Strategies for Video Poker
Do you play poker with friends? Have you thought about playing online, but aren’t feeling the confidence to face off against expert players? Did you know there’s a variation of poker you can play online right now that offers strategic gameplay and excitement without having to deal with bluffing situations, bad beats, and raises that get your adrenaline racing a little too fast?
It’s called video poker and it’s familiar to anyone who has ever played Texas Hold’em, 5 Card Stud, or any other popular poker variation. It’s the ideal solution for anyone looking to play and win without being preyed on by online card sharks. Best of all, we’ve got a guide to help you step up your video poker strategy so you can win more often.
THE BASICS: HOW TO PLAY VIDEO POKER
In video poker, you’re not playing against other players, like you do when you play online poker. Instead, you’re playing against yourself. That’s right, not against the house, but against yourself. Your goal is to hold a hand that ranks on the payout schedule.
For the most part, the rankings are similar to what you’d find in Texas Hold’em. However, in some games with wild cards, the rankings vary slightly. For the purpose of this video poker strategy guide, let’s assume we’re talking about Jacks or Better video poker. In this popular poker game, the hand rankings look like this, from highest to lowest:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- 4 of a Kind
- Full House
- 3 of a Kind
- 2 Pair
- Jacks or Better
At the beginning of every hand, video poker players are dealt five cards right away, each one face-up. You have the chance to throw away as many as all five cards, or you can hold onto all of them. It’s your call. If you’ve been dealt a pair of Jacks or anything better, you’ve already won. There’s no way to lose (unless of course you throw away those Jacks).
But how do you know which cards to throw away and which ones to hold onto and play? We’ve put together a handy chart that you can use to decide. Remember, this chart works best with Jacks or Better. If you’re playing another type of video poker, you’ll have to adapt your strategy based on which cards are wild:
- Full house or anything better
- 4 to a royal flush
- Straight / 3 of a kind / Flush
- 4 to a straight flush
- Two pair
- High pair
- 3 to a royal flush
- 4 to a flush
- Low pair
- 4 to an outside straight
- 2 suited high cards
- 3 to a straight flush
- 2 unsuited high cards
- Suited 10/J, 10/Q, or 10/K
- One high card
- Nothing (Get rid of all 5 cards)
HOW TO READ THE THROW AWAY CHART?
If the chart looks similar to the hand ranking system, that’s because it is. But while the hand ranking system dictates potential payouts, the throw away chart tells you what you need to toss away based on what you have.
It’s easy to read the chart. Start off by looking at your five cards. Then, see where your cards line up, according to what you’re holding. For example, if you have one high card (at least a Jack) and four mediocre cards way below a Jack, that don’t rank anywhere else on the chart, you’ll maximize your chance of winning by keeping the Jack and toss away everything else.
But let’s say you have two threes and two fives along with that Jack. In this case, while you’re definitely sitting on low cards, you actually rank a lot higher on the board. You’re sitting with two pairs, so in this situation, you’d toss away the Jack.
STRATEGY To win BIG in VIDEO POKER
Take a look at this example. In this scenario, the player was initially dealt 3 of a kind.
It’s a winning hand, but it’s not the best possible one. According to the throw away chart, the player’s best bet is to keep the 10 of diamonds, the 10 of spades, and the 10 of clubs, and toss away the Queen and the 7.
The chart is extremely handy, especially when dealing with suits. Far too many players look at the hand ranking system alone and mistakenly think that a flush is better than 3 of a kind. Some inexperienced players might mistakenly toss away the 10 of clubs and 10 of diamonds, hoping to hit a flush. After all, it seems more like that a player might hit two spades than a pair of something. Plus, even if two spades don’t hit the board, There’s the potential of another 7 (or two of them), another Queen (or two of them), or any other low pair that would still give the player a 3 of a kind.
But why risk that when you already have a 3 of a kind? Sure, there’s no flush potential by tossing away the 7 and Queen. But there is still a potential for a 4 of a kind and a full house. And in this scenario, here’s what happened:
Strategically dropping the right cards worked out in the player’s favor. The Queen and 7 were replaced with a 3 of clubs and 3 of spades. The result? A full house, which netted this wise player a much higher payout than the 3 of a kind the player held or the flush that a novice player might chase.
Try this strategy out for yourself when you play online video poker at Resorts Casino!
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