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Video poker has one of the best winning percentages for players, with odds only giving the house a small .5% advantage. This is one of the best rates similar to that of blackjack. This is because the player is allowed to hold cards, which can lead to a massive boost in win potential if done well. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best strategies for playing video poker.

The Best Strategies

For this article we will exclusively be focused on jacks or better video poker. In this game mode players must at least have a pair of jacks or better to win. This creates an interesting dynamic of decision-making, but with some simple strategy can create a winning environment!

First of all, players should always look for a 9/6 payout machine, this means that a flush will payout 6 to 1 credits and a 9 to 1 for a full house. This is important because playing at machines that provide worse payout raises the house edge making it more challenging to walk away a winner.

Once you’ve found your machine you should familiarize yourself with the payouts, at a 9/6 machine your payout table will look like this:

Hand 1 Credit2 Credit3 Credit4 Credit5 Credit 
Royal Flush25050075010004000
Straight Flush50100150200250
Four of a Kind 255075100125
Full House918273645
Flush 612182430
Straight 48121620
Two Pair246810
Jacks or Better12345

When if comes to strategy, you should always follow a descending order of value. At the very top is the coveted royal flush, by far the most rare, but it has insane payouts. We’ll break down the order below to help guide your decision-making, but if you follow closely you’ll narrow the house edge and hope go home a winner!

Basic Strategy

  1. Royal Flush and Straight Flush:  Always hold the cards that make up a Royal or Straight flush.
  2. Four of a Kind, Full House: Always hold all cards in this hand.
  3. Four to a Royal Flush: Hold four cards to a Royal Flush and discard the fifth card.
  4. Straight, Three of a Kind, and Two Pair: Hold all cards in these hands.
  5. Four to a Straight Flush: You should hold four cards that can form into a straight flush.
  6. Two Pair: Keep two pairs and throw away the fifth card.
  7. Jacks or Better (High Pair): Keep a pair of jacks, Queens. Kings, or Aces
  8. Three to a Royal Flush: Keep three cards of the same suit in order from Ten through an Ace.
  9. Four to a Flush: Hold four cards to a Flush.
  10. Unpaired face cards: Hold two high cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces).
  11. 3-suited Straight Flush: Hold three cards to a suited 1-gap inside straight flush.
  12. Low Pair: Hold the pair.
  13. Four to an outside straight: Hold four cards to an outside Straight (where you need a card on either end to complete the Straight).
  14. Two connected high cards of the same suit: Hold two suited high cards.
  15. Three to a Flush: Keep three to a flush.
  16. Two High Cards Not Suited: Keep the two highest-ranked non-suited cards.
  17. J/Q/K/A: Hold one high card: (Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces) if no other better options are available.
  18. If not a single qualifier is on the table, you should discard your entire and draw an entirely new hand.

It’s a simple strategy, and once you’ve practiced a bit you’ll be able to see the correct path almost instantly. Remember, you’re trying to maximize the value of each hand, playing for pairs of jacks or better doesn’t win money. Taking properly calculated risks will help maximize your winnings!

Ryan Brooks

Ryan has worked in the casino industry for nearly 20 years. He spent the first half of his career as a VIP Experience Analyst in Las Vegas, but his primary area of focus at EatWatchGamble is testing and reviewing new online casino games and apps. His comprehensive reviews are invaluable to casino players of all experience levels.

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