People often say that you can’t beat the house. That’s not true.
Video poker offers players a skill-based game that, if played correctly, can win you big money. You just need to know what you’re doing.
If you understand the rules of poker, know which hands are worth having, and when to fold, you can make a profit from video poker. We’re here to show you how you can win.
Read on, and we’ll teach you how to play video poker, and how you can win serious cash playing them. Ready to start winning?
Best Hands in Video Poker
When you play video poker, you’re going to need to know which hands are the best. Almost all video poker machines are based on five-card draw, but the best hands are the same as in Texas Hold ‘Em. In order from worst to best, the hands to look for are:
- Pair of Jacks or Better: If you have two matching cards, jacks or better.
- Two Pair: Two matching cards of different ranks. For example, two fives, two kings.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
- Straight: Five cards of consecutive ranks and different suits. An example would be being dealt 7 of hearts, 8 of clubs, 9 of diamonds, and so on.
- Flush: Five cards, all of the same suit.
- Full House: Three cards of one rank and two of another.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank.
- Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards, same suit.
- Royal Flush: 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit.
In general, if you’ve got nothing, it’s best to fold. However, if you’ve got a pair or higher, see how the game progresses.
Dealing and Discarding
When you start the game, the machine will deal you five random cards. From these, you can choose which to keep and which to discard. For example, if you have two Jacks and want to try for a three of a kind, you could discard another card and draw again.
How to Play Video Poker: Strategies
Don’t treat video poker as a game of chance. It isn’t one, and it will cost you games if you treat it like slots. Instead, you need to utilize coherent strategies to win at video poker.
What you need to do is work out probability. As the cards are randomly dealt, you have no idea what you’re going to get.
Let’s assume that you’re dealt a hand that’s just one card off a straight flush. Yet it’s complicated: you’ve also got a pair of jacks. You’re going to win something, because you’ve got a pair of jacks, but you can toss one of them and hope to get a straight flush.
Here, it’s mathematically unlikely that you will be dealt a straight flush. Ideally, you would take the return from the two jacks, and begin a new game.
There are over 2.5 million possible hands in poker, and what you’re trying to do is get good ones dealt to you, with no redraws, if possible. This is why knowing the best hands and the likelihood of being dealt a better card on a redraw are extremely important.
How Winnings Are Calculated
To calculate your winnings, the video poker machine will use something called a paytable. A paytable takes your initial wager, then multiplies that by a set amount to get you your winnings. If you look around online, you can find pay tables for all popular video poker machines.
Many video poker machines use the Jacks Or Better games. This game will give you back your initial wager, if you get a pair of jacks or better, as the name implies.
This is why video poker is a more economically sound way to gamble than slots. Instead of being truly random, by using your skills, you can make back your initial wager + profit far more often. It’s also the only game that tells you exactly what you stand to win, right from the off.
Research pay tables for the video poker machines at your local casinos. This way, you know which machines will offer you the best jackpots. Stick to these machines, and you’ll have the best chance of winning some serious money.
In this section, we’re going to give you some extra tips, to teach you how to play video poker and win.
- If you’re dealt a royal flush, straight flush, four/three of a kind, or a pair of jacks or better, always hold. Don’t discard these hands.
- If you’ve got a flush, but are one card away from a straight or royal flush, discard that one card.
- Always keep a low pair, rather than a high card.
A Word of Advice
The house doesn’t actually have the edge in video poker. If you’re going to Vegas, or hitting up a casino, stick to video poker, rather than slots. You’re far more likely to win in a game of skill, rather than one of chance.
However, you should always remember to stay in your limits when you’re playing video poker. Set yourself a budget, so that you know how much you’re prepared to lose. If you find that you’re going over that budget, then stop playing.
Don’t try and gamble your way out of a loss. Even in video poker, there are no guarantees.
You should also always stick to machines that you can afford to play. Don’t try and be a high roller if you can’t afford it.
Now you know how to play video poker, you’re ready to start winning some cash. Keep an eye on the pay tables, know your hands, and understand the probability of drawing and discarding.
If you’ve got any feedback or comments for us, then get in touch! Happy gambling!
BONUS READ: Which is the Best Video Poker Game to Play
Ari Waknine was born in Brooklyn, New York and was the founder of iGamble Group, an online gaming critique firm that helps players pick online gambling websites that fit their profile, as well as, helping them to increase their winnings. He is also the founder of NewCasinos.org, and is strictly focusing on this project making stronger and better than ever.