Video Poker Strategies

A version of Poker played on a machine, the aim is to get the best possible 5 card poker hand.
Video poker entered land-based casinos in the seventies. Today, it is one of the most popular forms of gambling, perfect for those players who are after a game of skill, low house edge, the chance of a large win and the anonymity of playing alone.
If you know the basic poker hands you are halfway to mastering a game with a higher element of skill than many casino games such as Slots.
The earliest version of Video Poker was known as Draw Poker, featuring a low hand of two pairs. This changed to a pair of jacks or better which further increased the popularity as more hands were winners. These days there are hundreds of variations of the game, all of which have varying payout tables.

Our video poker strategy will cover the following topics:

  1. The standard Paytable for a 5-coin machine

  3. Video Poker Tips

  5. Video Poker Strategies

  7. Video Poker Worst bets – ones to avoid

  9. Rules of Video Poker

The standard Paytable for a 5-coin machine
Paytables can vary from casino to casino so it is worth doing your research before playing, below is a version of a standard paytable for a machine which allows you to play 5 coins, such as the popular Jacks or Better.
Normally, playing 1 to 4 coins tend to have the same returns, but playing the maximum number of coins, thanks to an increased payout for a Royal Flush, is the way to get the highest returns.
Remember, you can always reduce the size of the coin if you don’t want to risk playing 5 coins at a higher stake, but it is always advisable to play maximum coins for when that Royal Flush finally comes in.
Hand 1 Credit 2 Credits 3 Credits 4 Credits 5 Credits
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a Kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 Pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or Better 1 2 3 4 5
Approx Return 98.4% 98.4% 98.4% 98.4% 99.5%


Video Poker Tips

Tip 1: Of all the hands dealt only 21% are winning hands. It’s the truth of video poker. The rest, which is 79%, are losers. The profitable video poker player knows what he must do with 70% of the hands dealt so that it becomes a winner.
Tip 2: Play Maximum Coins. If you bet five coins, all winning hands are paid out by X 5, except for the royal flush. This is a bonus amount designed as an incentive to play five coins. Any player who plays less than maximum coins will contribute to a Royal Flush that will be won by another player. You don’t want other players to win at video poker you want to win! So, play for the royal flush.
Tip 3: Before you start playing, be on the lookout of only for a machine with the most favorable payouts. A 9 / 6 will generally hit the royal flush once for every 40,000 hands. The 8 / 5 odds are once for every 45,000 hands etc – So try and play 9 / 6 machines only. Play the 9/6 machine and you increase your odds of success.
Tip 4: Do not rush. Playing faster will not bring any results, except perhaps negative ones. You must take your time (no need to rush anyway). To win, you will have to invest time, and not just money. A player, on the 9 / 6 machine, has odds to 1:40,000 to get a Royal Flush, or equivalent to approximately 40 hours of play. You need to keep playing the machine until you win the royal flush to win at video poker You will finance your play from your bankroll, or by collecting money from the lesser hands until you do win at video poker. Keep in mind to win at video poker you need the royal flush.
Tip 5: It is already obvious that you need to play maximum coins, but you also need to look at the size of the jackpots on several machines and then play the one that has biggest paying jackpot.
Tip 6: Each hand is set up by an RNG (Random Number Generator). The moment you start to play, the hand is set in stone. The machine will randomly select all the cards from a 52-card deck and deal them out.
Tip 7: There’s no memory. As explained in tip six, the system uses an RNG to set up the hands. The system has no memory. It does not know that you have not had a full house in 400 hands or that you just received three four of a kind hands in a row. It’s possible to go 100,000 hands without a four of a kind and it’s possible to get ten in a row. The machine does not keep track, because, in the end, the numbers work out.

Video Poker Strategy – What should I hold?

Like many casino games, there is no strategy that is set in stone, but given the number of options a Player has due to the number of variations that can be held each game, the skill level is higher than many Casino games.
The below table is in order of cards you should look to hold in order to maximize your returns, therefore start from the top and work your way down until you come across one that relates to your particular hand. This gives you the best possible opportunity to become a winning Player.
For the clarification of terms, a ‘High’ pair or card is Jack or better, whilst a ‘Low’ pair or card is 10 or lower.
For information on Poker Hands, see our Poker hand rankings

4 of a Kind, Straight Flush, Royal Flush
4 cards of a Royal Flush
3 of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House
4 cards of a Straight Flush
2 Pair
High Pair
3 cards of a Royal Flush
4 cards of a Flush
Low Pair
4 cards to a Straight
2 Suited High Cards
3 cards of a Straight Flush
2 Unsuited High Cards (if you have more than 2 of these, pick the lowest 2)
Suited 10/J, 10/Q or 10/K
One High Card
Discard everything


Video Poker Worst bets – ones to avoid

  1. Avoid the impulse to play any machine. Always check the payouts and go for those with the highest ones.

  3. Avoid holding a high card when you have a pair. Unless the high card is part of the pair, discard it as it wastes space in your hand. This is one of the most common mistakes you can make as it can reduce your chances of winning by 5%.

  5. To maximize payouts, you should avoid playing less than the maximum number of coins allowed. On a machine that has a maximum bet of three coins, if you play just one or two coins, you are simply priming the machine for other players who play maximum coins. If you need to, drop down a coin level to keep the cost within your budget. The appearance of the Royal Flush (biggest jackpot) is roughly once every 40,000 plays. This is exactly the reason why it is important always to bet the maximum amount, especially on Progressive machines. This ensures you get paid out to the maximum when the Royal Flush does appear.

  7. Avoid playing for shorter periods of time. The short game period decreases the odds of hitting the Royal Flush. This hand is the key to winning the big Jackpot. Instead, play for longer periods of time. It takes roughly 40 hours of play on a Video Poker machine to reach 40,000 plays. Keep in mind that the Royal Flush appears once in every 40,000 plays. Playing longer improves your chances of hitting the Royal Flush.

  9. Study your hand carefully, especially online. Remember, there is no time limit so consider all your options carefully.


Video Poker Rules

1. The goal of the game
The aim of the game is to make the best possible 5 card poker hand. In standard games, you get dealt 5 cards and then have to decide which to keep and which to discard. The discarded cards are then replaced giving you your final hand.
2. Setting-up the game
a. Set your budget – We would recommend you take a budget of at least 50 bets when playing Video Poker and casino table games.
b. Choose your machine – There are many different versions of Video Poker available online and in land-based casinos, ensure you are clear on which version you are playing. The rules will differ for each in terms of the minimum hand required for a payout and the payout table itself.
c. Decide how much you want to bet – Like most slots, you can adjust the bet size and the number of coins for each game.
d. Decide how much you want to play with – As Video Poker is played on a machine, you can enter coins as you go along in a land-based casino, or top up your balance by depositing if playing online. You can choose the best size and how many times you bet this amount per game (you can normally bet between 1 and 5 coins, so if you pay for $1 per credit, you can choose whether you bet $1 (1 coin) up to $5 (5 coins).
3. Course/progress of the game
a. Once you have decided how much to bet, press the deal button.
b. You will now be dealt 5 cards from a standard deck.
c. Once you have the 5 cards, you will be asked to choose which of these, if any, you keep. You will see a button below each of the cards, pressing this button toggles between holding the card and discarding it. Be aware that the machine often holds some cards for you if, for example, you have a pair or 4 consecutive cards. Although you don’t have to go with the cards the machine holds, it is normally advisable to do so.
d. Once you have held your cards, press deal again and the cards you chose not to hold will be replaced by new ones. As the game is played with 1 deck of cards, you will not receive the same cards that you discarded. Some variations of Video Poker include Jokers, these can be used as any card, the Computer will replace it with the card to make the best possible 5 card hand.
e. Most machines allow you to gamble any wins. This is normally purely down to luck such as guessing what colour the next card will be to try and double your win or guessing which suit the next card will be and winning 4 times your payout. Generally, this should be avoided, just collect your winnings and move on.
f. You will then be paid out according to the paytable and number of coins.
how to play Video Poker
In the screenshot above, you can see:
1. The payouts for each coin/bet level (the minimum for a win in this version is a pair of Jacks). The coin/bet level you have chosen is highlighted; this can be changed before the start of any game.
2. The payout for your specific choice of coin/bet level.
3. The 5 cards you have a button below each allowing you to hold your chosen card/s.
4. The coin/bet level you are currently playing, this can be changed by clicking on the green Bet Level button before the start of a new game.
5. After each game, you can view your payout and bet amount here.
6. The value of each coin you are playing. As the coin value here is £10 and you are playing coin/bet level 5, your total bet for each game is £50 (£10 X 5 coins).
7. The action buttons where you can deal the cards, change the bet level, automatically place the max bet (in this case 5 coins at your chosen coin value) and the gamble button where you can gamble after any win.

Video Poker Related Articles:

Jacks or Better Strategy
Jokers Wild Strategy
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Deuces Wild Strategy

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