video poker game on laptop

Our Video Poker Tutorial Part 2

Video poker has the highest return to player rate of any game at Intertops Casino.  The return to player rate is almost 100%.  That means that if you play with best strategy, you’ll either win a little or lose a little.  If you get really lucky, you’ll hit a Royal Flush with its huge extra bonus for players who bet the maximum before the deal.

Going for a Royal Flush

In Part One of this strategy tutorial for video poker, we talked about the value of going for a Royal Flush.  We used the table on best strategy for Jacks or Better developed by Michael Shackleford.  The main highlights of the first part are:

  • There are eight dealt hands that have priority over other hands.  This is obvious.  However…
  • Better to go for a Royal Flush over a dealt flush or straight if you have four to the Royal Flush.

Now we'll move on to Part Two with more complicated strategies.

Statistical Advantages

The list also shows statistical advantages in hands even when there is no possibility that you would have to abandon one holding in favor of the statistically superior holding.  Here are two examples:

  • Going for a Royal Flush with four to the royal is statistically better than keeping a dealt full house.  However, it is impossible to have a dealt full house and also four to a Royal Flush.
  • It is statistically better to keep three of a kind over a dealt straight.  This is a statistic as it is impossible to have both a dealt straight and three of a kind.

One of the elements in the best strategy chart is that it is based on statistics so there are many instances where one holding is listed ahead of another even though the two hands are mutually exclusive.

Practice Makes Perfect

What all this means is that in order to play video poker at the highest level requires a good deal of practice.  Toward that end, it’s a great idea to play at an online casino such as Intertops since we offer unlimited free play.

We talk quite a bit about offering unlimited free play in many contexts because it is such an important part of online casino gaming at Intertops Casino Red.  Of course, free play does not include cash wins, so when you're ready, best to bet and win!

Let’s return now to the strategy chart.

Three to a Royal Flush

We immediately see that we break up four to a flush in favor of keeping three to a Royal Flush.  Even if this seems illogical, it is rooted in statistics so we urge you to follow the strategy.  Also see that we keep a high pair over three to a Royal Flush but we keep three to the Royal Flush over a low pair.

Straight Draws

The bottom of the list contains all of the most common hands.  Some of these hands are winners but most will need help from the draw to win.  Getting help from the draw to win is by far the most common way video poker players win!  So, it is important to play a lot of practice hands and consult the chart along the way to get a feel for which straight draws are better and which are less good.  Always remember that the list is based entirely on probability.

Suited High Cards

Looking carefully at the list, we see that there are quite a few suited high cards but that they are not equal in value.  There is one main reason for this.  Two suited high cards are also two to a Royal Flush or two to a straight flush.  If you have suited queen and jack, your chances of a Royal Flush are the same as if you have suited ace and king.  However the suited queen and jack are also better for a straight flush while suited ace and king can only make a Royal Flush as a straight flush.

Any two suited high cards could also become a winning pair so min that regard they are all equal.

This is a very important point because suited Queen and Jack is better than four to an inside straight but four to an inside straight is better than every other suited high card hand.

Unsuited High Cards

This is a very common hand on the deal.  Unsuited Queen and Jack is better than all other unsuited high card combinations.  This is because it is easier to get a straight with Queen and Jack than with the other unsuited high card hands.

Suited ten and Jack, ten and Queen, and ten and King are all less strong than unsuited Jack and Queen.  There are two reasons for this.   First, the ten cannot pair up for a win.  Second, the hand is simply too difficult to create a straight flush or a Royal Flush.

Single High Cards

It is interesting to note that a single Jack is better than a single Queen which, in turn is better than a single King which is better than a single Ace.  This is only for the statistical curiosity it is since if you have both high cards, you would keep both of them.

Any single high card has an equal chance of becoming a winning hand as a pair, two pair, three of a kind, four of a kind, flush, or full house!  But it is easier to get a straight with a Jack than with a Queen and so on.

Throw Away All Five Cards

There are some hands that have none of the combinations in the long strategy list.  In that case, you toss away all five cards and draw five new ones.  You have a better chance to win on the draw when you toss away all five cards than you do if you keep any one of them.

Multi-hand Video Poker

We offer up to 100 hands at a time in video poker.  Some players say that playing multi-hand video poker is the most thrilling experience they have at Intertops Casino Red.  We recommend that you hone your video poker craft with single hand or five hand video poker before you tackle 100-hand video poker.

In any case, you’ll find that playing video poker with the best strategy based on statistics is great fun!