How to Improve Your Chances at Video Poker

Many casino pros point to video poker as being the best “bang for your buck” game in a casino. The main reason for it is because the payout is supposed to be as good – or better – with video poker than any other game in the casino. So, if you’re going to sit in front of a machine (in person) or click away online, your odds of winning are much better with video poker than something like a slot.

Even so, there are still a number of things you should keep in mind when playing video poker. If you want to increase your chances of success, follow these five tips:

  1. Learn the Game

The first tip is quite simple: learn how to play the game. In short, you’re dealt five cards every hand, and you have to decide which cards you want to hold and which ones you want to let go of. After you choose your card or cards to hold, the remainder are swapped out. After that second dealing, you win if you have something in your hand (pairs, flush, etc.), or you lose if you didn’t make anything.

All Slots Video Poker

While those are the basics, take note that different games have slightly different rules. For example, Jacks or Better will pay even if all you have is a jack-high. Meanwhile, in Deuces Wild, all 2’s are wild, but the minimum hand you’ll need to hit here is Three of a Kind. That means you’ll need a better hand to win.

In short, the first step to success is to learn the basics. That’s the foundation that we’re going to build everything else upon.

  1. Always Check the Paytable

Video poker is one of the more transparent games in the casino. This is because you can always look at the paytable and see what the game pays out. That’s critical to take note of because this will illustrate how much you’ll win when you hit each specific hand. For example: let’s say you’re playing Double Bonus Poker Plus, the paytable will show how much you’ll win if you hit a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, all the way down to Jacks or Better.

Video Poker Paytable Example

Jacks or Better Paytable Example

Now what you want to look for are games where the paytable tilts in your favor when you play a perfect game. One example would be a Jacks or Better game, which pays nine coins for a Full House and six for a Flush. If you play that game on maximum coins and with the right strategy, the return from this machine will be 99.54%. So, if you’re playing this game, check the paytable. Sometimes a casino might offer only eight-six or as low as six-five (for the Full House/Flush payouts), which reduces your chances. Six-five drops the return on the game down to 95.0%, which is a huge dip.

That means what you’ll want to do is research what the optimal paytable is for each game. And when you do sit down to play, make sure you’re playing a game that offers the optimal table. Otherwise, you’re simply costing yourself money.

  1. Play the Game with the Best Payout

We’ve established that you want to play games with the optimal paytables (for each one). The next step beyond that is to play the games with the best payouts overall. Think about it: while it’s great that you found the best machine with the best Jacks or Better payout, there could be a Double Bonus Poker Plus table that offers an even better return on your money. This is crucial for players who love one specific type of game. You might love Jacks or Better, but Deuces Wild might be the game you really want to target.

Keep in mind that different games require different strategies. If you know Jacks or Better inside out, that’s great. But you’ll have to be diverse if you play a different game. You’ll have to employ the right optimal strategy, because there is no one size fits all.

  1. Play the Optimal Strategy

Video poker offers great payouts (in terms of the house edge), but there is one key caveat: you have to play the perfect game. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then the rest of these types, and your chances get flushed down the tubes.

For each hand that you’re dealt, there is one play that is considered the best one. Mathematically, there’s only one that leads to you playing the perfect strategy. You have to know this strategy inside-out for the game that you’re playing. And it’s going to vary from Jacks or Better to Double Double Bonus to Deuces Wild and everything else.

online table games

The good news is, if you play online, you can always have a separate tab open up with a site that shows you what the best move is each time. Or you can learn and memorize. Then practice online at a casino if they have a demo or ‘play for free’ option. Either way, make sure you perfect your craft before diving in. Because absent from the perfect strategy, you’re not going to put yourself in the best position to succeed.

  1. Collect Loyalty Points

One of the most important things to remember with video poker is loyalty programs. Typically, the best video poker players improve their odds to about a breakeven point or just shy of it. In other words, the casino might still have a slight advantage. You can make that up if you collect the loyalty points.

How it works is after you sign up, you’ll collect points for playing. The more you play, the more points you get. Those points can then be exchanged for things like bonus credits or cash wagers. You can then use those on video poker and collect some winnings. Beyond that, some loyalty programs will hook you up with free swag or maybe even free trips. When you add that in with the rest of the strategies, that really gives you a nice boost to overcome the casino edge playing video poker.

Dave Golokhov

Dave Golokhov

For nearly two decades, Dave Golokhov has been working with his passions in the mainstream media as well as the sports betting realm. Some of the highlights include hosting several radio shows on Sirius Satellite Radio, television appearances and interviewing hundreds of high-profile stars like Shaquille O'Neal and Floyd Mayweather. Dave is also the founder of WERSTARS, a website app to save and the moments of your life.

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