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Video Poker Strategy

As with any decision-making activity or game, strategy begins before you start playing. Video Poker is no exception to this rule.

It's important to remember, however, that while a lot of decision-making is involved in Video Poker, you're still ultimately playing against the house. In other words, it's tough to get an edge over the casino, but you'll still have more control over outcomes here than in a game like Roulette.

Accordingly, what follows, below, is a gathering of several different general Video Poker strategies, which can help improve your chances of winning.

Know Your Video Poker Varieties

First of all, remember that Video Poker comes in several different varieties and you should really make sure that you're familiar with the particular rules and payout schedule of the actual game that you are playing. This is important and cannot be overstated – different styles and variations necessitate different approaches as different payout schemes and probabilities are featured.

Being aware of these differences and taking advantage of the relative strengths and weaknesses is perhaps the most important part of any Video Poker strategy.

Once you've become familiar with the different games and their variations, you'll need to pick your machine. Although many players fail to take this step, you should determine which machine has the best payout schedule and then, obviously, use that particular one.

Returns from Video Poker are usually much better than in slots and you have more of an ability to manipulate the house edge. You'd think it’s obvious, but too often players are in such a rush to sit down that they end up choosing a machine with a payout schedule inferior to that which can easily be found elsewhere – sometimes just around the corner or a few clicks away.

Best Video Poker Machines

Again, related to knowing which game it is that you are playing, we'd suggest sticking to one form at a time. Jacks-or-Better is perhaps the most well-known and, with a global popularity, good returns, and its similarity to regular 5-card Draw Poker, the game is perfect for any beginners out there.

You'll also need to consider how much you intend to wager. Because payouts are tied to both your hand AND your bet, you're going to want to think this through thoroughly.

If you're going after that giant jackpot, you'll need to put up higher wagers, even though your chances of winning the 'big one' may be slim. Then again, you'd also hate to miss out on a truly gigantic jackpot because your wager was just short of the required minimum.

The decision is mostly a personal one and depends on your bankroll and objective(s). The only advice we can give is that if you're not going for that big jackpot, stay at least a couple of units away from the minimum. That way, you really are saving money instead of just missing out on that big jackpot should it hit!

Basic Video Poker Strategy

Once you've selected your game and a machine, your strategy now focuses on your choice of which cards to discard.

If you're just starting out, picking up a strategy card might be a good idea because it instructs you clearly as to which card(s) to discard for any typical hand. All you really need be able to do though is decide/know which combination of 2 or more cards constitutes your highest-ranking combination, and then discard the cards that don't correspond to that combination.

Once you're able to do that, you're off to a good start.

While no other brilliant strategy or system serves as a silver bullet, going with the plan of holding onto that best combo while discarding all others is about as sound a strategy as you're going to come across. Combine that with accurate game and payout selection(s), and you're on as good of a track as anyone to success.

Below we've included simplified strategy guides for Jacks-or-Better and Deuces Wild Draw Poker – two of the most popular and prevalent Video Poker varieties often found online. We have also included a quick breakdown of tips/strategy for Jokers Wild, another popular Video Poker game.

Check back often as we will be continuously adding new games along with respective strategy guides. If there is a variety or game in particular that you would like us to profile, do not hesitate to let us know.

For some of you, these tips may seem rather obvious. But, if you're a beginner, read on and take these to heart when playing any of these games as, generally speaking, they represent some of the best ways to improve your chances of success.

'Jacks-or-Better'

 
  • Obviously, stay on hands such as Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, and a Full House
  • Draw one card to a four card Royal Flush
  • Draw one card to a four card Straight Flush - inside or outside
  • Draw two cards to Three of a Kind or a three-card Royal or Straight Flush
  • Draw one card to Two Pair or four cards to a Flush
  • Draw three cards to any pair or any two high cards (J, Q, K, or A)
  • Draw one card to a four-card outside Straight
  • Draw four cards to any high card

Deuces Wild 

  • Obviously, stay on hands such as Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, and a Full House
  • Draw one card to a four-card Straight or Royal Flush
  • Draw two cards to a three-card Royal Flush
  • With Two Pair, discard one pair and draw three cards to the other pair
  • Draw one card to a four-card Flush or Straight
  • Draw two cards to a three-card Straight Flush
  • Draw three cards to a suited Q-K, Q-J, or 10-J
  • Draw one card to a four-card Deuce Royal
  • Draw one card to a four-card Deuce Straight
  • Hold any winning hand that has Deuces. Break up a Flush, Straight, or Three-of-a-Kind for any four-card Straight or Royal Flush
  • Draw one card to a four-card double-Deuce Royal or Four-of-a-Kind
  • With three Deuces and any two unrelated cards, draw two cards
  • Hands with Deuce(s) and nothing else, hold the Deuce(s)

Jokers Wild

When playing this variety, remember that only K and A are high cards here: this is a Kings-or-Better game.

Some general tips to keep in mind with Jokers Wild:

  • Keep a Joker if you get it, as you'll only witness this roughly once in every ten hands
  • Do not keep an inside Straight
  • Straight Flushes pay well and they are considerably more frequent than in a game like Jacks-or-Better

 

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