Low Pay vs. Full Pay Video Poker Machines

One of the biggest challenges video poker players face is finding machines that offer good pay tables. We list popular pay tables and the house edge for each pay table on the individual game pages on this site.

The best pay table is usually called the full pay version. All other available pay tables are called low pay versions. It can be confusing when talking about full pay video poker machines; because the true highest return pay tables for most games are hard to find.

Here’s an example:

Jacks or Better has many different pay tables available. The full pay version is generally considered to be the 9 /6 pay table, but technically it’s possible to run across a machine with a slightly better pay table. This is done by altering the payout for a royal flush or possibly one of the other top payouts. But these machines are so rare that 9 / 6 is considered full pay.

Deuces Wild is another example. A few machines exist that pay out over 100%, but the best machine available is usually the Not So Ugly Ducks pay table. It offers a house edge of .27%, which is quite low, but it’s technically not a full pay machine.

Don’t get too hung up on full pay and low pay. Focus on finding the best pay table for the game you can play using the best strategy.

Low Pay and Full Pay Example

The place to start when considering full pay and low pay machines is on our individual game pages. You can find a list and examples of popular pay tables on each page. But in this section you can see an actual example.

Here’s an example using different Jacks or Better pay tables. The 9 / 6 pay table is generally considered the full pay version. The percentages listed are the house edge when you use perfect basic strategy.

  • 9 / 6     .46%
  • 9 / 5     1.55%
  • 8 / 6     1.61%
  • 8 / 5     2.7%
  • 7 / 5     3.85%
  • 6 / 5     5%

As you can see the difference between the full pay version and the next best available pay table is over 1.05%. This is a big difference and can quickly add up to hundreds in additional losses. When you look at the difference between the 9 / 6 pay table and the 6 / 5 you see a difference of over 4.5%.


How to Find Full Pay Video Poker Machines

The best way to find full pay video poker machines is to simply look at the pay tables. Once you know which pay tables to look for you can quickly see if they’re available where you want to play.

In a land based casino you need to walk around and look at each machine. Often the best pay table machines are in a different location than most of the other video poker machines.

You can quickly see the available pay tables when you play online for real money by opening each game. Just be careful when you play online if you change the number of hands you play at once or the coin denomination.

One trick that some online casinos use is they use a full pay table at certain denominations and / or if you play one hand at a time. But if you change the number of hands or denomination they switch to a low pay table. Not every online casino offering video poker does this, but it can cost you a great deal of money if they switch the pay table and you don’t notice.

You also need to watch online casinos when you switch from free play to real money play. A few of them offer a full pay version for free play but offer a low pay table when you switch to real money video poker play.

The Best Strategy for Finding Good Pay Tables

We recommend starting in a simple way. Learn how to play Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild using the best strategy. You can find strategy charts on our pages about each game.

These are the two most popular video poker machines and if a casino has video poker they almost always offer these two machines. Memorize the pay table for 9 / 6 Jacks or Better and Not So Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild.

The 9 / 6 Jacks or Better machine pays nine for a full house and six for a flush. Just make sure it pays 4,000 for a royal flush with a five coin wager.

The Not So Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild pay table looks like this:

  • 250 for a royal flush, with 4,000 for a five coin wager
  • 200 for four deuces
  • 25 for a wild royal flush
  • 16 for a five of a kind
  • 10 for a straight flush
  • 4 for a four of a kind
  • 4 for a full house
  • 3 for a flush
  • 2 for a straight
  • 1 for a three of a kind

With these two pay tables and the strategy charts for each you can play with a house edge of less than a half percent. 9 / 6 Jacks or Better has a house edge of .46% and NSUD Deuces Wild has a house edge of .27%. Only play on one of these two machines. If a casino doesn’t offer one or the other or both, don’t play video poker.

The strategy for Jacks or Better is slightly easier to learn than the one for Deuces Wild, but with a little practice you can quickly learn each.

Once you start playing on a regular basis, either online or in a land based casino, you can quickly learn where you can find these machines. If you play on a machine with a lower pay table it costs you money on every bet.

When you follow the advice on this page you don’t need to worry about full pay and low pay machines. By sticking with a couple options and refusing to play on other machines you can always play with a low house edge.