Video Poker, or so-called Poker Slots, is one of the most popular casino games. It is a cross between games of luck and games of strategy. While Video Poker is easy to play and requires no interaction with a dealer, skill is an important factor in the game, especially in the long run.
The first step to learn how to win in Video Poker is to learn the basics, these can be found here. Once you know them, it is time to learn a strategy that helps you increase your edge and gain a profit in the long run. In this post we will discuss the simple video poker strategy. For more advanced players there is also an optimal strategy, which slightly increases your return, but is much harder to learn.
Simple Video Poker Strategy – Jacks or Better
The basic strategy for any Video Poker game is determined by comparing the expected value of each decision and choosing the one with the highest expected return for the player. Video Poker is a fixed-odds poker game based on five-card draw. You get dealt 5 initial cards. After having a look at them, you need to decide which ones to hold and which to fold.
To decide which to hold and which to fold, the simple strategy is a great way to increase your edge and win in the long run. To use the strategy, look up all your possible moves at the following chart and elect the highest on the list.
Simple vs Optimal Strategy
There are two types of strategies used by Video Poker players - the simple or basic strategy and the optimal strategy. Using the simple strategy, some combinations with similar expected returns are grouped together, resulting in a much shorter and much easier strategy.
The main difference between the optimal and the basic strategy is the expected payout. The expected return using the optimal strategy is 99.54%, whereas the expected return using the simple Video Poker strategy is ‘only’ 99.46%. As you can see, the difference is only 0.8% which is really low. This difference comes from the mistakes made by the players based on the simplifications.
3 Essential Video Poker Tips
While the exact strategies for each variation of Video Poker is going to vary slightly, some tips are true for most of them.
Place maximum coin bets
To get the most out of playing Video Poker and maximize your winnings you should always place the maximum coin bet. The chances of hitting a royal flush are rather low, but if you do and you didn’t play with the maximum coin bet you will be sorry. Playing with the maximum, your winnings will be disproportionately large compared to playing with any other bet size. However, always remember to only play with what you can afford.
Play the game with the best pay table
Before deciding which game to play, you should always look at the pay table. Some games offer better overall payouts than others. If possible, play full pay games. Full pay games like 9-6 Jacks or Better, where when you look at the minimal coin bet you get 9 coins for full house and 6 coins for flush, offer the highest theoretical return. In 9-6 Jacks or Better, the return to a player is 99.54%.
Learn how to play
The most important factor to succeed in the long run is to learn an appropriate strategy. There is a strategy for each game variation and each pay table. Learn these strategies before playing or have a strategy chart at hand when playing to make the best decisions no matter what cards you get dealt.