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Complete Guide to Video Poker Strategy
Video poker is a captivating blend of skill and luck, offering players the opportunity to make strategic decisions that can directly impact the outcome of each hand. Whether you are a seasoned player looking to refine your skills or a beginner eager to learn the basics, your ultimate goal is likely to win. And how can our video poker strategy guide help you?
Throughout this guide, we will cover a wide range of topics, including the basics of video poker, different variations of the game, and the essential strategies you need to adopt for optimal gameplay based on popular video poker variations. Buckle up as you are about to find out the best tips and strategy for video poker.
Table of Contents
What is the Game of Video Poker?
Video poker is a simplified version of the traditional poker game, specifically modelled after Five Card Draw. Throughout the years, various iterations of video poker have emerged, each with its own unique characteristics.
Among the different video poker games, Jacks or Better stands out as the most popular and classic variation. In this game, you are dealt a hand of five cards and have the option to discard as many of them as you wish, replacing them with new cards from the deck.
After completing your draw, your payout is determined by a predetermined paytable. It's important to note that the paytable may vary between different versions of Jacks or Better and certainly differs when compared to other video poker games like Deuces Wild or Joker Poker.
Popular Variations of Video Poker Games
Before diving into an optimal strategy for video poker you should be aware that there are hundreds of variations of this game. These can range from classics, such as Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better and Joker Poker to more complicated games equipped with jackpots and bonus features.
Learning how to play the game of video poker is a breeze since the gameplay for all variants is straightforward. You are dealt 5 cards and you must then decide whether you want to hold onto them or replace a card or more. In the end, your final hand is eventually compared to the paytable and you are paid according to the strength of your poker hand.
Before going into the best video poker strategy, here is a quick overview of the best video poker variants available on the market:
Jacks or Better: In this classic video poker game, you need a minimum hand of a pair of Jacks or better to receive a payout. It serves as the standard version of video poker. Some Jacks or Better games also feature progressive jackpots, offering substantial rewards for achieving a royal flush.
Joker Poker: This variant introduces a 53rd card, the Joker, which acts as a wild card. The Joker can substitute for any other card, making it possible to form unique hands like 5 of a kind. Royal flushes can be achieved both with and without the Joker, adding an exciting twist to the game.
Deuces Wild: In Deuces Wild, all the 2s (deuces) in the deck are wild cards. This means that they can substitute for any other card to create winning combinations. The presence of wild cards makes it easier to hit significant hands, increasing the excitement of playing Deuces Wild online. To win, you typically need a minimum hand of 3 of a kind or better.
Bonus Poker: Bonus Poker follows the rules of Jacks or Better but features a different paytable. It offers larger payouts for certain 4-of-a-kind hands that include lower-ranked cards. This balance in prize distribution allows for big rewards on specific hands while still offering smaller prizes for lower-ranked poker hands.
Is video poker strategy important?
A Video poker strategy guide is incredibly important when you’re playing the game, because it can hugely alter how much money you make.
There are many casinos games where, even if you don’t know the rules, you can still play and expect to win a fair proportion of the time. Roulette is a good example: you can blindly place your chips on the roulette table and, if you get lucky, you’ll be paid at fair odds.
This is completely different in a casino game like blackjack. Here, not knowing the rules can cost you big time. For instance, if you hit on 20, you’re almost definitely going to be cheating yourself out of potential profit.
Online video poker strategy is vital, as you need to know which cards to hold and which cards to dispose of. If you don’t have a good grasp of this, you’ll reduce your potential for profit.
Basic Video Poker Strategy Tips
You should also be aware that when it comes to a video poker strategy guide, there is not much one can do to influence the decision. You can play the best possible game by making your bankroll stretch out as much as possible. While the below strategy for video poker will not help you win or lose, it will make a considerable difference to your gameplay.
Familiarise yourself with the Pay Tables
Each hand in video poker is unique, making it essential to familiarise yourself with the pay tables. Fortunately, when playing online, you won't need to commit the pay tables to memory. The advantage of online play is that the pay tables are conveniently displayed at the top of the screen, ensuring easy visibility and allowing you to make informed decisions based on the potential payouts for each hand.
With the pay tables readily available, you can focus on your gameplay strategy and maximize your chances of winning without the need for memorization.
Casino Bonuses and Promotions
Whether you are playing at a brick-and-mortar casino or online, you should always take advantage of any casino bonuses or promotions on offer. Taking advantage of such deals falls in line with the best video poker strategy.
However, you should take the time to read the terms and conditions carefully, to make sure you are getting your hands on the best possible deal. The lower the wagering requirements the better it is for your bankroll. Moreover, check that video poker gambling contributes towards the playthrough.
Low Pay Machines
Some video poker machines may offer a lower payout percentage. To give you an example, a Jacks or Better video poker machine may pay 8 coins for a full house, which is never good for your bankroll. Don’t waste your time with such machines.
Check out the Best Video Poker Machines
It is worth noting that while it is rare, certain video poker games have the potential to offer a payout of over 100% when played with optimal strategy. If you come across a game such as Deuces Wild that provides a full paytable, it is highly recommended to take advantage of it.
Strategy for Video Poker by Variant
When playing video poker, it's important to adapt your strategy based on the specific variant you're playing. To assist you in navigating various scenarios in online video poker, we have created the below tips:
Jacks or Better: Best Video Poker Strategy
If your hand consists of four cards that can potentially form a straight or a flush, it is generally recommended to hold all four of those cards. This increases your chances of completing a winning hand.
If you have three cards that could potentially lead to a royal flush, it's advisable to hold those three cards and discard the rest. Pursuing a royal flush offers significant payout potential. When dealt a pair of any value, it's generally best to hold onto that pair and replace the remaining three cards.
If you find yourself with three cards that could potentially complete a straight flush, it is recommended to hold onto those cards and discard the rest. This gives you an opportunity to complete a high-ranking hand.
Lastly, if none of the above scenarios applies to your hand, it is suggested to hold any Jacks you have and any cards that are higher in value than a Jack. This strategy increases the likelihood of securing a winning hand.
If you are fortunate enough to be dealt four deuces (2s), hold all four of them. This is the best hand you can achieve in the game and guarantees a significant payout.
In the case of having three deuces, only hold your entire hand if you can potentially form a royal flush or five of a kind. These rare combinations offer substantial rewards.
If you do not have any deuces in your hand, prioritize keeping any paying hands. This includes combinations like three of a kind or better, as they have the potential to secure payouts.
When you have three cards that can potentially complete a royal flush, it would be wise to hold onto those cards. If your hand does not meet any of the above criteria but contains a pair, it is recommended to hold onto that pair. Pairs offer a chance for smaller wins and can contribute to a winning hand.
If you have three cards that can potentially form a flush, it is recommended to hold onto them. Similarly, if you are dealt four cards that can potentially form a flush, it is advisable to keep all four of them. Holding onto these cards improves your chances of achieving a flush hand.
When you are dealt a pair, regardless of its value or scoring potential, it is best to hold onto it. On the other hand, in the absence of any pairs, if you have a single high-ranking card, it is beneficial to retain it. High cards can serve as valuable building blocks for potential winning combinations or can contribute to forming stronger hands in subsequent draws.
If your hand does not contain any pairs or promising combinations, it is recommended to discard your entire hand and draw new cards.
Aces and Faces
To boost your chances of winning, it is highly recommended that you play the maximum bet, especially in this game. Not only will it ensure the highest payouts, but you also have the chance of hitting rare combinations.
Whenever you are dealt a pair, regardless of its value, it is advisable to hold both cards. Pairs have the potential to form stronger hands and contribute to winning combinations. If you are only one or two cards away from completing a royal flush, prioritise discarding the necessary cards to pursue this high-ranking combination.
Keeping four cards that can potentially form a flush is a sound strategy. This increases your chances of completing a flush hand and earning a payout.
Joker Poker / Joker Wilds
If you have three-of-a-kind, hold onto those three cards. If you get any cards that are higher than three-of-kind hold onto those cards as well.
If you land four cards of a high payout hand, also hold onto those four cards. If you land three cards of a high payout as well as one joker, proceed to hang onto those four cards.
Tens or Better
If you are dealt a winning hand, it is generally recommended to keep it, unless you have a chance to form a royal flush. The potential payout for a royal flush is substantial, so if you have the opportunity to pursue it, it may be worth sacrificing a smaller winning hand.
It is crucial to always bet the maximum amount allowed. Betting less than the maximum can result in missing out on the highest payouts for winning combinations. When you receive a pair, regardless of its value or scoring potential, it is advisable to hold onto it. Pairs can contribute to winning combinations or be the foundation for stronger hands in subsequent draws.
Free video poker
While you get used to these new techniques, you can try free video poker. Your strategy can be honed without spending any actual funds, which means you can test it out over time and see what kind of loss or return you’re likely to make.
Free online video poker can be found at many of the top casinos available to players in Canada. You can either play some games without signing up at several casinos like Refuel, 888casino and bet365.
How to use Video Poker Strategy to Win
The game of video poker is a very simple and basic game, but one that works incredibly well in terms of entertainment and a lower hose edge. Games such as Jacks or Better have been developed into numerous variations over the years, to include jackpots and in-game bonus features.
While the low house edge should be tempting enough, we recommend that you follow the video poker strategy for each game variant as highlighted here. Taking advantage of casino bonuses with fair terms and video poker eligibility should also extend gameplay and fun.
Best Video Poker Strategy FAQ
If you are looking to put the best video poker strategy to the test, we recommend going for the video poker variant Deuces Wild, since it gives the player a slightly better advantage over the house.
That would depend on the video poker variation you are playing. We generally recommend that you pay attention to the pay table as well as opt for the maximum bet if your bankroll allows it.
Betting the maximum amount is generally recommended since it paves the way for the highest payouts thanks to rare combinations. However, not everyone’s bankroll can afford it. It is still wise to play within your limit and adjust your bet size accordingly.
If you want to improve your strategy for video poker, we definitely recommend playing in free-play or demo mode at recommended Canadian casinos. This way you can sharpen your strategy before playing for real money.
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