Video poker has some of the highest payouts in the casino. It’s a wonderful alternative to slot machines since you have a chance of winning a huge prize, but you’re five times more likely to achieve it. Slot enthusiasts should seriously consider moving on to video poker, because they are considerably more likely than slot players to win that way. The only issue is that in order for you to benefit from the excellent returns, you must learn how to use them properly. If you just guess, your chances of doing worse with slots are slim. You’ve come to the correct spot because we’ll be covering strategy soon.
Each player has five cards in hand. You may choose which ones to keep by tapping the pictures on the screen or pressing buttons on the console. Then you hit the DRAW button, and new cards are added to your hand based on those you did not keep. You win if you have a traditional poker hand such as two pair, straight flush, or four of a kind (which we’ll explain below for those unfamiliar with poker). The amount you earn per round is determined by the machine’s paytable. Here’s an example paytable.
The paytable has five columns because your winnings are determined by whether you played with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 “coins.” (Machines no longer use physical coins; nevertheless, the language persists.) There’s a bonus for the Royal Flush. You’ll gain 4000 coins instead of 1250 if you win the Royal Flush. So when playing video poker, always play five coins (or “Max Bet”). If it’s impossible to play five dollars at a time, go lower-denomination machine.
Video Poker probabilities
The pay schedule is essentially a list of all possible hands and how much each hand pays out. If you’re playing Jacks or Better (the most common Video Poker game), the pay schedule might look something like this:
Hand | 1 Coin | 2 Coins | 3 Coins | 4 Coins | 5 Coins
Royal Flush | 250 | 500 | 750 | 1000 | 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a Kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8
Getting started with Video Poker
Now that you have the gist of it, let’s move on to strategy. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll increase your chances of winning and decrease the house edge.
Pick a game with a good paytable
Not all video poker games are created equal. Some have better payouts than others. When in doubt, go for the full-pay Jacks or Better game. It has a return of 99.54%.
Start with a small bankroll
You should only gamble with money you can afford to lose. When starting out, it’s best to go slow and not bet too much money at once. As you become more experienced, you can gradually increase your bets.
Never chase your losses
If you’re on a losing streak, cut your losses and walk away. The longer you stay at the table, the more likely you are to lose all your money.
Manage your bankroll wisely
When gambling, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how much money you can afford to lose. Be sure to set a budget and stick to it. Only gamble with money you can afford to lose.
Practice makes perfect
Before playing for real money, it’s best to practice first. This will help you get a feel for the game and develop your own strategy. You can find free video poker games online or at most casinos. Give them a try before putting any real money on the line.
Now that you know the basics of how to play video poker, you’re ready to start gambling. Remember to use proper bankroll management and practice before playing for real money. With a bit of luck, you’ll be on your way to becoming a video poker pro in no time!
The Video Poker Machine
Video poker machines are all variations of five-card draw poker. Machines based on seven-card stud have been attempted, but they are few in number. However, the basic game is five-card draw and Jacks or Better is the game by which most variants are derived.
There is no dealer’s hand or any other player’s hand that can be beaten; payouts are strictly dependent on the machine’s pay table. The lowest winning hand is a pair of jacks or better, which is known as “no trumps.”
Each machine has a video display on which cards are dealt. Winnings are usually recorded as credits, which the player may cash out at any time, and the credits are also shown on a meter on the video screen. On some machines, the pay table will be visible; on others, the pay table is painted on the machine’s glass.
The bill validator is located below the screen. Money is inserted into the machine, and credits are shown on the screen. On the left are buttons reading “Cash Out” and “Bet One Credit,” while in the middle are five buttons labeled “Hold/Cancel.” To the right is one button marked “Deal/Draw” and one marked “Bet Max,” whereas to the left is a single button named “Deal/Draw.”
To play, the player must press the buttons to bet and deal. Most machines allow up to five coins or credits at a time. The machine will deduct five credits if the player bets maximum.
After placing your bet, five cards are shown on the screen face up. You have the choice of keeping or discarding any or all of the cards. To retain a card, push the corresponding Hold/Cancel button. You may also hit the same button again to cancel your decision to hold.
After you’ve made all of your hold selections, push the Deal/Draw button. All remaining cards will be discarded and new cards will be generated to take their place. These five cards are the final hand in this instance. The machine compares this hand to the pay table and adds the correct number of credits if it is a winner.
Until recently, some video poker machines demanded that the player push a button to discard a card rather than holding it. This confused players who transitioned from one type of machine to another. Today, “HOLD” buttons are common, although a few older machines with the “DISCARD” label remain in operation.
The Pay Table
A 9-6 machine, for example, is a version of Jacks or Better regarded as full-pay, with returns of 99.5 percent and optimal play. The complete table for a 9-6 machine, assuming one coin is played per hand: Pair of jacks or better, 1; two pair, 2; three of a kind, 3; straight flush, 4; flush, 6; full house (9), four pairs (25), straight flush (50), and royal flush are all examples of the payouts associated with this game.
Payouts are proportional to the amount of coins played, with one exception: a royal flush pays 250 coins for one coin, 500 for two coins, 750 for three coins, and 1,000 for four or five coins. On a royal flush (paying 250 coins for each coin), the payout is increased from 4,000 to 250 per round; on subsequent rounds it falls back down to 4,000.
Casinos frequently alter the payouts on flush and full house Jackpots to reduce the amounts won. Instead of 9-6 machines, 8-5 games, paying 8-to-1 for the full house and 5-to-1 for the flush, are available in numerous casinos throughout the United States. An 8-5 machine pays 97.9 percent when played well; a 7-5 machine pays 96.2 percent.
9-6 machines are the most popular in Nevada, although they can be found in Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, and Missouri. In Nevada, some casinos offer an 8-5 pay table; when this happens, 9-6 and 8-5 pay tables are sometimes presented at the same bank of machines. Before you sit down to play, make sure to verify the pay table. If you live near several casinos that are within walking distance of each other, don’t accept a pay table that is below the area’s standards.
The best Jacks or Better machines ever distributed were 10-6 and 9-7 models from a casino in Las Vegas. Both versions had payout rates of more than 100% for optimum play, which the casino advertised with signs on each machine. Of course, the establishment didn’t lose money on these devices; most video poker players aren’t skilled enough to handle them at optimal level.
Another issue to consider: Even a skilled player on 100-percent-plus machines will have more losing sessions than winning periods. Those figures assume that the user will achieve a normal share of royal flushes with full coins played throughout the long term. Royal flushes are expected about once every 40,000 hands—about once every 80 hours of play. There are no promises, however. The payout percentages will be lower if there aren’t enough royal flushes or if fewer than the maximum number of coins are played.
“Tell me how to win!” you say. “Well, in the following part, you will find methods that can reduce some of your chances of winning.”
Video Poker Strategy
Always keep a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, three of a kind, or two pair in your hand. However, if you have three of a kind and would like to discard the remaining two cards for four of a kind while preserving full house possibilities open, and if you have two pair and would want to discard the fifth card for a full house.
Only when you have four cards to a royal flush should you break up a flush or a straight. That is, if you have ace-king-queen-jack-9, discard the 9 to take a chance at the large payoff for the 10 of clubs. That still leaves open the possibility of a flush with any other club, a straight with any other 10, and a pair of jacks or better with any ace, king, queen, or jack.
If you have four cards to a royal flush or four cards to a lower straight flush, break up the pair. Instead of a single high card (jack, queen, king, or ace), maintain a low pair.
When you’re playing a four-card inside straight, don’t draw one with the missing card in the middle rather than on either end unless it contains at least three high cards. A four-card open straight is one that has room available on either end to complete the hand; for example, a 4-5-6-7 hand may be completed with a 3 at one end or an 8 at the other to make a straight. An inside straight needs space in the center to finish the hand; 4-6-7-8 requires a 5 to become a straight. Open straights offer your play greater chances of success since there are twice as many cards accessible to fill up the straight.
How to Play Video Poker and Win: Optimal Strategy
The more complex, but more precise technique should be attempted once you’ve gotten the hang of the simple one. The below is a method that works on all Jacks or Better machines, including those with bonus rounds. It varies by less than one percent from optimal on 9-6 Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker devices.
In both versions, a couple of hands are never broken up. Of course, if you’re dealt a royal flush, you hold all five cards and wait for your payout. (The machine will display “Jackpot!” or “Winner!” In these situations, the winnings will be paid out by an employee rather than the machine. If you put more money in the machine, it will not accept it.)
Hold all of your cards on a straight flush or a full house. All four matching cards may be held in a four-of-a-kind hand. Hold three of a kind while discarding the other two for the chance at four of a kind or a full house. Hold both pairs in a two-pair hand, but throw away the fifth card for the chance of forming a full house.
However, in the appropriate situations, the player may occasionally break up a flush, a straight, or a pair of jacks or better. If you don’t have one of “always keep” hands, use this list. Find the highest-ranking hand that suits your predraw hand and discard any cards that do not belong. For example, if your hand comprises Jack of Spades, Jack of Diamonds, 10 of Diamonds, 9 of Diamonds, and 8 of Diamonds , you have four cards to an open straight flush in diamonds and a pair of jacks or better.
The four-card open straight flush comes in higher than the pair of jacks or better, so you’d throw away the jack of spades and draw to a four-card straight flush. For a pair of jacks, you give up the guaranteed 1:1 return, but you have a chance at a straight flush with either a queen or 7 of diamonds; you could draw a flush with any other diamond by drawing the jack of clubs or hearts; and you may still finish with a pair of jacks by drawing the jack of either clubs or hearts.
Inside straights or straight flushes are distinguished from open straights or straight flushes.
Q: Why should I care about the house edge?
A: The house edge is the percentage of each bet that the casino expects to keep over the long run—thousands of bets. For example, if you’re playing Jacks or Better with a 9-6 pay table, the house edge is 0.54%. That means that, on average, you can expect to lose $0.54 for every $100 you bet. If you play with perfect strategy, you can reduce this edge to less than half a percent.
Q: What’s an “Inside Straight?”
A: An inside straight is a hole in a sequence where the missing card is in the middle of the straight. For example, 4-5-7-8. You can fill an inside straight by drawing a 6.
Q: What’s an “Open Straight?”
A: An open straight is a hole in a sequence where the missing card is on either end of the straight. For example, 4-5-6-7. You can fill an open straight by drawing a 3 or an 8.
Q: What’s a “High Card?”
A: A high card is any jack, queen, king, or ace.
Video poker is a popular casino game that can be extremely fun and rewarding to play. By following the tips and strategies in this guide, you can increase your chances of winning and have a great time doing it. Thanks for reading!