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Video Poker Strategy - Tips to Remember

Video Poker Strategy - Tips to Remember

When you play online slots, you don’t have much place to make a strategy other than deciding on the size of your bet or potentially buying the bonus feature, if available. You just set the bet, push play and hope for the best. And the house always has a better edge in slot games than in video poker, for example, which could affect your choice of a casino game to play.

If you choose to play poker, you should know that video poker is different from regular poker played at land-based or online casinos. The most notable difference is it’s played on a machine and without opponents, so you rely on your instincts, knowledge of the game, and a bit of luck to win.

And that’s where having a solid video poker strategy comes in handy. When you have a strategy to follow, it’s easier to build your game and make decisions about your cards and next moves. But what strategy do you use, and how do you implement it? Read our video poker strategy guide to find out.

Why Use a Video Poker Strategy?

While it’s true that poker, much like other casino games, is a game of chance, it is also a game of skill and strategy, one that you can learn and practice to perfect. Video poker was among the first games to appear at online casinos, giving players plenty of time to develop strategies or adjust them to the online environment.

Using a strategy in video poker is vital for boosting your chances of winning. When you have a clear strategy, it sets you up for success if the cards play your way. You will, of course, need to know all the rules of the game first and the strength of the cards you hold so you will know how to control them and what to play.

Choosing the right strategy for your game will depend on the game variation you pick and the cards you get at the beginning of the game.

What Is the Best Strategy for Video Poker?

video poker shouldn’t be a guessing game, and our advice is that you learn as much as you can before you start playing. It’s not too complicated, but it takes time and, of course, practice to understand all the combinations and what to do with the cards that you get. So, what is the best strategy for video poker?

The answer is the infamous: it depends. An optimal strategy for video poker that works for every game variation probably doesn’t exist, but it depends on the preferred playing style and the cards you get in the initial hand. Let’s look into some basics first.

Best Video Poker Strategy by AskGamblers

1. Understand Video Poker Pay Tables

Video poker machines have their pay tables, and they are available to you on display when picking the machine you’d like to play on. You have probably noticed that slots have pay tables as well, and video poker paytables are similar, showing how much you can win for each winning poker hand you have. 

The pay tables start from the highest-value wins and work their way down to the lowest-paying hands. Video poker machines have different pay tables, so you should look for ones that offer better payments, as that is particularly significant in the long run. The payout will also depend on whether you play with one or more coins, with the highest payouts being for five coins per game.

2. Use a Video Poker Strategy Chart

A strategy chart is an excellent tool for beginners, designed to help you understand your hand and tell you what cards you should keep and what to replace. As with the pay tables, the chart also typically starts from the best, top-paying hands and works its way down to all other potential combinations and options.

A video poker strategy chart can tell you if there is room for improvement in your hand and suggest how many cards you should replace to actually try to improve your hand. The chart lists the names of the starting hand (so you should know them by the time you start playing, or at least have a reminder next to you) and gives ideas on what hand they can improve to if you replace your cards and get the right ones in the next dealing.

3. Learn Poker Hand Rankings

It goes without saying that you need to know what a poker hand combination is and how valuable it is in the game of poker. The best poker hand you can possibly get is a Royal Flush, and you need an Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten, all of the same suit, to get this hand. Truth be told, it is an extremely rare hand, but it always beats all other hands.

Another rare but very valuable hand is a Straight Flush. It is a hand where you get five cards in the same suit in sequential order, whatever cards those might be. Only a Royal Flush beats a Straight Flush, so you understand why it’s such a valuable hand.

Four of a Kind is also a highly ranked poker hand, as it can’t be improved further, and so are a Full House, a Flush or a Straight. Full House means that you have three cards of the same rank and another two of the same rank, for example, three Queens and two nines. Flush means that you have five cards of the same suit, and Straight means you have five cards in sequential order, no matter the suit.

Apart from these strong hands, there are other hands with great potential for winning, so make sure to know them so you can recognise them and replace the right cards when a video poker strategy chart tells you to do so.

4. Understand the Role of RTP

First things first: what does RTP mean? RTP, or the theoretical Return to Player, is the percentage of invested funds players can expect to get back from a casino game over a longer period of time. It is the percentage that the game providers calculate based on the game mechanics and other factors.

The RTP could also be understood as a means to calculate the house edge or the online casino’s profit margin. So, if the RTP sits at 95%, for example, the house edge for that game is 5%. That doesn’t mean that you will necessarily get the RTP value of your invested funds every time you play, but theoretically, it’s what players could get over time.

Video poker, again theoretically, has a higher RTP than most slots, especially because it requires some knowledge of the game, skills and strategy to play. When you look for a machine to play video poker, make sure to check the RTP it indicates on the pay tables. The higher the RTP, the better, especially over time. Lower payouts on the pay tables also mean that the RTP for the game is lower, and you should probably find a better option.

5. Know When to Break a High Pair

Whether or not to break a high pair is a tough decision to make, especially for a novice video poker player. Every video poker strategy guide will tell you to keep a high pair when there are no other useful cards in the hand, and that is quite an obvious thing to do. But what do you do when the situation is a bit more complicated?

Let’s say you’re holding a high pair, and your other cards show the potential to form a Straight Flush or even a Royal Flush. If your strategy is to win as many hands as possible and you don’t necessarily want to risk for those wins to be the highest possible, then you shouldn’t break a high pair even if there is a chance at winning a Royal Flush. If your calculations tell you that you could make a bigger win based on your cards, you can consider taking that risk.

A high pair is actually a medium-strong hand, and you should keep it in most situations and try to improve your hand by replacing the other three cards. Our advice is only to consider breaking a high pair when your other cards show huge potential for a much bigger win.

Optimal Video Poker Strategy for Most Popular Variations

Strategies can differ based on the video poker variation you choose to play, and based on the variation you choose, you can find your optimal strategy for video poker. The most popular variation is Jacks or Better, but Deuces Wild is also among players’ favourites. Let’s see what are some strategies that could work for each of the most popular video poker variations:

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

Jacks or Better is called that because the lowest-paying hand is a pair of Jacks. Other stronger winning hands are like in other video poker games, but if you are holding a pair in the end, you can only win it it’s a pair of Jacks or higher. 

So, if, in the initial hand, you get no matching cards, but you get Jacks or a card of higher value, keep that one and replace others. If you get no combination and no Jacks or higher, don’t hesitate to draw all five new cards.

When it comes to drawing cards that have the potential to form winning combinations like Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Full House, or any other strong card combination, hold them and replace the ones you don’t need. Remember only to break a high pair when you have a four to a Royal Flush but there's a Jacks or Better strategy you have to learn to be successful at this game.

Deuces Wild


In Deuces Wild, 2s or deuces are wild cards, and just like a wild symbol in a slot game, they can substitute for any other card to form a winning hand. This variation of video poker features two additional winning hands, Five of a Kind and Wild Royal Flush.

The main point in the Deuces Wild strategy is that deuces are wild cards, and you should always keep them. What you should do with the rest of your cards depends on the strategy, but you should keep the cards that have the potential to create a high-winning combination, with or without deuces (if you haven’t got any). If your strategy includes getting as many payouts as possible, irrespective of the size, then keep even lower-paying combinations, including pairs.

Aces and Faces Video Poker Strategy

As you can probably tell from the name itself, Aces and Faces video poker’s highest payouts are linked to Aces and the Face cards, Jacks, Queens and Kings. Of course, the best possible combination is a Royal Flush, but you can expect a high payout for the Four-of-a-Kind combination of Aces, as well.

When it comes to a strategy to play Aces and Faces, keep any cards that form a combination close to winning a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, or Four of a Kind of Aces or Face cards. Other than that, you should keep cards with the prospect of completing a Straight, Flush, Full House, or Three of a Kind.

Consider keeping a high pair of Jacks or better (or a single Jack or better card if you don’t have anything else). They might not bring a high payout, but they could bring you a win.

Tens or Better Video Poker Strategy

Tens or Better works similarly to the Jacks or Better variant, with the difference that the lowest winning hand is a Pair of Tens. Another difference is that Straight Flush, Full House, Straight or Flush payouts are typically lower than in other video poker variations.

When you don’t have any winning combinations in your hand or any cards that could lead to one, only keep 10s or higher cards and replace the others. Those cards have the most value in this game. Tens or Better has many potential winning combinations from the initial hand, but we are not going to mention them here. 

Our advice is that you decide whether you will risk and go for bigger wins when playing this video poker variant or go for smaller wins and base your strategy on that.

Tips to Remember While Playing Video Poker

Now, what kind of a video poker strategy guide would this be if we didn’t give you some tips you should keep in mind when playing video poker? These are our recommendations about what you should do when looking to play video poker:

  • Make sure you understand the rules and hand rankings: While it’s true that you can learn the details when you start playing, consider practising on demo games first to ensure you learn everything you need to know about the game.
  • Check if the casino offers bonuses and promotions: Most (if not all) casinos offer welcome bonuses to new players, but there are also other promotions casinos offer to their loyal players. Check out the casino bonus offers and pick those you like best.
  • Find a machine with the best pay tables: Check the pay tables before you pick the machine to play on, especially if you are looking for higher payouts.
  • Use video poker strategy charts: Until you are certain that you have formed your strategy and know what to do with every hand you are dealt, use the strategy charts to help you decide what to do with your cards.
  • Take your time when making decisions: Don’t rush when making decisions about what cards to replace. There is no stopwatch timing you or a dealer and other players waiting on your move, so there is no pressure there.
  • Be careful with your bankroll: Just like with any other casino game, make sure you gamble responsibly and don’t spend more than you can afford. 

There you go! These are some of the basic tips we have for your next video poker game. Good luck!