Strategy in video poker is dictated by the payout schedule as well as a player’s skill and emotion. Every hand is drawn from a new deck so that the odds of getting any given hand are identical each round. With this in mind it is a good idea to do two things before embarking on a video poker adventure. First, set upper and lower boundaries on your winnings/losses before you begin a session of video poker. Without a table of other players each hand is played much faster and thus more hands are played per hour. This pace can be good or bad depending on your luck and skill. Never play with money that you need to pay the bills, always play for enjoyment with excess income. Second, learn the correct decision to make once you see the first five cards.
The decision that you make to hold certain cards should be dependent on the probability of producing the best winning hand possible given the five cards you are dealt at the outset of the hand. If you do not have time to learn the specific odds to each possible hand then you can play by this rule of thumb: Play up to the next best payout hand. Example A – you are dealt a jack and four random non-face cards, you are now playing for a pair of jacks so keep the jack and discard the other four cards. Example B – you are dealt a four sequential cards of different suits with a random fifth card, you are now playing for a straight so keep the four sequential cards and discard the fifth.
For the odds junkies out there the average long-term return on video poker – assuming each hand is played with perfect strategy – is between 98% and 101% depending on the rules and payout schedule. This simply means that if you start with $100 then over multiple sessions of video poker you will walk away with $98-$101. This does not mean that you cannot do better in any particular session, only that you need to play correctly to win money. A final tip is to use a player’s card because often the House will provide special rewards to individuals playing many rounds and video poker certainly lends itself to voluminous play.