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Video Poker Strategies

Video poker first came out in the 70s. Players embraced this game that resembled the conventional poker except that it was played on the machine and was operated by a computer chip. But at its very core is still the same poker game that everyone loves, a game that involves a good mix of luck, skills, strategies and patience to win.

Video poker is different from other casino games because of its low house advantage. The game offers almost an equal opportunity to beat the house if the players will bet smart and play smart. Players just need to study the game carefully, master the winning hand combinations, know when to hold and replace cards. In other words, strategize.

Another good thing about video poker is that it also combines slots in the game. It may be slightly varied but the rules are basically the same. The hand ranks are the same. To start, first refer to the payoff table to make a bet. The payoff table is divided into five columns that denote one denomination each starting from 1 to 5, with 5 as the maximum bet possible. To bet maximum, insert five coins. To bet minimum, insert just one coin.

The machine will start dealing you cards once you press the “draw” or “deal” button. View your cards and think whether you will play that hand or replace some cards to get a better hand. To get new cards, throw the card you want to be discarded and press the “draw” button. The machine will feed a new card. Once decided to play the hand, press “deal.” The machine will then determine if you win or not. If you win, you will instantly receive a payout. Take note that you can only play for the top prize if you bet maximum or if you insert five coins. Some video poker machines even offer a double payoff to make the game more exciting. With double payoff, you can profit 100% from your wager.

Strategizing in the game of poker has a lot to do with calculations. A hand is composed of five cards. Once received, you immediately have 50-50 options. You could either hold or discard. If you hold, you stick to the current hand for playing. If you discard, you replace cards you think will improve your hand. Replacing can be for just one card or more. Thus, 2x2x2x2x2 will give you 32 ways to play a hand.

Aside from the hand, another consideration is the bet itself. Given two identical hands, the strategy will still be different if these two have different bets. The first hand may have a maximum bet while the second only a minimum. Discarding strategies for these two will be different.

By this time, you might be forced to think how many unique hands are possible in a game of poker. There are 52 cards in a deck. If the first card is dealt, 51 cards will remain in the deck. If five cards are dealt, the computation will be 52x51x50x49x48. That will total a magnanimous 311,875,200 possible combinations. When strategizing, you want to reduce this big number to increase your chances of winning.

First, take note that the order of cards do not matter. 1, 5, 8, 10, Q and A is the same as 10, A, 5, 8 and Q. With this fact, the total number of hands can immediately be reduced to 1x2x3x4x5 to get 120 times and to lower the hand possibilities to just 2,598,960.

Next, there is no suit order. It means the heart, club, spade and diamond are all equal designs. Hearts of 2, 3, 8, 10 and A is the same with spades of 2, 3, 8, 10 and A. With this condition, the total number of hands can be further reduced to just 134,459. This is a big jump from 2.5 million.

Thus, it is safe to conclude that the expected return of video poker is 134,459. It is still a fairly large number but with good strategy on how to play a hand, you will seldom lose on your bet. There are unique rules for each hand but that will go up to a hundred thousand rules if not grouped together into more general rules. If grouped together, it can be trimmed down to just 20 to 40 rules when playing initial hand.

The Odds

The odds vary per game but in general, the house edge is quite low on video poker. It may even go negative at times. The only real advantage a casino gets is when players do not bet on the optimum. People who do not bet maximum sometimes do not have a clear understanding of poker. It may cause them to lose on a lot of opportunities or waste their precious bets.

It is impossible to give a detailed strategy guide without turning this into a novel, but as an overview, here is a rough guide to get you started.

If the hand you have already pays, just keep it. Some exceptions are if you are holding four card royal flushes to make a straight or a flush, four-card straight flush, a high card pair rank or three-card royal flush.

If you have nothing worthy in your hand and you want to discard and replace, here is a general advice. First, keep two high cards of the same suit if that is possible. You can throw out high cards of different suits. If there are three cards of the same suit, that is better. Toss out the rest. Keep any two high cards even of different suits or keep any single high card.

With time, you will also be able to formulate your own strategy based from personal experience. The more frequently you play, the more you will be able to master the game. Sometimes you also have to be aggressive and be confident if you know you have a good hand. Otherwise, you will lose an opportunity to win big from your wager. Start with low bets just to get a feel of the game. Once you get more comfortable with the game and gain expertise, you can try optimizing bets for a chance to win big.

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