Winning at Video Poker

One of the things that makes video poker so popular is that it can be beaten, if you consistently make the right decisions. This makes online video poker even more appealing. Since most people who play don’t consistently make the right decisions, the casinos that offer video poker don’t have to worry about going out of business. But if you’re willing to take the time to learn what moves to make in what situations—meaning what cards to discard and when to discard them—you can win money playing video poker.

Basic Video Poker Strategy

Here’s the basic strategy for playing winning video poker: Always hold a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, three of a kind, or two pair. Since a royal or straight flush, four of a kind or full house can’t be improved by drawing more cards, simply stand pat on these hands and collect your winnings. However, with three of a kind, discard the remaining two cards for a chance at four of a kind or a full house.

With two pair, discard the fifth card for a chance at a full house. You generally hold on to a flush or a straight, as it’s already a winning hand. But because the payoff for a royal flush is so great, you take a shot at it when you’re four-fifths of the way there. In other words, you break up a flush or a straight when you have four cards to a royal flush.

For example, if you have an ace, king, queen, jack and 2, all of hearts, discard the 2 to take a chance at the big payoff for the 10 of hearts. And even if you don’t score the coveted royal flush, it still leaves open the possibility of a flush with any other club, a straight with any other 10 and a pair of jacks or better with any ace, king, queen, or jack. In addition, break up a pair of jacks or better if you have four cards to a royal flush.

Other tips of strategy include:

  • Keep a low pair instead of a single high card (jack, queen, king, or ace).
  • That means if you’re dealt two 2’s, a 4, a 7 and a jack—of various suits so there’s no chance for a flush—take a shot at getting a higher-paying three of a kind or full house than a lower-paying high pair.
  • Do not draw to a four-card inside straight—one in which the missing card is in the middle rather than on either end—unless the hand includes at least three high cards (jack or better). That way if you don’t complete the straight, you’ve still got a chance for a payoff for a high pair.
  • Do draw to a four-card outside straight—one that has space open at  either end to complete the straight—as in a hand of 4-5-6-7 which can use either a 3 or an 8 to complete the straight.

That’s it for basic strategy, especially if you’re a beginner. There is more complex strategy you can choose to master once you get more experienced, but these basic tips will help you get started.

And, most importantly, help you be a video poker winner instead of a video poker loser.

Good luck!