Video Poker Strategy
So you fancy yourself a video poker player, eh? I’m with you on that it’s a fun game. I spend a lot more time spinning online slots, personally, but I do love working through the strategy for making bank at the various video poker games almost all online casinos have. You get more control in video poker, deciding which of your cards you get to hold or to fold. The strategy for making the most money from those decisions is actually quite complex, but if you’re willing to take the time to memorize some tables, I think you’ll benefit from these video poker tips:
Jacks or Better Strategy
Before I delve into the hand for hand strategy, it’s first good for you to know what the average payoff for various hands is on a Jacks or Better machine:
- Royal Flush: 800
- Straight Flush: 50
- Four of a Kind: 25
- Full House: 9
- Flush: 6
- Straight: 4
- Three of a Kind: 3
- Two Pair: 2
- Jacks or Better: 1
Obviously, you want to wind up with a hand as high up on that list as possible, as that’s where the big money is. But it isn’t always as easy as just aiming for the best possible hand.
Strategy in Jacks or Better boils down to one simple decision — after you’re dealt your five-card hand, you can decide to keep up to five of your cards, or discard up to five cards to receive new ones. Sometimes, your choice is pretty easy — if you’re dealt four of a kind, for example. there isn’t any situation where you’d want to swap any of those four cards.
But things aren’t always so clearcut. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re dealt a hand that includes a pair of 3s, but also has a face card, like a King. Your natural inclination might be to hold onto that pair to ensure a payout, but you’re actually going to get a higher average payout by keeping the King and discarding your other four cards. It’s decisions like that that will get you as close as possible to even odds with the machine.
Of course, in dropping one or both of your paired cards and going for a picture card, you swap a bird in the hand for two in the bush, so to speak. But doing so or not depends on your strategy and appetite for risk. In Jacks or Better, you’re going to want to make the swap.
If you want to learn to play video poker perfectly, the best list I know of on the web is this strategy guide provided by Wizard of Odds. The basics are this: analyze your initial five-card hand, and identify the best hand you can strive for based on the order of the hands listed below, with each hand’s average payout listed next to the hand:
If you can keep this list handy — or even better, memorize it — then I promise you’re giving yourself the best chance to win in video poker.
Deuces Wild Strategy
The video poker winning strategy for Deuces Wild is similar to Jacks or Better, but the fact that all the 2s are wild cards adds an extra layer. If you don’t have any 2s, the game is essentially the same. If you do have a 2, though, things get a little crazy. If you have four deuces, obviously you want to keep them all for five of a kind. Depending on your fifth card, and how many swaps you have, you may want to swap out a low card in the hope of getting a picture card — but this would only matter if playing with multiple decks or Jokers included. And if you get three deuces, you’ll generally want to keep just those three cards, unless you are dealt a royal flush. Things are more complicated if you’re dealt either one or two deuces.
- Any pat four of a kind or higher
- 4 to a royal flush
- 4 to a straight flush with 2 consecutive singletons, 6-7 or higher
- 2 deuces only
- Any pat four of a kind or higher
- 4 to a royal flush
- Full house
- 4 to a straight flush with 3 consecutive singletons, 5-7 or higher
- 3 of a kind, straight, or flush
- All other 4 to a straight flush
- 3 to a royal flush
- 3 to a straight flush with 2 consecutive singletons, 6-7 or higher
- deuce only
Double Bonus Strategy
Double bonus poker is very similar to Jacks or Better, with the twist that A, 2, 3 and 4 cards have a little extra value. You can get real specific with your hand preferences — but if you already have the Jacks or Better table handy and/or memorized, you’d be well served to simply give hands featuring multiple A, 2, 3 or 4 cards a bump up a few rungs – check out Royal Vegas offer.
Joker Wild Strategy
Joker Wild and Deuces Wild poker are going to be very similar. The key difference is this: there are four deuces in a standard deck of cards, but just two Jokers. This means your return on investment isn’t going to be quite so strong as in Deuces Wild, but the rarity with which the Jokers turn up makes it a more fun game to win, if that makes sense.
That said, if a Joker does show up in your initial five-card hand, refer to the Deuces Wild table above and basically you can follow that to the T. If you don’t get dealt a Joker, treat the game as if you’re playing a regular Jacks or Better hand.
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