Video Poker Strategy
Video poker strategy gives players the best odds of winning during their gaming sessions. If you play video poker optimally, the theoretical return-to-player (RTP) becomes a reality.
This guide to video poker strategy introduces players to the basics of this often-overlooked casino game. We discuss strategy charts, provide a few tips, and cover specific games like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. We also explain a few terms and definitions to understand the tips better.
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Does Video Poker Strategy Work?
Yes, the strategies for video poker, work. It’s one of the few casino games that require skill, so studying video poker strategy is worth the effort. Gambling experts often write that this game has one of the best return-to-player (RTP) percentages. The message sometimes gets lost because RTP requires players to memorize strategy charts.
“Charts” is the keyword. Each game variant has a different strategy chart. The strategies for Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild are not the same. Each game has multiple pay tables, so each one has multiple charts.
If you’re a new casino player, check out our OUSC Video Poker Guide to learn the fundamentals of how to play and increase your odds of winning.
5 Winning Video Poker Strategy Tips
Though video poker strategy is complex, several tactics work no matter what variant of the game you’re playing. Keep these five tips below in mind.
Choose High RTP GamesLearn the games with the best RTPs, then master the strategy for those games. As a general rule, the most popular games – Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Bonus Poker – have the best return-to-player.
Place the Max BetPlace a 5-coin wager, which unlocks the max paytable. The max jackpot increases significantly from a 4-coin to a 5-coin bet. Choose a smaller coin denomination if the 5-coin bet is too expensive for your bankroll.
Learn Poker HandsMost video poker games are based on 5-card draw, the game many of us first learned to play at home. If you don’t know draw poker’s hand ranks, then learning the poker hands is essential.
Select the Right PaytableTwo different Jacks or Better machines might have different payouts for the same hands. The games post these payouts in an easily-read paytable. Generally, the payouts for royal flushes, full houses, and flushes change from one paytable to the next.
PracticeAs you’re learning how to play video poker, practice using a free-play version. Most real money online casinos have free demo games. Click on the game icon, then choose “Practice” instead of “Real Money” when prompted.
Video Poker Strategy Chart
Video poker strategy charts include a series of suggested plays. The higher up the chart, the greater precedence a hand takes. For instance, if it has “2 Pairs” listed above “Any 4 Cards of a Straight Flush”, then you would keep the two pairs instead of the four cards to a straight flush.
At the same time, if the chart has “4 Cards of an Open Straight Flush” listed above “2 Pairs”, then you would forego the payout for the two pairs and hope for the fifth card in the straight flush on the redraw. In any instance, whatever hand you have that’s highest on the chart, that is the play you should make when burning cards.
Using Video Poker Strategy Charts – Key Takeaways
When using video poker charts, keep these things in mind. It can seem complicated at first, but practice helps players with memorization. Keep a chart for your game nearby when you first start.
- Learn basic poker hands, such as whether a full house is better than a flush (it is).
- Read video poker strategy charts from the top-down, so if you have two potential hands on the draw, you will play whichever hand is higher.
- “4 to a flush” or “4 to a straight” means you have four of the five cards needed to complete a flush or a straight.
- “Suited” means two are more cards have the same suit: hearts, diamonds, spades, or clubs.
- An outside straight means the cards you have are consecutive (example: 4-5-6-7), so you can build the straight from either end of the sequence (3 or 8).
- An inside straight means the cards you have aren’t consecutive (example: 4-5-7-8), so you only have half the chance of completing the straight.
Download your video poker strategy chart here.
Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy
Full pay Jacks or Better has an RTP of 99.54%. Much of the strategy involves building straights or flushes because of their high payouts. Keep in mind the following tips when playing Jacks or Better.
- Keep 4 to a royal flush, 4 to a straight flush, or 4 to a flush.
- Keep 4 to an outside straight with 0-2 high cards or 4 to an inside straight with 4 high cards.
- Keep 3 of a kind, two pairs, or unsuited 10-J-Q-K. Keep each of these card combinations if the cards are the same suit: QJ, KQ, KJ, AK, AQ, AJ, TJ, TQ, and TK.
- Keep these card combinations, even if the cards aren’t suited: JQK, JQ, or any two unsuited high cards if the highest card is a king or an ace.
Jacks or Better Strategy Cheat Sheet
Strategy often involves tough choices. For instance, you could have 4 to a flush (four cards of the same suit) but also have a low pair. You would keep the four suited cards and get rid of the low card that’s unsuited, hoping you’d receive another card of the same suit. Though you’re tossing away a specific winning hand, the chance at winning a much higher payout for a flush is worth the risk.
Download your Jacks or Better strategy chart here.
Deuces Wild Video Poker Strategy
Because this game stipulates that 2s are wild cards, much of the Deuces Wild video poker strategy revolves around what you do when you receive2s. If you receive three or four deuces in the original deal, you’ll keep these in the hopes you collect 1-2 more deuces in the redraw.
If you receive two deuces, several hands are given higher priority than that pair. You should prioritize any four of a kind of higher, 4 to a royal flush, and 4 to a straight flush if you have two consecutive singletons of 6-7 or higher.
Deuces Wild Strategy Chart
The list grows longer when you receive one deuce in the deal. If you receive one deuce, you shouldn’t burn other cards if you have any of the following: four of a kind or higher, 4 to a royal flush, a full house, 4 to a straight flush with three consecutive singletons of 5-7 or higher, 3 of a kind, 3 to a royal flush, or 3 to a straight flush with two consecutive singletons of 6-7 or higher.
Long story short, a single deuce isn’t worth playing in many situations.
Download your Deuces Wild strategy chart here.
Video Poker Strategy Myths to Avoid
Like any casino game, players have spread certain myths and misconceptions. Here are common myths that players should disregard.
Gambler’s fallacy is an incorrect assumption that a random event is more or less likely to occur after an event or series of events.
It’s natural to assume that if you’ve flipped a coin ten times and landed on heads all ten times, then the coin is more likely to land on tails on the next coin toss. The law of averages doesn’t exist in a small sample size (and any gambling session is small).
Faster is Better
Video poker has a low house edge, but the casino still has the advantage. With that in mind, the more times you bet in an hour, the better it is for the casino.
Using auto-play features or playing multi-hand video poker exposes you to the house edge more often, which is a disadvantage.
Try to avoid this feature when playing.
Play on Specific Days
It’s a myth that casinos set their video poker odds differently on certain days of the week, hoping to lure customers on slow business days.
It ignores the fact that casinos don’t advertise higher RTP rates on certain days, so it can’t draw more customers into the casino. State laws require casinos to shut down a gaming machine for a specific time when changing the game’s odds.
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Use Video Poker Strategy To Win!
Video poker is a casino game that has elements of skill. Strategy increases your odds of winning money, though it requires you to read charts and memorize the tips. Refer to this strategy guide before you start playing video poker for real money.
Most importantly, find the correct video poker strategy chart for each game. If you play Jacks or Better online, locate a strategy chart for the paytable you’re using. If you use these tips, you’ll have more cash at the end of the night.
FAQ – Video Poker Strategy
The following are some of the questions players ask us about video poker strategy.
Is there a strategy for playing video poker?
Yes, there is. Each video poker variant has different strategy advice, so be careful when researching charts.
How do you always win at video poker?
You can’t always win at video poker, but you can continually optimize your odds of winning. Learn to play optimally by memorizing video poker strategy tips.
Which video poker game has the best odds?
That depends on the paytable you use. Based on pure odds, Double Bonus Video Poker has the best odds. Games like Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better also have good odds.