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What Is The Best Strategy for Video Poker?

Poker is one of those card games that have been a part of the gambling side of western culture for centuries. With the continuing rise in popularity of casinos, in the 1970s a new kind of poker game was introduced: Video Poker machines.

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What Is Video Poker?

Like its popular parent game of poker, video poker is game played in casinos. However, rather than playing with physical cards on a table, video poker is played on a computer screen with the computer, for aesthetics’ sake, resembling a slot machine.

How It Works:

For the most part, Video Poker games follow the same progression as other poker games. First you insert money into the machine or, as many casinos have come to offer, a ticket with a credited amount of money. Once you’ve placed your bet, you can press the “DEAL” button which, as the title implies, deals you your hand. You can discard one or more of your cards in exchange for new cards (drawn randomly, of course) from the same virtual deck. On part of the screen (usually the top half) is what’s called a “Pay Table”. The Pay Table displays how much money you’ll be awarded based on how much you bet and which card combination (if any) you make, i.e. if you bet $0.25 and get a Royal Flush (an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and ten all of the same suit, you win $250. (NOTE: THE PRICES VARY FOR EACH CASINO. THIS IS SIMPLY AN EXAMPLE.) Some casinos offer what’re called “progressive jackpots”. These are extra bonuses that can allow you to win more money. In most cases, however, these jackpots can be won only by winning the highest payoff on the Pay Table (Royal Flush). Also, you usually have to bet a little extra before your hand is dealt in order to qualify for it, and if you win it the bonus is always set by the casino and is usually somewhere around a meager 5%.

Are There Different Types of Video Poker?

As with its parent game of hands-on poker, over the years Video Poker has evolved to include several different styles. The type of game being offered on each machine will be advertised on the machine and/or on the screen of the machine before you insert money for your bet. The two most common are Deuces Wild, where any “2” cards are a wild card, and Jacks or Better poker. There are five different kinds of Jacks or Better poker: “9/6”, “9/5”, “8/6”. “8/5”, “7/5” and “6/5”. For each of these, the first number refers to the payoff if you get a Full House (i.e. in “9/6” a Full House would win you nine times your bet), and the second number refers to the payoff if you get a flush.

A Game of Strategy

Any poker player would agree that in regular forms of poker (that involve physical cards), an excellent player doesn’t so much play the game as play to their opponents’ weaknesses. A player of Video Poker, however, doesn’t have that luxury. Instead, Video Poker players have to rely on good old-fashioned strategy to win the game and, as with many games, there are several popular strategies among its players.

The Money Management Strategy

Some players get overexcited and think they can “win it all” on the first or second hand, but seasoned players know better. This strategy helps keep you from making untimely, unnecessary large bets, and instead introduces the idea of pacing how much you bet on each hand. For example: Video Poker machines separate bet amounts into “units” or “credits”. One credit usually (though not always) equals $0.25. So if you were using this strategy with that credit setup and you had $100 you were willing to spend, giving you 400 units. Before you start playing, set your winning limit and your losing limit, with winning limit being the amount of profit you want to walk away with and the losing limit being what you’re willing to lose in one hand before walking away. For your first hand only bet 1 unit/credit. If you win, double your bet to 2 units, and keep doubling each hand you win. However, if you lose a hand, drop back down to 1 unit and start over again. This strategy is efficient for keeping you from spending all your money too quickly as well as keep you within a budget and ensuring that you win some profit.

Highest Hand Strategy

This strategy encourages you to always play for the highest hand possible. For example, if you’re dealt a 7 of clubs, an 8 of clubs, a 9 of spades, a 10 of clubs and a Jack of clubs, you already have a Straight, or five cards in sequence, (and you could technically still win with that hand)—however, if you’re playing by this strategy, then you’ll want to discard the “9” and try to play for a Straight Flush, which would be the same but with the cards being all of the same suit. Of course, not all hands are so easily “fixed”, but this example is simply to help explain this strategy of playing.

The Pushing Limits Strategy

This is the most aggressive of all the strategies, as it involves always betting the maximum of 5 units/credits and always going for the highest winning hands. In some ways, it resembles the Highest Hand Strategy, but instead of going for the highest winning hand possible per se, you’re always aiming for either a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, or a Full House (three cards of the same rank—i.e. three kings—and a different pair of cards also of the same rank—i.e. two tens). To keep with such a strategy, if you’re dealt a 10, Jack, Queen, King, or Ace you keep them. If you don’t, you’re next option is to try and discard and exchange your cards to try and get a Straight Flush. If you can’t make a Straight Flush, a Four of a Kind, or a Full House, you can make a last ditch chance for a Three of a Kind or a Two Pair—but if you can’t even get that, then discard all your cards. If you decide to follow this strategy, be careful to quit either when you’ve made a 20% profit or more (because otherwise you might get overconfident and then lose it all) or when you lose equal to or more than your predetermined limit.

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