In gambling, there are some games where your chances of winning basically come down to luck.
In video poker, however, although there is an element of luck in terms of the cards drawn, learning the best strategy can help to increase your odds of winning.
To increase your chances of winning at video poker, the best thing you can do is learn the best strategies for individual variations of the game.
This way, you can make it so that the odds are more in your favor regardless of which version of video poker you’re playing.
In this guide, we’ll be summarizing the rules of the different video poker variations you might come across and outlining the strategies you need to know if you want to maximize your chances of winning.
Learning The Rules
Before we get into the strategy you should follow to win video poker, we should point out that there are actually multiple variations of video poker.
This means that it’s important to know which set of rules you’re meant to be following before you start playing.
The main variations of video poker you need to know about are as follows:
Jacks Or Better
Most video poker games follow this set of rules because it’s the most commonly played version of video poker (see also “How Do You Play A Video Poker Game?“).
In Jacks of Better, there are nine hands that could win the game, but you need to have two jacks in your hand in order to get a payout.
You’ll also only receive a payout for the hand with the highest value, and you won’t get a payout for pairs lower in the deck than the jack or for five of a kind.
The amount in the payout you’ll get for the winning hand is predetermined, with the royal flush (250x) being the main prize.
Jokers Wild/Deuces Wild
Jokers Wild, otherwise known as Deuces Wild, is an interesting version of video poker. That’s because all the deuces or jokers in the deck are turned into wild cards, meaning that they can be used in place of any other card the player would prefer.
You can also discard any number of cards in this version of the game.
Because of the substitution rule, it’s easier to get a winning hand when playing Jokers Wild or Deuces Wild. As a result, the game operates on lower payout scales, although the hands are ranked the same.
When you’re playing Jokers Wild or Deuces Wild online, you get an added perk that you wouldn’t get otherwise. In the video version of the game, you can play bonus games for the chance to double your winnings.
Bonus/Double Bonus/Double Double Bonus
The rules of Bonus poker and other similar variations such as Double Bonus poker and the even more high-stakes Double Double Bonus poker are based on the rules of Jacks or Better, but there are still some key differences you should know about.
Compared to Jacks or Better, the Bonus variations of poker have more winning hands, although each one comes with a unique bonus payout, most of which are lower in value.
The exception is the premium hands, which can get you high payouts.
Aces And Faces And Tens Or Better
Aces and Faces and Tens or Better are two more variations of video poker, and they’re both fairly easy to understand because they’re played in much the same way as classic video poker.
With Tens or Better, the main difference is that the threshold to get a winning hand is lowered because rather than having to get a pair of jacks in your hand, you only need a pair of tens.
The payouts, however, are lower to compensate for the fact that getting a winning hand is easier.
Meanwhile, Aces and Faces is also based around the rules of Jacks or Better.
The main difference is that instead of revolving around a pair of jacks, the winning hands in Aces and Faces are based on a combination of aces and face (king, queen and jack) cards.
General Strategy For Video Poker
Depending on which specific version of video poker you’re playing, you may have to use a different strategy to help you win the game.
However, for all versions of video poker, there are some basic strategic tips you should bear in mind:
Choose The Best Casino
Before you even begin playing video poker, you can maximize your chances of winning a good payout simply by picking the best casino.
Different casinos will have different bonus offers and payout percentages, so you can look at this information beforehand to increase your chances of winning.
When looking at payout percentages, you should obviously prioritize high percentages, but bear in mind that the percentages stated on a casino’s website will not be individual, but overall.
So, for example, if a casino advertises a 95% payout percentage, that just means that for every $100 betted by players, $95 gets paid out.
It’s easy to get carried away with appealing-looking bonuses, and it’s true that good bonuses can increase the reward of playing video poker.
However, make sure to always read the terms and conditions to avoid confusion and disappointment since some bonuses are dependent on specific factors during the game.
Consider The Pay Tables
In a normal game of poker, you need to memorize the pay tables so that you know how much of a payout each hand would get you.
However, in video poker, things are a little easier because the pay tables will be displayed on the screen, so you don’t need to memorize anything.
All the same, it’s important to keep an eye on those pay tables to ensure that you know what each hand is worth as you proceed in the game.
In order to get a scoring hand in most variations of video poker, you need to have a pair of cards in your hand. Additionally, higher cards boost the overall value of your hand and will lead to a bigger payout if you also have a pair.
This is where a lot of players make a big mistake: discarding a pair of low cards in an effort to try and get a higher-scoring single card.
The problem with this move is that if you discard your low pair, you don’t know if you’re going to get another pair during the game.
If you don’t secure a different pair of cards, you can’t have a winning hand even if you have a high single card like an ace.
Therefore, if you find yourself with a low pair during a game of video poker, it’s best to hold onto the pair. Even if you don’t end up getting a high single to boost the value of your hand, you can at least win something if you have a pair rather than risking winning nothing at all.
Don’t Break Up A Straight Or Flush Prematurely
If you want to maximize your chances of a payout in video poker, don’t be tempted to break up a straight or go for a flush unless you have a solid chance of a Royal Flush.
Flushing or breaking up a straight is only really worth it if you’re in with a chance of a Royal Flush. If not, you’re better off retaining the hand you currently have.
Use the Max Bet Button
This is an easy tip for video poker, but it’s easy to overlook when you’re focused on the rules of the game and the cards in your hand.
Using the max bet button in video poker not only actually increases your odds of winning in most cases, but if you end up getting a Royal Flush, playing max coins will also mean your payout is bigger.
Best Video Poker Strategy By Variant
The above tips can be applied to basically all video poker variants, but there are also specific strategies that work for individual variants of the game.
When it comes to individual strategies, what works for Jacks or Better may not be the best style of play for Aces and Faces or Double Bonus, for example. So, take a moment now to look at all the best video poker strategies according to variant:
Jacks Or Better
In Jacks or Better, you should always keep hold of jacks and cards that are more valuable than a jack, hence the name of the game.
Hold your hand if it contains either three to a Royal Flush or four to a flush or straight. The same rule applies if you’re holding three cards to a straight flush.
You should also hold any valuable pairs, but if the other cards in your hand are low, it’s better to replace them by drawing another three cards.
Jokers Wild/Deuces Wild
Whereas for Jacks or Better you would be prioritizing jacks and higher cards, for jokers/deuces wild, you need to prioritize the titular cards. The best situation is if you end up with four deuces/jokers, so keep hold of any of these cards and if you get four, hold tem.
If you find yourself with three jokers/deuces in your hand, don’t hold onto the other two unless you can get five of a kind or a Royal Flush. Otherwise, just pick up new cards and try to get more of the titular cards.
If you have no jokers/deuces, your best strategy is to hold onto paying hands or pairs.
Bonus/Double Bonus/Double Double Bonus
When you’re playing Double Bonus poker, it’s important to keep hold of any pairs you get, even if they’re not high cards. However, for single cards, you should only prioritize keeping hold of these if they’re high-scoring.
It’s always best to just discard all your cards if you don’t have any pairs. If you have three or four cards to a flush, keep them.
Aces And Faces
We mentioned earlier that playing the max bet or max coins button is generally a good strategy for all forms of video poker, but it’s an especially good strategy for Aces and Faces, so bear this in mind.
Additionally, Aces and Faces is another variation where it’s important to keep any pairs in your hand regardless of whether they’re high-scoring cards or not.
Always retain four cards to a flush, and if you’re on your way to making up a Royal Flush, make this a priority by discarding other cards. The Royal Flush is one situation where you should part with a winning hand, but otherwise, keep winning hands.
Tens Or Better
For Tens or Better, the best strategy is simply to keep hold of paying hands with the exception of making a Royal Flush. Also, regardless of value, hold onto pairs.
Always use the max bet for Tens or Better and don’t bet anything unless it’s max coins. With that being said, keep an eye on the pay table so that you know which hands to prioritize for higher scores.
It can be daunting to fully discard your hand, but if you don’t have any cards of value, just discard them all and pick up new cards.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Video Poker Rules The Same As Poker In Real Life?
If you’re used to playing poker in a real-life scenario, you might be concerned that video poker will be different and confusing to learn.
While it’s true that video poker is actually quite different from real life poker, in the sense that you play video poker on your own and it has more of a slot machine feel, there are enough similarities that you should be able to pick up video poker quickly if you know real life poker.
For example, the same rules apply for calculating which hands are valuable, and even though you’re not playing against other real players, the main rules are generally the same.
Is Video Poker Free To Play?
When you initially start playing video poker online, most casino sites will give you practice coins to spend while you familiarize yourself with the game.
Eventually, you will need to start using your own money with most casinos, but you’ll almost always be able to use virtual money for the first few games so you can get a feel for the game and decide if you want to continue playing with your own money.
Can You Guarantee A Win At Video Poker?
It’s important to note that even if you apply all the strategic tips mentioned in this article, you can’t guarantee that you will win at video poker.
Strategy in poker is simply about maximizing your chances of winning, not guaranteeing a win since there’s always an element of luck involved in which cards you get dealt.
Is Video Poker About Skill Or Luck?
Video poker is neither entirely about luck or entirely about skill. That’s why, as mentioned above, you can’t guarantee that you’ll win the game even if you employ all the best strategies.
However, at the same time, you’ll be much less likely to win if you don’t play strategically, so there clearly is a skill element as well.
The thing about video poker is that you have to somewhat rely on getting pairs of cards or high-scoring cards if you want to win the game.
You can maximize your chances of ending up with a good hand if you do things like discarding single low-scoring cards or keeping hold of all pairs in your hand instead of chasing single high-scorers, but ultimately, the luck of the draw will always matter.
Which Variant Of Video Poker Should You Play?
If you’re used to playing classic, in-person poker, we recommend starting by playing video poker according to the rules of Jacks or Better. That’s because this is the most similar to classic poker and it’s also the most well-known variant of the game.
With that being said, if you want to make things more interesting and make payouts a little easier to obtain even if the payouts are a bit lower, we recommend Jokers/Deuces Wild.
What Are The Odds Of Winning Video Poker?
The odds of winning at video poker vary depending on the variation of the game you’re playing as well as the payback percentages of the casino you’re playing at.
Therefore, if you want to know what the odds of you winning video poker are, you should consider both these factors.
If you want to use strategy to boost your chances of winning video poker, you should bear in mind that there are different versions of video poker, and depending on which one you play, you may need to use a different strategy.
However, regardless of variation, you can increase your chances of winning video poker by researching payout percentages and bonuses for different casinos, using the max bet button, and keeping hold of pairs (even with low-scoring cards).
Also, make sure not to flush or break up a straight unless you can get a Royal Flush, and look at the pay tables before and during the game.