Video Poker Training Guide for Beginning Players
Video poker offers one of the lowest house edges in gaming. In fact, you can even win long term profits on select variations.
Of course, the key element here is that you need to be a skilled player to win. But how do you develop the skills to beat video poker?
One of the best ways to become a successful player is through video poker training.
Let's discuss this subject by covering how video poker trainers work, where you can find them, and their pros & cons. We'll also cover a few other video poker education methods along with tutorial videos.
What is Video Poker Training?
A training program appears to be just like any other video poker game.But the key difference is that it alerts you to mistakes that you make from a strategy perspective.
The obvious benefit to a trainer is that you learn from your strategy gaffes. Let's look at an example:
- 1You're dealt: 5c 6s 4d Kh Ac
- 2You keep Ac
- 3The trainer alerts you to the mistake - Ah and Kh should've been kept because this play yields a better long term return.
An inexperienced video poker player won't realize that this is a strategy mistake. But a training program identifies these errors so that one can steadily improve their play.
What's also nice about trainers is that they have settings so you can customize the program based on your desired game, paytable, and difficulty mode.
How does a Video Poker Trainer Work?
The first thing that you want do is select your game and paytable.
This is important is because optimal strategy changes as you move between games and pay tables. And you want to make sure that you're practicing on the correct game and paytable.
Here are the games & options we have with the free video poker trainer that we're using:
- Aces and Eights
Pay tables include 50 / 25 / 8; 50 / 25 / 7; and 50 / 20 / 7
- All American
Pay tables include 35 / 8 / 8 / 8 and 34 / 8 / 8 / 8
- Bonus Poker
Pay tables include 50 / 80; 50 / 75; and 40 / 75
- Double Bonus Poker
Pay tables include 50 / 9 / 7; 45 / 10 / 7; and 40 / 10 / 7
- Jacks and Better
Pay tables include 9 / 6; 8 / 5; and 6 / 5
- Joker Poker
Pay tables include 20k / 20 / 7 / 5; 10k / 20 / 7 / 5; 5k / 17 / 7 / 5; 20k / 20 / 6 / 5; and 10k / 20 / 6 / 5
This is far from all of the games that you'll find in the video poker world. But free trainers offer a nice selection of variants and pay tables to get you started.
Many video poker games allow you to change the difficulty setting from easy to hard.
The easy setting avoids alerting you to minor mistakes that don't have much of an impact on long term strategy. This is perfect for beginning players who want to learn the strategy basics before tackling more intricate plays.
The hard mode alerts you to any mistake - big or small - in pursuit of optimal payback. If you're a diehard video poker player who wants the best possible payback, you should choose hard mode.
Some of the more advanced programs that you buy offer additional settings, including one where you replay hands that you made mistakes with. This is extremely helpful because you get to practice and reinforce strategy for tough situations.
If you've played video poker, you'll have no trouble with the rest of the steps:
- 1Click Deal
- 2Decide what cards to hold and discard.
- 3Click Draw to finalize your hand.
As mentioned before, video poker training programs alert you to mistakes. And the point of using trainers is so that you can remember these blunders, then avoid them in the future.
Odds are that you're not going to write down any of the hands / situations you messed up. But through practice and repetition, you'll improve and become a stronger player.
Where Can I Find Video Poker Trainers?
Free video training is the best route for casual players who want to play better video poker.
First off, these programs are easy to find because you merely google the phrase "video poker training." This brings up a variety of free options that you can use on your PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet.
Considering that free trainers offer a variety of pay tables and games, most players will find what they're looking for with this option.
While free video poker trainers are a good way to work on your skills without spending anything, they're also limited with regard to special features.
Serious players will find that they need more from a training program, which is when purchasing software becomes attractive.
Benefits to buying a video poker trainer include the following:
- 1You can choose more games & pay tables - including positive expectation variants.
- 2You can use unique modes, such as practicing difficult hands.
- 3Multi hand modes are available.
- 4You can enter special pay tables and practice optimal strategy for them.
- 5Some trainers offer bankroll management tools.
Free trainers just don't offer the same range of tools and games. That said, you'll need to purchase training software in order to take your game to the next level.
Here are a couple of different programs that we found on Amazon.com:
- Optimum Video Poker, Advantage Play Trainer for Windows and Mac
$59.95 Strategy charts for many games. Practice on numerous games. Create new games / pay tables. Calculate break even requirements for a progressive royal flush. Calculate variance for different video poker variations. 70 page user manual.
$34.74 and up Alerts you to all incorrect choices. Comes with 23 games installed. Change pay tables to create new games. Error log mode, where you practice hands you get wrong. Multi pay version for up to 10 lines.
Below you can see a recap of how free trainers compare to programs that you buy.
|Free Video Poker Training||Paying for a Video Poker Trainer|
|Free - just google the phrase and choose a site.||You often pay over $35 for one of these programs.|
|Limited selection of games & pay tables.||You get to choose from dozens of video poker games, or customize your own paytable.|
|Very little to learn - you can get started in less than a minute.||These programs require some learning before you're ready to navigate through and run them.|
|Online, quick, convenient.||Often come on CDs that require a PC or Mac.|
|Can help you beat negative expectation games.||Can help you beat positive & negative expectation games.|
|No bankroll management tools.||Some programs have bankroll management tools.|
Pros & Cons to Video Poker Training
- You get to practice hands and learn from any mistakes you make.
- Both free and purchasable programs are available.
- Programs you buy offer special tools and features.
- You can calculate bankroll requirements and game volatility.
- Certain programs offer training on +EV games, where you can make long term profits.
- Beginners must learn proper strategy through trial and error.
- Free programs offer limited game selections.
- Extensive programs cost $35 or more.
- Extensive trainers can be difficult to navigate in the beginning.
Other Methods of Video Poker Education
While video poker training is an excellent way to practice the game, it's far from the only method. Here are a few other tools you can use in the pursuit of video poker education.
Trainers don't offer any initial clues on video poker strategy. Instead, these programs are a trial and error process where you learn through mistakes.
This is why we recommend that new players begin with strategy charts. A strategy chart ranks made and non made hands in order of importance so that you know what to keep.
Here's an example:
- You're playing Jacks or Better (JoB)
- You're dealt: Ad Qd Jd 2d 6c
- This gives you two possibilities: 3 cards to royal flush, or 4 cards to a flush.
- A JoB strategy chartranks 3 cards to a royal flush slightly higher than 4 cards to a flush.
The nice thing about using a chart in the beginning is that you form a strategy backbone. When you start using video poker trainers, you'll form a solid foundation and have fewer mistakes to keep track of when training.
The downside to strategy charts is that you won't find these available for every game.
Sure, you'll find plenty of charts that cover Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker. But there are dozens of other video poker variations that aren't covered by charts.
Again, strategy charts are best for new players who are learning the game.
Below you can see examples, including a simplified (99.46% payback) and advanced strategy chart (99.54%) for 9 / 6 Jacks or Better:
A hand calculator is a good way to figure out individual situations that arise in video poker.
You can enter the game you're playing and hand you've been dealt to find out how to play it. Here are the required steps for using a hand calculator:
- 1Choose the desired game and pay table.
- 2Select the cards - a menu comes up and allows you to pick the cards.
- 3Click Process / Analyze to find the best play.
- 4You'll get detailed stats on why this is the best play.
The good thing about hand calculators is that they let you figure out a specific hand in real time. This differs from video poker trainers, where the program determines what hands you get to practice.
The downside to using a hand calculator is that they're only good for learning a specific hand.
Unlike a strategy chart or trainer, you won't find solutions to a broad range of hands. After all, it would take forever to input every single hand you played into a calculator.
If you're wondering where to find these calculators, you can search Google. This will bring up a variety of free calculators that you can use.
Some of the training programs for sale offer built in calculators with the same features as the free versions.
The bad thing about playing video poker in land based casinos is that there's no place for you to practice. This is where online casinos become handy because they allow you to play for free as long as you want.
Free online video poker is a great way to practice with your strategy chart. This way, you don't lose any money when you make mistakes.
Another good aspect to the free version is that most online casinos offer a dozen or more games. Contrast this to free video poker training, where you normally only have 5 7 variants to choose from.
The one problem with free video poker is it doesn't teach you anything because you're not alerted to mistakes. This is why you need to use a strategy chart to teach yourself strategy while using the free mode.
Tools to Find High paying Games
One more important step in video poker education includes using programs that help you find the best games.
This breaks down into two categories, including finding high paying variants in land based casinos and online casinos. Here are the best methods for doing both.
The best tool for this purpose is vpFREE2.com.
This site offers a search tool that lists casinos in different cities / regions in the US and Canada. Las Vegas is the default because this city offers more video poker games than any other location in North America.
But you can also search by the following: Canada, East, Gulf Coast, Laughlin, Midwest, Nevada, Reno Tahoe, and West.
Once you run a search, vpFREE2.com lists all the casinos in the city / region along with the type of video poker they offer. Looking at Las Vegas, we see 105 casinos, with some casinos offering 8 10 video poker variations.
The most important aspect here is that you can see the top payback available in each casino. Here are a few examples from Vegas:
If you've ever wanted to find +EV video poker, this tool is definitely the way to do it. But note that you won't find any +EV games outside of the Las Vegas and Nevada filters.
Unfortunately, there's nothing like vpFREE2.com for online video poker. But you can still find payback for a lot of games just by googling different software providers.
The first step to doing so involves knowing the names of different software providers. This brings up different sites with reviews (and hopefully payback) on the software companies' video poker games.
The next step involves inputting these names into Google (or any search engine) to find what their top paying games are.
Below you can see some examples of software providers and their best video poker variants:
100.05% payback on Joker Poker (single line).
99.92% payback on All Aces.
99.80% payback on Split Way Royal.
- Realtime Gaming
99.78% payback on Aces & Eights.
- Net Entertainment
99.56% payback on Jacks or Better.
Video Poker Tutorials on YouTube
If you learn well by watching others, then video poker tutorials are one more way that you can improve.
The easiest way to find tutorials is by visiting YouTube and googling "video poker tutorial". This brings up a list of different videos that'll teach you how to play the game and / or improve.
Given that our focus here is on training, we only want to find videos that discuss strategy.
Unfortunately, this isn't always easy to do based on a YouTube video's title and description. Going further, this is a trial and error process where you waste time finding out if a video is worthwhile.
We went through a few different videos, and here are examples of what you'll find based on our experiences:
- We watched a video from AmericanCasinoGuide's Steve Bourie, where he covers video poker basics along with a little strategy. This video is mostly geared towards beginners, but it's well presented.
- Mystic Gambler has multiple YouTube videos, and we watched one based on Double Double Bonus strategy. We expected tips on how to play winning DDB, but this tutorial merely focuses on how to use a training program.
- Gaming expert Linda Boyd has a nice tutorial how to properly play some of the most common Jacks or Better hands.
- Harry Tamburin, another gaming expert, has a video covering the basics of finding the top paying video poker games. Tamburin discusses the ins and outs of using vpFREE2, along with some of the aspects you need to be careful with when looking at video poker pay tables.
Online video poker tutorials are a good option for beginning players who need to learn both the basics and strategy. But don't expect to find any tutorials that cover everything you need to know about playing games.
Most first time video poker players sit down to games with no semblances of strategy. But those who stick with video poker eventually want to learn how to play better and win more money.
Once the video poker bug hits you, there's no better way to practice than through a training program.
The more you continue using a trainer, the closer you come to being a knowledgeable player. And as you continue seeing the same hands and situations, you'll know what to do within a split second.
Developing these skills improves your long term odds of winning in video poker. This becomes especially important in some of the high paying games that we discussed before.
Of course, there are other video poker education options, including strategy charts, hand calculators, and payback tools. Here's a quick recap of how these compare to a training program:
- Strategy Charts
Great introduction to video poker strategy.
- Hand Calculator
Best for figuring out individual hands.
- Payback Tools
Helps you find where the best paying video poker games are.
Good way to improve your skills on specific games through practice and repetition.
As you can see, all of these strategy options have their place in the game. And training programs hold a special place on this list because they prepare you for mistake free video poker.
Trainers are especially important when you need to learn strategy for a game that's not covered by a strategy chart.
In summary, we highly recommend that you check out a free video poker trainer and / or consider buying one if you're really serious about the game.