Basic Video Poker Strategy Tips

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Video PokerVideo Poker is a popular game that offers the chance for players to win some very big amounts for relatively small stakes. Unlike many games at the casino, this one is a game of skill, where you will make a decision based upon your initial five cards - continually making the wrong decision will see your bankroll diminish much quicker than it should.

In this article I look at several ways you can improve your Video Poker game experience. Firstly I examine bankroll management and the effect it can have upon your game. I move onto explain optimum game strategy and how you might employ this at the games. I then ask the question – ‘should you double?’ I finish the article with a look at how bonuses and rewards can make the game a profitable game.

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Video Poker Bankroll Management

When playing Video Poker, be it at a land based casino or online, you’ll want to have a bankroll management plan. As any experienced player of the game knows, you’ll have long runs where your bankroll becomes smaller and smaller, until you suddenly hit that big hand (hopefully a Royal Flush!). To withstand these losing runs, you’ll need a bankroll big enough to cope. You might have $100 to play with for example, so you might immediately head to a $0.25 game and bet 5 coins – meaning each game will cost you $1.25. In this scenario, you’ll only have 80 games to play in total, and you’ll very likely go broke. A suggestion would be to try and have at least four to five thousand times your stake at the game and only take 10% of your bankroll to each session. So, the player with $100 might want to only take $10 to the game each time, and only risk $0.10 on each hand. A player with $250 will take $25 to each game and risk $0.25 on each hand. These numbers will give you enough games to make each session enjoyable and leave plenty of bankroll for future sessions – of course if you do have a good run or you hit that big hand, your bankroll will grow and you’ll be able to move up in stakes.

Optimal Game Strategy

There will be times when the decision you have to make might seem a tricky one. For example, you might have a hand like the following:

Video Poker Basic Strategy

In this hand you already have a pair, but you also have straight possibilities as well as a series of high cards. Fortunately, there are optimum strategies for every situation, where you’ll look at a chart which will tell you which cards to hold. This strategy will give you the best opportunity for long term profit. When playing 'Jacks or Better’ here, you might be thinking that holding the Ace, King and Jack might be your best bet, however when consulting a chart, you’ll realise that you should hold the two 5’s.

You’ll find basic strategy guides for the most popular games here:

When looking at the payout chart for any game, you’ll quickly realise that the payout for the Royal Flush is much larger when playing with 5 coins as it is when playing with 4 coins. An example of this is when playing ‘Jacks or Better’ – the 5 coin game pays 4,000, the 4 coin game only 1,000. As such, you should always play the 5 coin game.

Should you Double?

Many versions of video poker will allow you the chance to double after a win, where you’ll pick one of four cards, which you hope will have a higher value than the face up card. This is not a simple yes or no answer as it will depend on what you want to take from the game. Choosing the ‘double’ feature will add more volatility to the game, so you’ll have bigger wins, but more losses. From a mathematical standpoint, it actually makes no difference, as there is no house edge involved in the ‘double’ bet.

Max Coins

Video Poker paytables are built so that the prize for the best hands is proportionally bigger when you choose the maximum number of coins. You can see this in the example paytable below:

Video Poker Pay Table

Here the 4000 for a Royal Flush for the 5th coin is a jump from the 1000 for 4 coins. This makes a big difference to the overall house edge. So big that playing anything less than 5 coins gives up money to the house. Online you will be able to reduce the size of your coin, often to just a few cents. This means you can play all 5 coins for a low total - just remember that optimal play means always use 5 coins.

Bonuses and Rewards

Video Poker RewardsThere are other ways to make your Video Poker games more profitable, which is to make use of the bonuses available at many online casinos, especially online. These bonuses can give your bankroll a boost, although you should be aware that players of Video Poker might have more stringent bonus clearance requirements than at other games due to the small house edge in the game.  Another way of improving the bankroll is through a rewards program, where you’ll earn points as you play. These points can then be converted into cash. Some online sites will also offer specific bonuses for play at Video Poker, where you’ll earn cash for playing either a certain number of hands, or for playing on a certain day.

If you consider that the house edge is very small at Video Poker, it is even possible for you to push this edge in your favour at some sites by making the right use of bonus/rewards and promotions – in conjunction with playing to the optimum strategy.

Basic Video Poker Strategy – Overview

Video Poker is an entertaining way to enjoy your time at the casino and ensuring you are playing to the best of your ability will make the games last longer and give you more opportunity of hitting those big winning amounts. By employing some or all of the strategies listed above, your games will be more enjoyable and give your bankroll a welcome boost.

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