Understanding Video Poker Pay Tables
Whether you play at live or online casinos, you’ve run across various variants of Video Poker. Video Poker is a slot-style version of poker that pays out based on your making a hand on the pay table. These tables vary wildly based on the Video Poker variant and the casino.
What some Video Poker players don’t realize is that the pay table can make all the difference between picking a machine that has a reasonable expectation to win long-term or picking a machine where you’re simply donating money to the casino.
Today, we’ll look at Video Poker pay tables, how to read them, and how you can use them to win more at playing video poker.
What is a Video Poker Pay Table?
All Video Poker games have a list of payable hands, this is known as a pay table. For standard Video Poker variants, these tables have five columns with each column representing the number of credits bet. For example, if you bet three credits, then the third column lists your payouts. Generally, the column that corresponds to your bet will be highlighted.
To give you a clearer understanding, we’ve inserted below an example of a standard Video Poker pay table:
As you can see, reading the table is pretty simple. In the example above, if you bet one credit and hit a straight, you will win four credits. Notice that as the number of credits increase, the prize is multiplied. If you bet three credits and hit a straight, you get 12 credits. The only exception to this is when you hit a Royal Flush. This is the jackpot prize for Video Poker and pays 800x your wager. For .25 video poker, this is 4,000 credits, or a $1,000 return on a $1.25 bet.
The above table is for standard Jacks or Better Video Poker. There are multiple variants of Video Poker out there and also variations of pay tables for these games. Some games pay out special prizes for certain hands. For example, in Double Double Bonus Poker, four aces with a 2, 3, or 4 pays out 2,000 credits or $500 on a $1.25 bet.
You’ll occasionally run across Video Poker games where you can wager more than five credits per hand. Pay tables work on the same concept for these games. If your game takes 20 credits, then you’ll have a 20 column pay table.
Why Do Pay Tables Matter?
The basic function for a pay table is to tell you how much you can win each hand. However, pay tables can help you tell the expected value and house edge for video poker. To determine this, you’ll need to know how to classify video poker pay tables.
You’ll hear some Video Poker players refer to games using terms like “8-5” or “9-6.” These players are talking about how much a game will pay on a full house and flush when playing one credit. In our example above, you’ll see a flush pays six credits on a single credit bet and a full house pays nine. This makes this version of Jacks or Better a 9-6 game.
So why is this important? Pay tables will help you determine how much a Video Poker machine will pay out to players. Generally, a 9-6 Video Poker game will return 99.54% to players.
Looking at this, you’d think that over the course of its life, the casino only has a .46% advantage over the players on the above Video Poker machine. However, this is assuming that every player uses a perfect play strategy. We know that is not going to be the case. However, if you are smart enough to use perfect play, this is a great machine to play.
As you’ve probably already guessed, the amount a machine pays out changes according to the pay table. For example, a 9-5 Jacks or Better pays out 98.45%. Machines offering 8-6 fall back to 98.39%. This drops steadily until you get to about 95% on a 6-5 game. Remember, this is for perfect play, meaning that the edge against other players is even greater.
The great thing about Video Poker is that you can find a few rare machines that offer Full Pay, which means the machine pays back 100% or more of the money wagered. For Jacks or Better, 9-7 is the sweet spot you’re looking. Similar games include 10-6 Double Double Bonus and 10-7 Double Bonus Poker.
These are just a few quick examples. For other games and pay table variants, we recommend checking out sites such as Wizard of Odds for more information.
Play to Win By Taking Advantage of Pay Tables
Video Poker pay tables are easy to spot. Most will have the tables listed at the top of the game while you’re playing. Other games will have a button you can click to access the pay table information.
The smart play is to check out the pay tables of each game you’re interesting in playing and find the best pay table available. It may take some time, but often you will find games with favorable pay tables by doing a little digging.