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How to Understand the Basic Video Poker Chart

Video poker is quickly becoming one of the most popular games here at Intertops Casino.  Video poker gives players a few big added benefits that they don’t get even from the other popular game of skill: blackjack.  One of the added benefits is the big $4000 payout per coin if you bet the maximum and you get a Royal Flush. 

Video Poker is a Very Even Game

A second extra benefit tat video poker gives gamers is the return to player rate of very close to 100%.  That means that players can play video poker for a very long time and finish the session very close to even with the house and very often slightly ahead!  The house also is rarely more than slightly ahead.

Play Many Hands at the Same Time

Another big extra benefit video poker players can have is the option of multi-hand play.  You can play as many as 100 hands!  It all starts with the five cards you are dealt.  You decide which cards to hold and replace the others.

Now, if you get a good starting hand and are playing 100 hands, well, the wins will come fast and furious!  There is nothing quite like watching the win meter register win after win in a multi-hand video poker game!

One 52 Card Deck

Another extra benefit that video poker gives players is that every hand is played with a single deck.  In blackjack, there are almost no single deck games anymore.  Online blackjack has a constant shuffling mechanism which many if not most land-based casinos also use for blackjack.

The land-based casinos that still use a simple shoe will stuff the shoe with six or eight decks.  Blackjack is still a game in which the gamer can beat the house if he or she plays correctly and gets just a little bit lucky but the element of card counting is almost non-existent these days.

The fact that video poker uses a single deck makes it easy for anyone to do simple calculations as to their odds of getting a better hand if they are inclined to work out the math themselves.

Computers Come in Handy for Video Pokers Players

The wondrous calculating machine that we call the computer has actually done all of the yeoman work that mathematicians used to do with slide rules and long division!  This makes video poker one of the most accessible games in the entire casino!

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A Top Down Strategy Chart

The best strategy for video poker is available online for every variation of the game that any casino offers.   Now we get to the main idea for this article.  One of the ironies of the strategy of playing video poker is that the strategy lists confuse many players.

The simple reason is because the lists start with the best possible hand—a Royal Flush—and continue on down to the least valuable hand, one in which you will discard all five of the cards you were dealt.

One of the most respected names in online and land-based casino gaming strategy is Michael Shackleford who goes by the moniker of the Wizard of Odds.  He has two charts for video poker variations: the basic strategy chart and the advanced strategy chart.

Jacks or Better

In the Jacks or Better chart, which is the most commonly used chart since Jacks or Better is the most popular video poker variation, his basic strategy chart has 16 lines and his optimal strategy chart has a full 36 lines!

The difference between the two charts is very minimal so we recommend that beginning video poker players use the basic strategy list.

The only bone we have to pick with the wizard’s lists is that he starts at the “wrong” end!  It is true that a Royal Flush pays a lot more than a simple high pair.  It is also true that in some hands a player will actually give up a winning pair to pursue the Royal Flush or another higher paying hand!  However, these situations are pretty rare.

So, we will now reverse the basic video poker list and look at it from the standpoint of the most common action to the least common action.

Discard Everything

One of the most important aspects of video poker is that even though it is entirely based on five card draw piker, players can discard all five of their cards!  When should a player discard all five of their cards?  When you don’t have so much as a single high card!

If you have one high card, which means a jack or better, you keep it hoping to pair it and you discard all the other cards.  If the best card you have is a ten and you don’t have any chance for a flush or a straight, then you discard all of your cards.

This happens quite often in video poker!

The next least valuable hand is a hand with one high card which as we said you keep.

Suited Cards

If you have a ten with another high card of the same suit—a suited 10-jack, 10-queen, or 10-king, you keep those cards.  The big insight here is that a suit 10-ace is a lot less valuable than the three hands we just described.  That’s because suited 10-ace is a pursuit of an inside straight and the Wizard never suggests going for an inside straight.

The suited cards we listed hers are not very desirable but it is better to keep these cards rather than to discard them all.

Next Two Unsuited High Cards

The key here is that you are going for a pair.  A straight would be helpful but it would be rare with just two to the straight.  It is more likely to pair one of the high cards.  The Wizard tells us that if you have three unsuited high cards, you should choose the lower two.  That’s because it would give you a very slightly better chance to hit a straight which pays more than going for the winning pair.

Follow the List from Bottom to Top

By continuing to read the list upside down, as it were, you can see which hands are less valuable.  That they are less valuable doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of giving you good wins.  For example, keeping three cards to a straight flush also gives you chances for a simple flush or straight.

Better than three to a straight flush are two suited high cards.  They give you the chance to win with a pair, to get a straight or flush, and to get the rare Royal Flush.

Next we get four to an outside straight.  If you have two suited high cards and four to an outside straight, the best strategy is to go for the outside straight.  One of the high cards if not both, will be part of the outside straight so you have chances to pair off and win as well.

Video Poker is a Game for All Gamers

Even if you love slots, blackjack, or Banana Jones, we are sure that by learning how to read the basic video poker chart from bottom to top and understanding it will make you love video poker as well!

We offer several variations of video poker with spectacular graphics.  In addition to video poker, Intertops Casino Red offers about 300 other games!  So, you can play all of the games we offer and have a great time doing so!

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