Video Poker Strategy: How to Win at Video Poker?

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· 03 Jan 2022

Ask an experienced online bettor these days what their favorite game is, and in most cases, you’ll hear it’s video poker or anything on a gambling site that supports crypto payments. And for a good reason, too! Jacks or Better in video poker games have a players’ betting return of up to 99.54%, and experienced punters know that crypto sites offer more anonymity and better security than traditional betting sites.

With that said, our focus in this article will be on video poker (with or without crypto attached) so let’s talk more about that.  Most online casino games have a much lower return-to-player ratio (RTP) compared to video poker, which inherently increases the operator’s edge and control.

Video poker is the fairest of all casino and table games, and it’s excellent for formulating a proper online video poker strategy to obtain the most from these games. They are our favorite games to play for this reason, too. Once you learn how to play video poker, avoid the common pitfalls, and temper your expectations, you’ll probably start enjoying it more than other games too.

The Basic Rules of Play

Since their introduction to casinos in the 1970s, the video poker rules haven’t changed much. Whether online or in a casino, learning to play a video poker machine is pretty easy but mastering the game is not.

Every video poker uses a well-known five-card draw poker gameplay at its core, along with a 52-card deck set, enough to form a perfect video poker strategy. You start the wagering by pressing the Deal button, and the computer program deals you five random cards.

From here, you choose which cards you want to keep in the game by selecting them. Once you are done, press the Deal button again for the app to place new random cards instead of the unselected ones. Afterward, the counting phase begins, with the machine going through your cards to see what kind of a poker hand you got.

Some poker hands have more value than the others, with the royal flush being the best one. Your winnings will depend on the type of poker hand: the better the hand, the higher the winnings. Video poker odds and strategy are no different from regular poker – even the best strategy can only get you so far, and the results often depend on luck as much as skill.

After the second set of cards has been dealt, the computer program will go through all available hands and select the highest one as the winner. If that’s your hand, congrats – if not, you end up with nothing, just like in every other game of poker. That said, there are also games such as Jacks or Better, where you only have to get a pair of jacks or better, rather than having the highest hand.

video poker strategy featured image

A crucial factor that affects the payout of your winnings is the paytable. A paytable is the list of winnings and stakes for poker hands that players can check and consult. These lists will have poker hands such as royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, and more listed, so you can refresh your memory on all the winning combinations and their payouts.

However, not all paytables will have the same cash return. Everyone wants to know how to win at video poker, but there’s more to earning money from the game than just winning. It’s always better to play video poker with a 99.54% chance of return than one with a 97.29% return paytable. If you stick to the paytable with a lower return chance, you will lose cash up to six times faster.

Good wager knowledge is essential for becoming a pro at poker, but any seasoned online poker veteran will also be able to tell if a specific video poker machine is worth playing on just by looking at its paytable. The most popular type of machine is the Jacks or Better since it has the best payout rate.

Video Poker Machine Categories

These days, there are multiple variations of video poker, making it difficult to create the ultimate video poker strategy. Although Jacks or Better is the most played game in live casinos, other types of video poker are worth learning about, too.

  • Tens or Better: Similar to Jacks or Better, except for the fact you need a pair of tens or better to get your winnings.
  • Deuces Wild: Any and all deuces a player receives are wild and can replace all other cards in the deck.
  • Joker Poker: One Joker card that replaces all other cards is put into the card deck. Players need a pair of kings or a better hand to win.
  • Aces and Faces: Bettors with four-of-a-kind Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces are eligible for additional payouts, which is excellent for making an optimal strategy for video poker. Four aces carry more cash worth than a straight flush does.
  • Bonus Poker: Close to Aces and Faces with additional payouts for specific four of a kind hands.

Forming a Video Poker Strategy

Before you can form a winning poker strategy, you need to make sure you know all poker rules and combinations and are aware of what’s going on in the game at all times. Below are some more concrete tips that may help:

1. Exclude Wild Cards

Wild cards can replace all other cards,  introducing too many variables to include in your strategy. Hence, stick with the video poker types that don’t have wild cards if you want to reduce the randomness. This may sound like a basic video poker strategy to start with, but it ensures improved odds of winning, nonetheless.

2. Know What To Keep

The best tip we can give you is to know which cards you will keep and which ones you should discard. Guessing is the absolute last thing you should be doing in video poker.

Since you’re playing against a computer rather than another player, guesses or playing on instinct will fail in most cases against the mathematical precision these machines employ. You need to construct tactics that will turn the mathematical odds to work in your favor rather than counting on bluffing, which won’t work against a machine.

3. High Returns Only

Some of the best video poker games have a paytable return rate of around 97%. Thus, a simple video poker strategy always includes playing at paytables with the highest return rates possible. With an RTP of 97%, the house edge is significantly better than betting on slot machines, but with a good strategy and machine selection, you can improve these return rates further.

When playing Jacks or Better, always go with a 9/6 pay chart or better to reduce the house edge and give yourself more space to experiment. Know the video poker machine you’re playing against, and aim for a computer program that has as close to a 100% return rate on its paytable as possible.

4. Take Your Time

Suppose you’d try to build a video poker strategy by slowing a poker table with real players. In that case, you’d end up annoying them. The trick is that you’re playing against the computer program, which does not care about the tempo you set. So take your time, and think carefully about your next course of action.

By taking things slow, you won’t burn through your bankroll, your cash, or Bitcoin stash when gambling. And if you do not know the core gameplay of the machine you’re playing, feel free to Google its return to player (RTP) for starters.

5. Maximum Bets on Jacks or Better

The ​​best strategy for video poker gambling largely depends on the poker variant you are playing. Playing Jacks or Better is a great idea, especially for beginners, since it has basic gameplay that is easily learned. There is more than one optimal strategy to play the Jacks or Better, but aiming high and playing with maximum bets when you’re sure about your hand is always a good idea. That said, don’t start aiming for a royal flush right away – playing it safe pays more in the long run unless you already have a monster hand to begin with.

6. Remove Your Kicker

Speaking of Jacks or Better, a professional video poker strategy for you is to ditch the kicker. A kicker is a card that is not part of the hand and yet can decide the winner among players in case of a tie. And while kickers certainly have their place in poker, there are too many off trades to keep them in the game. For one, the kicker won’t improve your odds of winning a higher cash payout. The second thing is that it fools you from keeping cards that might affect your winnings or getting more cards so you can complete the main hand you are going for.

7. Don’t Pursue a Straight or Flush

We usually witness a mistake in poker games: keeping three cards to make a run for a straight or flush. The best video poker strategy that many professional players adhere to is: never split up a winning hand for a chance of pursuing something bigger. Otherwise, you’ll reduce your odds of winning in the long run and come up short cashwise. That said, we are not saying to never go for a straight or flush, just don’t force them when your cards have better options to go for.

8. Try Progressive Jackpots

With progressive jackpot video poker, prizes get better the longer you play. And while it’s a “high risk, high reward” style of play, a well-played match with a progressive jackpot could turn a small wager into massive winnings. Give video poker games with a progressive jackpot a try sometime!

9. Dare To Play Ultimate X

Sometimes, in video poker, the most optimal strategy is also the riskiest one. And Ultimate X type of video poker is just that, with a feature where you can play up to ten hands at once. In return, this video poker type offers progressive jackpots and multipliers that might net you vast payouts. Be sure, however, to prepare your funds for this type of play.

10. Never Cross Your Bankroll Limit

Unless you are particularly unlucky, all of the strategies mentioned above will yield success – at least in the long run, if not right away. However, that success should never come at the cost of overspending. Your bankroll limits how far you should take your game, which is the best betting strategy for video poker we can offer. Always keep an eye out on your finances, and don’t go overspending just because you’re sure that you’ll “win the next one.”

With that in mind, always check for promotions and bonus offers on video poker at various online casinos, as they can help increase your winning chances. These bonuses may include free funds, which gives you more opportunities to play.

Strategy Charts

There are many highly advanced strategies used in a game of video poker. We will show you the widely popular one. Let’s talk about the strategy chart, what it brings to the table, and how you can use it for your benefit.

The Chart Basics

A strategy chart used in video poker is based on mathematical probability to get the best results from your video poker play. In other words, charts are created for players to reference the odds of each hand. They are an essential part of any video poker winning strategy, as they allow you to calculate risk vs. reward much easier.

video poker probability table

This strategy chart shows that a deck with 52 cards has 2,598,960 possibilities with five-card hands. At the same time, it also has only four possible royal flush hands. This particular chart shows only poker hands in a video poker game with no wilds; otherwise, the possibilities would be sky-high.

Experienced players examine each possible hand and hold combinations to deduce all resulting hands and returns. After running through all the possibilities, it’s easier to make an educated guess on which cards to keep.

Chart Arrangement

Video poker games without wild cards are lined up the same way, with the highest average return hand going at the top of the list. The chart starts with the royal flush for nearly every video poker strategy guide, as this is both the highest-scoring and rarest hand in poker.

Beneath the royal flush, you have lower-paying hands and partial hands listed by descending return. Specific partial hands that are also winners are listed above the winning hands if they have a higher average return. Hence, a four-card royal flush is placed higher than a full house since it might turn into a royal flush.

The chart’s arrangement continues to follow the list of decreasing average returns until the hand’s average return is smaller than that of a  brand new hand. You’ll see the word “Redraw” or similar in such cases. It means that by replacing your hand, you’ll receive a higher return compared to keeping anything you’ve got on you at the moment. A  key strategy to use when playing video poker is knowing what your hand is worth at any time and not being afraid to exchange it completely.

Employing the Chart

Strategy charts begin with cards players ought to keep in the first five-card hand dealt to them. Top lines have cards with the highest average return. The lines beneath are cards to keep with the next highest average return. The chart follows this route until the player would have better odds by discarding the entire first hand.

Here’s a bonus poker strategy tip: depending on the video poker type, these charts can have many combinations of hands to keep, with up to 60 or 70 lines in them. For the sake of simplicity, these lines are combined to get smaller and more easily understood charts.  Here’s a really small one, just to get a taste:

video poker strategy chart

It’s important to note that the term Open Straight Flush is used for a hand with no gaps in the card sequence, and it can be finished from either end of the straight flush or straight. Meaning a cards sequence with four, five, six, and seven is an open straight or straight flush since it has no gaps and can be finished with a three on one end or an eight on the other.

The rules to employing the chart are straightforward:

  1. Begin with the first line.
  2. Correlate it with the hand you got.
  3. If you have the listed cards in your hand, then keep those cards and hit the Draw button.
  4. If not, see the next strategy line below it in the chart.
  5. Keep going through this loop until you find cards in your dealt hand.
  6. If you reach the last line and still don’t have anything, press the Draw button.

To start winning at video poker, you’ll have to master the art of working out which line on the chart your current hand is best suited for. For example, do you go for a straight or a three of a kind if you’ve got four cards in a line but also one pair?

Video poker strategy charts might appear daunting at first, but their implementation is relatively easy. Many professional players keep one nearby as a reference and for consultation when developing their video poker betting strategy. By knowing the strategy chart inside and out, you’ll definitely have a much better idea of what to do with any given hand.


How do you cheat on video poker?

It is not recommended to cheat on a video poker game since you’d have to cyberattack or exploit a bug in the program, which any decent security team will detect and react to quickly. Poker games are not easy to rig, nor should you expect to get away with it, even if you pull it off.

Are video poker machines really random?

They are, up to a point, as they are programmed and tested to use the Random Number Generator (RNG) algorithm. However, the software will always give a slight edge to the house, which depends on its RTP ratio.

Which video poker machines have the best odds?

A 9/6 Jacks or Better machine has the best player’s betting return ratio.

Are video poker machines rigged?

Video poker machines are not rigged at any reputable establishment because online casino operators would lose their gambling licenses if they were.

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