Video Poker Strategy

Video Poker can be a game of chance, or a game of incredibly good odds, depending on whether a player chooses to apply a proper video poker strategy. For those who truly admire these games, a video poker strategy is most always a dominant part of their game.

If you find the right video poker game, and apply the perfect video poker strategy, you can actually raise the payout percentage to just above 100%! That’s virtually unheard of in any other live or online casino game.

Jacks or Better Video Poker is easily the most popular video poker game of them all, so we’ll base this video poker strategy on a standard Jacks or Better video poker game.

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Finding the Right Video Poker Game

Finding the right Jacks or Better video poker game has everything to do with the pay table. There are two general types of Jacks or Better video poker. One is known as the 8/5 Jacks or Better Pay Table. The other is the 9/6 Jacks or Better Pay Table, otherwise known as “Full Pay”. Playing a Full Pay 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker game is imperative to this video poker strategy.

The 9/6 Pay Table means that a Full House pays 9x your wager, and a Flush pays 6x your wager. The complete pay table, for a 1-coin wager, should look like this:

  • Royal Flush: 800x
  • Straight Flush: 50x
  • 4 of a Kind: 25x
  • Full House: 9x
  • Flush: 6x
  • Straight: 4x
  • 3 of a Kind: 3x
  • Two Pair: 2x
  • Pair (Jacks+): 1x

Video Poker Strategy

Many players will make the mistake of aiming for a single pair of Jacks or higher just to ensure they win the hand. The problem is you don’t really win anything. You merely get your wager back. That’s better than losing, yes, but if you only get your wager back half of the time, and lose your wager the other half of the time, you are still losing money.

The idea of this video poker strategy is to identify the strength of your starting hand. The most common starting hands, in order of most preferred, are:

Two Pair: A starting hand that already consists of any Two Pair. This hand is guaranteed to pay at least 2x on your wager, and has the potential to upgrade to a Full House, worth 9x your wager.

Any Paying Pair: A paying pair would be J+J, Q+Q, K+K or A+A. If you have this hand to begin with, you will keep both of these cards and discard all others. This ensures repayment of your wager, but the idea is to draw to a 3 of a Kind, worth 3x, or Two Pair, worth 2x.

Non-Paying Pair: A non-paying pair is a starting hand with a pair of 10’s or below. Like the paying pair above, the hope is that you’ll draw to a Two Pair or 3 of a Kind, since the low pair alone will not award any payout. Keep the pair and discard all others.

Two Paying Cards: This starting hand does not yet have a pair, but contains two cards that are high enough that if they were to pair, you would get paid. These cards are Jack, Queen, King and Ace. If a hand contains two of these unpaired paying cards, keep them and discard all others. If you have 3 or more paying cards, a proper video poker strategy is to keep the “lowest” two paying cards, (not the highest as most players would automatically do). Also look to see if any of the paying cards are suited. If two paying cards are suited, keep these two cards and disregard the previous “lowest paying cards” rule.

One Paying Card: When your starting hand contains only one paying card – Jack, Queen, King or Ace – keep that card and discard all others.

No Paying Cards: If your starting hand consists of no pairs or better, and all cards valued at 10 or below, a proper video poker strategy recommends discarding all 5 cards and draw an entirely new hand.

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Video Poker Strategy – Draw Hands

After you’ve identified the strength of your starting hand, be careful not to overlook any viable draw hands that a proper video poker strategy would encourage playing, more so than the 6 starting hand possibilities listed above.

There are 6 draw hands recommended to play before the above listed starting hands. They are, in order of preference:

4-Card Royal Flush: If you have 4 cards to a Royal Flush, it is always recommended to play the draw as the payout is incredible. A Royal Flush is suited, Ace-high Straight (i.e. 10h-Jh-Qh-Kh-Ah). If you do not hit the Royal Flush, there is still a decent chance of hitting the normal Straight or Flush in the attempt.

4-Card Straight Flush: The same as a Royal Flush, but not Ace-high. Again the payout is significant enough to attempt this hand over any other. Again, a Straight or Flush may improve your hand to payout eligibility if you don’t hit the better Straight Flush hand.

4-Card Flush: Anytime you have 4 cards of the same suit, you have a good enough chance of hitting the Flush, paying 9x your wager, to negate any of pair+ or paying card hand. Keep the suited cards and take the draw.

3-Card Royal/Straight Flush: A 3-Card Royal/Straight Flush Draw is a hand that contains 3 suited and connected card that could potentially make a straight, royal or otherwise. For example, 10h-Jh-Ah would be a 3-Card Royal Flush Draw, needing the Kh and Qh to complete; 4c-5c-6c would be a 3-Card Straight Flush Draw, needing a 2c-3c, 3c-7c or 7c-8c to complete. Notice that one of the examples needs specific cards, while the other can have three different card combinations, making it the better hand of the two. The straight hand with gaps is called an “inside straight”, as it needs cards inside the cards you already have. The second example is an “outside straight” or “open ended straight”, where there are more options to complete the hand.

4-Card Outside Straight Draw: This is a hand with 4 cards in exact sequence, such as 3-4-5-6 or 8-9-10-J. There are no holes in the connectors, so any outside card would complete the straight. 3-4-5-6 would need a 2 or 7, on the outside.

Ten-Paint: The term Ten-Paint refers to a hand that contains a 10 and a higher card of the same suit, such as 10s-Ks. This hand is only valuable when the player has just one pay card, and a 10 of the same suit. Instead of keeping just the single pay card, a proper video poker strategy tells us to also keep the suited 10.

This Video poker strategy has been tested and approved at 888Casino