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Last Updated: February 24, 2017

Video Poker Basics

Introduction

Video poker made its entry to the casino in the seventies; and is today one of the most popular forms of gambling. For the player who likes a game of skill, a low house edge, the possibility of large wins, and the anonymity of playing alone there is nothing else that can compare to video poker. The rules of video poker are simple; you play 1 to 5 coins, the machine give you five cards, you choose which to hold and which to discard, the machine replaces your discards and pays you off according to the value of your hand.

You may have heard the adage that the "house always has the advantage." Video poker is an exception to that rule. If you look for the most liberal pay tables, and play them properly, you can have a thin advantage. Some pay tables, which are slightly in the machine's favor, can return over 100%, if you factor in incentives such as cash back, free play, mailers, and other comps.

Rules



Following are the rules for standard video poker:

  1. Most video poker games are played with a standard 52-card deck. Obviously, joker wild games will include one or more jokers in the deck.
  2. After making a wager and press the "deal" button the game will randomly give the player five cards from the deck.
  3. The player chooses which cards to throw away and which ones to keep.
  4. The game replaces the discarded cards with randomly chosen cards from the remaining deck.
  5. The player is paid according to the poker value of his hand and the posted pay table.

Playing Strategy

Conventional video poker:



Quick Quads strategies: Ultimate X strategies: Ultimate X Bonus Streak strategies:

Return Tables





Can't find the game or pay table you're looking for?
Video Poker Help Starts Here also carries lots of return tables.

Cheat Sheets

For just the pay tables and returns of major games and pay tables see these documents:

Play for Fun



Practice over a dozen video poker games on my new and improved video poker game, available in both single-hand and multi-play.

 


Five-Card Hand Calculator



My free video poker analyzer will calculate the best way to play any hand and any pay table for most video poker games.

Game Return Calculator

My video poker analyzer will calculate the return for just about any video poker game in seconds.

Strategy Maker



I'm very proud to offer the only free video poker strategy maker. Enter any common game and then the pay table and the calculator will produce a near-optimal strategy. Here is an example of the output for 9-6 Jacks or Better.

Miscellaneous Advice and Comments



  • Always play the maximum coins. I have never seen a machine that didn't offer a bonus on the highest hand for five coins played. If you are uncomfortable playing five coins, then drop down to a lower coinage.
  • The cards are chosen at random and the games are fair. There is no switch inside the machine that can make the machine loose or tight. Do not be fooled by Pull Tabs, which are not real video poker games.
  • A royal flush can come along at any time with equal probability. A machine is never "overdue" in the sense that it becomes more likely to hit. Theories such as that a machine will get tight right before hitting a royal are simply not true.
  • Always use a slot club card if there is one, and there usually is. This is free money for playing, and can often make the difference in having an edge or not.
  • When you put your slot club card in make sure the game can read it. Every few minutes check to ensure the connection isn't lost.
  • Do research on where the most generous machines are. The best source in my opinion is VP insider, a subscription based site costing $20 for the first three months, and $15 for each additional three months. The best free source in my opinion is VP Free.
  • Some games offer a double-up feature. This, and the odds in craps, are the only bets you can make with no house edge. Whether you make the double-up bet should depend on your reason for playing. If you want low volatility, with long "time on device", you should decline it. If you are playing a 100%+ game, you should decline it. If you want high volatility, you should accept it. If you want to maximize return, including money bet on the double, then you should accept it. If you should take, up to what point, you may ask? That is something you can decide for yourself, according to how much you value risk vs. reward.
  • Tipping in video poker, as well as any game, is a matter of much debate. I think a good rule of thumb is to tip 0.5% to 1.0% on any jackpot requiring a hand pay. The smaller the jackpot, the larger the percentage. An exception can be made for games in which you get hand pays frequently, like $5 10-play. In this case, tipping on just big wins, or at the end of the session is acceptable. If you lost badly, I wouldn't blame you if you didn't tip.

Video Poker in San Diego



In November 2008 I did a video poker survey of the 11 casinos in San Diego County.

Video Poker in Macau



For a detailed explanation of the video poker scene in Macau, please visit my companion site, Wizard of Macau.

Expected Values of Bonuses in Video Poker



Often Internet casinos will match a deposit with free money. However, to withdraw you have to complete a lengthy play requirement. My page on Bonus Expected Values in Video Poker will show you your probability of completing the play requirement and how much you can expect to have left.

Video Poker Wizard



Please support this site by purchasing my Video Poker Wizard. For a host of video poker games, you can practice your game, with or without advice, or analyze any hand or pay table. A great way to have fun and improve your game anywhere.



Best Online Casino Video Poker Bonuses

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My Video Poker Offerings

Basic Video Poker Info

  • My main Video Poker page
  • Return tables:
  • Probability of Ruin for single-play video poker
  • Random simulations of multi-play video poker
  • The standard deviation of n-play video poker

Practice / Play Video Poker for Free

Video Poker Calculator

  • Analyze the return for almost any video poker paytable

Other Stuff

Strategies

Full-Pay Jacks or Better:

Full-Pay Deuces Wild:

Quick Quads:

Other Strategies:



Written by: Michael Shackleford