Video Poker - Multi-Hand

Michael, thank you for the great resource. Several of your in-depth strategies have no doubt increased my playing time. My new favorite game is multi-hand video poker. My question is this: On an X-play machine, having been dealt Y cards to the royal, what are the odds of connecting on Z royals? Only include hands for which the correct play could yield a royal. Again, thanks for your help!

Jeff from Granger, Indiana

You're welcome, thanks for the kind words!

The general formula is combin(X,Z) × pZ × (1-p)X-Z, where p = 1/combin(47,5-Y).

Combin is an Excel formula, which equals X!/[Z! × (X-Z)!].

Let's look at an example of 10-play video poker where the player holds four to a royal.

10-Play with Four to a Royal

Royals Probability
10 0.0000000
9 0.0000000
8 0.0000000
7 0.0000000
6 0.0000000
5 0.0000010
4 0.0000378
3 0.0009943
2 0.0171513
1 0.1753242
0 0.8064914
Total 1.0000000

Do you have any advice/thoughts on Spin Poker? The company that makes the game says to use the same strategy as you would use on jacks or better (if playing jacks or better SP). I've played it at the Claridge and it seems like the placement of the cards you are holding, makes a difference, such as if they are bunched up or spaced out. Also, I think you should expand your coverage on the n-play machines since it is getting more popular everyday and some people are losing a lot of money on these. I've also seen some triply play draw poker machines at 6/5 which really clean you out, such as the ones at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, which is not the place to play video poker in AC! Thanks for the great site!

Jef from Atlantic City, US

IGT was right when they said you should use the same strategy for Spin Poker as single line video poker. Mathematically speaking the odds are the same. However Spin Poker has greater volatility since 9 different lines share many of the same cards. The same is true of multi-play video poker, the strategy and return is the same for a single line game. I do get into the volatility of multi-play video poker in my video poker appendix 3.

First, I’d like to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your site and the information found therein. My question regards multi-play video poker games I’ve found in most of the casinos in Tunica, Mississippi. These games allow you to play 3, 5, 10, 50, or 100 hands of video poker at a time keeping the cards you receive on your initial deal and receiving random cards for each hand on the draw. Should my betting strategy vary from the strategies you’ve set forth in your video poker section? How (if at all) does this affect the expected return per play? Thanks for your time.


Thanks for the kind words. Assuming the pay table is the same the strategy and expected return are exactly the same. Be warned that multi-play games tend to have worse pay tables than single line games.

Hello! I was recently playing 50-way 20-cent video poker in Detroit, and was lucky enough to hit 2 four of a kinds on the deal- both hands were two deuces and a pair- and resulted in a jackpot and W-G. Not that I was complaining, but it occurred to me that because both pay outs were only slightly over the $1200 limit, that I could have avoided the jackpot tax if I were to play a few less hands. So my question is this: what is the maximum number of hands I should have played to minimize getting hit with the tax burden when getting dealt four of a kind on the deal? Keep up the great work with the site!


W2G forms are definitely something to think about when playing video poker at the larger bet amounts. Although you are obligated to pay taxes on your net win at the end of the year regardless of how many W2G forms you have, a payout of $1200 or more will necessitate a wait and obligate you to tip the person paying you. In less classy casinos a hand pay will also cause the tip vultures to start hovering around you. To avoid all of this sometimes the player should consider deviating from optimal strategy. For example with AAA88 in 10/7 double bonus the odds marginally favor keeping the aces only. However in a $2 to $10 game hitting four aces will pay over $1200, necessitating a W2G form, while a full house will stay under the limit. Considering the tax implications keeping the full house is the better play.

To answer your question I’ll assume a four of a kind pays 25 times the bet. Then a four of kind on the deal in a $0.20 50-play game will pay $0.20 * 5 * 50 * 25 = $1250. You will get a four of a kind on the deal once every 4165 hands, on average. If you were to drop the number of hands to 47 the win for a four of a kind on the deal would be 47 * $0.20 * 5 * 25 = $1175, staying under the W2G threshold.

While playing triple-play should any of your strategies change? Example: 4 cards to an inside straight w/no pay cards showing. Should we go for it or throw the entire hand for a fresh deal? Thank you. Also: what is your personal opinion of playing triple play ($1.00) opposed to single play ($1.00) machines? My husband and I play only video poker and have been for 10 years

Ray and Katherine from Florida

Given the same pay table the strategy is exactly the same for 1-play, 3-play, 100-play, and any-play. Personally I prefer the multi-play games if the pay tables are the same. However the multi-play games usually have stingier pay tables. The more the hands, the worse the pay table.

I was just reading Dave Matthews column, where he wrote, "I went to play a little bit of video poker and was playing 26 lines at $1 each. The frequent video poker players out there will know why I was playing 26 lines." This was on a hundred line machine. Why play 26 lines?

Steven H. from Hilo, HI

I also play 26 lines at the $1 denomination frequently. The reason is if you get a win of $1,200 or more it necessitates a hand pay, which slows down your game, and obligates you to tip. At 26 lines, a dealt full house in 9/6 jacks, which I happen to know is what he was playing, will pay $5 × 9 × 26 = $1,170. One more line and you would have a hand pay at $1,200. If 26 lines, or $130 a bet, is too small, I’ll go up to 39 lines, where a dealt flush will pay $5 × 6 × 39 = $1,170. The next bend-point is at 59 hands, where a deal straight would be $5 × 4 × 59 = $1,180. However, I feel with 59 hands a three of a kind on the deal turns into a hand pay too often.