The Perfect Video Poker Strategy – Top Tips on How to Win

Despite being a game of chance, by learning the best video poker strategy you can increase your chances of winning. Our comprehensive guide covers the best strategy for video poker and the different types of video poker game variations.

We also share tips on how to beat video poker machines that will enhance your overall online gaming experience. Moreover, you’ll find a top list of the best online casino sites where you can practice your video poker strategy and get a chance to win fantastic prizes.

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Best Video Poker Strategies

After learning how to play video poker, familiarizing yourself with the best video poker strategies is essential. Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be ready to take on any video poker machine with confidence. Let’s dive into these video poker strategy guides.

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1. Understand Pay Tables

Understanding how to win at video poker extends beyond simply grasping the game’s basic rules. It involves delving deeper into the game’s strategy, starting with the pay tables.

Pay tables dictate the value of each hand. They act as your strategic blueprint when deciding which cards to hold and which to discard. 

For beginners, a clear understanding of different hand values and their corresponding payouts is essential. Pay attention to machines that offer better pay tables, as they provide increased potential returns, boosting your profitability. Every machine is different, and a keen eye for favorable pay tables can be really useful. 

In essence, winning at video poker is a combination of strategy, understanding, and smart selection, alongside a dash of luck. Also, continual practice and learning will help enhance your skills and up your winning chances.

For example, Jacks or Better video poker can come with various pay tables that differ when it comes to payouts for a straight, flush, or full house. You want the game that has the highest payouts for these hands, with a recommended version being known as 9/6 video poker. This pays 6x for a flush and 9x for a full house. A straight payout should be 4x.

2. Learn Poker Hand Rankings

A critical element in mastering video poker strategy is learning poker hand rankings. Like traditional poker, video poker hands are categorized based on their value, with a Royal Flush being the most valuable. 

This knowledge becomes your compass in the game, guiding your decisions on which cards to keep or discard. Striving towards a video poker perfect strategy requires you to understand these hand rankings, recognizing when you’re close to completing a high-value hand, and making smart decisions accordingly. 

This not only involves identifying potential winning combinations, but also requires estimating the likelihood of achieving them with the remaining deck. The balance between chasing high-value hands and securing smaller, more achievable wins forms the essence of the perfect video poker strategy.

For a quick guide, these are the paying hand rankings in Jacks or Better, from lowest to highest:

  • Pair of Jacks or better
  • Any Two Pairs
  • Three of a Kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full House
  • Four of a Kind
  • Straight Flush
  • Royal Flush

3. Use a Video Poker Strategy Chart

Adopting a video poker strategy chart is a beneficial tool for both beginners and experienced players. Also known as a video poker strategy card, it acts as a practical guide, helping you decide which cards to keep. 

Understanding and applying the video poker strategy card is a significant part of learning how to beat video poker. It effectively simplifies the complexity of decision-making, helping to prevent costly mistakes. 

Using a strategy chart enhances your game, turning what can feel like a gamble into a game of skill. It provides the analytical edge that can make the difference between winning and losing in the long run.

This is a standard video poker strategy chart based on how many cards to keep and replace for each starting hand. Make sure to keep the relevant cards and replace the others ones based on this table, from top to bottom:

Starting Hand How Many Cards to Keep How Many Cards to Replace Cards
Royal Flush 5 0 (Congratulations!)
Straight Flush 5 0 (Congratulations!)
Four of a Kind 5 0 (Can’t improve any further)
Full House 5 0 (Can’t improve any further)
Four to a Royal Flush 4 1 (Good luck)
Flush 5 0 (Can’t improve any further)
Three of a Kind 3 2 (Can improve to 4K or FH)
Straight 5 0 (Can’t improve any further)
Four to a Straight Flush 4 1 (Good luck)
Two Pair 4 1 (Can improve to FH)
High pair 2 3 (Good chance to improve)
Three to a Royal Flush 3 2 (Good luck)
Four to a Flush 4 1 (Good luck)
Low Pair 2 3 (Can improve to 2P or 3K)
Four to a Straight 4 1 (Good luck)
Three to a Straight Flush 3 2 (Don’t break a high pair)
Two to a Royal Flush 2 3 (Only when you have nothing else)
Two High Cards 2 3 (Good chance to create a high pair)
One High Card 1 4 (Good chance to land something)
Nothing 0 5 (Redraw for better cards)

4. Play the Maximum Coins

Incorporating this principle into your video poker basic strategy can significantly enhance your winning potential. It’s true that by betting max coins, you might deplete your stack quicker.

However, the upside is the enticing prospect of hitting a big payout, especially the coveted Royal Flush bonus most video poker machines offer. This is because the payout for a Royal Flush is often increased when betting the maximum coins. For example, a game can pay 250x for a Royal Flush when betting one coin, but 4,000x when betting five coins. That’s 800x per coin wagered instead of 250x, which is a significant difference. The other payouts remain the same, relative to the bet.

Essentially, this approach amplifies the rewards of successful bets, tipping the scale of risk and reward in your favor. While it might appear counterintuitive to risk more in a game of chance, remember that video poker is also a game of strategy, and sometimes, taking calculated risks can lead to substantial rewards.

As always, we advise you to only bet what you can afford to lose and gamble responsibly at all times. It is best to lower the value of the coin and bet five coins per round, than to use a higher value coin and only bet one.

5. Practice with Free Games

Just like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. An essential part of any video poker basic strategy is to practice in demo mode at online casinos before playing with real money. 

Free games offer a risk-free environment where you can develop your skills, try out new strategies, and understand the game rules in depth. They provide the practical experience needed to translate theory into effective gameplay. 

In free video poker, you start with a balance of credits that you can then use to bet. Your winnings will be added to the practice balance, making it a great way to keep score. In time, you will get used to making the right decisions based on the video poker strategy chart. Once you have everything set, you are ready to switch to real money.

6. Set a Budget

Having a set budget forms a crucial part of any strategy on how to beat video poker. It’s not just about knowing which cards to hold and which to fold, but also knowing how to handle your funds. 

It’s wise to only play with money you can afford to lose. This helps keep your gaming experience enjoyable and stress-free. Before you start, establish a budget for your gaming session and stick to it, regardless of the outcomes. This discipline ensures you won’t chase losses – a common pitfall for many players – and prevents you from playing beyond your means. 

7. Pick the Right Game

An essential video poker strategy tip is the careful selection of the right game at offshore poker sites. With a plethora of video poker variants like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, each with its unique strategy, it’s crucial to pick wisely. 

Focusing on a specific game allows you to deeply understand its nuances and, in turn, master its strategies. Over time, this informed choice will enable you to make better decisions and potentially increase your chances of winning. 

For beginners, we found Jacks or Better to be the easiest game to learn and master. By following all of our video poker tips, you can benefit from an RTP of over 99% in this gaming option.

8. Know When to Break a High Pair

One of the most valuable video poker tips involves knowing when to break a high pair. Understanding the game’s complexities can significantly influence your success rate.

For example, holding a high pair might seem like a good position, but what if you’re also just one card shy of a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush? 

In such cases, it could be more advantageous to break the pair, discarding one of your paired cards to pursue the more lucrative hand. This is because a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush pays significantly higher than a simple pair. 

This tip underlines the importance of evaluating your hand not just based on its current value but also considering its potential future value. It’s these subtle yet strategic decisions that can make a significant difference to your overall video poker performance.

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Video Poker Strategy Chart Cheat Sheet

Here’s an introductory video poker strategy guide for numerous game variants. Use this chart to navigate your way through different hands and optimize your gameplay by using the following video poker basic strategy:

Hand Action
Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight Hold, do not discard anything
Four cards to a Royal Flush Hold the four, discard the remaining card
Three of a Kind, Two Pair, Pair (Jacks or Better) Hold, discard unnecessary cards
Four cards to a Straight Flush Hold the four, discard the remaining card
Pair (Lower than Jacks) Hold, discard the other cards
Three cards to a Royal Flush Hold the three, discard the other two cards
Four cards to a Flush Hold the four, discard the remaining card
Lower than a pair Discard all cards, draw five new ones

8 Video Poker Tips

Learning how to beat video poker machines requires strategy, patience, and keen attention to detail. This list of essential video poker tips is designed to help all types of players enhance their gameplay, increase winning potential, and cultivate a better understanding of the game:

  1. Understand the Game: Before you start playing, make sure you understand the rules, hand rankings, and payouts of the specific video poker variant you’re playing.
  2. Learn the Strategy: Each variant of video poker has an optimal strategy. Learn the best video poker strategy for the game you’re playing to maximize your chances of winning.
  3. Use a Strategy Chart: Video poker strategy charts are excellent tools that can guide your play. These charts show you what cards to hold based on your initial hand.
  4. Check the Pay Tables: Different video poker machines have different pay tables. Always choose the machine with the best pay table.
  5. Take Breaks: Video poker can be an intense game, especially during longer sessions. Regular breaks can keep your mind fresh and help maintain focus – and safe gambling.
  6. Understand Variance: Variance refers to the ups and downs, or wins and losses, you can expect to see. High variance games can have bigger wins but occur less often, while low variance games have smaller wins that occur more frequently.
  7. Don’t Rush: Take your time when playing. Unlike games with a dealer or other players, you’re not under any time pressure when playing video poker. Give yourself time to make the best move.
  8. Research Payback Percentages: Games with higher payback percentages return more of each dollar bet back to the player over the long term. Aim to play games with high payback percentages.

Video Poker Strategies for Different Variations

Video poker has numerous variants, each requiring a unique approach and strategy. Applying the best strategy for video poker depending on which game variant you’re playing increases your odds of winning.

In the following section, we’ll explain the optimal strategies for the most popular video poker variations:

Jacks or Better

video poker strategy jacks or better

Jacks or Better is one of the most popular variations of video poker, and it has a straightforward strategy. The game gets its name from the fact that the smallest winning hand is a pair of Jacks.

The hand rankings mirror traditional poker, starting from a Royal Flush at the top, followed by a Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, and finally, Jacks or Better – a pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces. Understanding these rankings is essential as it is the foundation of your strategy.

When it comes to betting, Jacks or Better usually allows flexibility in the number of coins you can wager. It’s generally recommended to always bet the maximum number of coins, often five. The reason for this strategy is the opportunity it presents for a bonus payout when you hit a Royal Flush, the highest hand in the game.

The next key strategy point involves the use of a video poker strategy chart. The chart lists all possible initial hands in a hierarchy, and you follow the chart from top to bottom until you come across the hand that you have. The strategy chart guides your decision-making process and provides the optimal choice for each scenario.

Based on your initial five-card hand, your decisions on what to keep and discard are crucial. The principle is to retain any winning hand, which in this game, is any hand that is Jacks or Better. If you’re fortunate enough to have four cards to a Royal Flush, discard the fifth card, even if it completes a winning hand. 

The potential reward of hitting a Royal Flush far outweighs the immediate payout from a lower hand. If you have four cards to a Straight Flush or three to a Royal Flush, these should be retained as well, discarding the remaining cards.

In a scenario where you’ve been dealt a pair, hold these cards and discard the other three. If your hand consists of two high cards, Jacks or higher, keep these and discard the rest. If you’re faced with more than two high cards, the best practice is to hold the lowest two.

The final step involves discarding and drawing new cards. After deciding which cards to hold, hit the “Draw” button. The game then discards the cards you didn’t hold and gives you new ones.

Mastering Jacks or Better requires you to not just aim for a win, but to win the maximum amount possible. This approach, centered around maximizing your potential winnings, is at the heart of the best strategy for video poker in the Jacks or Better variant.

Deuces Wild

deuces wild video poker strategy

Deuces Wild is another favorite among video poker enthusiasts. The game gets its name from the fact that the 2s, or “deuces”, act as wild cards, standing in for any other card to form the best possible hand. The strategy for Deuces Wild is different from other video poker games.

In Deuces Wild, a crucial point is understanding the impact of deuces. These wild cards can significantly alter the strength of your hand, making the hand rankings in Deuces Wild different from traditional poker games. Here, the minimum qualifying hand is typically a Three of a Kind. Five of a Kind and Wild Royal Flushes are additional hand types only possible because of the deuces.

One significant element of video poker strategy in Deuces Wild is understanding the best way to play based on the number of deuces you are dealt. If you’re fortunate enough to be dealt four deuces, hold all the cards since you can’t improve on this hand.

With three deuces, hold Five of a Kind or a Wild Royal Flush, if you have them. If you don’t, just hold the deuces and draw two new cards.

With two deuces, hold any hand that’s Four of a Kind or better. Otherwise, keep the deuces and draw three new cards. For a single deuce, hold any hand that’s Three of a Kind or better, hold four cards of a Royal Flush or four cards of a Straight Flush. If you don’t have these, hold the deuce only.

If you’re dealt a hand with no deuces, the strategy changes slightly. With a paying hand, that is, a hand of Three of a Kind or better, you should typically hold onto it as it guarantees a return.

The one exception to this is when you have four cards that could potentially form a Royal Flush. In this case, it would be more beneficial to discard the non-contributing card, even if it breaks a lesser paying hand, in hopes of completing the Royal Flush.

Remember, Deuces Wild can be a fun, fast-paced poker variant, but it requires a good understanding of the unique hand values and strategic adjustments due to the wild deuces. Familiarity with these factors, combined with disciplined play, provides the best strategy for video poker when playing Deuces Wild.

How to Win at Video Poker with the Best Strategy

Improving your chances to win at video poker games boils down to a combination of knowledge, skill, and mastering the video poker perfect strategy.

The best strategy for video poker involves understanding the game variant you’re playing, mastering its specific strategy, and sticking to the video poker strategy chart with discipline and focus. 

A great starting point for players is Jacks or Better. This popular video poker variant has straightforward rules and offers one of the highest return to player (RTP) percentages. The fundamental strategy here is to always aim for the highest possible paying hand. 

Strategic Card Decisions for Optimal Video Poker Gameplay

The decision to hold or discard cards depends on the video poker game variation you’re playing. This also depends on the hand you’ve been dealt and the possible hands you could form. Below are some general tips that can be helpful:

  1. High Cards: Hold on to high cards like Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces. They can lead to forming a winning pair or used in forming a Straight, Flush, or even a Royal Flush.
  2. Completing Hands: If you’re one card away from a Flush or straight, it’s typically a good idea to hold onto your cards and hope to draw the card you need.
  3. Pairs: Hold on to pairs, even low ones. You might be able to build a Three of a Kind, Four of a Kind, Full House, or even a Two Pair, all of which are paying hands.

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Graziella Calleja

Graziella is a recognized expert in the online gambling industry, with a particular interest in the US market and the exciting realm of crypto casinos. Her expertise shines through her comprehensive guides and reviews published across reputable platforms. Graziella's profound understanding of the US online casino landscape and her insights into the growing crypto casino market make her a trusted source for valuable information and recommendations in these dynamic sectors. Her passion for casino gaming led her to start writing guides and reviews for several publications including Michi Gambler, Business2Community, and American Gambler.