Video Poker Strategy

There are three things you need to do in order to strip away the mystery of an online video poker machine and understand its value to you. These should be included in your video poker strategy:

  • You must be able to read the pay tables and know which ones have the highest payback.
  • You must know the best video poker strategy for the machines you choose to play.
  • You must know the volatility of a particular machine – what effect it will have on your bankroll.

Based purely on the mechanics, playing online video poker is simplicity itself. However, playing it well entails a bit more effort and that’s where your video poker strategy comes into play. Online video poker is one game where the house advantage is definitely affected by how much knowledge the player has. The two main skills involved (proper machine selection and knowing the proper strategy for the video poker machine you’re playing) get complicated because online video poker comes in a never-ending variety of games.

How do you navigate this sea of machines? First, lets look at them in the broadest terms: there are non-wild card games such as Jacks or Better and Double Bonus. Then there are wild card games such as Deuces Wild or Joker Wild. Within these two general types, there are many varieties. Payout schedule return rates may vary from below 90% to above 100% (see table below).

The best place to begin honing your video poker strategy is with the machine that started the whole phenomenon: the Jacks or Better game. The Jacks or Better pays off for a pair of jacks or higher, which is particularly good for beginners because of its easily understandable strategy. Better yet, the best version of Jacks or Better has a 99.5% payback percentage when played with expert strategy. This means it has only a 0.5% house advantage. In other words, in the long run, you expect to lose only 50 cents of every $100 you play. This is one of the best bets in the casino.

Consider Jacks or Better as the hershey bar of the video poker candy store: classic, reliable, straightforward, and simply satisfying. You may want to move to more new and exotic confections, but Jacks or Better must always be the most accessible and understandable part of your strategy.

While there are many factors to consider in developing your online strategy, they are far too numerous to detail here. We will leave you though with an important factor, and possibly the most important thing to look at when developing your strategy – the pay table. The pay table strips away the game’s mystery; its basically a window into knowing whether the game is worth your money. An example of a pay table can be seen below, and unlike slot machines, the pay table isn’t just there for us to “oohhh and aaah” over all the pretty payoffs – it can reveal how much a game pays back if played perfectly.

You can consider these tips the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in developing your online video poker strategy. How they help … Enjoy yourself.

Hand Frequency % Probability Payout Return *
Royal Flush * 1 in 40,390.55 0.002% 800* 1.98%
Straight Flush 1 in 9,148.37 0.011% 50 0.55%
Four of a kind 1 in 423.27 0.236% 25 5.91%
Full house 1 in 86.86 1.151% 9 10.36%
Flush 1 in 90.79 1.101% 6 6.61%
Straight 1 in 89.05 1.123% 4 4.49%
Three of a kind 1 in 13.43 7.445% 3 22.33%
Two pair 1 in 7.74 12.928% 2 25.86%
Jacks or better 1 in 4.66 21.459% 1 21.46%
Nothing 1 in 1.83 54.543% 0 0.00%

* – Royal Flush payout is based on max coins (4,000 coins for 5 coins played).
** – Total return: 99.55.