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Video Poker, Video Poker Strategy

A Beginner’s Guide to Video Poker Strategy

Outside the bustling chat rooms of BingoVillage, you can play a variety of Classic Games – and if you’re looking to play video poker for real money, you’d best come prepared for a game of profound strategy and psychology. Poker has captivated minds for eons, growing from the Wild West saloons to widely viewed tournaments on ESPN in the span of a century.

In online Poker, bluffs are exchanged like currency, one of the true skill-based gambling endeavours that blur the line between pure chance and predictive intelligence if you’re here to play online video poker; that remains as true today as ever.

Beyond your hand, you must be able to interpret the coming moves of other players. It is a battle of wills and wits, where reading the room and anticipating your opponents’ tactics becomes key to learning how to play video poker. 

The Difference Between Regular Poker and Video Poker

Before we dive into Poker strategy, let’s talk about how video poker compares to the traditional game played in land-based casinos and at dinner tables around the world. 

Regular Poker

Poker played against a dealer or other players and friends, and before you go any further into video poker strategy, make sure you understand the basic rules of the game. The rules of Poker can be learned online now easier than effort, but for now we’ll leave you with the basics and a short list of potential winning hands.

There are many different Poker variants, such as Omaha Poker and Texas Hold ‘Em, which change up the rules somewhat – but the concept is the same: A certain number of cards are dealt face up (community cards). These are distributed evenly among players who can use them to form a hand. Players then have the option to bet, check, or fold. If more than one player remains in the hand, they reveal their whole cards to determine the winner. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.

  • Royal Flush. The most valuable hand in Poker must include these cards: A♦, K♦, Q♦, J♦, 10♦.  All cards must be in the same suit.
  • Straight Flush. This means four consecutive cards (numerically) from the same suit. Example: 3♦4♦5♦6♦7♦.
  • Four of a Kind. To score with this, you must draw four cards of the same value in a single hand. Example: K♦K♥K♠8♠K♣.
  • Full House. This winning hand requires the combination of one pair and three of a kind. Example: Q♦Q♠4♣4♠4♥.
  • Flush. Five cards of the same suit. Example: A♥10♥3♥4♥8♥
  • Straight. This requires that, numerically, your hand creates a consecutive sequence. Example: 6♠7♣8♣9♦10♦
  • Three of a Kind. In a single hand, you need just three cards of the same value – one more than a pair. Example: 8♦8♦8♦5♣2♥.
  • Two Pair. Two pairs of two cards of the same value. Example: 9♣9♥8♥A♦A♥.

Video Poker

Video poker is poker that is played online or at machines in land-based casinos that look similar to slot machines. Video poker is a lot like regular poker – you’ve got 52 cards in the deck, and the same winning hands. 

In video poker, the dealer is operated by a sophisticated algorithm known as a random number generator (RNG). Your virtual dealer divvies out the cards, and players pick cards that form the strongest chance at a winning poker hand. After picking which cards to keep, players can opt to Draw if they want to replace their cards. 

Winning amounts (by poker hand) are set by the casino’s paytable, typically visible when you sit down to play video poker. At Bingo Village, you can see the paytable as soon as you enter the game.

As with regular poker, in order to win at video poker, you need to consider the probabilities of each winning hand and how the cards you hold might dictate the outcome. 

Video Poker Odds

Although it takes some discernment on the part of the player, your odds of winning video poker are also dictated by mathematical probabilities. Scoring a Royal Flush or a straight Flush with the initial hand is obviously much harder than winning with a pair. Your odds for completing a hand within a certain number of outs are outlined in the next section, but the table below describes your odds of winning video poker with the initial hand.

Hand                                                                  Odds
Royal Flush                                                       649,740 to 1
Straight Flush                                                    72,193 to 1
Four of a Kind                                                   4,165 to 1
Full house                                                         694 to 1
Flush                                                                 509 to 1
Straight                                                             255 to 1
Three of a Kind                                                 47 to 1
Two of a Kind                                                    21 to 1
Pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces             7.69 to 1
Any pair                                                            2.37 to 1

Understanding Video Poker Strategy

First, let’s talk about how to use these probabilities to your advantage when considering outs in Poker. An out is any card which stands to improve your hand in an effort to complete a winning hand. Let’s say you’re holding two kings, and the dealer is showing a queen. 

Your outs would be: Aces, 10’s, Jacks, or 9’s since you’d score higher than the dealer’s hand according to his up-card. The more outs you have, the better your chances – but even if you have a lot of outs, you could draw unlucky cards and lose the game.

Here are some tips on how to use outs to your advantage in poker:

  • Count your outs. Before you make a decision, take a moment to count your outs. This will help you assess your chances of winning the hand and make an informed decision about whether to bet, check, or fold.
  • Be aware of your opponent's outs. Knowing whether to bet or check when you are ahead depends on whether or not your opponent has a lot of outs. The best Poker strategy in this scenario is trying to force them to fold.
  • Don't overplay your outs. Try to be aware of your odds of drawing vs. your number of outs.

Finding Four-of-a-Kind

As you start in on video poker, finding that four-of-a-kind should be your shining light. This elusive hand dealt roughly once in every 500 hands, holds the key to unlocking your best chance at big rewards. But remember, be patient and study those video poker charts before endeavouring to score a robust victory with such a rare winning combination.

It's a Bird… It's a Dealer… It’s a Machine!

Unlike the fickle intuition of real people, the RNGs actions are cold and calculating. It's worth noting that video poker dealers have an advantage over humans because they are coded to sift through vast amounts of information, identify patterns smartly, and make decisions based on mathematical probabilities – something you, as a player, can't do as well. However, the numbers can be on your side because by playing enough hands, you will be able to leverage the game’s RTP (Return to Player) and score a chance at winning a combination such as a Royal Flush by practicing and playing enough games.

To Discard, or To Keep? That is the Question.

Mastering video poker, just like regular poker, starts with understanding which cards in a given hand you want to hold onto – and which ones to discard. Treat each dealt card not as a strategic asset, evaluating each one of them for its winning potential, and eventually, you’ll become quicker at the key to video poker strategy – that is, discerning your probabilities for a winning hand.

How to Play Video Poker Online and Win 

Of all video poker variants, Jacks or Better gives players the best chance to win. Many land-based casinos incorporate the heralded 9/6 paytable, making it one of the best games for new players looking to build their bankroll, given the game’s generous RTP and strategic element. 

To have a winning strategy in video poker, you’ll need to know which cards to hold and when to draw – and be diligent about sticking to your actions based on the probabilities. Unlike human opponents, a video poker dealer is underpinned by cold logic. That makes it paramount for players to resist the temptation to leave everything to luck while pressing the hit button too quickly.

At Bingo Village, we offer a fun variety of online video poker for real money. Jacks are Better is one of many Classic Games – so we’ll give you a video poker strategy specific to this game variant to help you build your bankroll.

Here’s how to win video poker, breaking down each strategy by the game variants we offer.

Jacks are Better

If you’re just learning how to play video poker, Jacks are Better has the highest probability of scoring a winning pair. 

Here are the best tips to follow for a basic Jacks or Better video poker strategy:

  • If you’re holding four cards to a Straight or a Flush, hold all four of them and draw only one additional card.
  • When you’ve got three cards to a Royal Flush, keep them and draw two additional cards – you could get a big. win
  • Need only two more cards for a Straight Flush? Hold the three lucky cards you have and draw two more.
  • When you get a pair of cards, hold them and draw three additional cards. However, this tip is not always applicable.
  • If you have no matching cards in your hand, hold a card that is higher or equal in value to Jacks.
  • No combinations and no Jacks or higher? Draw five new cards.

Joker Poker

Another popular variation is Joker Poker, where a lone wild card, the Joker, joins a standard deck, seamlessly blending into the game's fabric. This versatile card can morph into any other card, adding an element of surprise and intrigue to the game. To claim victory, you'll need at least a pair of Kings, and if you happen to hold a lone King, the Joker can step in, proving its worth as a strategic ally.

Bonus Poker

This variant of video poker offers bonus payouts for specific hands, especially with four-of-a-kind combinations. Most video poker games only pay out for four-of-a-kind hands with higher-valued cards (Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, or Tens), but Bonus Poker rewards four-of-a-kind combinations of any rank. This makes it one of the more generous ways to make real money playing poker online at sites like Bingo Village.

Deuces Wild

Among the diverse array of video poker options, Deuces Wild stands out as it lets players with four Deuces (Twos) transform their hands with potent Wild Cards. These cards help your video poker strategy, letting you replace any dealt card with said Wild Card to complete a winning hand. Deuces Wild gives you a winning chance on a grading curve, helping players unlock wider paths to greater victory.

Video Poker Strategy Chart

To help you with video poker strategy, we’ve added a quick reference guide in the video poker chart below. 
Do your homework – because games move too quickly for you to keep this in your lap through the course of an actual poker game, although knowing the video poker strategy embedded below will give you a competitive edge and enough foresight to keep playing ‘til you win.

Starting Hand                How Many Cards to Keep      How Many Cards to Replace Cards
Royal Flush                                      5                                             0 
Straight Flush                                   5                                             0 
Four of a Kind                                  5                                              0 
Full House                                        5                                              0 
Four to a Royal Flush                       4                                              1 
Flush                                                5                                               0 
Three of a Kind                                3                                               2 
Straight                                            5                                               0 
Four to a Straight Flush                   4                                              1 
Two Pair                                           4                                              1 
High pair                                           2                                              3 
Three to a Royal Flush                     3                                               2 
Four to a Flush                                 4                                               1 
Low Pair                                            2                                              3 
Four to a Straight                              4                                              1 
Three to a Straight Flush                  3                                               2 
Two to a Royal Flush                        2                                               3 
Two High Cards                                 2                                              3 
One High Card                                  1                                               4 
Nothing                                              0                                               5