Tips for Playing Video Poker

Have you ever tried playing video poker? Did you know that this game can be heavily influenced by a players skill level and strategy. Even though, like slots, luck plays a very important part in the outcome, the game of Video Poker also involves a certain element of skill.

So, if you can master the skill level required for video poker, you can actually increase the return to player % of the game dramatically, which means you can actually turn a consistent profit.

If you’re interested to know more then read on. You’ll get a lot of professional hints and tips to help you get your video poker playing days off to a good start, because there are such people as video poker professionals who actually make a living out of playing this game, and we will show you some of the tactics they use to leverage the odds in their favor.

Video Poker Slots vs Slot Machines

A lot of players ask me what’s the difference between playing a video poker slot machines and playing the other various types of slot machines, I mean, after all, you’re playing a machine in both cases.

What they both have in common is that the odds, or the outcomes you see on the screen are both determined by random numbers generators (RNG). The moment the player presses the button to make his bet, the RNG program within the game will immediately determine the outcome. In the case of a slot machine they determine where the reels stop, in the case of video poker they determine what cards you get.

You should note that most video poker machines have returns to player percentages of ninety-nine percent or greater and the smart video poker players will play those machines. This elevated return is quite rare on the other slot machines where most would pay around 95% to 97%.

So, if you’re a gambler looking for some fun and a chance for a big win you can play slot machines, but if you want to a system where you can be a regular winner then you should really concentrate on video poker slots.

Types of Video Poker Slots

Types of Video Poker Slots

Pay close attention here.

You should note that not all video poker slot machines are the same. There are different types a video poker machines and video poker games that you’ll find in the different land based and online casinos.

Generally you can group them into three major groups

The first group of video poker games are the ones that don’t have a wild card. There are no wild cards for example in Jacks or Better,  Bonus poker, Double bonus and Double Double bonus. Basically, all those games based on jacks or better don’t have any wild cards

The second group are those games like deuces wild, where all the twos or the deuces are wild.

Finally, the third group of games are those where the jokers are wild.

So as you can appreciate, there are different types of video poker games and the casino player in you certainly should know the differences among the three.

Now, the question I’m sure you’re thinking about is.. what is the best video poker game to play?

The answer depends on whether you want to play a full pay video poker game, which means a video poker game that has the highest payoff schedule for that particular game.

For example, there are many Jacks or Better video poker games in the casino, but the ones that pay the highest are known as 9/6 Jacks or Better games. The 9/6 refers to the upper coin payoff for the full house and the flush so you want to look at the 9/6 jacks or better game look at the pay of schedule on the screen go down the first column which shows the payoff for one coin and you want to make sure that that machine pays nine coins for the full house and six for the flush that’s a full pay machine and those are the ones you wanna play rather than the jacks or better machines that pay 8/5 or even 7/5.

So you’ve got to be able to look at those pay schedules and make sure you’re playing only a full pay video poker game when you play video poker once you learn how to read the pay schedules and be selective and play only full pay video poker games the next thing you have to master is the playing strategy for whatever game you wanna play. For example if you’re gonna play jacks or better there is a specific playing strategy for that game and it’s important that you master it For example suppose you’re dealt a four card flush and the hand also contains a low pair so as a video poker player you have to make a decision do i hold a 4 card flush or do I hold the low pair There is a correct basic playing strategy for that hand and the answer is you should hold the four card flush So if you’re gonna play video poker it’s important that you learn the basic playing strategy for whatever game you wanna play now can you use the same basic strategy for video poker are all different video poker games? In general the answer is No you can’t and you shouldn’t use a basic strategy for jacks or better if your gonna play a deuces wild game that’s a big mistake So there is a specific basic playing strategy for deuces wild which is different than a basic strategy for jacks or better which is different than say a basic strategy for jokers wild there are some exceptions if you learn the basic playing strategy for jacks or better you can use it for example to play bonus poker and you’re not going to decrease your return on those games because you’re using a jacks or better playing strategy but that’s the exception rather than the rule as a general rule you should learn the correct basic strategy for whatever video poker game you want to play Now i talked about the importance of learning the video poker basic strategy and the question is how can I learn this strategy? Fortunately nowadays we have tools that will help you learn this video poker basic strategy really easily and that’s this video poker training software you can buy one of these CDs and you pop it in your computer and while you’re playing video poker at home these CD’s and software will help you learn the strategy because what they’ll do is they’ll alert you when you make a playing mistake and they’ll tell you what the correct play is and more importantly they’ll keep track of your playing accuracy and you want to be able to get your accuracy at 99 percent playing at home before you risk any money in the casino So there is plenty of video poker software available that can help players learn the basic strategy The other thing you should do is bring along strategy cards there are several commercially available video poker strategy cards so we’re playing in the casino you can refer to the card and you’ll always have the strategy at your fingertips when you play most of the time when you play video poker you’re going to have an a return of somewhere between 99 and 100 percent so the question is how can I get my overall return over a hundred percent if I’m playing a machine that say only pays percent The answer is as a smart video poker player you must take advantage of the benefits that are available through the Players Club so if you’re gonna play video poker you wanna make sure you get the players club card and you always use it when you play video poker some other benefits that are available to video poker players are cashback, freeplay comps in the form of free meals free show tickets free rooms even free spa treatments Now this’ll vary from one casino to another but it’s important that you make sure you know what benefits are are available to you at a casino that you’re going to play video poker Now if you wanna be a long-term winner at video poker there’s three components that you have to monitor and be aware of One is obviously the return on the game and there it’s a simple matter of only playing the full pay scheduled games the ones that return ninety nine percent or greater the second is what percent cash back am I gonna get when I play video poker and a lot of casinos they give .1 .2 .3 sometimes .4 percent in cash back the third component is what am I gonna get in the mailers that the casino is gonna mail me because I’m a loyal player playing their video poker games and a lot of these mailers include bounce-back cash or bounce back freeplay bounce back meaning you have to bounce back to the casino to get these benefits those are the three components which if you add up should exceed 100 percent and if you can get those three components over 100 percent you’re going to have the long-term edge over the casino Now players always ask me okay Henry you tell me that I can be a long-term winner at video poker if I read play full pay, get the cash back and the bounce back am I always gonna win and the answer is No you’re not always going to win when you play video poker Your edge is again very small and the edge you have is a long-term average so on any given playing session you could lose money and you could also lose money over several playing sessions over weeks and even a month so you have to be prepared and you have to have a bankroll when you play video poker.


Playing maximum coins gives you the full value for the royal flush — typically 800-for-1. Playing fewer coins gives you less for that hand — typically 250-for-1.

You won’t get that royal flush very often (usually once every 40,000 to 45,000 hands on average), but you NEVER know when the next one is coming. So playing maximum coins gets you paid well when the royal comes.


For Video Poker games where you get your money back for a pair of jacks or better, every additional unit you receive for a full house or flush returns an extra 1.1%.

Compare these two Double Double Bonus games.

Double Double Bonus video poker payout
The first one returns 99.0% with perfect play. The second one returns 97.9%. Most of the plays are the same over the two games, but your money will last longer on the first one. Often you can find both games at the same casino. It’s up to you to know the difference or you’ll be taking the worst of it

If you don’t know how much each pay schedule returns, a good source of this information is my Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner.


Say you’re playing deuces wild and you’re dealt 4♠ 4♥ 6♣ 6♦ 7♠. How do you play it? Do you hold one pair or both pairs?

Actually either could be correct. Consider the two games below, both of which return approximately 98.9% when played well. In the first game you just hold one pair (it doesn’t matter which one). In the second game you hold both pairs.

Deuces Wild video poker paytable

How can you tell which is which? Look at the amount you get when you receive a full house. In the first game, you get paid 3-for-1 (15 for a 5-coin bet). Whenever you see that in Deuces Wild, you hold one pair when you’re dealt two.

In the second game you get paid 4-for-1 for the same hand (20 for a 5-coin bet). That’s when you hold both pair.


Computer software is available to tell you how to play any hand. The images you see today are inspired by Video Poker for Winners, which is the one I recommend, but there are other good ones as well.

Here we see a hand dealt in a Bonus Poker game. The player held the jack and the ten to go for the royal flush — certainly a play that looks reasonable. The computer, however, tells you that’s a mistake. Holding the queen and jack is actually better.

test your video poker skills
After you get corrected a few times, you won’t be making this mistake any more. A little bit of practice can make a big difference in your results!


Everybody wants to win, and everybody wins some of the time. But we all lose some of the time as well, and we can’t know what’s going to be the result today until we actually play.

If losing a few hundred credits will be a disaster for you, you can’t afford the stakes you’re playing. If you play for a modest amount compared to your overall bankroll, you’ll be able to absorb the swings, both plus and minus, and enjoy the game.

I wish you lots of royal flushes!

Now that we showed you the tricks used by the professional video poker players, why don’t you try them out and see if you are cut out to become a full-time video poker player yourself. All you need is the right machine to play on, and as usual, we’ve got you covered. The following is a list of casinos where you can find the video poker games with the best odds. Don’t forget to take advantage of their deposit bonsu to increase your odds of turning a profit. Remember, if you’re a beginner, we suggest you try and play the game in practice mode first so that you get a feeling for the game before you start wagering real money.