A Primer for Video Poker Strategy Concepts
Video Poker has one of the lowest house-edges of any casino game. To attain this super-low house edge, you need to employ some basic strategy. With a combination of low edge and simple game-play, this game has a reputation as a great way to earn comps and rewards from both live and online casinos. At the same time, you’ll have the potential for a big win – with a Royal Flush paying big jackpots in many cases.
This article takes you through the basics of Video Poker strategy. First of all, the number of coins you choose makes a big difference to your returns, and how this happens is discussed. Next, you will find some strategy for the game-play itself, which involves what cards to draw and which to discard. After that I have covered the importance of comps, bonuses and rewards. Finally, bankroll management is a critical skill for any casino strategy.
Maximizing Coins in Video Poker Strategy
A quick look at any Video Poker pay-table will show you that the 5th coin is the one which makes the biggest difference to the payout for hitting a Royal Flush. Commonly, you’ll see 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 10000 (or something similar) as the payouts for 1 through 5 coins. The 5th coin gets you a proportionally bigger payout than the first 4.
This is not a trivial difference from the point of view of your strategy. The difference in house-edge can be as much as 2% for this alone. The exact amount will depend on several factors including the exact payouts and whether there are wild cards in your game.
The message is simple, you should always play the maximum amount of coins. What you can do is to lower the denomination of each coin to suit your bankroll instead.
In-Game Play in Video Poker Strategy
The biggest strategy question with Video Poker games is which cards to discard and which cards to keep on any one hand. This will depend on the pay-table and rules of the individual games, though there are some universals which can help you to maximize your returns from these games.
First, if you have a shot at a Royal Flush, you should usually take it. This rule stands in most cases even when it means giving up a smaller win. For example if you have 3 Royal Flush cards and a pair of aces, then you’ll need to give up the pair of aces for the chance of the big one. This includes 2 pair hands, though trips without a wild or a pat-straight or flush would normally be kept.
When it comes to straights, there is a big difference in probability for hitting an outside straight draw or an inside one. For example if you have 4-5-6-7 (an outside draw) you need a 3 or an 8. That is 8 chances to make your hand from the deck. Compare this to an 5-6-8-9 (inside draw). Here only a 7 will help you, which means only 4 chances from the deck. If you have a pair, then you might want to keep this and discard the rest of the inside draw, while you might discard the pair and go for the outside draw.
There is a general rule of thumb for each game, and that is to compare your chances of making a hand with the pay-table. If you have a better chance to make your hand than the odds of the win, then go ahead and take that chance.
Comps, Rewards and Video Poker Strategy
With a low house-edge, Video Poker is ideal for players looking to accumulate comps or casino rewards. Live, you’ll need a players card to record your play, and will enjoy free drinks while you are playing. If you play online then you should make sure that you are enjoying a bonus, and that your bonus can be cleared playing Video Poker games. Some casinos will only count Video Poker as a proportion of the overall bonus play-through requirements. Make sure that you are maximizing your rewards from playing, and do not sit around waiting for the casinos to do this for you.
Bankroll Management in Video Poker Strategy
The idea of casino bankroll management in general is to maximize your enjoyment from the games, while making your money last as long as possible. This is also a way of finding out how many coins to bet, depending on your overall bankroll.
Compared with slots games, Video Poker is less volatile. You’ll usually have lots of small and steady wins along the way, which will keep your bankroll ticking over. I recommend you have at least 100 bets for each session, and that if you lose half of this amount you drop down to a smaller coin size (still playing 5 coins). If you get lucky early on, you can always move up in stakes too.