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Top Strategies for Video Poker Variations

Jennifer Lynn Written by Jennifer Lynn
Richard Grant Reviewed by Richard Grant

Video Poker Tutorial

In this article, we’re going to cover basic video poker strategy, a must-know for anyone looking to play this game. Video poker is not just about luck; it also requires some smart thinking. The main part of the strategy is deciding which cards you should keep and which to get rid of. We’ll show you some simple strategies to help you choose wisely. By understanding these basics, you’ll be able to play more confidently and have a better chance at winning. So, let’s get started and dive into the world of video poker strategy together.

How Video Poker Works

Video Poker MachineVideo poker starts by dealing you five cards on the screen. Your goal is to make the best poker hand you can from these cards. You have the choice to keep some cards and replace others. Once you make your decision, the game replaces the cards you don’t want with new ones.

This process of selecting and replacing cards is where your decisions matter. After the final hand is dealt, the machine checks to see if you have a winning combination. If you do, you win a prize based on how strong your hand is. The better the hand, the more money you win.

Video Poker Hands

In video poker, each hand consists of five cards dealt from a virtual deck, similar to a traditional poker game. Your goal is to create the best possible poker hand, with common winning combinations including Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind and Straight. The strength of your hand determines your payout, with higher-ranking hands like a royal flush or four of a kind offering the biggest wins.

Royal Flush
Royal Flush

Straight Flush
Straight Flush

Four of a kind
4 of a Kind

Full House
Full House



Three of a Kind
Three of a Kind Hands Ranking

2 Pairs

Optimal Play Strategies

In the game of video poker, mastering strategies is key to maximizing your chances of winning. These strategies involve making the best possible decisions for holding and discarding cards, based on the specific variation of the game you’re playing.

Hand Strategy
Royal Flush Always hold all cards. The pinnacle of hands, a guaranteed win.
Straight Flush Hold all cards, you’re only one step away from a Royal Flush!
Four of a Kind Keep the four matching cards, discard the fifth for a chance at a full house or better.
Full House Always keep a Full House. The odds of improving this hand are not in your favor.
Flush Hold all cards, the hand is already a winner.
Straight Like the Flush, hold all cards as this is a winning hand.
Three of a Kind Hold the three and discard the other two to aim for a four of a kind or full house.
Two Pair Keep both pairs, discard the fifth card for a shot at a full house.
Pair (Jacks or Better) Hold the pair and discard the other three cards for a chance at three of a kind or better.
Low Pair Hold the pair, discard the others. The pair may improve to a higher hand on the draw.
No Winning Hand Refer to detailed strategy guides for complex decisions based on the variant of Video Poker you’re playing.


Advanced Video Poker Strategies

Advanced Video Poker StrategiesProgressive Jackpot Strategies: For games with progressive jackpots, where the jackpot increases until someone wins it, the key is knowing when to play. The jackpot’s size can affect the game’s overall payout percentage. A common strategy is to play these games only when the jackpot is big, which increases your potential return. Also, remember that you usually need to bet the maximum amount to be eligible for the jackpot, so manage your bankroll accordingly.

Deuces Wild: In this variant, all twos are wild cards. The strategy focuses on holding onto these deuces, as they can transform any hand into a winner. Optimize your hand around the wild cards, often aiming for five of a kind or a wild royal flush.

Double Bonus Poker: This game offers higher payouts for four-of-a-kind hands, especially four aces. The strategy involves playing more aggressively to hit these high-paying hands, often breaking up lower winning hands like full houses or flushes to chase a four-of-a-kind.

Joker Poker: Here, a joker is added to the deck and can be used as any card. The strategy often revolves around the joker, using it to complete straights, flushes, or even a straight or royal flush. Hands with the joker are generally more valuable, so adjust your hold/discard decisions accordingly.

Bonus Poker: This variant offers higher payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands. The strategy involves identifying opportunities to create these specific hands. For example, if you have three aces, it’s often worth it to discard the other two cards, even if they form a part of a winning hand, in hopes of drawing the fourth ace.

Each of these games requires a slightly different approach, and being familiar with the specific strategies can significantly improve your performance and potential payouts.

Advanced Video Poker Tips

Advanced Video Poker TipsUnderstand Variance: Different video poker games have different levels of variance. High variance games offer bigger jackpots but less frequent payouts. Low variance games pay out more often but usually smaller amounts. Choose the type that fits your playing style and bankroll.

Use a Strategy Card: For more complex games like Deuces Wild or Double Bonus, use a strategy card. These tools give you the best plays for every possible hand, helping you make smarter decisions.

Look for Progressive Jackpot Machines: If you’re after big wins, try playing on machines with progressive jackpots. These jackpots grow over time and can pay out large sums, but remember they’re harder to hit.

Manage Your Bankroll Wisely: Set a budget for how much you’re willing to spend and stick to it. Also, choose a machine that matches your bankroll. If you have a smaller budget, don’t play on machines that require higher bets for full payoffs.

Common Mistakes in Video Poker: What to Avoid for Better Play

Common Mistakes in Video Poker In video poker, avoiding common mistakes is just as important as knowing the right strategies, and here we’ll look at some key errors you should steer clear of.
Learn from Your Mistakes: Use software that analyzes your play. It can show you the mistakes you’re making and how to improve. This feedback is invaluable for becoming a better player.

Chasing Losses: Trying to win back money you’ve lost, known as chasing losses, usually leads to losing even more. It’s better to stick to your budget and not let emotions drive your decisions.

Ignoring the Paytable: Not all video poker machines are the same. Playing without checking the paytable can mean missing out on better payouts. Always choose a machine with a good paytable.

Playing Without a Strategy: Jumping into a game without a basic strategy increases your chances of making poor choices. Even a simple strategy can significantly improve your odds of winning.

Not Betting the Maximum Coins When Needed: On many video poker machines, the biggest payouts, especially for a royal flush, come only when you bet the maximum number of coins. If you don’t, you could miss out on these big wins.

Overlooking Lesser Hands: Sometimes players focus too much on hitting the big jackpot hands and ignore smaller wins. Remember, smaller wins can add up over time and keep your bankroll healthy.

Examples of Video Poker Starting Hands

Examples of Video Poker Starting Hands In video poker, the starting hand you get can really affect how you play. Here are some examples of starting hands you might see and some tips on how to play them:

High Pair (like Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces): If you get a pair of these, it’s a strong start. Keep the pair and replace the other three cards to try for three of a kind or even better.

Low Pair (like 10s or lower): While not as strong as a high pair, it’s still worth keeping a low pair. Replace the other three cards to try and improve your hand.

Four to a Flush: If you have four cards of the same suit, keep them and draw one card. You’re trying to get that fifth card to complete a flush.

Four to a Straight: Got four cards in sequence? Hold onto them and draw one card to try for a straight.

Three to a Royal Flush: This hand has three cards that could lead to a royal flush, like an Ace, King, and Queen of the same suit. Keep these and draw two more, hoping for that big win.

Two High Cards of the Same Suit: If you have two high cards like a King and a Queen of hearts, keep them and replace the rest. You might end up with a high pair, a flush, or even a royal flush.

Two High Cards of Different Suits: Keep the high cards and replace the others. You’re aiming for a pair or maybe something better.

One High Card: If you only have one high card, keep it and replace the rest. You’re hoping to get a pair or a better combination.

No High Cards: If you don’t have any high cards or potential combinations, it’s often best to replace all five cards.

Remember, video poker is about making the best hand possible with what you’re given. Sometimes, you’ll need to take a chance and hope for better cards when you draw. Other times, you might have a strong start and just need to tweak your hand a bit.

Pay Tables and Financial Returns

A pay table shows you how much money you can win for each kind of hand. It’s really important to look at the pay table before you start playing, because it tells you how much the game pays out for hands like a full house or a flush. Each video poker game has its own pay table, so the payouts can be different from one machine to another. By understanding the pay table, you can choose a video poker game that offers better chances of winning. We’ll help you learn what to look for in a pay table so you can make smarter choices when you play.

Jacks or Better (9/6 Full Pay)
Royal Flush: 800
Straight Flush: 50
Four of a Kind: 25
Full House: 9
Flush: 6
Straight: 4
Three of a Kind: 3
Two Pair: 2
Pair of Jacks or Better: 1
Financial Return: About 99.5% with perfect play.

Deuces Wild (Full Pay)
Natural Royal Flush: 800
Four Deuces: 200
Wild Royal Flush: 25
Five of a Kind: 15
Straight Flush: 9
Four of a Kind: 5
Full House: 3
Flush: 2
Straight: 2
Three of a Kind: 1
Financial Return: About 100.8% with perfect play.

Bonus Poker (8/5)
Royal Flush: 800
Straight Flush: 50
Four Aces: 80
Four 2s-4s: 40
Four 5s-Ks: 25
Full House: 8
Flush: 5
Straight: 4
Three of a Kind: 3
Two Pair: 2
Pair of Jacks or Better: 1
Financial Return: About 99.2% with perfect play.

Double Bonus Poker (10/7)
Royal Flush: 800
Straight Flush: 50
Four Aces: 160
Four 2s-4s: 80
Four 5s-Ks: 50
Full House: 10
Flush: 7
Straight: 5
Three of a Kind: 3
Two Pair: 1
Pair of Jacks or Better: 1
Financial Return: About 100.2% with perfect play.

Double Double Bonus Poker (9/6)
Royal Flush: 800
Straight Flush: 50
Four Aces with 2-4: 400
Four 2s-4s with A-4: 160
Four Aces: 160
Four 2s-4s: 80
Four 5s-Ks: 50
Full House: 9
Flush: 6
Straight: 4
Three of a Kind: 3
Two Pair: 1
Pair of Jacks or Better: 1
Financial Return: About 98.9% with perfect play.

Remember, these returns assume you’re making the best possible decisions on every hand. Real-world returns might be lower, especially if you’re still learning the game.
These payouts increase with higher bets, except for the Royal Flush, which often has a bonus payout for a maximum bet of 5 coins. Always check the specific machine’s pay table as variations can exist.

Practicing Your Skills

Before you hit the online casino, it’s a smart move to practice your video poker skills online or with a simulator. This way, you can get used to various game types and refine your strategies in a no-pressure environment. You can check out some free video poker games on our website here to start sharpening your skills. Remember, the more you practice, the better your chances of success!

Screenshot Video Poker


In conclusion, having a solid strategy is key when playing video poker. It’s not just about luck; knowing which cards to hold and which to discard can really make a difference in your game. The more you understand the specific rules and strategies of each video poker variant, the better your chances of winning. So, take the time to learn and practice your strategy, and you’ll likely see your video poker skills improve.

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About the author

Jennifer Lynn
Head of Content
Jennifer Lynn has spent 14 years working in the online casino industry, making her a real expert in the field. She's not just skilled at writing about casinos; she also has a deep interest in online gambling games and is a passionate researcher and player. Jennifer offers her expertise on a range of casino games and the smart strategies to use. But her life isn't all about gambling and casinos. She also loves riding horses and practicing yoga, showing that she knows how to balance her professional interests with personal passions.
Last Updated: Jun 18, 2024



What is Video Poker?

Video Poker is a Poker variant that, unlike its table version, is played against a computer, not against other casino players. The basic rules and gameplay remain similar to the variations on Five-Card Draw Poker. The Video Poker machine resembles a Slot machine; however, instead of playing Slots, you need to form the best possible Poker hand out of the cards you're dealt by the RNG. This typically would be a Royal Flush since it is the most valuable combo that you can get. That being said, you need to be familiar with Poker and its main rules before you play Video Poker for real money.


Where can I play Video Poker for real money?

There is an increasing number of online casinos where you can play Video Poker for real money, among other casino games. You can make deposits and withdrawals on gambling sites after you've completed the registration process and make decisions based on your own knowledge of the game.


What do I need to know before I play Video Poker for real money?

You need to be aware of the basic rules of Video Poker, while it is also beneficial if you're familiar with Poker in general and how the game functions. Video Poker machines and Video Poker online function very similarly. The only difference is that you're playing on your computer or smartphone. It's also important to know that you should stick to casino sites that have a valid gaming license and Video Poker games that are based on RNG technology that ensure the outcome is randomly generated.


Where can I play Video Poker for fun?

You can play Video Poker for fun on casino sites that host Video Poker games in demo mode. In this case, you will use virtual funds instead of your own real money to play the game. Otherwise, you will find Poker machines that don't require casino chips. You can always play for fun with your friends, which isn't the same as playing Video Poker, but it's a good way to familiarize yourself with the game.


What should I hold on to Video Poker?

Even though this is a game of chance, you still need to be aware of the rules and even follow a video poker strategy. After you're dealt five cards, you need to choose which cards are worth keeping in the next round. Some players can choose to keep all of them, none, or pick some. Generality's actually advisable to hold onto a Straight Flush, four-of-a-kind Royal Flush, Full House, three-of-a-kind, or two pair.


What decisions matter in Video Poker?

Even though you are playing against the computer, your own skills and decisions are an important part of the game. The main decision that matters is choosing which cards to keep, and after you've learned enough about the game, you'll get better at recognizing a potentially winning combo.


Are Video Poker machines rigged?

Video poker machines are not rigged, and this also applies to video poker games online. Namely, online casinos that are licensed by reputable gambling agencies need to have a valid RNG certificate which proves that every casino game on the site is powered by RNG software. The software is designed for cycling through a bunch of numbers constantly, and it stops when you press the play button, for example. So, you will get a random outcome every time you play Video Poker on a reliable casino site.


What are Video Poker odds?

The low house edge is one of the advantages of playing Video Poker. The house advantage varies based on the type of game you want to play, from 5% to almost 0.5%. The odds of winning a five-card Royal Flush, however, are 4/2,598,960.


What is a Royal Flush on Video Poker?

A Royal Flush needs to have an Ace, Queen of the suit, King, and 10.

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