, not familiarising yourself with the rules could mean not knowing the right strategies or tips for video poker to use. This would be especially bad if you find yourself in a great position but your lack of knowledge costs you.

Never play with superstitions: Dozens of online gambling superstitions could cloud your better judgment when playing video poker. Even though poker sometimes has this mystical perception of looking through someone’s soul, it is a game where people who know the cold hard data the best usually succeed the most.

Use these tips the next time you play video poker

Winning video poker is more realistic when you have some basic tips to fall back on. Here are some of the best video poker game tips to remember:

Never forget your strategy chart: You can learn the optimal approach for any given video poker machine by consulting video poker strategy cards.

Have proper bankroll management: Always know how much you can afford to lose before you play. Stop playing immediately if you hit your budget during the session.

Opt for games with the RTP: Learning how to play video poker is one thing. Knowing how to choose the best video poker machine is another. Always look out for the games with the best RTP.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

The video poker strategy jacks or better can help you make the best decisions if you opt for this poker variant.

  1. Hold all four if you have a hand with four to a straight or a flush.
  2. Hold If you have a hand, including three to a royal flush.
  3. Hold and draw three fresh cards If you have a pair of any value.
  4. Hold If you’ve got three cards to a straight flush.
  5. In the absence of any of the above, hold any jacks and any other cards greater than a jack.

Video Poker Terminology

Video poker odds: Odds give the player a statistical likelihood of the possible outcomes.

Face cards: Queens, Jacks, and Kings are face cards.

Full House: A hand with a pair and three of a kind is a full house.

Hand: All five cards with a player at any point are a hand. 

Hold: After receiving their original hand of five cards, players can decide which ones to keep (hold) and which to exchange.

Our Verdict

The majority of advice and strategies on how to play video poker are given in the form of a numbered list. You work your way down from the top until you find the hand that corresponds to the one you are holding. The relevant cards are then retained, and play continues. You’d do well to look out for the best-paying poker machines and leverage the tips we’ve shared to improve your winning chances.

Video Poker Strategy FAQs

Video poker strategies could work when used correctly. Those learning how to win video poker could benefit from using video poker strategy charts.
On strategy charts, you can see every conceivable hand in the game. The best hand is always listed first, followed by the second best, and so on. So, it's almost impossible to go wrong while using a chart.
Always look at the pay table, as we’ve mentioned earlier in this video poker guide. The pay table shows you the potential profitability of each machine.
Video poker cheat sheets or strategy cards are legal and allowed at online casinos.
A royal flush video poker is a form of straight flush. The major difference is that a royal flush consists entirely of cards of the same suit.

About the Author

Author: Matthew Gover.

After graduating, Matthew began working as an English teacher abroad, initially in Spain and then Vietnam before finally coming back to the UK to settle. Matthew has always had a love for writing and an even bigger love for the igaming industry... Read More

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