Video Poker Strategy Explained

After the success of live poker, video poker was introduced back in the 1970s. 

Back then, when the game was called “poker slots.” In the beginning, it struggled with acceptance as people had a hard time understanding how it worked. Now, video poker has a lot in common with the much-loved regular slot machines. You don’t have to interact with the dealer or other players, and it’s easy to play. 

Even though a random combination generator decides the slot reels and hands, you must have a video poker strategy in mind before you start playing. So if you want to know more about video poker strategy, you’re in the right place to learn.

Without further ado, let’s begin!

How to Win a Video Poker Game

Playing the game is pretty straightforward.

Although there are several variants, all of them have one thing in common: the mechanics of five-card draw poker sets the stage for the game. Video poker also uses a 52-card deck, and after you’ve selected your wager, you’ll press the deal button, giving you five randomly generated cards. 

Once you have your cards, you need to select which card you’re going to keep and which one you’ll discard. Next, press the draw button, and the machine will automatically replace the cards you’ve discarded. Your chances of winning are based on if you end up with a straight flush, two pairs, or even a royal flush.

However, you have to remember that the money you win depends on the value of your hand and the paytable where you’re playing. A wise decision during the initial stages of the game can set you up for the jackpot, for example, when choosing which card you discard. Therefore, having a video poker strategy is one of the important and best decisions you can make before playing the game.

However, not every player starts the game with a video poker strategy. Instead, many players attempt to beat the game with mere guesswork, without any video poker tips. This ends up with them losing a lot of money without ever having a shot at winning something. 

With the right strategy, not only are you going to have a shot at winning millions, but you’ll also enjoy the secondary benefits that come with winning a game of video poker. One of the main ones is that the best players get to participate in exclusive competitions. 

So before you consider taking up video poker as a career or hobby, practice and perfect your strategy!

How Video Poker Slots Work

In the following section, we’ll cover all the basics you need to know to become a pro at video poker. 

How Do You Play Slots on Video Poker?

The first thing you need to understand about video poker is that simply because it looks like a slot machine doesn’t mean it works like one. The mechanics of the game are drastically different from what you’d expect from a regular slot game. The main difference is the amount of information available to every player.

When you’re playing a game on a regular slot machine, your winnings are based on the symbols that show up on the screen. You may win £1,000 if you get three cherries or nothing if there aren’t any matching symbols.

A random number generator program controls this probability (which we will touch upon later). The slot machine’s manufacturer determines its settings, and in almost every case, they are supposed to favour the house. No matter how many games you play, there’s always going to be a set payback percentage. 

Depending on the casino’s strategy, the machine may be programmed to display three cherries once every 10, 20, or 100 turns (yes, they have win-back strategies too). However, probabilities can be manipulated. Expert players can quickly determine how much a game will pay them in the long run, which can help them decide if a game is worth their time or not.

However, that’s easier said than done.

How Do You Win on Video Poker Slot Machines?

If you’re aiming for the maximum video poker payouts, you need to be familiar with a few video poker machine secrets. Knowing these tips and tricks can help improve your chances of winning and your payouts in the long run.

Here are some of them:

  • Always use promotions and bonuses
  • Play at a pace you’re comfortable with
  • Give the progressive bonus machines a go
  • Ensure your bankroll is healthy at all times
  • Find the best video poker machines to play— not every machine has the same win-back percentage. 

How Is Video Poker Programmed?

Video poker machines don’t use software the same way computers do. In fact, they don’t use the software at all since the programs for these machines were built in the 1980s and mainly used old technology. It’s rudimentary since it only selects random numbers from a data pool and then displays different cards based on that information.

On most occasions, once the deal is made, the cards are set (even the ones you get after discarding), and new calculations are made when you play a fresh hand. So if you draw a new card, that card was already in the suggestion pool, waiting to be recommended. The program that decides the result of every hand is called a random number generator (RNG), and even though people believe the game is rigged, it isn’t. So there’s no point in wondering “which video poker game has the best odds.” 

The game continuously spins the deck, and it stops when a player presses the “deal” button.

Is Video Poker a Slot Machine?

In simple terms, yes. The game is played in casinos or terminals similar to slot machines in casinos around the world. Consequently, video poker is often called poker slots. However, the game does differ from a regular game of slots in many ways. Most importantly, a game of video poker requires skill and strategy. A player has to play their hand in the best way possible to win.

If you’re on a quest to know how to play poker machines and win, keep reading!

Breaking Down Video Poker Rules

How to Play Video Poker

Video poker has several versions, and all of them are based on a five-card draw. Players are dealt a five-card hand, and then they’re allowed to discard the cards they don’t like. If they do, they get new cards in return. Once the cards are replaced, they have their final hand.

Here’s a step-by-step guide: 

  1. Deposit credit in the poker machine
  2. Choose your wager. Remember, high wager means high reward, and vice-versa
  3. Hit the “deal” button to receive your initial five-cards
  4. Discard the ones that don’t seem valuable. You can  even discard all five if you want to
  5. You’ll receive replacements from the virtual deck
  6. The winnings are decided based on the paytable

What Is the Best Strategy for Video Poker? 

Even though your strategy for a video poker game primarily depends on the kind of player you are (aggressive, conservative, experienced, or beginner), there are some fundamental video poker rules to follow. These rules are mainly for the five cards that are dealt initially.

  1. Always hold a two pair, three of a kind, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, or royal flush. However, if you get a three of a kind, discard the other two cards. This will set you up for a full house or a four of a kind. Similarly, if you have a two pair, discard the fifth card for an opportunity for the full house. 
  2. Only break up a straight or a flush if you’re four cards away from the royal flush. That means if you have a nine, jack, queen, king, and an ace (all clubs), discard the nine. This can give you a big payout if you get a 10 of clubs. Moreover, it will provide you with a shot to form a flush with another club or a straight with another 10.
  3. If you have a pair of jacks and you’re four cards away from a royal flush or four cards lower to a straight flush, break up the pair.
  4. Stick with a lower pair instead of a high card (ace, jack, queen, or king).
  5. Don’t settle for a four-card straight on the inside. Meaning, don’t settle with a “straight,” which has a card missing in the middle rather than the end. A straight that can be completed from the ends has a much better chance of being completed.

What Are the Odds on Video Poker?

If you play skilfully on the best machines, the odds can be as good as any table poker game. For example, the basic video poker game, Jacks or Better, can have returns of up to 99.5% in its full-pay variant, and it’s also suited for those long-term poker sessions. Other machines like the Deuces Wild can give you a positive expectation (rare in the world of poker) since they can return more than 100% if you play them right.

Why Use a Strategy?

Video poker adds that one missing element that slot machines don’t have: skill. Players need to devise the video poker perfect strategy if they want to win anything. Moreover, since the cards are dealt randomly from a 52-card shuffled deck (or 53 if you’re playing on a Joker Wild machine), possible combinations can be understood, and their frequency can be calculated too.  

When Missouri casinos started operating under a law that didn’t allow “games of chance,” casinos could still offer video poker to players. However, slots couldn’t be played until the voters voted against the law. 

What Video Poker Game Has the Best Odds?

If you’re looking for the best odds in a casino, Double Bonus Poker is the best game you can play. Statistically, your chances of winning in this game are so high that you’ll be paid to play a game. Another great game is Jacks or Better. It offers a perfect balance between the house edge and the balance of payout.

Can I Play Online Video Poker for Real Money?

Yes, you can. Whether you’re playing online or on-site, video poker winners make a lot of money. 

What Is the Best Video Poker Payout?

Bonus Poker has the highest payback percentage for casino owners (99.17%), so we wouldn’t advise playing that game repeatedly. Also, it’s highly volatile, and your winnings can fluctuate easily. 

However, if a poker game has a payback percentage higher than 99%, it will easily be one of the highest paying games in a casino. However, this also depends on the wagers and the video poker betting system.

How Is Video Poker Different From Slots?

Even though you can hit a considerably small “jackpot” by getting the highest hand in poker ( a royal flush), you can’t take home the monstrous prizes that a slot machine offers. That said, it’s unbelievably hard to get a multi-million-pound payout, but it’s still a possibility. 

However, the same can’t be said for video poker. There have been several instances in which players have won millions of pounds in a game of slots, making the game so interesting. But, unfortunately, even though helpful tips for video poker may increase your winnings, they can’t offer players a chance to win life-changing money.

Choose the Right Paytable

One of the best aspects of video poker is that it lets players know the money they can win before playing. Therefore, you must research the best video poker paytables before you start playing. To find a generous machine, you must first know that the winnings are based on the paytable.

For example, a casino earns around 3% profit on every game of video poker. This is called the house edge. If the casino gets 3%, a player can get 97%, but this can vary based on the machine you’re playing on. This is why you must do your research and go through all the video poker paytables you find before you start playing. 

How to Beat the Jacks or Better Video Poker

Playing the Max

It’s imperative that you play the maximum coins. 

That is because Jacks or Better machines offer a jackpot if you get the royal flush. When you play the maximum coins, your chance of a video poker win increases. Moreover, even though you can choose between one to five coins in a single hand, you’re only going to be eligible for the jackpot if you bet all five coins. 

However, if you aren’t comfortable betting with all five coins, you can drop it down to a number you’d like. But if you do, you’re going to miss out on the jackpot.

Look For a Good Paytable

As we mentioned above, playing on the best paytable is vital if you’re committed to beating video poker. With regards to this game, there are several free video poker strategy charts available online. Even though every strategy chart has a varying house edge, you must consider playing for the 9/6 chart.

The 9/6 offers a fair return on a nine coin game of full house and a six-coin game of full house. Playing on a chart that offers a return of less than 9/6 can be risky since there will be an increased house edge. In a case like this, you’re going to give the casino more money since you’re going to lose money faster than you realise.

Don’t Rush!

One of the best video poker strategies is taking a breather. 

Like almost every casino game, you must always remember that the purpose of a video poker game is simple: making money for the casino. Therefore, whenever you play video poker, it’s best to apply the “slow down” strategy. No one’s going to chase you, and there are no timers. You can take all the time you need to decide which card you want to keep or discard.  

If the game gets too hectic, consider taking a break. You shouldn’t rush your winnings and play for big wins rather than several small ones. When you’re playing a game of Jacks or Better, you need to play your hands slowly so you can reduce your losses. In addition to reducing your losses, it increases your chances of winning a royal flush.

Even though this is common sense, many video poker players ignore this basic rule and lose a lot of money in a short period.

Consider Joining a Player’s Club

On most occasions, players’ clubs are created to play for longer and have a chance to participate in player competitions. In addition, these clubs give you exclusive opportunities to get special bonuses that casinos only give to their most valuable customers.

Progressive Machines Are Worth Your Time

One of the most prominent reasons casinos have progressive jackpots is that players with small budgets can win big. A Jack or Better video poker game is famous for offering the best progressive jackpots, but you can only win one if you use the best strategy. 

The only problem is, most Jack or Better video poker variants have terrible paytables. So before you consider playing a game, ensure you’re playing on a machine offering a decent paytable. 

Things to Avoid in Video Poker

Video poker often has the lowest house edge in almost every casino. However, taking advantage of this requires both persistence and patience. Unfortunately, beginners can make this task even more difficult for themselves by making several mistakes. 

But, there’s no need to feel guilty! Keep your head up, and remember that you’re doing your best to improve. 

Are Video Poker Games Rigged?

If you’ve been playing video poker for a long time and haven’t hit the jackpot yet, you may be tempted to think that the game is rigged. But here’s the math: you can technically play 40,000 hands and not hit the jackpot.

Have you played 40,000 hands yet? That’s the average cycle.

But the word “average” implies that it can pop up in your next three hands, or it may not pop up for the next eleven. Just remember that these machines are designed to make you keep playing, but the game is not rigged.

Can You Cheat Video Poker Machines?

The simple answer to this is: yes. You can cheat at video poker. Technically, you can cheat in every casino game. 

Is Video Poker Random?


The cards that show up on the screen are from a shuffled 52-card deck that shows cards to the players randomly. However, even though these cards are random, the frequency can still be guessed, and you can still create a smart video poker strategy. 

In Conclusion

A video poker machine offers players an exciting and easy way to spend their gambling pounds whenever they enter a casino. With a stellar video poker strategy, you can quickly improve your shot at winning the jackpot. Chances are, once you find a video poker machine in the casino, you won’t want to try any other game.


Where can I play video poker games for free?

Several mobile applications on the PlayStore and the AppStore let you play the game for free.

Can you make money playing video poker?

Absolutely! With the right strategy, you can make long-term profits and become a professional video poker player. 

Where can I play video poker?

The answer depends on how you want to play it. If you want to play it via a slot machine, you’ll have to go to a casino. But if you want to play it online, you can do so by signing up at an online casino. 

Which video poker game has the best odds of winning?

Statistically, Double Bonus Poker has the best odds. 

Can video poker be beaten?

You can get good at it with the right strategy. But there is no one way of winning since the cards are shown on the screen at random. 


Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.*