Video Poker Strategy – How to Play and Win at Video Poker

10 minutes

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

Video poker is a fun and simple game that doesn’t take much time to learn. That said, the way you play it can have a direct impact on the game’s returns.

This is why it’s essential to pick the right video poker variation based on your interests and preferences and play it with an optimal strategy.

In this detailed guide, we’ll go over the best strategies for the five most popular video poker variations and share other valuable tips that will help you win at video poker.

Video Poker Rules – Quick Overview

Video poker is a unique gambling game that is best described as a combination of slots and poker. It’s a simplified version of classic five-draw poker.

Still, it isn’t entirely luck-based like online slots, as you decide which cards to keep, directly impacting the result.

While you can come across many video poker variations, the most popular of which we’ll cover on this page, all of these variants work in the same way.

So, before we get into the specific strategies for each variation, let’s briefly review how an average video poker game plays.

Video poker machines use coins (or credits), and every game begins with you selecting how many coins you want to bet. Every video poker machine will have buttons allowing you to bet one coin or the maximum amount.

Each of the five cards you receive will have a designated hold button, which you’ll have to press to keep the card. The cards you don’t select will be discarded when you press draw.

After you discard the cards and receive their replacements, the game automatically pays out based on your hand’s strength.

The rules for which hands pay and how much they pay will vary between variations. After the machine pays out, a new game starts.

How to Win at Video Poker – The Best Strategies for Different Variations

Although there are many universal video poker strategies, the specifics will differ depending on the video poker variation you’re playing. With that in mind, here are the best strategies for the most popular video poker variants:

Best Strategies for Jacks or Better Video Poker

video poker strategies

Jacks or Better is the most common and most popular video poker variation in online and land-based casinos. There are several Jacks or Better versions, so it’s essential to pick the best-paying one to ensure maximum returns.

For example, the highest-paying Jacks or Better 9/6 version has an RTP of 99.54%. In comparison, the 6/5 game, which is the lowest-paying version, has an RTP of just 95.12%. So, simply by picking the right version, you’re ensuring the best returns.

In terms of specific strategy, there are a few rules of thumb you should always keep in mind. Primarily, if you have any pair, hold it, and discard the other three cards. Only break the pair if you have four cards to a Straight Flush or Royal Flush.

If you have two pairs, three-of-a-kind, a straight, Flush, or four-of-a-kind, always keep these hands and don’t go for a higher-paying hand. If you have a weak hand without any paying combination, hold any card that is a Jack or higher.

Best Strategies for Deuces Wild

strategies for video poker

With an optimal strategy, Deuces Wild can offer returns of around 100.76%. This means you can have a constant edge over the casino and earn money consistently over the long run.

The Natural Royal Flush is the best-paying hand in Deuces Wild, while the lowest-paying one is a three-of-a-kind hand. Any hand weaker than three-of-a-kind doesn’t pay.

Naturally, if you receive Four Deuces, keep your hand, as you’re already up for a massive payout. If you have Three Deuces, only discard the other two cards if you don’t make a Royal Flush.

If you receive Two Deuces, keep four cards if you have a four-of-a-kind or better. If you have four to a Royal Flush or Four to a Straight Flush with two connected cards better than 6-7, keep the four cards. For all other possible combinations, discard all cards that aren't Deuces.

Lastly, if you only have One Deuce or don’t have any deuces, your decision depends on the overall strength of your cards. You can keep all paying hands, hold a pair, or discard all five cards if you don’t have a Deuce or any pairs or stronger.

Best Strategies for Double Bonus Video Poker

Like most video poker variations, Double Bonus video poker pays for at least a pair of Jacks or better. That said, there’s quite a bit of strategy that goes into this game, so this variation is one you should always be playing with a chart.

Double Bonus video poker is based on the Jacks or Better variation. However, it offers a slightly lower RTP percentage, at 98.98%.

Focusing on the differences between these two variations, the most significant strategic difference is that you should always hold onto a low pair in hopes of getting quads.

Best Strategies for Aces and Faces

video poker strategy tips

Aces and Faces is one of the easiest video poker variations with simple strategies. Moreover, it can also offer a solid payback percentage, as you can get an RTP of 99.26% by playing the 8/5 version of the game.

In Aces and Faces, the lowest-paying hand is a pair of Jacks. The strategy for this video poker variation is much more straightforward compared to some other variants featured on this page.

In short, the optimal way to play is to always hold any winning hand, with only a couple of exceptions. The first one is if you have four cards to a Royal Flush. The second is if you have four cards to a Straight Flush.

Remembering these two exceptions will allow you to play this game optimally, even if you don’t have a strategy chart by your side. The simplicity of this variation makes it a great pick if you’re a beginner video poker player.

Best Strategies for Tens or Better

Tens or Better has a slightly lower bar for what you need to get a payout than the previous variation, as the lowest-paying hand is a pair of tens.

Like Aces and Faces, this is a simple variation, but one that does involve more decision-making depending on the strength of your hand.

For starters, a simple general rule is to hold all five cards if you have a Straight or better. If you have a pair or tens or better, two pairs, or a three-of-a-kind hand, discard all of the cards that aren’t involved in the winning combination.

In most cases, you will be discarding one to three cards. The only exceptions to this are if you have one high card, when you’ll discard the remaining four, or if you don’t have at least a ten or better, in which case you’ll discard all five cards.

Video Poker Charts – Are They Helpful and How to Use Them

strategy tips for video poker

Remembering the best movie for each potential hand can be challenging and could lead to mistakes. To avoid this, you can use a video poker chart that will let you know the best strategy for every situation.

Using a video strategy chart is very straightforward, even for beginners. You simply need to find the spots on the chart where your hand matches up and act according to what the chart indicates. You can use these video poker charts when playing in both online and land-based casinos.

Since these charts are based on probabilities, it’s also important to answer the question of their effectiveness.

As video poker charts have been around for quite a while, they are generally very well-researched and accurate and can help you play optimally. To put it into numbers, most video charts have only about a 0.01% error margin.

Considering this, you can use video poker charts confidently, knowing you’re playing with the best possible returns. So, the only essential thing is to find a video poker game that pays as close to 100% as possible, or ideally, slightly over.

Using a video poker strategy chart eliminates any guesswork from the equation. You can quickly and efficiently make the right decision and play every hand optimally. It also enables you to play more hands per hour, so you’ll have more winning opportunities.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that these strategy charts won’t guarantee you win every game when playing on video poker machines.

Instead, they put you in the best position for obtaining more wins in the long run compared to a player who’s not using a strategy chart.

More Helpful Video Poker Tips

Even a basic video poker strategy, such as using a strategy chart, can go a long way. But, if you want to increase your success chances, there are additional considerations you should be mindful of.

Here are a handful of other video poker tips that can help you win more in the long run:

  • Understand the Fundamentals — Before you start playing, make sure you have a firm grasp on all the basics. Understand the paytables and be certain that you know the hand rankings by heart. These two aspects will help guide your decision-making. If you’re playing video poker online, practice in demo mode first, as this is a great way to familiarize yourself with the game before putting any real money into it.
  • Pick the Right Video Poker VariationsVideo poker is a very popular game, so it comes in many variations. Knowing this, stick only to variants that offer the highest payback percentages. This will ensure you win more over time.
  • Set a Gambling Bankroll — Setting a dedicated video poker bankroll is one of the most important things you can do if you want to play the game long-term. Doing so will ensure you’re always playing within your means. That way, you won’t risk more than you can afford to lose, and you won’t have to chase losses.
  • Take Advantage of Casino Bonuses —  Bonuses can be a valuable asset for boosting your bankroll if you’re playing online. Compare what different casinos have to offer, assess the terms and conditions, and claim the most favorable bonus offers.
  • Always Bet Maximum Coins — Most experienced video poker players recommend always betting the maximum amount of coins. If you have the bankroll to back up this style of play, you should bet the max on every hand, as this will increase your long-term winnings.

Video Poker Strategy FAQ

Copyright ©