Video poker first came onto the scene in the 1970s and although its popularity isn’t quite what it used to be, the video poker machines are still a common sight in both live and online casinos. Although they may look like slots games, they are completely different – with slots, the casino is always going to maintain a huge house edge, but with video poker that edge can be greatly reduced by implementing the correct strategy.

There are several different types of video poker machine, but the original and most common is “Jacks Or Better”, so this seems an obvious contender for a strategy guide.  The rules of this video poker variant are fairly simple – for the machine to pay anything to the player, the player must make a valid poker hand worth more than a pair of tens, or in other words, a pair of  “Jacks Or Better”.

The basic strategy outlined below, if followed exactly and with no mistakes, will payout close to 99.5% on certain “Jacks Or Better” machines – depending on the individual machine’s payout table.

Basic “Jacks Or Better” video poker strategy:
After receiving your five cards, simply look at all the possible ways to play the hand and choose the highest option from the following strategy “ladder”.

  1. Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
  2. Four to a royal flush
  3. Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house
  4. Four to a straight flush
  5. Two pair
  6. High pair
  7. Three to a royal flush
  8. Four to a flush
  9. Low pair
  10. Four to an outside straight
  11. Two suited high cards
  12. Three to a straight flush
  13. Two unsuited high cards (if more than two, pick the lowest two)
  14. Suited J-T, Q-T, or K-T
  15. One high card
  16. Discard everything

So, to give an example, imagine your video poker machine has dealt you the following cards:

6s Qs 2s Ks 6d

There are three obvious options you could proceed with. The first is to hold the pair of sixes (“low pair” on the video poker strategy ladder), the second is to hold the four spades and draw to a flush (“Four to a flush” on the ladder) and the third option is to hold the two suited high cards (“Two suited high cards” on the ladder). The option with the highest position on the ladder is “Four to a flush”, so that is the option you should choose.

Enjoy playing video poker and be lucky!