The Best Video Poker Strategy: Top Tips on How to Win

Sergio Zammit
Sergio Zammit | Verified by Mark Hoover
Last updated: | 19 min read

Video poker is quite different from the traditional card game, as you don’t play against other players as opponents. Instead, your target is to create the best hand and win against the computer. Since it involves making important decisions, using a reliable video poker strategy is essential to winning.

Many players find video poker appealing because the game blends skill and chance. It’s like playing slot machines and traditional poker at the same time. Additionally, video poker has relatively high RTP percentages compared to other casino games.

video poker strategy jacks or better

When you receive cards, you have to decide on which cards to keep or discard. That’s where strategy comes in. If you retain or remove the wrong card, it could lead to substantial losses. However, the good news is that there are several tips for video poker you can leverage to make the right move. We’ll discuss both the basic rules and advanced approaches in this detailed guide.

Understanding Video Poker Basics

As a player, it’s crucial to know the video poker basic strategy before moving to expert techniques. This involves learning the hand rankings and pay tables and how they impact your chances of winning. Furthermore, you need to know the basic rules, especially for the different video poker variations. Let’s discuss these.

Learn Poker Hand Rankings

Hand rankings are everything in poker since you need to create the best hand to win. The same applies when playing video poker. Below are the hand rankings to know about before you begin playing, ranked from lowest to highest:

  1. High Card: This hand features no matching cards, and a good example is getting K, Q, 7, 4, and 3.
  2. One Pair: A one-pair hand contains two cards of the same rank, like 10, 10, 8, 7, and 4.
  3. Two Pair: Here, you get two sets of pairs in one hand; for example, J, J, 3, 3, and 2.
  4. Three of a Kind: This hand features three cards of the same rank, like Q, Q, Q, 9, and 2.
  5. Straight: A Straight refers to having five consecutive cards of any suit. An example is getting 10, 9, 8, 7, and 6.
  6. Flush: Here’s a hand that includes five non-consecutive hands of the same suit – for instance, J, 9, 8, 4, and 3.
  7. Full House: With a Full House, you get a pair and three-of-a-kind, like 6, 6, 6, K, and K.
  8. Four of a Kind: This hand refers to receiving four cards of the same rank; for example, 5, 5, 5, 5, and 3.
  9. Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit create a Straight Flush, like J, 10, 9, 8, and 7.
  10. Royal Flush: You get a Royal Flush if you receive A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit.

From the above list, the best possible hand you can get is a royal flush. That’s the target for many players who use video poker strategy.

Pay Tables and Their Impact

You can’t skip checking the pay table if you want to know how to win at video poker. The table outlines the payouts for different hands. Hence, by reviewing it, you learn how much to expect from each win based on your bet size.

Video poker is available in different variations, each with its own pay table. Generally, however, you’ll want to find the options with the most favorable payout. That way, you can maximize winnings from your video poker strategy.

In particular, pay attention to the payout for Full House and Flush. For instance, you’ll find video poker variants with a 9/6, 8/5, or 7/5 payout for Jacks or Better. The most favorable is the 9/6 payout, as it means you get 9x your bet for a Full House and 6x for a Flush.

The Basic Rules of Video Poker

Many casino players believe playing poker is challenging since you have to make strategic decisions to beat opponents. If you’re of the same opinion, you’ll find video poker a much easier option. The basic rules don’t change, but it’s just you and the machine, so there are fewer factors to consider as you play.

Here are the fundamental rules of video poker to know:

  • Place your bets: As usual, the game begins with you setting your stake. You must bet within the minimum and maximum limits of the variant you’re playing.
  • Receive cards: Typically, the computer will give you an initial hand of five cards, but this can differ with some variants.
  • Retain or remove cards: This is where video poker strategy mainly comes into play. You measure the quality of your hand and decide which cards to keep or discard to improve your chances of beating the machine.
  • Draw new cards: If you remove cards, you’ll have to draw new ones for your final hand to complete five.
  • Check your hand value: At this last stage, the computer will evaluate your hand and pay out accordingly if you win.

Variations of Video Poker

To fully grasp video poker basics, you need to understand the available variations. We’ve listed the common ones below:

  • Jacks or Better: Here’s the most popular video poker variant at online casinos. You need to get at least a pair of Jacks to receive a payout.
  • Deuces Wild: In this variant, the Deuces (2 cards) work as wild cards. As a result, they can boost your chances of forming winning hands.
  • Double Bonus Poker: You get higher payouts if you form a Four-of-a-Kind hand when playing this variant. Many players apply bonus poker strategy tips when playing this variant.
  • Joker Poker: With Joker Poker, an extra Joker card acts as the wild.

video poker strategy texas holdem

Core Video Poker Strategies

There are core strategies you can’t skip if you want to know how to win video poker rounds. For instance, you need to know when to break different card hands. Additionally, there’s the strategy chart that offers helpful insights on what to do in different situations. Find out more about the core strategies from the below sections.

Using a Video Poker Strategy Chart

A strategy chart serves as a guide for making optimal decisions. Hence, using it is simple. Once you receive your initial hand, refer to the chart and decide how many cards to keep or discard. Here’s an example of a standard strategy chart for video poker:

Dealt Hand  Cards to replace
Royal Flush 0; you made the hand
Straight Flush 0; you made the hand
Four of a Kind 0; you made the hand
Full House 0; you made the hand
Flush 0; you made the hand
Straight 0; you made the hand
Four to a Royal Flush 1
Four to a Straight Flush 1
Two Pair 1
Four to a Flush 1
Low pair (pairs having 10s or lower) 1
Three to a Royal Flush 2
Three to a Straight Flush 2
Three-of-a-Kind 2
Three High Cards 2
One Pair in Jacks or Better 3
Four to a Straight 3
Two to a Royal Flush 3
Two High Cards 3
One High Card 4
Any other hand 5

So, if you get a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Flush, Straight, or Full House, you don’t have to draw any new cards. With a Royal Flush or Straight Flush, congratulations, as you’re sure to win. However, with Four of a Kind, Flush, Straight, or Full House, you can’t improve your hand any further.

If you get any of the other hand, simply follow the video poker strategy chart and replace cards, and you’ll hopefully get better with the draw. The poorest you can get is a High Card or no recognized hand.

Know When to Break a High Pair

Holding a high pair in video poker puts you in a strong position. However, there are situations when you can improve your hand by breaking. For instance, you may be a card away from landing a Straight Flush or Royal Flush, which are more likely to win. Another situation is when you have a high pair and four cards that form an open-ended Straight or Flush. In both instances, a smart video poker strategy will be to break the high pair and aim for a higher-ranking hand.

Low Pairs Over a Single High Card

Many video poker tips suggest holding a low pair over a single high card. Indeed, it’s a helpful strategy that brings more profits. While a single high card can bring winning hands, you’ll have better chances by maintaining a low pair. For instance, with a low pair, there’s a chance of forming a Two Pair or Three-of-a-Kind hand.

Know When to Break Up a Straight or Flush

This strategy involves breaking up a Flush or Straight when you have four cards of a Royal Flush. The aim is to create a more premium hand. Some players opt to break a Straight or Flush when there’s an opportunity to land a Full House or Four of a Kind. That can also work, but a Straight or Flush is just as valuable. So, it’s best to only break when you can get a Royal Flush – the best possible hand.

video poker strategy aces

Advanced Tactics for Seasoned Players

Now, let’s look at some advanced video poker techniques expert players employ to beat the machine. As you’d expect, it all revolves around making smart decisions on cards to keep or discard.

Strategic Card Decisions for Optimal Gameplay

Here are some strategic card decisions you can employ in video poker to form the most optimal hand:

Selective Discarding

Once you receive your initial cards, you have to be very selective about the cards you discard. Most video poker strategy tips require maintaining the high-value cards and discarding the low ones. However, it’s best to pay attention to high cards and low pairs for the best decision.

If you get a hand with a mix of high and low cards, prioritize the high cards. That’s because they can improve your chances of forming a better hand. Meanwhile, if you get more low pairs, breaking is best in many situations. However, ensure you evaluate the potential of forming stronger combinations.

Gutshot Straight Draws

This video poker tip applies if you receive four consecutive cards with only one missing to complete a Straight. Hence, you pull a gutshot straight draw to complete the sequence. When you get such consecutive cards, it’s up to you to decide whether to go for the draw. In regular poker, the odds of hitting a gutshot straight draw on the turn is 8.5%.

Odds may be higher with video poker, but you should evaluate the potential payout of your hand. You can skip the gutshot straight draw if your four consecutive card hand can bring in substantial returns.

Inside Straight Draws

An inside straight draw is similar to the gutshot straight draw. The only difference is that the missing card is inside the sequence and not at the end. So, you’ll consider the same factors for your video poker strategy to know whether to go for the draw.

Royal Flush Opportunities

While playing video poker, prioritizing cards that can lead to the best possible hand is always a strategic decision. Hence, as you receive the initial cards, analyze the value for Royal Flush opportunities. A Royal Flush requires A, K, Q, J, and 10, so you’ll often need to discard all lower-value cards.

Video Poker Strategies for Different Variations

The video poker variation you’re playing significantly influences the strategies you apply. That’s because each type has different pay tables and rules. So, the target hand to beat the machine and land winnings varies. You can check out the below techniques for various video poker variations:

Jacks or Better

In Jacks or Better, your primary goal is to get at least a pair of Jacks or a better hand. Without either, you won’t get any worthwhile payouts. Here are tips to apply when playing this variant:

  • Retain high cards and potential pairs. With such an approach, you’re best positioned to land a pair of Jacks or better. It’s best to discard any hand that doesn’t fit the description.
  • Consider breaking two pairs. Mainly, this video poker tip applies when it involves holding a high pair. By breaking, there’s a high chance of getting a Full House, which gives you an upper hand over the machine.
  • Always go for options that can lead to a Royal Flush. We previously mentioned this video poker strategy, but it applies more when playing Jacks or Better. Without question, landing a Royal Flush is better than a pair of jacks.

Deuces Wild

When playing the Deuces Wild video poker variant, follow the below tips to increase your odds of winning:

  • Go for Deuces cards – cards with a 2 value. This is what this unique variant is all about, as the Deuces act as Wilds. Getting a hand with Deuces will always improve your chances of forming winning combinations.
  • Hold all cards if you receive four Deuces from the initial draw. A hand with four 2-value cards leads to a Natural Royal Flush, which brings the highest payout in Deuces Wild video poker.
  • Prioritize Flush and Straight hands. You’re in an advantageous position if you focus on building Flushes and Straights. Particularly, prioritize both hands in your video poker strategy over landing a Three-of-a-Kind hand. This works primarily due to the wild nature of Deuces.

Double Bonus

Playing with the right Double Bonus poker strategy is always beneficial, and for that, you can follow the tips below:

  • Aim for Four of a Kind combinations. If you have cards that can result in a Four of a Kind, hold them as they carry bonus payouts. You’ll get more from your potential winnings if you beat the video poker machine.
  • Don’t skip Royal Flush opportunities. This popular tip also applies here as landing a Royal Flush can be as beneficial as a Four of a Kind hand.
  • Consider the bonus kicker in your video poker strategy. Notably, you’ll receive bonus payouts if you hit Four Aces with a kicker. Four 2s, 3s, or 4s pay out 40, but you’ll get 2,000 with a kicker.

Aces and Faces

The Aces and Faces video poker variant involves winning with face cards and Aces. Hence, it’s relatively straightforward. When playing, employ these strategies:

  • Focus more on face cards. As already explained, you’re likely to win more in Aces and Faces if your hand combination features more face cards. If there are Aces, the payouts will be even higher.
  • Discard low pairs. While holding face cards increases your chances of payouts, low pairs are less valuable. It’s best to remove such hands and pursue higher-paying combinations.

Joker Poker/Jokers Wild

Here’s a fun variant with unique winning opportunities. You can try the below tips for video poker games featuring the Jokers Wild:

  • Always hold the Joker. The more Joker cards you have in your hand, the higher your chance of creating winning combinations. Hence, you should bever consider replacing them.
  • Aim for Five of a Kind. With a Joker among your cards, you can easily hit a Five-of-a-kind combination. That’s because the Joker Wild can substitute any other card. It’s a unique combination that can be highly profitable, so consider it during gameplay.

Tens or Better

Similar to Jacks or Better, this poker variant involves getting a hand a pair of 10s or better. These are the video poker strategy tips you can go with for Tens or Better:

  • Prioritize getting a pair of 10s or better. For this, you’ll want to hold on to 10s, face cards, and other potential pairs. If a card doesn’t contribute, it’s best to discard it.
  • Carefully decide your action when dealt a Two Pair hand. In Tens or Better, a Two Pair hand has the potential for a Full House, but it may just be valuable as it is. So, weigh the payout before deciding whether to draw.

Maximizing Your Winnings

When learning how to win at video poker, it’s worth identifying opportunities that can increase your payouts. You can apply the tips below to maximize your winnings.

Play the Maximum Coins for Higher Payouts

First, you need to check the coin limits. Notably, many video poker variants offer higher payouts than regular video poker if you bet with the maximum number of coins. More often than not, this applies to getting a Royal Flush.

Consider an instance where the video poker game regularly pays out 500x for Royal Flush. Then, if you bet the maximum number of coins supported, you can receive a 10x payout, which results in 5000x of your total bet size. If such a rule applies, a smart video poker strategy to maximize your potential winnings is to bet the maximum.

Practice with Free Games to Hone Your Skills

This video poker tip is highly valuable if you’re new to the game. Generally, before you play video poker, it’s best to be knowledgeable about traditional poker and slot machines. That’s because the video variant combines elements of both classic casino games.

Many online casinos have demo versions of video poker games you can try. These options are free, and you don’t bet with funds from your pocket. Instead, you’ll use virtual coins that hold no monetary value. At the same time, you get all the features and gameplay mechanics of the real game.

You can practice with free games to improve your skills before you start playing for real money. A good option is always to test the video poker strategy chart with demo games to master how it works.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

Here, the attention is on bankroll management. You can learn the best video poker techniques and strategies, but it’s crucial to always remember that you’re gambling.

As a result, it’s always advisable to only bet what you can afford to lose. This applies even when using video poker strategy to maximize winnings, which involves betting the maximum coins. It’s best to cut down your stake if the maximum is above your budget.

Avoid chasing losses as you play. If multiple rounds are not favorable, you can take a break rather than betting more to recover your lost money. A smart approach is to divide your budget into sessions. That way, you can play for longer and reduce the effect of losses.

Pick the Right Game Based on Odds and Payouts

Earlier, we explained the different video poker variations and strategies for each. They all feature different rules and payout tables, which you should consider if you want to maximize your winnings. By default, any player will want video poker games with the best odds and payout rates.

Like slots, video poker machines have RTPs, a major metric for measuring odds. Jacks or Better is famous as the variant with the highest RTP, with rates reaching as high as 99%. You can also consider Deuces Wild, as the percentage is still favorable, although there’s a higher variance. Some Deuces Wild video poker games have around 97% RTP, and you can even find a rare few that go over 100% if you play with perfect video poker strategy.

Choosing the Best Online Casino

The gaming site you sign up with to play video poker can affect the effectiveness of your strategy. Besides, your privacy and security are at risk if the platform isn’t reliable. Therefore, choosing the best online casino is a vital video poker strategy if you want to win. There is many to choose from, offshore poker sites, crypto poker sites, and many more, so you can identify the perfect site to use by following the tips below:

Strategy Basics – Playing at the Right Casino

To identify the right casino, consider the reputation and reliability of the operator. A site with a valid license from a recognized regulatory body is always advantageous. When you register on such a platform, you can rest assured that the game rounds are fair and unbiased.

Furthermore, read reviews from other video poker players to know what to expect from playing at the casino. A reputable site can still offer a substandard user experience if navigation is challenging. Applying the video poker basic strategy or advanced techniques requires focus, so it’s essential that the casino allows seamless gameplay.

High Payout Percentages and Bonus Offers

The payout percentage of an online casino signifies how much return you can expect from playing over time. Without question, the higher the rate, the more you can get from your video poker strategy. You can contact the casino’s customer care to verify this info or check feedback from other players.

Beyond the payout percentage, also pay attention to bonus offers. With promotions, the gaming site rewards you when you sign up and deposit. Plus, you can usually get more bonuses as you continue playing to boost your bankroll. In other words, you receive monetary backup to play more video poker rounds and employ your winning tips.

Ensuring Your Safety and Security Online

If a casino is unsafe, you can lose your private information and money to third parties. Thankfully, many secure video poker gaming sites are available, so identifying one won’t be difficult. To guarantee safety when choosing a casino, confirm that it employs SSL technology to encrypt data. Also, the operator must only work with secure and renowned payment providers.

Additional Features to Look For

Besides the video poker tips for choosing the best casino mentioned already, here are additional features to pay attention to:

  • Variety of video poker games, including all the popular types
  • Mobile-compatibility
  • Responsive customer support for assistance
  • Other exciting casino games, like slots, blackjack, roulette, and traditional poker


What is the best strategy for video poker?

The best strategy for video poker depends on the variant you’re playing. However, a general approach is to replace low-value cards and hold on to high-value ones to create the best hand. In many variants, a reliable video poker strategy is looking out for Royal Flush opportunities.

Is video poker based on skill or luck?

Video poker is based on skill and luck. Both play a role in whether you beat the machine or not. You need skill to make the right decision on what cards to replace or hold. However, luck decides if you’ll receive better cards from the initial dealing and when you draw.

What are the best hands to hold in video poker?

The best hands to hold in video poker vary from one version to another. For instance, in Jacks or better, the best hands are those with a pair of Jacks, while Joker Poker favors hands with more Joker cards. However, it’s always best to hold if your hand can create a Royal Flush.

Is it better to hold a low pair or high card in video poker?

It’s better to hold a low pair over a high card in most video poker variants. Many expert video poker tips indicate that a low pair can lead to higher payouts. In contrast, a single high card can lead to better hand strength. Hence, most players go with the possibility of getting more payouts over landing a stronger hand.

Can I play online video poker for free?

Yes, you can play online video poker for free. Many casino sites have demo versions of the popular game where you don’t bet with real money. Playing for free allows you to improve your skills and practice strategies on how to win video poker rounds.

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