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Video poker strategy: 10 tips to help you win poker games

Video Poker Strategy Tips

Diving into video poker? It's smart to study tips and strategy first.

Whether it’s Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better, the best video poker strategy is to be prepared.

While video poker can seem a bit more like a video game or slot machine, it’s a much more lucrative game than most for players who are gambling online or in a casino. Study up on your strategy and take our advice so you’re ready for your spot at the virtual poker table.

1. Play the max – It may seem less economical, but playing the maximum bet allows players the best chance for a major score. On a typical 9/6 machine (a 9 payout on full house and 6 on flush, offering players the highest payout and best chance to win), the pay table offers the following payouts for a royal flush on a Jacks or Better machine:

    • 1 coin – 250
    • 2 coins – 500
    • 3 coins – 750
    • 4 coins – 1,000

However, when a player hits a royal flush at max bet, that 5-coin return jumps up to a payout of 4,000. That’s a huge difference and if you’re playing good strategy, your long-term win will be higher.

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2. Super strategy – It can’t be stressed enough that practicing Basic Strategy leads to profits. Here’s a simple guide on playing Jacks or Better. If you receive any of the below, keep the highest hand and draw the other cards.

    1. Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
    2. Four cards to a royal Flush
    3. Full house, flush, straight, three of a kind
    4. Four cards to a straight flush
    5. Two pair
    6. High pair (Jacks or better)
    7. Three to a royal flush
    8. Four cards to a flush
    9. Low pair
    10. Four to an open-end straight
    11. Two suited high cards
    12. Three cards to a straight flush
    13. Two unsuited high cards
    14. Suited J-T, Q-T, or K-T
    15. One high card
    16. Redraw all five cards

3. Seek out those bonuses – Some casinos, especially online, offer differing bonus structures for your play. Don’t be afraid to ask online what those are; sometimes you’ll be rewarded for being inquisitive.

Video Poker Strategy Tips4. Play Deuces Wild and turn the tables – While Jacks or Better may be the most common video poker game, players can actually gain nearly a 1 percent edge on a full pay Deuces Wild machine. Look for games that pay 9 coins for a straight flush and 5 for four of a kind. Play perfect Basic Strategy and suddenly you’re in the driver’s seat. A variation is an 11/4 machine, also a nice option for good players — with a miniscule house edge of only .004 percent.

5. Chart your course – An easy way to get better at video poker is to simply print out a Basic Strategy chart. As a game of skill, this gives you a much better chance at winning. There are numerous online charts that can be printed and fit in your wallet. If you’re playing online, leave a window or tab open for your strategy guide to make sure you’re making the right moves.

6. Avoid this common three-card strategy – Some players keep three cards in an attempt to draw a straight or a flush. This is a losing proposition and should be avoided. Even if you hit a straight or a flush, you’ll have lost too much with this play to make it profitable. Practice Basic Strategy to have a shot at winning. Three cards to a straight flush, however, is a different proposition and should be played as outlined in the list in No. 2.

7. Deep focus – Video poker is a fun game, but to win you must play as optimally as possible. The game is not like roulette, where fate is completely left to chance. Grab a cup of coffee and don’t overdo it on the cocktails. Take a break when needed, and conserve that energy and stamina for some big wins.

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8. Get under the hood – OK, don’t really open the machine, but if you’re playing at a casino, it’s always a good idea to check out the buttons. Those that stick and don’t allow a player to draw a certain card can not only be annoying, but also unprofitable if a player misses a few winning hands because of this malfunction. It’s a common problem and should be avoided.

9. Play your limits – Playing max coins may seem like a struggle, and if it’s too much it’s time to switch to a lower denomination machine. Five dollars per hand may be high for you, so look for a quarter machine instead. Playing a max bet of $1.25 may be more manageable and allow you to play long enough and profit.

10. Don’t be afraid of a breakup – Following Basic Strategy may require occasionally breaking up a straight or a flush in hopes of an even bigger return. If you have four cards to a straight flush but already have a straight, it’s still wise to break up that hand up in hopes for a big draw.

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