Video Poker and How to Beat It

Video poker first appeared in casinos back in the 1970s and has since become one of the most popular games. Visit any casino in Las Vegas, or anywhere in the world, and there will be video poker machines galore.

The reason for the popularity of video poker is simple: the game offers the highest odds of any casino game. You can actually beat video poker machines if you adopt the correct strategy. Some video poker variants offer a theoretical return of 100.8% and even a standard Jacks or Better paying 99.5439%

How to play video poker

The game plays the same regardless of you playing it live or at an online casino. Make your wager and press the deal button to receive five random cards. You need to decide which cards you will keep and which to throw away. Choose the cards you want to keep by clicking them with your mouse or pressing them on the screen.

Press the draw button once you have decided on the cards you want to keep and the machine will randomly replace your discarded cards. A prize is awarded if you make the bottom hand on the paytable, usually a pair of jack, otherwise another hand starts when you press deal again.

Deuces Wild is a popular video poker variant. The two serves as a while card and can be used to represent any other playing card. Three of a kind is typically the weakest hand you can win a prize from in Deuces Wild.

How to beat video poker

We need to talk about the casino’s edge before we can discuss the best way to beat video poker regularly. Everyone has heard the phrase “the casino always wins” and this is almost always true. Casinos stack the odds in their favor in order to make a profit. There would be no casinos in business if they did not make any money, that should be obvious.

Some casino games have a larger casino edge than others. Roulette with a single zero, for example, has a house edge of 2.70%, but a 5.26% edge with double zero. Your bankroll will be depleted much faster in a casino game if the casino has a high edge.

This is our first step to beating video poker: look for the machines with the lowest house edge. A typical jacks or better game can return as high as 99.5439%. That is a house edge of a mere 0.4561%. These games are often called 9/6 Jacks or Better because they pay nine-time your bet for a full house and six-time for a flush. Compare this to an 8/6 Jacks or Better which has a 98.3927% return and 1.6073% house edge. The latter has an edge almost four-times more. I know which game I would play.

Always play the maximum coins

This does not mean play the maximum bet. Video poker machines have a payout table for one, two, three, four, or five coins. They also have stakes from $0.01 to $100 or higher. We are yet to find a payout table that does not reward playing the maximum coins by increasing the top prizes.

Playing one coin should see you win 250-times your bet if you hit a Royal Flush. This increases to 500 for two coins, 750 for three coins and 1,000 for four coins. Playing for five coins, however, sees this trend bucked and a prize of 4,000-times your bet awarded when you hit a Royal Flush.

It is much better to play $0.05 stakes on five coins than it is $0.25 stakes on one coin. Always play the maximum coins possible.

Follow this basic strategy

You will enjoy a theoretical return of approximately 99.54% by following the basic strategy shown in the list below. A high card is a jack, queen, king, or ace. Your five dealt cards will sometimes have several aspects from the list below, such as two pair and four to a flush. Choose the highest-ranking holding from the list if this happens to you.

  1. Four of a kind, straight flush or royal flush
  2. Four to a royal flush
  3. Three of a kind, straight or full house
  4. Four to a straight flush
  5. Two pair
  6. High pair
  7. Three to a royal flush
  8. Four to a flush
  9. Low pair
  10. Four to an outside straight
  11. Two suited high cards
  12. Three to a straight flush
  13. Two unsuited high cards (pick the lowest two if there are more than two)
  14. Suited jack-ten, queen-ten or king-ten
  15. One high card
  16. Discard everything else

Avoid these mistakes

Many players new to video poker play the game like they would a game such a Texas Hold’em in that they keep a kicker when they have a pair. For example, they may hold a pair of kings and also an ace thinking the kicker will help them. It does not in the long run and the long run is what you need to focus on to win on a regular basis.

Keeping three cards to a straight or flush is another common mistake. Trust me when I say let those three cards be discarded. The only exception is when you have three cards to a royal flush because the massive prize outweighs the risk.

Now check out these Australian online casinos where you can play video poker.