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

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?

Introduction to Video Poker

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

The obvious benefit to a trainer is that you learn from your strategy gaffes.
Let’s look at an example:

  1. You’re dealt: 5c 6s 4d Kh Ac
  2. You keep Ac
  3. The 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?

Select Your Game and Pay table

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 /

  • 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

Choose the Difficulty Mode

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

Deal Your Hand and Play

If you’ve played video poker, you’ll have no trouble with the rest of the

  1. Click Deal
  2. Decide what cards to hold and discard.
  3. Click Draw to finalize your hand.

Make Mental Notes of Any Mistakes

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 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.

Buying a Video Poker Trainer

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:

  1. You can choose more games & pay tables – including positive expectation variants.
  2. You can use unique modes, such as practicing difficult hands.
  3. Multi hand modes are available.
  4. You can enter special pay tables and practice optimal strategy for them.
  5. Some 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

Here are a couple of different programs that we found on

  • Optimum Video Poker, Advantage Play Trainer for Windows and Mac

    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.

  • WinPoker

    $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.

Free Video Poker Training vs. Paying for a Program

Below you can see a recap of how free trainers compare to programs that you

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.

Video Poker Strategy Charts

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:

Simplified Strategy Chart (99.46% Payback)

  • Royal flush, straight flush, 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Full house, flush, straight, 3 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • 2 pair
  • High pair (aces to jacks)
  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • Low pair (10s or lower)
  • 4 cards to an outside straight
  • 2 unsuited high cards
  • Suited K 10, Q 10, or J 10
  • One high card
  • Discard everything

Advanced Strategy Chart (99.54% Payback)

  • Royal flush, straight flush, 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Full house, flush, straight, 3 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • Two pair High pair (aces to jacks)
  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • Unsuited K Q J T
  • Low pair
  • 4 cards to an outside straight w / 0 2 high cards
  • 3 cards to a straight flush
  • Suited Q J
  • 4 cards to an inside straight w / 4 high cards
  • Suited K Q, K J
  • Suited A K, A Q, or A J
  • 4 cards to an inside straight w / 3 high cards
  • 3 cards to a straight flush
  • Unsuited K Q J
  • Unsuited Q J
  • Suited J T
  • 2 unsuited high cards w / king high card
  • Suited Q T
  • 2 unsuited high cards w / ace high card
  • Jack only
  • Suited K T
  • Queen
  • King
  • Ace
  • Discard everything

Video Poker Hand Calculator

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:

  1. Choose the desired game and pay table.
  2. Select the cards – a menu comes up and allows you to pick the cards.
  3. Click Process / Analyze to find the best play.
  4. You’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.

Free Video Poker

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

Finding Good Video Poker Games in Brick and Mortar Casinos

The best tool for this purpose is

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, 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:

  • Aliante Casino

    100.76% payback on full pay Deuces Wild.

  • Boulder Station

    100.76% payback on full pay DW.

  • Arizona Charlie’s Decatur

    100.17% payback on 10 / 7 Double Bonus.

  • California Hotel and Casino

    100.17% payback on 10 / 7 DB.

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.

Finding Good Video Poker Games in Online Casinos

Unfortunately, there’s nothing like 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:

  • Bodog

    100.05% payback on Joker Poker (single line).

  • Microgaming

    99.92% payback on All Aces.

  • Betsoft

    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

  • Training

    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.