You won't necessarily be able to become a professional video poker player. But if you're looking for the one casino game besides traditional poker where you can get positive expected value, or at least a very low house advantage giving you hours of play for a very small investment, video poker may be your game.
Here's how to win at video poker.
Find a Full-Pay Machine
Jacks or Better Full Pay
A full-pay machine is one that offers the best video poker odds, meaning optimal payouts for hitting hands. In the most common game in online video poker Jacks or Better, where you need at least a pair of jacks for a payout, you can see on the payout table whether or not it pays full.
The key is to look at the payout for full house and flush. The full out should pay nine times your wager and flush should pay six times. This is why these machines are also referred to as 9/6 machines.
Your odds of winning in these games – when using perfect strategy of course – are better than in almost any other game in the casino. In fact, the casinos advantage is lower than one percent.
This means that on average the machine pays back more than 99 cents out of every dollar you wager.
When played incorrectly, the House edge is much higher, which is why it is important to learn correct strategy before playing video poker.
Deuces Wild Full Pay
In the Deuces Wild version of video poker, in which a deuce can represent any card and you need at least three of a kind to win, the odds are actually in the player's favor with optimal strategy.
The player edge is close to one percent.
To find this game, look for a deuces wild machine that pays nine coins for a straight flush and five for four of a kind. When you do that you can play with a 0.76% edge and have positive expectation over the casino.
The second best deuces wild machine pays 11 coins for a straight flush and four for a full house. This is almost a break-even machine with just a 0.04% advantage in the casino’s favor.
However, these machines are hard to find and the maximum bet allowed is usually fairly low.
Follow the Perfect Strategy
To succeed in video poker, you have to play perfectly. You can find strategy tables online that will tell you exactly what to do in every situation.
You should have the strategy guide open while you play online. Print out a copy and take it with you, as the strategy can get complicated at certain points.
Jacks or Better Perfect Strategy
Below is the perfect strategy for Jacks or Better – a list you can find on several sites online.
It tells you what cards you should keep. Go from top down. If you have the first hand, keep that. If not, go to the second hand and so on down to where you toss all five cards.
Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
4 to a royal flush
Full house, Flush, Straight, Three of a kind
Four to a straight flush
High pair (jacks or better)
Three to a royal flush
Four to a flush
Four to an outside straight
Two suited high cards
Three to a straight flush
Two unsuited high cards
Suited J-T, Q-T, or K-T
One high card
Video Poker Strategy – Conclusion
People often mistake video poker for a version of slots. Nothing could be more wrong.
In video poker you have to make the right decisions, and when you do that, the house advantage becomes very low (and in some rare cases it can even be in the player’s favor.)
The reason why casinos can offer these conditions is simply because most players don’t follow the basic strategies giving the casino a larger edge.
If only half of the players play well, the house will still have a considerable advantage when looking at all games together.
So take this opportunity. Find a good machine and play well. Then video poker is the best casino game on the floor.