Video poker is one of the few games in the casino where your decisions can affect the outcome of each wager.
With the right video poker strategy, you can completely reduce the house advantage, and sometimes even gain an edge over the house. Over the long run, video poker is one of the best casino games you can play.
Video poker strategy isn’t terribly complicated but it does require a good amount of memorization. Simple strategy cards can be used to help determine the correct play each time but it’s best to memorize the correct play in every situation so that you can play in live casinos without upsetting the management.
Winning Video Poker Strategy
There are about a million video poker variations out there and each one requires a slightly different strategy. The best way to go about finding the best strategy for each variant is to search for it online. We plan on adding the perfect strategy for every video poker variation at some point here, but that’s still a ways off in the future.
The goal of video poker strategy is to know exactly which cards to discard and which cards to keep in every situation. In some cases, the optimal strategy isn’t as apparent as you would think. For example, some video poker strategies require you to discard a winning hand and try to draw for a higher hand because the payouts are so high. That’s not always the case, but it goes to show that perfect video poker strategy isn’t always intuitive.
Video Poker Strategy Charts
Most video poker strategies are printed in a long list format on a card. These strategy cards may look complicated at first glance, but they are actually fairly simple. On each card, a list of starting hands is presented. Every time you are dealt a hand, you compare your hand to the hands displayed on the list.
What you’re doing is looking for every hand on the chart that matches your hand. For example, if you have a hand that consists of a pair of tens and four to a straight (say a hand like 7-8-9-T-T), your hand might match the chart in two different places: on the spot that says “pair of 10s” and the spot that says “four to a straight.”
The hand that is listed highest on the chart is the one you should go for. In this example, let’s just say that four to the straight is listed higher than the pair of 10s. That means you should get rid of one of the tens and go for the higher-paying straight.
Video poker strategy charts are a little awkward to use at first, but you’ll get the hang of it with time. If you practice with one for long enough, you will eventually memorize the correct strategy. There are also several video poker software trainers on the market that help you memorize strategy. These trainers watch your play and tell you every time you make a move that veers away from perfect strategy.
Video Poker Strategy Tips
When it comes to discarding, every video poker variation has its own strategy. However, there are a few basic tips you can use at all video poker machines. These tips aren’t groundbreaking by any means, but every little bit helps.
Manage your bankroll – Video poker may have a small house advantage but it is a high variance game. This means it’s not uncommon to go on long losing stretches in which you don’t receive a single payout. Make sure you keep your bets small in comparison to your overall bankroll.
Always bet the max number of coins – If you bet the max number of coins, you receive a bonus payout on Royal Flushes. You don’t hit Royal Flushes often, but if you play often enough, you will see a few. That extra bonus greatly increases your long term expectation.
Join the VIP club – If your casino has a VIP club or frequent player program, make sure you join it and take full advantage. The benefits you gain as a member just make your return that much greater.