Video Poker Strategy Guide


Most players feel confident to sit down at a Video Poker machine because they have an understanding of poker hands and “what beats what”. But if you are really a good player then you know it takes more than that. Selecting the right cards to hold on the deal are key to up the odds of hitting a winning hand on the draw.

Identifying a poor Video Poker player is easy and if you ever sit down next to one it will make you cringe when observing what cards they hold and worse what they throw away.

Once a player knows the basic rules of Poker, the strategy is fairly easy to master. There is a 52 card deck in play with the exception of game variations that include the Joker increasing the deck to 53 or in some cases 54 cards.

Due to player popularity there is a large variety of Video Poker variations available to choose from. Wagering amounts vary greatly depending on the game type. In Jacks or Better most basic form for instance, it’s 5 coins/credits in. Other variations that include special features like Multipliers, Bonus games and multiple hands per game require more coins to activate these features.

Paytables vary greatly depending on which Video Poker game is selected. Below is a comparison of Jacks or Better and Double Double Bonus Poker payouts and available winning hands for each.

It is important to maximize your potential profit and combine it with the probable odds of each hand dealt.

Inside Straight

A hand that has four cards for a straight but is missing the inside card. E.g. – J, J, 10, 8, 7 of a different suit. Smart bet - hold the pair of Jacks.


Open Ended Straight

A hand that has four cards to a straight with each end open for a possible straight. E.g. – 7, 8, 9, 10, 10 of a different suit. Smart bet - hold the pair of 10s.


Four to a Flush

A hand that has four cards of the same suit. E.g. - 2, 5, 6, K, in hearts with a K of spades. Smart bet - hold the pair Ks.



Straight Flush

Four cards same suit in order. E.g. – Q, J, 10, 9 of clubs with a Q of diamonds. Smart bet - hold suited cards discard Q of diamonds.


One Card Jacks or Better

One A, K, Q or J with mismatched cards. E.g. – 2, 4, 9, 10, K. Smart bet - hold the K discard the rest.


High Card 10 or Under

Any mismatched cards 10 or under. E.g. 10, 7, 5, 3, 2. Smart bet - discard them all.


Best hands to hold for the Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, 10) is when two or more cards of the same suit are dealt. However there is an exception to this rule; when of the cards dealt is a 10. It is important to think Jacks or better in this situation and hold the face card, if there is an Ace in play that takes priority on your hold card and toss the 10.

One of the most frustrating hands to see players hold on the deal is two face cards of a different suit e.g. – holding the A and J when dealt A, J, 8, 5, 4 in an attempt to catch a pair or three of a kind. Better bet hold the one Ace.

Another common mistake players should avoid when playing a game that includes a “kicker” is holding a three of a kind and the kicker too on the deal e.g. dealt A, A, A, 2, 10. Smart bet hold the three Aces and discard the 2, 10 for better odds to hit the four of kind with two card dealt on the draw.

One of the trickiest hands for a player is a Full House hand dealt and deciding whether or not to go for the four of kind. A smart bet would be to hold the Full House unless there are three Aces or three 2s, 3s or 4s on a Video Poker game that offers a larger payout for these four of a kind hands.

Video Poker strategy means knowing the best probability of catching a winning hand and optimizing the best possible paying hand.


Basic Video Poker Strategy

Dealt Hand Hold Tips
Royal Flush All cards Jackpot hand
Straight Flush All cards If dealt 4 cards to the Royal Flush consider discarding 5th card
Four of a Kind 4 cards discard 1 If a kicker A, 2, 3 or 4 hand is an available payout hold
Full House All cards If dealt 3 Aces consider discarding 2 cards
Flush All cards If dealt 4 to a Straight Flush consider discarding 1 card
Straight All cards If dealt 4 to a Flush consider discarding 1 card
Three of a kind Hold 3 cards  
Two Pair Hold 4 cards If dealt a pair Jacks or better considering discarding 3 cards
One Pair Hold 2 cards  
High Card Hold 1 card If dealt one Jack or better hold - otherwise discard all

Because there is no fool-proof way to win at gambling, it is important to learn a few of the strategies in order to minimize the chances of losing. Playing any game for free is one way to become familiar with any game, and there are many sites that offer free video poker.

Due to the fact that there are so many versions of video poker available, these are only 2 examples of video poker variations strategies. These strategies can be adapted to all other versions of video poker.

Jacks or Better & Double Double Bonus Video Poker Strategy

Hand Card Combination Jacks or Better Payout* Double Double Bonus Payout*
Royal Flush A-K-Q-J-10 Same suit any order 4,000 4,000
Straight Flush 5 cards in sequence - same suit 250 250
Four Aces with kicker 4 aces with any 2,3 or 4 not available 2,000
Four Aces 4 of a kind Aces not available 800
Four - twos, threes or fours with kicker 4 of kind with A, 2, 3 or 4 not available 800
Four - twos, threes or fours 4 2s, 3s or 4s not available 400
Four of a kind 4 of kind any card ranking 125 125
Four of a a kind 5 thru K 4 of a kind ranking 5 thru King not available 250
Full House Any 3 of a kind and 2 of a kind 45 35
Flush 5 cards any sequence same suit 30 25
Straight 5 cards in sequence any suit 20 20
Three of a kind 3 cards of the same rank 15 15
Two Pair 2 sets of cards same rank 10 5
One Pair Jacks or better 2 cards ranked Js or better 5 5

*Based on max bet and IGT Game King Paytable.


Here is how you should use these strategies. Match your hand to the highest in the list and play that strategy.

These strategies are abbreviated for ease of use. A more complete strategy would provide additional options. For instance, you have a 3 card royal with a pair of kings. A complete strategy would need to differentiate that from a 3 card royal with no pairs.

Latest Casino Bonuses profile image Latest Casino Bonuses LCB Reviewer - last updated 2024-01-04
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