Video poker is one of the most popular games in the casino. Like slot machines, video poker games move fast and use sound effects and flashing lights to attract attention, but unlike traditional slot machines, these poker style games require players to make decisions that affect the outcome.

The fact that players can make good and bad decisions that alter their chance of winning means some video poker titles have among the best odds in the casino. Depending on what machine you choose and how you play, the house edge can be as low as 0.5%. Video poker is a skill game that provides the thrill of slot machine with the option of using strategy to improve your chances of winning.

How to Beat Video Poker Game Variations

So many versions of this game exist, it would take several thousand words just to list the titles and game choices. One thing most variants have in common is that they’re based on basic five-card draw poker, with some exceptions.

A generic game looks something like this: the machine deals you five random cards out of a computer-simulated deck of 52 (more if the game you’re playing incorporates Joker cards), and you’re then given the option of improving your hand by choosing which cards to hold on to and which to exchange for new cards. If you choose to get rid of some of your cards, the game’s computer will randomly select new ones to replace your discards. The idea is to form a better hand than you’re dealt by holding onto your best cards and hoping to draw new ones that improve your winnings.

Video Poker vs. Traditional Poker

Besides the basic mechanics of five-card draw, or a few other poker variants that some video games use as their basis, the two games have little to do with one another. Understanding the ranking of poker hands is important for both games, but traditional poker skills won’t be of much use to the video player.

The biggest difference between video and standard poker is that the video game is man versus machine, while standard poker pits each player against one another. A video machine player doesn’t have to worry about beating anyone else; only creating a hand that leads to a payout as described by the machine’s pay table. Holding two pair while playing a poker machine means you win, while a two-pair hand in a standard card game could be easily beaten by any player with a stronger hand.

Video Poker Machine Strategy

Because so much variety exists in the world of video poker, teaching you how to win at video poker would require lessons for each style of game that exists. Instead, memorize these three tips to performing well on any given video card gaming title:

1. Understand the ideal strategy for whatever type of poker machine you’re playing.

2. Read a machine’s pay table and understand how to compare pay tables for different machines.

3. Gain an understanding of the volatility and hit frequency of different video titles.

You won’t learn these three factors overnight, and no strategy guide exists that can hand you a winning method for video poker without doing the homework and losing a little bit of cash along the way. Learning to read pay tables is simple: the trick is to play machines that offer the best payouts for the hands that you’ll see most often.

Strategy guides often emphasize the important of what are called 9/6 Jacks or Better games. These numbers refer to the winnings paid out for a full house and a flush: 9 credits for a full house and 6 credits for a flush. A casino that offers 8/5 instead of 9/6 is giving you a payback percentage of 97.3%, while 9/6 machine offer 99.54% payback. That tiny difference in the pay table affects your potential winnings drastically. So always look for machines with ideal pay tables; specifically, those that pay 9 credits for a full house and 6 for a flush.

The two most popular video poker games are Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild, and players who learn just the basics of advanced poker strategy stand to earn much more money for their gaming time.

As for volatility, learning to pick out a volatile poker video game requires experience and knowledge. Volatility refers to the ups and downs of a given video title, the variance between your wins and losses. Pay tables that offer the biggest returns also happen to be those with the most volatility, meaning your bankroll will shrink faster as you chase the higher payouts.

Strategy Tips for the Most Popular Poker Video Titles

In most casinos or gambling websites, the two most popular games of video poker are Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. Here are basic strategy tips for Jacks or Better, the most common and most popular video poker machine in today’s market.

How to Win at Jacks or Better

Avoid falling for the common mistake of keeping what is called a “kicker,” a high card matched with a pair. People think that this kicker will make it more likely for them to form a hand with a higher payout, but this isn’t true.

Never hold on to three cards to chase a straight or a flush. The only time you should keep three cards to go after a big payout is if you are capable of pulling off the much more valuable straight flush. Statistically speaking, holding three cards to grab a straight or a flush is a losing proposition.

If you feel tempted to chase a big winning hand such as a four of a kind ,but you’d have to break up an existing full house or two-pair hand to get there, remember this basic video poker strategy—let the machine deal you a winning hand. Don’t give up a winning hand in an attempt to get an even bigger winning hand.