Video Poker Strategy – How to Play and Win at Video Poker
Video poker is one of the most popular casino games and thus is featured in most brick-and-mortar and online casinos.
One of the main reasons why players enjoy playing video poker even decades after its introduction in the casino industry is the fact that it is based on a combination of luck and strategy.
Thanks to this, video poker is one of the casino games that has the lowest house edge. However, there are still some rules and strategies that players can learn to improve their bottom line.
Video Poker Setup
Today video poker can be played in both traditional casinos on classic video poker machines and at online casinos through the digital interface. However, the setup of video poker in both of these options is very similar.
Video Poker Components
- Paytable – The paytable occupies most of the machine screen and is located above the card section, it shows all of the poker hand combinations for which players get paid and the amounts that players can expect to get paid based on their stake (both the stakes and the amounts are displayed in coins).
- The card section – Or the display area is located under the paytable. This section shows the player’s current hand (the cards that the player has received at the beginning of the round or after the draw).
- Credit total – This section is located under the card section, on the right or the left side of the screen. It shows how much credit or coins the player has at the moment
- The cash slot – in most cases this section is located on the right or the left side of the machine next to the display. This is where players insert money into the machine. Apart from the cash slot, video poker machines also have slots for vouchers (when the player asks for a payout, the machine ejects a voucher that can be cashed out at the cashier) and slots for club cards (players can use casino club cards to earn additional perks from the casino)
- The deal/draw button – the deal button is located on the right side of the video poker machine. Players use the deal/draw button to request cards at the start of the hand and to request replacement cards after they decided which cards to discard.
- The hold buttons – the hold buttons are located under the card section with each hold button being located under one of the cards.
Video Poker Gameplay
There are several different variations of video poker, but almost all of them use the same set of rules which are based on 5-card draw poker.
This means that the player’s goal is to collect the best possible set of cards, called the hand, and get paid based on the ranking of the hand in the paytable.
Video poker gameplay:
- The game starts after the player hit the “Deal” button
- The player is dealt five cards
- The player chooses which cards to keep by hitting the “Hold” button under each card
- The player hits the “Deal” button
- The video poker machine replaces the discarded cards with new cards
- The video poker machine pays the player based on his hand
The hand rankings are the same as in Texas Hold’em while the payouts depend on the type of the video poker machine and game.
Video Poker Hand Rankings
It is crucial for players to understand hand rankings when they play video poker. Fortunately, even if you don’t have all of them memorized you can always look them up in the paytable. Here is a table of the video poker hand rankings.
|Four of a kind||25||50||75||100||125|
|Three of a king||3||6||9||12||15|
|Jacks or better||1||2||3||4||5|
This table shows that the lowest hand for which the player will be paid is Jack or better and the best possible hand that the player can have is Royal Flush.
The numbers in the columns represent the number of coins the player will win based on their stake.
The minimum that the player can stake is 1 coin while the maximum stake is 5 coins. As you can see from the paytable, if the player stakes 1 coin and has a flush after the final draw, he will receive 6 coins in return.
How to Win At Video Poker
Now that we have explained the main elements of video poker, it is time to explain the best video poker strategy and teach you how you can put yourself in the best possible position to win.
Any player that implements these strategies should be able to become a break-even player or a winning player.
Get a Players Club Card
It is almost impossible to become a winning player at video poker over the long run and this is why you need to take advantage of even the smallest edges. One of these edges lies in the Players Club card.
Traditional casinos use the Players Club card to track how much money players spend in the casino and then use this information to reward players with perks like free play or free credits, free hotel rooms, food and beverages, and different discounts.
If you are an online video poker player and you don’t have the opportunity to claim a Players Club card, you should look for online casinos that have VIP or loyalty systems.
These systems work on the same principles as the Players Club card and reward players with free spins, bonus money, exclusive promotions, and so on.
The house edge in video poker is very small, and these additional benefits that you can get from the Players Club card can make the difference between you being a winning, break-even, or losing player.
Double Check the Paytable
The main reason why many players prefer video poker over slots is the paytable. Unlike playing slots where you never know what percentage of the money the machine pays out, playing video poker is much more transparent thanks to the paytable.
Furthermore, the paytable allows you to check if the casino has made any changes in the terms of payouts.
Use the paytable to find the video poker games with the best possible returns. You can Google the best possible paytable for your favorite video poker game and then use the information you find the video poker game with the optimal paytable.
For example, the best paytable for one of the most popular video poker variants, Jacks or Better is 9/6. Numbers 9 and 6 refer to the number of coins that the player will receive for the Full House and Flush.
If you apply the correct strategies, the video poker game with this particular paytable has a return of 99.54% over the long run.
Because the casinos want to increase their profit over the long run, they will sometimes reduce the payouts to 8/5 or 6/5.
For each coin that the casino reduces from the payout, the overall returns from the machine will be reduced by 1.1%.
This is why you should check all the available video poker machines on offer before you start to play.
If the optimal paytable is not available in your casino, be sure to play the game with the next best paytable, or if you have the option change the casino.
Play the Video Poker Game With the Highest RTP
When it comes to the video poker tips, this one might seem the most obvious, but there are still players that apply this strategy in the wrong way.
What you will is is players researching and trying to find their favorite video poker game with the highest return, however, even if they find their favorite game with the highest return it doesn’t automatically mean that it is the game with the highest return available.
Before you go to your local casino, try to find out what is the video poker game with the highest return in their offer.
The same goes for online casinos, try to find the RTPs for the available video poker games on their site, if it is not available, contact the support and ask them to provide you with the information.
Learn the Correct Strategy for the Best Available Video Poker Game
From the mathematical standpoint there is only one correct way to play every video poker hand you are dealt and because of this, if the paytable changes the strategy changes.
To fully take advantage of the best available video poker game, you must know which the correct strategy to implement is.
If you are playing a game with the highest available RTP but apply the incorrect strategy, your returns will be much lower.
After you find the optimal strategy for the best available video poker game in your casino, learn the strategy and practice it on demo games.
There are a lot of online casinos that offer demo versions of video poker that you can play for free. Use this to practice the correct strategy and check if you are implementing it the correct way.
Take Advantage of Video Poker Promotions
Although most video poker players play whenever they feel like it, this is not the correct strategy.
Find out when your casino is offering video poker promotions such as double points, different prizes, or entries for other tournaments, and put as much volume as you can during this period.
Online casinos run these kinds of promotions much more often but they also run in traditional casinos from time to time.
If you are not sure what promotions are available in the casinos near you, go to their website and try to find information there.
If you don’t have the time to play during all of the available promotions, make a list of the promotions that will benefit you the most and try to play during the times that those promotions run.
These video poker promotions will help you lower the house edge even more and increase your bottom line over the long run.
Video poker is one of the casino games with the highest RTP, but you have to implement the correct strategies to take advantage of this.
As you can see from our list of the best video poker tips, many of these strategies don’t require much time and work and you can implement them easily.