An Introduction to Video Poker Strategy

Date Published: September 20, 2013

The strategy aspect of video poker is fairly deep, but it's all based on a set of principles that apply no matter what style of video poker you're playing. Since the basic concepts never change, you can learn those first and get started off on the right foot when it comes to learning how to play video poker. In what follows, we're going to introduce you to the fundamentals of video poker and give you an idea on what you can do to improve at the game at your own pace in your own time.

To get started in this game, you have to understand the main strategic decision that you have. All of the skill in video poker is based on how you choose what you're going to discard. For example, if you are dealt As Ad Td 7d 4d in Jacks or Better, you have to make a decision between keeping your pair of aces by discarding the T74 or keeping your flush draw by discarding the ace of spades. One of these decisions will be best, and being able to consistently pick the correct decision is the goal of video poker strategy.

In most non-wild card games, pairs and draws will have some amount of value. Your job is to figure out which pairs are worth more than which draws. A straight draw is harder to hit than a flush draw and pays out worse, so it's easy to see that a flush draw is more valuable than a straight draw. However, what about a high pair in a non-wild game like Jacks or Better? Is it better than both draws, between the two draws or worse than both draws in terms of value? Thinking along these lines is what will allow you to learn how to make decisions in these games very quickly and very accurately.

With wild card games, your draws tend to be a bit more tricky because they have a higher chance to hit. Single pair hands usually have no value at all in these games as well, so a lot of the game is based around what to do with draws and low-grade high card hands. You'll also have to work out different strategies based on whether you have zero, one, two or more wild cards in your hand since the way you play different hands changes in each of these situations.

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