The proper strategy for beating Video Poker depends on learning some basic rules and being very disciplined in applying them. This isn't as easy as it may sound as some of the rules will go against your Poker instincts e.g. keeping 2 Threes instead of A,Q.
There's no psychology, just hard numbers
But remember, whereas Poker is a people game played with cards, Video Poker is all about maths and probability. There's no psychology here, just hard numbers.
Trust these rules - they'll give you by far your best chance of beating the game!
NB as discussed in our Video Poker player's guide, this strategy is designed around the most popular Video Poker game - Jacks or Better. Once you're familiar with the optimal strategy for Jacks or Better, you can adapt it to suit each Video Poker variation, with only minor changes.
If you only take away one piece of advice from this article, it's this: Regardless of any other strategy you use, you need to remember that the highest payout in Video Poker comes from hitting a Royal Flush when playing 5 coins. The difference in payouts between 5 and 4 can be huge (4,000 to 1, instead of 1,000 to 1) For this reason, you should always play five coins per hand.
To make this strategy easy to use, we've divided it up into sections, each one dealing with the number of significant cards in the hand you're dealt.
Within each section, we advise you on what to do and what not to do
NB in all cases, High card = Jack and higher, Low card = 10 and below.
ANY pair is better than 1 or 2 high cards, even if the 2 cards are suited and connected.
If you don't have a pair (high or low) hold up to a maximum of 2 high cards, ranked from low to high (eg Q,J rather than A,Q) - unless you have two or three suited high cards, in which case hold the suited high cards.
Don't hold a single high card with a pair.
Don't play just 2 suited and connected cards.
Hold three suited and connected high cards (10, J, Q or higher), unless you also have a High pair.
Don't hold 3 suited low cards (lower than a 10) if you also have a pair (high or low).
Don't hold 3 suited cards hoping to get a flush.
Don't hold 3 connected, unsuited cards, hoping to get a straight.
Hold a 4 card open-ended straight (connected, unsuited cards) unless you also have a pair (high or low).
Hold a 4 card flush (suited, not connected) unless you also have a high pair.
Don't try to draw to the inside of a straight. Only draw to a straight that's open at both ends.
eg if you have 2, 3, 5, 6, Q, don't hold 2, 3, 5, 6 hoping to draw a 4. A straight like 6, 7, 8, 9 can be completed with both a 5 and a 10 so your chances of winning are much higher.
Break up a 5 card straight or flush if you have a chance of a Royal Flush. e.g. if you had 8♦, 10♦, J♦, Q♦, K♦, discard the 8 and hope for the A♦.
Don't break up a 5 card straight or flush in an attempt to get a straight flush. The hand is already going to win, so it makes no sense to risk it for the small chance of a higher payout.
Sometimes you'll be faced with hands that give you a number of possible outcomes. In that case, you should rank them in this order (all based on probability - trust it!):
1. High Pair
2. 3 cards of a Royal Flush
3. 4 card Flush
4. Low pair
5. 4 card open-ended straight
If you haven't got at least a single high card or a low pair, just discard all 5 and draw some more.
Waste money on a lost cause!
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Video Poker is one of the simplest and most popular games in the casino, and for good reason - it's easy for beginners to learn, but offers experienced gamblers the opportunity to employ a strategy that could give them the edge over the casino.
In order to take you from beginner through to expert Video Poker player, we've put together a comprehensive Video Poker guide, that tells you everything you need to know:
A simple guide to playing Video Poker. An explanation of the rules, game mechanics and an overview of the different Video Poker variants you'll come across.
This Video Poker Basics guide is designed to get you up and playing in as short a time as possible.
Practice your new-found Video Poker strategy skills on this free play game which you can play without downloading, on your mobile, tablet or desktop.
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