Expert Video Poker Strategies for Every Player

Betting Center
February 11, 2024

Winning Video Poker Strategies: From Basics to Advanced Techniques

Video poker stands as a beacon of strategy in the vast sea of casino games, offering a unique blend of skill, strategy, and the thrill of gambling. Unlike its more random cousin, the slot machine, video poker provides players with the opportunity to influence the outcome of each hand by making strategic decisions. This blend of poker and slots has captured the hearts of many, offering a solitary battle against the odds, where knowledge and strategy can significantly tilt the balance in the player’s favor. As we delve into the world of video poker, we uncover the importance of strategy in turning the tides of this game, making each decision a crucial step towards victory.

The allure of video poker lies not only in the potential for wins but also in the challenge it presents. It’s a game that rewards patience, practice, and a deep understanding of its mechanics. The transition from a novice to a skilled player hinges on one’s ability to master the strategies that govern the game. This guide aims to demystify the complex world of video poker strategy, offering both newcomers and seasoned players alike a pathway to enhance their gameplay. By understanding the foundational principles of video poker, players can navigate through the myriad of choices with confidence, making informed decisions that maximize their chances of success.

Understanding Video Poker

Video poker and slots might share a superficial resemblance, but the similarity ends at the surface. While slots are governed by luck, video poker offers a seat at the strategy table, inviting players to influence the game’s outcome. This key difference elevates video poker from a game of mere chance to a strategic endeavor where decisions matter. Each hand dealt in video poker is a puzzle, and the player’s task is to solve it in the most profitable way possible, using their knowledge of the game and the odds to guide them.

Why strategy matters in video poker cannot be overstated. The game combines the uncertainty of card dealing with the certainty of mathematical probabilities, creating a dynamic environment where strategy plays a pivotal role. Knowing when to hold, when to discard, and how to manage the hand you’re dealt can significantly increase your chances of winning. This strategic dimension adds depth to video poker, making it not just a game of chance, but a skillful challenge that rewards careful planning and execution.

Understanding Video Poker

Developing a Video Poker Strategy

The journey to mastering video poker begins with understanding its basic principles. A solid strategy is built on a foundation of knowing the game’s rules, the ranking of hands, and the specific payouts of the machine you’re playing on. Players must acquaint themselves with the different variations of video poker, each with its own set of rules and optimal strategies. Whether it’s Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, or Double Bonus Poker, the key to success lies in adapting your strategy to fit the nuances of each game.

Learning and practicing your strategy is an ongoing process in video poker. It’s not enough to have a theoretical understanding of the game; players must apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios, learning from both victories and setbacks. Utilizing free play or demo modes can provide valuable practice without risking real money, allowing players to refine their strategies in a risk-free environment. As players gain experience, they become better equipped to make quick, informed decisions, turning their knowledge into a powerful tool for success in video poker.

Essential Video Poker Strategy Tips

  1. Know Your Pay Tables: One of the first steps to developing a winning video poker strategy is to familiarize yourself with the pay tables. Each video poker machine has its own set of payouts for different hands, and understanding these can help you identify the most lucrative opportunities. By comparing pay tables across different machines, players can choose the ones that offer the best return on investment, laying a solid foundation for their strategy.
  2. The Significance of Playing Max Coins: To maximize potential winnings in video poker, playing the maximum number of coins is often recommended. This approach comes into play especially when aiming for the top payouts, such as the coveted Royal Flush, which typically offers a disproportionately higher payout for max coin bets. This strategy not only increases your chances of hitting a big win but also elevates the overall return to player (RTP) of the machine.
  3. Low Pairs vs. High Cards: A Strategic Decision: In video poker, holding onto a low pair rather than chasing a high card can often be the more strategic choice. Low pairs have the potential to turn into three-of-a-kinds or full houses, both of which offer higher payouts than simply holding a high card. This tip underscores the importance of understanding hand rankings and the probabilities of forming winning combinations from your initial hand.
  4. When to Break Up a Straight or Flush: Sometimes, the pursuit of a higher-paying hand, such as a Royal Flush, may justify breaking up a guaranteed winning hand like a straight or flush. This decision should be informed by the pay table and the odds of completing the higher-value hand. While it’s a riskier move, the potential payout can make it a worthwhile strategy, especially when the chance of success aligns with the game’s probabilities.

Advanced Video Poker Strategies

For those ready to dive deeper into the strategic nuances of video poker, exploring advanced strategies for specific game variations can unlock new levels of gameplay. Each variant, from Jacks or Better to Deuces Wild, demands a tailored approach, reflecting the unique challenges and opportunities they present. Mastery of these games involves not just understanding the general principles of video poker strategy but also adapting to the specific dynamics of each variation.

Strategies for popular video poker variations like Jacks or Better focus on maximizing the value of high pairs and understanding the pivotal role of the royal flush. In Deuces Wild, the strategy shifts to leverage wild cards, offering a different set of strategic considerations and potential hand combinations. Bonus Poker adds another layer of complexity with its bonus payouts for specific four-of-a-kind hands. Navigating these variations with skill and strategic acumen can significantly impact your video poker success.

Video Poker Odds

Understanding the odds of video poker is crucial for any player looking to implement a successful strategy. The odds dictate the likelihood of drawing any given hand, providing insight into the risks and potential rewards of different plays. For instance, the odds of hitting a Royal Flush vary significantly across different versions of video poker, but knowing these odds can help players make informed decisions about when to chase high-paying hands and when to play it safe. This knowledge, combined with a strategic approach to the game, can greatly enhance a player’s chances of winning.

The impact of strategy on video poker odds cannot be overstated. By making smart choices based on the odds, players can effectively reduce the house edge and increase their own return to player (RTP). A well-informed player who understands the probabilities of the game can strategically choose which cards to hold and which to discard, optimizing their chances of forming winning hands. This blend of skill and statistical understanding is what makes video poker both challenging and rewarding.

Choosing the Right Machine

Payout percentages play a pivotal role in selecting the right video poker machine. These percentages indicate the average amount of money that will be returned to players over time, with higher percentages favoring the player. By seeking out machines with high payout percentages, players can ensure they’re maximizing their potential returns, making this one of the most critical factors in choosing where to play. It’s worth noting that these percentages can vary widely from one machine to another, even within the same casino.

Variance is another important consideration when choosing a video poker machine. High variance games offer the chance for larger payouts but come with greater risk, meaning players might experience longer losing streaks. Low variance games, on the other hand, offer more consistent, smaller wins. Deciding which type of game to play depends on your bankroll management strategy and personal preference for risk. Balancing these factors is key to finding the video poker machine that best fits your playing style and goals.

Bankroll Management

Effective bankroll management is essential for any video poker player looking to play sustainably and avoid the pitfalls of reckless betting. Setting a budget before you play helps ensure that you don’t exceed your financial limits, allowing for a more enjoyable and responsible gaming experience. This discipline is crucial, as it prevents the common mistake of chasing losses with larger bets, a strategy that often leads to further losses.

The importance of bankroll management extends beyond simple budgeting; it also influences your choice of video poker machines and betting strategies. Playing at stakes that are too high for your bankroll can quickly deplete your funds, limiting your ability to play and potentially missing out on more profitable opportunities. Conversely, managing your bankroll wisely allows you to extend your playtime, increase your chances of hitting a significant payout, and enjoy the game without financial stress.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Video Poker

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the most common mistakes video poker players make is overvaluing high cards. While it might be tempting to hold onto a high card, such as an Ace or King, in hopes of forming a high pair, often it’s more strategic to keep a low pair for the potential to build a three-of-a-kind or even a full house. This mistake highlights the importance of understanding hand rankings and the probabilities of improving your hand based on what you hold.

Another critical error is misunderstanding pay tables. Each video poker variant has its own pay table, which outlines the payouts for various hands. Failing to study and comprehend these tables can lead to poor strategic decisions, such as aiming for less profitable hands or misunderstanding the value of certain combinations. Taking the time to learn and compare pay tables is a fundamental aspect of developing a successful video poker strategy.

Practicing Your Strategy

Practicing your video poker strategy in free play or demo modes is an invaluable step towards mastering the game. These modes allow you to apply your strategies without the risk of losing real money, providing a safe environment to experiment with different approaches and learn from your decisions. Through practice, you can identify areas of improvement, refine your techniques, and gain confidence in your gameplay.

Using strategy cards is another effective way to practice and reinforce your video poker strategy. These cards provide a handy reference for the best plays based on the initial hand you’re dealt, offering guidance on which cards to hold and which to discard. Over time, as you become more familiar with the strategies, you’ll rely less on the cards and more on your intuition and understanding of the game, ultimately leading to a more skilled and successful video poker experience.


Which video poker game has the best odds? Deuces Wild, when played with an optimal strategy on a “full-pay” machine, is often cited as offering one of the best odds for players, potentially even giving players a slight edge over the house.

Can I play online video poker for free? Yes, many online casinos and gaming sites offer free or demo versions of video poker, allowing players to practice without risking real money.


Mastering video poker requires a blend of strategy, knowledge, and practice. By understanding the game’s mechanics, odds, and strategies for different variations, players can significantly improve their chances of success. Remember, each decision in video poker can impact the game’s outcome, making it essential to approach each hand with a clear strategy. With practice, patience, and a keen eye for detail, anyone can become a skilled video poker player, turning this fascinating blend of luck and skill into a rewarding pastime.

Author Betting Center