Casino Video Poker Instruction

Learn the rules of Video Poker and the strategy you should follow for the best success. Video Poker machines are extremely popular, fun to play, require the use of skill, and if played correctly offer great odds on your money.

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Playing Video Poker

Video poker is based on five card draw poker and played on a computer with a monitor similar to slot machines.

To start, a player enters one or more credits into the machine.  Next, the player presses the DEAL button and is given 5 cards from a deck of 52 cards.  The player has the choice to hold or discard any of the five cards in exchange for a new card from the remaining 52 card deck. After the draw, the machine scores the hand and pays out if it qualifies as a winning hand.

The most common machine, Jacks or better, pay begins with a pair of Jacks and progresses depending on how rare the hand is. For example, a straight pays more then two pair, and a full house pays more then a straight.  A Four of a Kind occurs about once every 500 hands, which can take an avid video poker player about 1-2 hours to play that many hands. The most difficult hand to obtain, the royal flush, which is 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit, often pays a progressive jackpot.  The player wins as long as his final hand is at least a pair of jacks.

Full pay Jacks or Better, also known as 9/6 Jacks or Better, refers to the 9 return for a full house and a 6 return for a flush. Full pay Jacks or Better when optimal strategy is used has a theoretical return of 99.54%.

Video Poker Variations

Deuces Wild: Any 2 is a wild card.  Four 2’s or a Royal Flush without using a wild card pays the jackpot.

Joker Poker: Joker is wild.

Other Wild card video poker games exist as well.

Bonus Poker/Double Bonus Poker/Double Double Bonus Poker are games based on Jacks or Better but offer different payout schedules, for example Bonus Poker offers a better percentage for making a four of a kind.

Below is the payoff chart for Jacks or Better, notice that playing max credits of 5 returns the best relative payout for making a royal flush.

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

Four 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

Three of a Kind

3

6

9

12

15

Two Pair

2

4

6

8

10

Jacks or Better

1

2

3

4

5

Theoretical Return

98.05%

98.05%

98.05%

98.05%

99.54%

Video Poker Strategy

The strategy for Video Poker Jacks or Better is relatively simple.  

If the royal flush pays a relatively higher percentage for max coins always bet max coins.  

Your goal is to make at least a pair of Jacks so you return your initial investment.

If you will hold any pair, throw away everything else. This gives you the best chance to make three of a kind, four of a kind, or full house on the draw.

If you have two pair, always hold both pairs because this is already a winning hand and has a good chance to improve to a full house. 

If you have four consecutive cards, such as an open ended straight, drop the one non-consecutive card and hope to draw a straight.  However, if you have four consecutive cards and one of the cards is paired Jacks or better, hold the pair and draw the rest. 

That same philosophy goes for flush draws, if you have a 4 flush go for the flush unless you also have a pair of jacks or better. 

When you have nothing throw away all cards except those that help to make a royal flush, for example, if you are dealt the 2, 5, 7, jack, king, and the jack and king are both spades, hold the jack and king and draw the rest.  This gives you a better chance to make a royal flush. 

If you have two or three different unsuited cards jack or higher, keep just one (the best is the lowest one like a jack because it can complete more possible straights). 

Pay attention to the specific payout chart of the particular game you play, you may have to adjust your strategy depending on a variation like if the machine pays unusually high for 4 aces then it would be more advantageous to hold a bare ace if dealt an ace and a jack and throw the rest away instead of holding just the jack.