Video poker is one of the most popular games found in a casino and it is also one of the few games in which knowing how to play is important as it improves the odds of winning. While there are big strategies which can apply for most situations when at the machine or when playing online, there are also some typical situations in which the basic strategy doesn’t apply. As a good player, it is essential to know what to do in these situations in order to maximize the potential winnings every time.
What is video poker?
Since the guide is aimed at players who already know how to play the game and are familiar with basic strategy, there is no need for a detailed explanation of video poker. However, for those which are new to real money casino games online, video poker is a game which is played on a machine using random number generators. The goal of the game is to get a strong hand and these are ranked as in poker. The stronger the hand is, the bigger the payout will be.
Once the bet is placed, the player receives five cards and he can choose to exchange any or all of them for new cards in order to get the strongest hand possible. After the cards are exchanged, the game pays out according to the selected table and a new round can begin.
Using basic strategy
Since the player has to make a decision which determines the outcome of the game, video poker is one of the few online casino games in which the player actually has to consider his next move and not just worry about the size of the bet.
Video poker is about knowing how to play common scenarios in order to get the best odds out of it. Even if they don’t always work out, they do provide an advantage in the long run and have a high degree of accuracy. That being said, basic strategy doesn’t always apply and the exceptions can have a big impact on the total results.
Exceptions to basic strategy in video poker
The first exception on the list will also help with the next ones and is a very important one. Let’s say that the variant of the game is Jacks or Better and that we have a hand made out of K-Q-J-T-T.
These are of different colors and there is no flush draw to worry about so the basic strategy tells us to keep the pair of Tens and the King in order to go for double pairs or for three-of-a-kind. If we do this, we would go for a payout of 0.824x and it would be a mistake.
The right choice in this situation would be to break the pair of Tens and only exchange one Ten for a straight and an average win of 0.872x. The improvement is more than big enough to seriously take into consideration when this situation comes up on the screen. It is also important to point out that this is the only exception to the rule of not breaking a pair unless it provides a Royal Flush draw or a flush draw.
Next up, a good example of a typical situation while you play poker online is when you have Ah-Kh-Jh-5h-5c. The game is still Jacks or Better so the rule is to exchange the five of clubs and see if the flush draw comes through.
However, by going for the flush, your average payout will be of 1.340x, while keeping only the three big cards and going for a Royal Flush will give you a payout of 1.387x. This situation is quite common and many players overlook the potential and only focus on either keeping the low pair or going for a flush by exchanging the different colored card, despite the fact that the best move is to exchange the pair entirely.
The third and final typical situation in video poker is found in Deuces Wild. The hand is As-Js-8s-5s-5h. The majority of players will just exchange the five of hearts and hope for another spade to complete the flush. The idea is that in this version of the game, all pairs have the same worth so keeping the fives will have an average payout of 0.560x while the flush in this situation will pay a bit less at an average of 0.511x.