In online video poker, the odds are more in the player’s favour that almost any other casino game. However, the theoretical high return rate in online video poker is only applicable when the game is played using strategy.
If you don’t have an understanding of online video poker strategy, you’re letting the favourable odds go to waste.
For new players or those looking to master a strategy, it is recommended that you start by playing two of the most popular games: Jacks or Better (JoB) or Deuces Wild. JoB means that a pair of jacks is the lowest pair that pays outs as a winning hand, while Deuces Wild means that all 2s are wild and substitute for any other card to make a winning hand.
Strategy in online video poker refers to the decisions a player makes about which cards to hold from the 5 they are dealt, and which ones to discard. The best way to utilise strategy is to use a table that ranks different hands in order of precedence.
Every hand you’re dealt in 9/6 JoB can be ranked in order; the higher a hand is ranked, the greater precedence it should be given:
For instance, you are dealt 4♦, J♦, 6♦, Q♦, 4♠. You have three options:
Keep the low pair (4♦, 4♠) to try to make three-of-a-kind or better
Keep 4♦, J♦, 6♦, Q♦ to try to make a flush
Keep J♦ and Q♦ to try to make at least one high pair
On the table above, the low pair (4♦, 4♠) is ranked at 9, 4 cards to a flush is ranked at 8, and two suited high cards (J♦, Q♦) is ranked at 11. Therefore, the highest ranked hand is 4 cards to a flush, and so strategy dictates that you should keep 4♦, J♦, 6♦, Q♦, and discard 4♠.
This table is used to determine your course of action on every hand by following the same formula: look at the different combinations your cards represent; rank them according to the table; make your discard decision according to which option is ranked highest.
In Deuces Wild, because 2s are wild a different precedence of hands and strategy needs to come into play. There are separate tables depending on how many deuces you are dealt, but the same principle applies as in JoB i.e., when presented with different possibilities, play the highest ranked hand.
In video poker you should always play the maximum number of coins (5x) because the biggest jackpot for a royal flush is when playing the max; playing 1x coin will net you 250x coins for a royal flush, whereas playing 5x coins earns a jackpot of 4,000x coins for the same hand. Therefore, play a coin size that enables you to bet the max each hand.
Using the game’s paytable and return percentage, work out how much money you are likely to lose per hour of playing, and then choose a coin size accordingly. For example, if a 9/6 JoB game has a theoretical return of almost 99.5%, the House has an 0.5% edge per hand. If you’re playing the maximum number of coins with a value of $1, that’s $5 per hand. At 400 hands per hour, in theory you can expect to lose $10 per hour (0.5% x $5 x 400). You should bear this general formula in mind when choosing a coin size.
Some games enable you to try to double your payout after a win. Although this is one of the few bets you can make in an online casino without an inbuilt House edge, whether you choose to take it up depends on whether you are out to maximise returns, or to make your bankroll last as long as possible. If the former, take the double bet; if the latter, decline it.