Video poker is extremely popular because it offers higher odds than many other games, players can increase their odds of winning with a good strategy, and it eliminates the pressure of performing in front of other players. It’s a great way to practice your poker skills before stepping up to a table and adding in the strategies of reading the other players.
While there are varying strategies for the different games of a video poker terminal, we’ll focus on Jacks or Better. But first, some quick tips that can help you improve your game no matter what type of poker you’re playing.
Poker quick tips
Don’t overplay your bankroll: This tip should be applied to all gambling. Before walking into a casino or venue with video poker, set your bankroll (or budget) and stick to it. Once you’ve hit your limit, walk away no matter what.
Play with your head, not your heart: Poker is an exciting game, and it’s easy to get swept up in the emotions of winning or losing. But you must focus on the numbers when deciding which cards to keep or give up. You may have a gut feeling that the next card will give you a royal flush. Ignore your gut — listen to your head.
Practice makes perfect: While you can study poker strategies and the odds of getting each hand, the best way to get better at poker is to keep playing and learn as you go.
Be OK losing: Statistically speaking, you are going to lose more hands than you win. That’s OK. Losing is part of the game, so don’t get discouraged.
Play slowly: You also don’t want to lose your bankroll too fast. Sit at the terminal and play for as long as you can, but take your time making decisions and take short breaks between hands. It will help keep your head clear to make the best decisions.
Deciding which cards to keep
Because you only bet once in Jacks or Better and there are no other players to read, strategy comes down to deciding which cards to keep or send back. Generally speaking, the best strategy is to never give up a winning hand in the hopes of getting a better hand. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
Going for a royal flush
Depending on the machine, your odds of getting a royal flush are roughly 1 in 40,000. The only time you should give up a winning hand to go for a royal flush is if you have a straight or a flush and four of the five cards would make up a royal flush. Then you can go for it. If you have a straight flush, keep your hand.
Keep your pairs
Pairs might not be the most exciting win, but you’re almost always better off keeping a pair than trading them in for a better hand. These are the exceptions:
If you have a low pair (two through 10), you can trade in your pair if:
- You have three cards of a royal flush.
- You have four cards of a flush.
If you have a high pair (face cards and ace), you can trade in your pair only if you have four of the cards of a royal flush.
Ready to put these strategies into action? Find a bar or restaurant that offers video poker near you.