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Video Poker Strategy

Imagine playing Jacks or Better with the goal of getting 10s or worse. Any video poker machine will oblige you to play this wacky game. Of course it won't pay on the "winning hand”, just "losing" ones. And you will occasionally "lose." You could even "lose" holding a royal flush. Our 10s-or-worse game is an extreme example of how a strategy affects the probability of seeing any particular hand. The royal flush becomes less likely but is not impossible.

The best video poker strategies balance potential profits from every hand with the probability of winning any particular hand. In some cases pat hands are sacrificed for possible better ones. In other situations it's the reverse. The resulting strategies are sometimes bizarre and run counter to everything a person learns playing traditional poker. Yet they work. Unfortunately every change in a pay table requires a change in strategy, so every game has a unique system of optimal play. A classic Jacks-or-Better approach used on a Deuces Wild Machine, Joker Poker, or even another Jacks-or-Better game with a different pay table can result in poorly played hands and fewer wins. Some strategies are nearly identical. Some are radically different. That's something to keep in mind if you choose to play an unfamiliar game. Don't risk too much of your bankroll.

Strategy Charts:

Here you'll find links to strategy charts we feature here on Video Poker Play. We've included the strategy charts for Jacks or Better 9/6 strategy, Double Bonus Poker (Jacks or Better) strategy and Joker Poker Strategy.

Hunches and Winning:

Most video poker hands are losers. It is unfortunate, but strategy doesn't change this. The machine regularly wins nearly 60 percent of the time. Add in the hands that are a push and you're only ahead about 1 in 4 contests. High pay machines can be even stingers. You'll lose a lot before you win more.

Some players become frustrated with all the losing, so they abandon strategy and begin playing hunches. This is absolutely wrong from a mathematical point of view (but I disagree with people who say it should never be done). Playing a hunch is perfectly ok. Just realize that you are paying for the pleasure of making a guess. You might win, but on average, you are more likely to lose. If you can live with that then by all means do what you "feel". Remember it's absolutely possible to throw away all five cards and still get a royal flush.


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