Video Poker Playing Tips . June 2000

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Video Poker Playing Tips

by Gayle Mitchell

The two techniques that are mandatory to becoming an educated and prepared video poker player are:

1) how to read a pay schedule with additional education to know the difference between short/partial pay and full-pay versions, and

2) strategies for all the VP types/games.


In a grouping of video poker machines, known as banks or carousels, all of which may look exactly the same, casinos will often 'mix-in' several VP machines with inferior pay programs (short/partial pay). Most often in such a bank of regular non-progressive, non-bonus VP machines, only 1 or 2 may be the Jacks or better 9/6 (nine coins for a full house, and 6 coins for a flush), while the rest are 8/5, 7/5, or even worse, 6/5.

This means that one player, on the 9/6 machine, will be winning more for the same hands than the other players. A 9/6 VP will generally hit the royal flush each 40,000 hands played, or every 80-100 hours of play, while the 8/5 each 45,000 hands, on average; the 7/5's each 50,000 hands; and the 6/5's only once about each 70,000 hands played.

9/6 Video Poker expected loss playing 5 coins per hand is $13.20/hour; 8/5 costs over $20/hour; and lousy 6/5 VP's over $30/hour. Knowing which slots to play saves you about  $7-17/hour.  Choose carefully.

If you bet 5 coins, all winning hands are paid out multiplied by a factor of 5, except for the royal flush.  This is a bonus amount designed as an incentive  to play five coins. All those players who play less than maximum coins are setting up the best payoffs for those who do.

Two of my favorite Video Poker versions follow with corresponding strategies:


 Full-pay Deuces Wild Versions will be 9/5's as you scan down the one coin payout line -- 9 coins for a straight flush and 5 coins for 4-of-a-kind. Except in Nevada, most casinos offer 4 coins for 4-of-a-kind, the short-pay version.

Some players are reluctant to throw away five cards, but that is a most important strategy;  you want to make room for additional card(s) that could be a deuce(s), and holding that ace or king is not going to help you if the next hand coming up could be four or five sevens. Here's the reason for the reluctancy.

Die hard Jacks or Better players will throw away complete hands-5 cards only 3% of the time, while Deuces Wild players almost 20% of the time -- nearly every fifth hand.

Do not keep two pairs. Select one or the other, as 3-of-a-kind is the minimum scheduled payout.

Inside straights should be held, if presenting the best possible return from your initial five cards dealt. Therefore, a 5, 6, 8, 9 hand can produce a 7 or wild card in this VP version.

Strategies for this VP version are determined by the number of deuces or absence of deuces that are dealt in your initial hand.

Approximately every 5000 hands will hit four deuces -- a secondary jackpot that will keep you in the game or allow you to pocket some winnings.

Percentages speak for themselves, good reason to practice correct strategy for this 100%+  full-pay game.

The excitement of all or nothing in Deuces makes it a thrilling, and "wild" game. You can go for stretches without seeing one Deuce, then hit a Royal with Deuces, and four-of-a-kind is easy to get; what  a roller coaster ride!


First up, and most important, the full-pay Jokers Wild (JW) pay schedules will be 7/5 machines, 7 coins for a full house and 5 coins for a flush. There are two versions out there: one returns money on a pair of Kings or better,  the other requires at least two pair before there is a payout.

The former is the more desirable full-pay version.

These strategies for Jokers, unlike Jacks+, reflect the wild card, a 53-card deck, and the different  payouts. This game is almost as volatile as Deuces Wild, where original 5 cards dealt are discarded more often than Jacks+.

If you do not hold the joker, keep three cards to a royal over a pair of aces or kings because of the higher payout.  You could catch another ace or king and still be paid.

If three cards are consecutive cards for a straight flush, i.e.,  5, 6, 7 of hearts, discard other cards even a small pair, for the higher payback. If not consecutive, keep the small pair.

Don't be afraid to hold the joker alone. More than 3% of the time, you won't be able to connect with a straight, flush, straight flush, or a high pair; however, holding the joker only can give you four new cards, and a win.

 They don't throw you out of a casino as they do Blackjack counters but the casino can and will shut down machines that have been hammered for wins, and take it away. Those "temporarily out of service" signs do not necessarily mean a slot mechanic is on the way, rather this VP is headed for the dumpster, and permanently out of service.

Don't get me started  on casinos that install the short-pay, downright stinky versions of VP's that target the uneducated player - outrageous!

And, there are quite a few casinos out there, probably near you, that deliberately install fewer VP's because most casinos are mandated that games of chance with skill involved must have higher payouts. Therefore, slots impact the casino's bottom line in a more profitable fashion. You will also receive more slot card points towards comps at a slot machine that any VP version.

Video Poker Made Easier (Winning Strategies for Serious Players) offers more information for all VP's including newest versions. Writing this book about a favorite casino game, was a labor of love--a fun game with serious payouts.

In the end, may all your VP choices turn out to be 'royalty.'


Gayle Mitchell is author of  Casino Gambling Made Easier   books, booklets and strategy cards.