201 Powerful Video Poker Tips That Actually Win

by Michael Stevens
on February 18, 2017

The video poker world is full of strategy for both the beginner and experienced player. And it’s worth learning this strategy too because video poker gives you one of the best chances to beat the casino out of any game.

But where do you start? And how do you learn all of the necessary strategy without spending forever on the matter?

Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut to learning video poker strategy. But the following list of 201 video poker tips will give you an all in one reference to learn from.

Let’s look at these 201 tips, which break down into the following sections: beginner’s tips, a simple strategy chart, advanced video poker tips, and an advanced strategy chart.

Beginners Video Poker Tips

If you’re starting out with video poker, there are many things that you should understand before playing for real money.

This beginners section offers a number of tips on bankroll management, general strategy, finding good games, comps, and keeping your energy up during sessions.

Section 1: Bankroll Management

  1. Determine Your Video Poker Bankroll – If you’re going to play real money video poker, then your first step should be setting aside money that you can afford to lose. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose, but the point is to avoid dipping into personal expenses.
  2. Divide Your Bankroll into Units – Once you’ve figured out how large your bankroll will be, divide your bankroll into units so that it’s easier to measure your play. Here’s an example: you have a $300 bankroll, and you make the max 5 coin bet in land based casinos. In this case, your bankroll would be 240 units.
  3. Set a Loss Limit with Units – Nobody wants to lose an entire $300 bankroll in one session. This is why you should set a loss limit with units to keep from losing everything at once. Using the example above, you could have a loss limit of 60 units per session.
  4. Set a Win Limit – Want to leave the casino with profits? Set a win limit so that you can walk out after collecting so many units.
  5. Avoid Multi Hand Video Poker in the Beginning – One way to make video poker more exciting is multi hand games, which see you play 3, 5, or 10 hands at once. But you should play single hand games in the beginning because multi hand variants are expensive under quarter denominations.
  6. Avoid Games with Multipliers in the Beginning – Multipliers can actually help you gain more payback than the average video poker game. But just like multi hand games, they cost more money to play.
  7. Play Online Video Poker – If a quarter coin denomination seems high, play online video poker. Most online casinos have coin denominations ranging from $0.01 to $0.05, making the max bet $0.05 to $0.25 per hand.
  8. Play Free Online Video Poker – Get your video poker fix for cheap by playing free at online casinos.
  9. Play for Real Money after You Study Strategy – Knowing video poker strategy ensures that you’ll lose less money in the long run.
  10. Don’t Drink Alcohol while Playing – A 1999 study shows that gamblers who drink 3 or more drinks are three times more likely to lose their entire bankroll than sober players.

Section 2: Looking for Video Poker Games

  1. Look for Full Pay Video Poker – Full pay video poker games offer the best pay table for a particular variant.
  2. Full Pay Jacks or Better Is Common – One of the most common full pay video poker games is 9 / 6 Jacks or Better, which pays 99.54% with optimal strategy. This game pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush.
  3. Start with Jacks or Better – If you’re new to video poker, start by playing Jacks or Better because its pay table is easy to understand.
  4. The Strategy Is Also Easy – With fewer hands, it’s easy to pick up Jacks or Better strategy.
  5. Learn Pay Tables for Each Game – Know the full pay tables for any video poker variant that you play to maximize payback.
  6. Look at Full House, Flush Payouts – In most games, pay table differences are spotted in the flush and full house payouts.
  7. Bonus Payouts Also Differ – In games like Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus, pay attention to the special 4 of a kind payouts.
  8. Some Games Offer Over 100% Payback – Positive expected value +EV games are rare, but some variants do give you a chance to beat the casino.
  9. Deuces Wild Pays 100.76% Full pay Deuces Wild pays 5 coins for a 5 of a kind, while other Deuces Wild pay tables only offer 4 coins.
  10. Other +EV Variants – Joker Poker 100.64% payback, Double Bonus 100.17%, and Double Double Bonus 100.07% all offer +EV too.
  11. These Games Are Rare – Note that +EV video poker machines are rare, more in Advanced Tips section, and you won’t find them in most casinos.
  12. Try Different Video Poker Games – Once you get the hang of Jacks or Better, try other video poker variants for fun.
  13. Prepare for a New Game – Before you play a new video poker variant, research the strategy and practice it.
  14. Stick with 1 2 Variants in the Beginning – While we encourage you to try new video poker games, slowly expand to try new games so you thoroughly learn the strategy.
  15. Visit / Research Different Casinos – Not all casinos offer favorable pay tables. Research and / or visit casinos to see who offers the best paying video poker games.
  16. Watch for Bad Games – Some land based casinos offer low paying games. Know your pay tables and avoid bad deals.
  17. Don’t Play 8 / 5 Jacks or Better Or Worse – You have to draw the line somewhere, and 8 / 5 Jacks or Better should be this game because it only offers 97.30% payback.
  18. Don’t Fall for Machine Bank Signs – Some land based casinos put signs above machine banks that read “Over 100% Payback,” or something similar. Legally, only one game in the machine bank has to pay over 100%.
  19. Walk through the Casino – When you’re in a land based casino, you should walk through it until you find a full pay machine.
  20. Play Online – Save yourself the travel costs and still have access to lots of video poker games by playing online.

Section 3: General Video Poker Strategy

  1. Bet Max Coins – Whether playing in online or land based casinos, you should bet all 5 coins to qualify for the highest payback.
  2. A Royal Flush Pays More on Max Coins – The royal flush payout jumps from 1,000 coins 4 coin bet to 4,000 coins 5 coin bet when you play all 5 coins.
  3. Royal Flushes Aren’t Dealt Much – A royal flush only happens about 1 out of every 40,000 hands.
  4. Look for Less Crowded Areas – Research shows that background noise hampers your concentration, so play in less noisy area.
  5. Where to Find Quiet Areas – The second floor of a casino, near bathrooms, and low key bars are the best spots to play distraction free video poker.
  6. Play on Your Smartphone – If your local casino is always crowded, or you can’t go at non peak hours, then find a quiet spot at home to play video poker through your smartphone.
  7. Slow Down Your Play – Unless you’re on a +EV machine, don’t play faster than you’re comfortable with. You’re only more likely to lose money this way.
  8. Don’t Play Slot Machines on the Side – If your goal is to beat the casino, avoid nearby slots during video poker sessions since they only pay 88% to 95%.
  9. Use a Video Poker Strategy Chart – It’s wise to use a strategy chart when you play video poker so you know what hands to keep and discard.
  10. Find Strategy Charts with Ease –Jacks or Better strategy charts are found all over the internet.
  11. Consider a Simplified Chart – Simplified strategy charts help you learn strategy without dealing with too much at once.
  12. Use an Advanced Chart Later – Advanced charts show every hand that you need to keep in order to achieve optimal payback.
  13. Simplified Charts Are Still Good – If you’re just a casual video poker player, a simplified strategy chart will get you close to top payback.
  14. Read Charts Top to Bottom – When reading a strategy chart, start at the top and go down until you find your hand.
  15. Not All Games Have Charts – You won’t find a strategy chart for most video poker variants. Stick to the ones that you can get a chart for.
  16. Each Game Has a Specific Chart – You wouldn’t use a Jacks or Better strategy chart for Deuces Wild or vice versa. Each game has its own specific chart.
  17. Bonus Games Can Be Fun – Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus are exciting because they offer special payouts for 4 of a kind hands.
  18. Try Different Games at Online Casinos – Given that you can play free online video poker, this is a great way to test out new games.
  19. Know Your Average Loss Rate – You can calculate your loss rate to see how expensive video poker will be.
  20. An Example of Calculating Loss Rate – You’re playing Jacks or Better 0.46% house edge, you play 500 hands an hour, and you make $1.25 bets. Your loss rate would be $2.88 per hour 500 x 1.25 x 0.0046.
  21. Video Poker Is Volatile – Don’t expect such clean win and loss rates, especially since hands like the royal flush and straight flush don’t come around often.
  22. You Owe Taxes on Big Wins – If you win a prize worth $1,200 or more, you’ll receive a W 2 form from a land based casino staff. But since standard royal flushes pay $1,000 on a quarter bet, you only have to worry about this with progressive video poker.
  23. Add Up Your Deductions – If you win big, add up your deductions for the gambling trip / video poker session.
  24. Be Sure You can Prove Losses – Many a player has been forced to pay taxes on their entire video poker jackpot since they didn’t have proof of losses.
  25. Don’t Adjust Your Strategy for a Royal Flush – As mentioned before, royal flushes don’t happen very often. Avoid deviating from standard strategy to chase royal flushes.
  26. Avoid Letting Friends Dictate Your Play – Don’t extend your video poker session just to match friends whom you go to the casino with.
  27. The Game Isn’t Rigged – Some players think video poker is rigged when they constantly lose. But it’s not because all odds are based on a standard 52 card game.
  28. Video Poker Is Totally Random – Random number generator software ensures that every video poker game is dealt randomly and fairly.
  29. Never Discard a Deuce or Joker – A simple rule for Deuces Wild and Joker Poker is to never discard your wild card.
  30. Don’t Buy Systems – Some people sell video poker systems that are supposed to help you beat the odds. But the math is already worked out so don’t fall for these scams.

Section 4: Dealing with Losses

  1. You’re Never Guaranteed a Win – Video poker is one of the most volatile games in casinos, so never go into a session expecting a win.
  2. Avoid the Gambler’s Fallacy – The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that previous outcomes dictate future results. Just because you’re in a losing streak doesn’t mean the odds will even out and you’ll win in the immediate future.
  3. Know Why the Gambler’s Fallacy Is Wrong – Every hand is based on normal odds in a 52 card deck, and the machine never recalls past results to determine your cards.
  4. Know the Odds Inside and Out – A big source of frustration for players is losing and not realizing the odds / payback behind each video poker game.
  5. Video Poker Has Wild Swings – Any game with payouts that range from 1 credit to 4,000 credits will put you through wild swings.
  6. Luck Takes and Gives – One thing that makes video poker so exciting is how you can win big in any session. On the same taken, you can also suffer through horrendous sessions when things don’t go your way.
  7. Video Poker Is Supposed to be Fun – If the game becomes stressful, quit your session and find something else to do.
  8. Lower Your Cortisol Stress Hormone – To lower your cortisol and have more fun with video poker, exercise, eat healthy, and cut down on sugar and coffee.
  9. Take 3 Deep Breaths – One of the easiest things that you can do to overcome heartbreaking losses is to take 3 deep breaths before continuing.
  10. Take a Walk – One more thing that you can do is get away from the machine and take a 10 minute walk.

Section 5: Searching for Comps

  1. Sign Up for the Slots Club – If you’re playing at a land based casino, join the slots club and get a card. This card keeps track of your video poker play and rewards.
  2. Sign Up at Every Casino – If you play video poker at multiple casinos, sign up for a club card at each one so that you never miss rewards.
  3. Ask an Employee – Stumped on where you sign up? Any employee from the cocktail waitress to pit boss can point you to the player rewards desk.
  4. Sign Up through the Website – Get your slots club cards before you visit the casino by signing up through the website.
  5. Some Cards Work at Multiple Casinos – When one company owns multiple casinos i.e. Boyd Gaming, Caesars, MGM, you can use your club card at any of their properties.
  6. Online Casinos Don’t Require a Club Card – Online video poker is nice because you don’t have to sign up for a club. Instead, your real money play is tracked right away.
  7. Know the Reality – Don’t expect to get tremendous value on your video poker play because casinos don’t make much off players.
  8. Know Your Comp Rate – Look at the terms and conditions behind any land based or online casino rewards program.
  9. Compare Comp Rates – Use the info you get from Tip #77 to compare video poker comp rates and find the best deal / casino.
  10. Calculate Your Comps – Casinos have sophisticated software that keeps track of comps for you. But it’s also useful to calculate your own comp rate. Here’s an example: your comp rate is 0.2% and you bet $1,000 total. This would result in $2 cash back for you.
  11. Know the Value of Comps – The $2 mentioned above won’t make you rich. But if you rack up $10,000 in total bets, which isn’t impossible to do over a 2 day span, that’s $20 cash back.
  12. Take Advantage of Promotions – Casinos often run promos where you can get double comp points. Take advantage of these offers to the fullest.
  13. Don’t Be Tempted by Slots Comps – While slots comps are much larger than video poker rewards, you’ll still lose more money with slot machines on average.
  14. Never Play where You’re Not Offered Comps – The Venetian and Palazzo Vegas cut comps for low rollers in 2011. Never play somewhere that’s unwilling to reward you for your video poker play.
  15. Don’t Play for Comps – While rewards are great, you should never play video poker solely for the next big comp.
  16. The Casino Still Holds an Edge – Even with comps involved, the casino still holds an edge in almost every video poker game.

Section 6: Good Health for Good Video Poker

  1. Eat Something – You need food to keep your brain functioning gat a high level so that you can execute good video poker strategy.
  2. Eat These FoodsA Life of Productivity states that blueberries, fatty fish, dark chocolate, and nuts are great for increasing concentration
  3. Have Some Peppermint – It boosts problem solving skills and cognitive ability.
  4. Drink Water – When you’re not hydrated, you won’t focus properly.
  5. Get Your Sleep – Studies show that you need at least 6 hours of sleep; anything less than this hurts your concentration.
  6. Avoid Sleeping Too Long – Too much sleep makes your brain fuzzier.
  7. Stay in the Night before a Session – Don’t stay out too late in the casino resort if you have a big upcoming video poker session.
  8. Reach for Coffee – Whether you get your sleep or not, coffee is an effective aid for boosting mental capabilities.
  9. Reach for Green Tea – You can get caffeine through a healthier alternative with green tea.
  10. Don’t Drink Soda – Some players think that soda is a good choice because it has caffeine. But the sugar crash that you get afterward will have you feeling sluggish.
  11. Take Breaks – Taking 10 minute breaks form video poker every hour keeps your focus strong.
  12. Exercise – Exercising has a positive effect on your brain and will give you more energy when playing.
  13. Ramp Up Your Exercise IntensityResearch shows that more intense exercise can increase brain cell production.
  14. Running Is Especially Helpful for Your Brain – The study above shows that running has a great effect on the brain.
  15. Weight Lifting Isn’t as Helpful – While lifting helps you build muscle and burn calories, it doesn’t do as much for your brain.

Simple Video Poker Strategy Chart

Given that we suggest Jacks or Better as the perfect starting game in Tip #13, you should also start learning strategy through the same game.

Below is a simplified strategy chart that, if followed correctly, will result in 99.46% payback. As mentioned earlier, this almost as good as what you’ll get with the advanced strategy chart what’s discussed later.

When reading the chart below, start at the top and scan down until you find your hand. This is helpful for when you can form 2 or more hands, and you need to figure out which is the most important.

  1. Keep a Royal Flush
  2. Keep a Straight Flush
  3. Keep a Four of a Kind
  4. Keep 4 Cards to a Royal Flush
  5. Keep a Full House
  6. Keep a Flush
  7. Keep a Straight
  8. Keep a 3 of a Kind
  9. Keep 4 Cards to a Royal Flush
  10. Keep 2 Pairs
  11. Keep a High Pair Aces to Jacks
  12. Keep 3 Cards to a Royal Flush
  13. Keep 4 Cards to a Flush
  14. Keep a Low Pair 2s to 10s
  15. Keep 4 Cards to an Outside Straight
  16. Keep 2 Unsuited High Cards
  17. Keep Suited K 10
  18. Keep Suited Q 10
  19. Keep Suited J 10
  20. Keep 1 High Card
  21. Discard Everything – If you don’t have any of the hands / cards above, then draw for 5 new cards.

Advanced Video Poker Tips

Once you develop a solid knowledge of video poker strategy, you’re ready to use advanced advice that will boost your chances of winning even more.

Below are tips on how you can take the next step, including advice on advanced game selection, using a video poker trainer, using a video poker calculator, and becoming a pro.

Section 1: Advanced Game Selection

  1. Here’s How to Find +EV Games – To find +EV video poker, use a site called vpFREEE2.com. This allows you to search the video poker scene for land based casinos in the US and Canada.
  2. Focus on Las Vegas – Most +EV video poker games are in downtown and North Las Vegas.
  3. Look for These Pay Tables – The best pay tables are 10 / 7 Double Bonus, 10 / 6 Double Double Bonus, and Deuces Wild with a 5 coin payout for 4 of a kinds.
  4. Games with +102% Payback Exist – Some rare video poker machines in Las Vegas offer payback between 102% and 103%. These are the machines that serious pros find and use.
  5. Know that +EV Machines Are Popular – You won’t be the only person looking for +EV video poker, so you may have to wait on the machines.
  6. Go at Non Peak Hours – The best way to get the machines you want is by showing up to casinos at non peak hours, including the early morning and late evening.
  7. Bribe People – Some amateurs don’t even know what game they’re playing. In this case, you may be able to bribe them off a machine with money, gift certificates, or show tickets.
  8. Never Be Rude about Pursuing Machines – It never hurts to ask, but if somebody says no, don’t keep pestering them about a certain machine.
  9. Play More Hands Per Hour – The more hands you can play on +EV machines, the higher your win rate will be.
  10. Calculate Your Hourly Earnings – Here’s an example: you play 800 hands per hour, bet $1.25 per hand, and play full pay Deuces Wild 100.76% payback. Your rate of return would be $7.60 an hour 800 x 1.25 x 0.0076.
  11. Don’t Forget Comps – Comps will boost your win rate even higher. Refer to Tips #71 85 to find the best comps.
  12. Faster Play Leads to More Earnings – If you can improve your speed on +EV games, you’ll win more money.
  13. Let Speed Improve in Time – The speed will come. Correct decisions are more important in the beginning so that you get +EV.
  14. Combine Full Pay Jacks or Better w / Comps – If you can’t find +EV video poker, then look for full pay Jacks or Better combined with strong comps. Las Vegas’ The D casino offers this combo and can push you above a 100+ return.
  15. Online Casinos don’t Offer +EV Video Poker – Don’t expect to find +EV video poker in internet casinos because they don’t have it.
  16. Search Online Video Poker Games by Provider – If you want to know where the top video poker payback is, google specific software providers combined the term ‘video poker.’
  17. These Are Software Providers You Should Search for – Some online video poker providers include: Amaya, CryptoLogic, Microgaming, NetEnt, Realtime Gaming, and Wager Works.
  18. Play Microgaming’s All Aces – This game offers 99.92% payback
  19. Play Realtime’s Pick’em Poker – This game offers 99.95% payback.
  20. Play Jacks or Better Everywhere Else – Outside of the 3 games we’ve mentioned, the best online video poker that you’ll find is full pay Jacks or Better.

Section 2: Use a Video Poker Trainer

  1. Video Poker Trainers Are Perfect Practice – These programs see you play video poker like normal, and they point out any mistake that you make.
  2. Video Poker Trainers Help You Play Perfect – With enough practice, you’ll eventually play perfect video poker by recognizing hand patterns and what to keep in each situation.
  3. Use a Trainer after Learning a Strategy Chart – Video poker trainers are especially effective when you already understand basic Jacks or Better strategy.
  4. Find Free Video Poker Trainers – You can find free video poker trainers through a simple Google search.
  5. Change the Game and Pay Table – Video poker software allows you to change the game and pay table that you’re using for correct strategy advice.
  6. Free Trainers are Limited – The only downside to free video poker trainers is that they only offer a limited number of games.
  7. Buy Detailed Programs – If you can’t practice a certain video poker variant, look for more detailed programs to buy.
  8. Here Are a Few Extensive Trainers – A few programs that you can buy include: BVS Video Poker, VP Strategy Master, and WinPoker 6.
  9. Trainers Are Great for +EV Games – If you find a +EV game, then it’s worth practicing as much as possible to develop perfect strategy.
  10. You May Have to Buy a Program – Given that free video poker trainers are limited, considering buyin a program to practice for +EV machines.

Section 3: Using a Video Poker Calculator

  1. Calculators Are Great for Specific Situations – Calculators allow you to input specific cards to learn the correct play.
  2. You can also Change the Pay Table and Game – Just like video poker trainers, calculators allow you to set the specific game and pay table.
  3. You can Find Free Video Poker Calculators – These calculators don’t cost any money and can be found through Google.
  4. The Advantage of Video Poker Calculators – The upside of video poker calculators is that, unlike trainers, you can input specific hands at any moment.
  5. The Disadvantages of Video Poker Calculators – The downside is that it’s time consuming to keep inputting hands.
  6. Great for Land based Casinos – Calculators are the perfect tool for figuring out difficult hands in land based casinos.

Section 4: Becoming a Video Poker Pro

  1. You First Need +EV Machines – Refer to Tips #122 142.
  2. Set Aside a Bankroll – Refer to Tips #1 10. You’ll need at least a few thousand dollars to survive potential downswings.
  3. Few Players Become Pros – Win margins are thin in video poker, and most players find that they’re happier with a normal job.
  4. Benefit from All the Promos You Can – Part of your earnings will come from comps, so scour promotions at your local casino.
  5. Know when to Play – Unfortunately, being a video poker pro involves playing on holidays, when casinos offer their largest comps and promos.

Advanced Strategy Chart

As mentioned earlier, a simplified Jacks or Better strategy chart will help you earn 99.46% payback over the long term.

But if you want to achieve the optimal 99.54% payback on full pay Jacks or Better, then you’ll need the following strategy chart.

  1. Keep a Royal Flush
  2. Keep a Straight Flush
  3. Keep a 4 of a Kind
  4. Keep 4 Cards to a Royal Flush
  5. Keep a Full House
  6. Keep a Flush
  7. Keep a Straight
  8. Keep a 3 of a Kind
  9. Keep 4 Cards to a Straight Flush
  10. Keep a Two Pair
  11. Keep a High Pair Aces to Jacks
  12. Keep 3 Cards to a Royal Flush
  13. Keep 4 Cards to a Flush
  14. Keep an Unsuited K Q J T
  15. Keep a Low Pair 10s to 2s
  16. Keep 4 Cards to an Outside Straight, with 0 2 High Cards
  17. Keep 3 Cards to a Straight Flush
  18. Keep a Suited Q J
  19. Keep 4 Cards to an Inside Straight, with 4 High Cards
  20. Keep a Suited K Q
  21. Keep a Suited K J
  22. Keep a Suited A K
  23. Keep a Suited A Q
  24. Keep a Suited A J
  25. Keep 4 Cards to an Inside Straight with 3 High Cards
  26. Keep 3 Cards to a Straight Flush
  27. Keep an Unsuited K Q 10
  28. Keep an Unsuited Q J
  29. Keep a Suited J 10
  30. Keep Unsuited High Card, with a King High Card
  31. Keep Suited Q J
  32. Keep 2 Suited High Cards, with an Ace High Card
  33. Keep a Jack
  34. Keep Suited K 10
  35. Keep an Ace
  36. Keep a King
  37. Keep a Queen
  38. Keep 3 Cards to a Straight Flush
  39. Discard Everything

Conclusion

When you start playing video poker, it may seem like there’s too much to remember. But once you form a solid foundation with a Jacks or Better strategy chart, learning the rest becomes easier.

Other video poker games are variations of a Jacks or Better pay table, meaning you only have to spot the differences in other variants to learn them.

If you get really serious about video poker, then you should refer to the advanced tips that we’ve provided here. These tips will give you a better chance at earning long term video poker profits, or at least close to it.

Overall, don’t forget to have fun with video poker and the journey that it takes to become a good player.

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