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The 3 best and 3 worst video poker plays

Video Poker Best and Worst Plays

Know the best and worst plays before you begin playing video poker.

Whether you're gambling online or in a casino, there are a few things you can do to increase your odds of winning.

Like serious blackjack players, it’s important to know basic strategy for video poker before you begin gambling online or at a casino. There are several poker games offered, but having insight on the strategies of the games can greatly improve your chances of walking away a winner.

Like real poker, video poker is a game of skill — our advice is to perfect your game and wins will follow. Here are some of the best and worst moves you can make catching some cards on-screen.

Top 3 good video poker plays

Practice, practice, practice – Before you start gambling with real money, there’s a great chance that the poker games you plan to play online are available to be played for free. Practice your basic strategy online gratis and gain plenty of experience for when you hope to crush the casinos. When you’re ready, you can drop a few bucks to play a bit and see how your improved skills work out.

Stay alert – One of the great aspects of video poker is that players who can maintain perfect strategy can often tip the odds slightly in their favor — or at least greatly reduce the house edge. However, along with an adequate bankroll, it’s important that a player is alert so that mistakes are less frequent. Even those small wins make the bankroll last longer so you can hit those bigger payouts. Small mistakes can prove costly. Don’t overdo the alcohol and don’t play tired; know when it’s time to head to your hotel room or log out of the computer.

Look for 9/6 – In video poker, a 9/6 refers to the payouts on a full house (9 to 1) and a flush (6 to 1) on the lowest column of the payout schedule. When playing a game like this, a player can expect “full pay” — this is one of the best when gambling online or in a asino. When playing maximum bets and utilizing perfect strategy, the expected return is 99.54 percent. However, finding a 9/6 machine isn’t always easy with 8/5 and 7/5 being more common. In Las Vegas, better machines are more likely to be found off the Strip.

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Best and Worst Video Poker PlaysTop 3 worst video poker plays

Low payouts – You may have basic strategy down, but games with poor payout tables don’t help players and put more money in the casino’s coffers. For example, a 6/5 Jacks or Better machine should be avoided; even when using perfect basic strategy, it won’t pay back 95 percent in the long run. At a 7/5 game, that percentage rises to over 96 percent. Those small edges add up to a lot. It’s important to always look for the best machines available and play at max bet when possible. Here’s a look at the most common payouts on a Jacks or Better machine:

• 9/6 – 99.54 percent
• 9/5 – 98.45 percent payback
• 8/6 – 98.39 percent
• 8/5 – 97.30 percent
• 7/5 – 96.15 percent
• 6/5 – 94.9 percent

Not getting in the club – If you plan on “investing” some money at video poker, it’s important to get a rewards card. Some online casinos offer even better returns for online play than live casinos. Many offer cash back as well as rewards and prizes: as much as 1.25 percent depending on how much you wager. With such low house edges in video poker, those small payments can turn a few losing nights into winners in the long run. Grab that card and use it every time you play. Take the free money and run.

Avoid intuition – Video poker is a game of skill for those who know what they’re doing. Having a “hunch” or believing that a certain game or machine is really lucky or better than others (excluding payouts) is flawed thinking and can be costly. Stick to the cold, hard statistics that come with playing perfect basic strategy. This is your best path to video poker success, not mindlessly adding to the house’s edge by playing a “good feeling.”

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Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER.