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Strategies for Video Poker20 March 2001
Rule #1 of Video Poker Play is Know which machines to play.
Rule # 2 of Video Poker Play is Know the proper playing strategies.
Proper playing strategies for the various machines can be divided into three types: perfect strategies, optimum strategies, and generic strategies. Perfect strategies are just that: you will have the exact play for every possible hand based on the best return for the proper decision. Perfect strategies will take into account the value and suit of the cards you are discarding as well as the cards that you are keeping in order to differentiate small differences in expectation in obscure situations. Perfect strategies are extremely difficult to memorize but they do squeeze the last ounce of return from a given machine.
Optimum strategies are a lot less cumbersome as these strategies lump together certain hands (usually on the low end of the scale) in the interests of economy and easy memorization. Optimum strategies rarely take into account the value and suit of the cards you are discarding. The difference in performance between a perfect strategy and an optimum strategy is usually at most a few tenths of a percent, at the least a few hundredths of a percent.
Then there are generic strategies. These are single strategies that can be employed at a variety of machines of the same type. Usually a strategy will be termed generic if it is the optimum strategy or close to the optimum strategy for the best machine in its type (say 9/6 Jacks-or-Better) but can be used on other machines (say 8/5 Jacks-or-Better) as well. Here you might see great differences in performance from one machine to another, sometimes in the half to a full percent range or even more. Generic strategies are generally recommended if you have never played video poker before and you want to test the waters without much of an investment in time or money to do so.
Most articles such as this one must give generic strategies since to give over a hundred different optimum strategies would make the editor jump out a window! To give perfect strategies for all those machines would make the players follow him out as well!
There are three broad categories of video poker games in American Casinos: the aforementioned Jacks-or-Better draw poker, the extremely popular Joker Poker, and Deuces Wild Poker. Some games are linked progressives, some are stand-alone machines. The generic strategies given here can be used on any of them. However, given a choice between playing the best machine in the category and any other machine in the category -- go for the best machines.
These generic strategies will allow you to go to the casino tonight and play a strong game. However, if you get the video-poker bug, and many players do as it's an exciting game, then you owe it to yourself to learn the perfect or optimum strategies for the machines you decide to play. On all machines, you must play the maximum coin to get the benefit of the Royal Flush bonus.
While many video poker games offer the player excellent overall odds and, in some cases, an edge over the casino, a salient fact must be noted. Because the casino edge is figured based on the probabilities and payouts on all the possible hands, including such long shots as the Royal Flush, most sessions at video poker tend to be losers. The overall expectation might indeed be positive but it assumes that the player is receiving his or her fair share of Royal Flushes or Fives-of-a-Kind. Naturally, the longer you play, the better the chance that the odds and probabilities will work out in practice as they do in theory but you might have to play a long, long time for this to happen. You must be prepared, therefore, to lose a significant portion of your sessions and be in the red before you hit a Royal and zoom back into the black. Yes, it is possible that the very first hand you play will give you that mystical Royal Flush but I wouldn't bet on it. Therefore, you must have at least 500 times your single hand bet to sustain you at a video poker session. If you are betting five quarters, then you should have $625 behind you. If you are betting five dollars, then you should have $2,500 behind you.
Generic Basic Strategy for Jacks or Better Draw Poker
The following hands are listed in order of priority. The hands on top should always be played regardless of what you have to break up to play them. Hands are ranked as in regular poker: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four-of-a-kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three-of-a-kind, Two pairs, and a Pair of Jacks or better.
Generic Basic Strategy for Deuces Wild Poker
The following hands are listed in order of priority. The hands on top should always be played regardless of what you have to break up to play them. Hands are ranked as follows: Royal Flush, Four Deuces, Deuces Royal Flush, Five-of-a-kind, Straight Flush, Four-of-a-kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three-of-a-kind. The strategy is divided into two parts: non-deuce hands and deuce hands.
Generic Basic Strategy for Joker Poker
The following hands are listed in order of priority. The hands on top should always be played regardless of what you have to break up to play them. Hands are ranked as follows: Natural Royal Flush, Five-of-a-kind, Joker Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four-of-a-kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three-of-a-kind, Two Pairs, High Pair. The strategy is divided into two parts: non-joker hands and joker hands.
The Faces of the Best Games
Jacks-or-Better Draw Poker
For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots by John Robison
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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