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.
4. 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.