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How to Play Video Poker

Playing Video Poker
by Marilee of Predictem.com

If you have never played video poker before, there are just a few rules you need to know to begin practicing. First, you need to know the basic poker rules.

A pair of Jacks or better (meaning Queens, Kings, or Aces) is, in most cases the lowest winning hand. A pair of Jacks or better will pay you even money. Always hold a pair. A pair that is lower than Jacks or better will give you opportunity to deal into a three of a kind or better.

Two pair usually pay at even money or two to one depending on the machine. Always keep two pair because the likelihood of drawing into a full house is far greater than the likelihood of drawing into a four-of-a-kind. The only exceptions to this are for machines that have big premiums for a particular four-of-a-kind. For example, if four aces has a high premium payout, choose the pair of aces and discard the second pair. Two pair generally pays even money in Deuces Wild and Joker Poker.

Three-of-a-kind hands generally pay three to one. All three-of-a-kind hands pay the same so hold this hand in all cases. On Deuces Wild and Joker Poker games , this is usually the lowest winning hand.

A straight consists of a run of 5 cards in ascending order. So if you have a 2, 3, 4, and 5 that is a “low straight.” If you hold a ten, jack, queen, king, ace, that is a “high straight.” If you are dealt three or more cards to a straight, you should hold the three. An “inside straight” is when you are dealt four nonconsecutive cards to the straight, for example, ten, jack, queen, and ace with an extra two. Throw away the two in an attempt to draw into an inside straight with the king. Keep in mind that there are four kings. You have four chances out of the remaining 48 cards in the deck to draw a king. These odds are worth playing an “inside straight” every time. The only exception is if there is also a winning pair, for example, you are dealt a 9, 10, J, J,Q. Since the pair of jacks is a winning hand, keep that pair above the inside straight. A bird in the hand is better than going for an inside straight. On almost all machines, a straight will pay four to one. On Deuces Wild or Joker Poker machines, it is most often an even money or two to one return on a straight.


A flush is made up of cards of the same suit: all spades, all clubs, all diamonds, or all hearts. If you are dealt three or more of one suit, hold those cards. Don’t bother going for a flush if you only have two cards on one suit dealt to you. As in a straight, keep a winning hand over three of one suit (unless you hold three royal cards of one suit). A flush pays anywhere from four to one to six to one. Choose machines that are six to one payout on a flush. On Deuces Wild and Joker Poker Machines, the payout on a flush will be similar, but usually the lower end. Keep your eyes open for the machines with the highest return on flushes.

A straight flush is a sequential flush. So, a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of clubs, for example, is a straight flush. Always keep three suited cards in a straight sequence. The straight flush pays a whopping fifty to one, so the winning pair exception applied to non-suited straights or flushes does not apply. Always keep three or more to a straight flush. In Deuces Wild or Joker Poker, a straight flush is much more likely because of the wild cards. As such, they are usually worth far less, for example ten to one or twelve to one. Most beginning players find it difficult to recognize a straight flush. Take your time and play your three card or four card suited runs every time. You will eventually hit the straight flush by the laws of probability and it will be a worthwhile payout.

A full house consists of three like cards, such as three jacks, combined with a pair. If you are dealt two pair, always hold the two pair in anticipation of a full house. You have fairly good odds to draw in the card to complete the hand since there are four cards that can complete your hand. Never throw away a dealt full house even if you are tempted to turn the three of a kind into four. A full house should pay at least nine to one. On Deuces Wild or Joker Poker, a full house pays around four to one.

A four-of-a-kind is self-explanatory. This is the hand that will keep you playing without draining your bank account. The payout on a four-of-a –kind varies from machine to machine. The classic machines pay twenty-five to one to eighty to one. Watch your machine paytable for “special” four-of-a-kinds. The most common are aces. If you have any questions about the paytables, ask an attendant. You can ask a player near you, but you may face a testy player who thinks you are interfering with their concentration. If you start with lower denomination machines, you can do a little trial and error without losing the car. Penny and nickel denominations are available in many casinos.

The Royal Flush is the reason to play the game. This hand pays a whopping 800 to one! That is one thousand dollars on a quarter machine. A royal flush is a high sequential flush. It is the ten, jack, queen, king, and ace of any one suit. If you are dealt at least three cards to the royal flush, hold that hand. The inevitable payout will be worth anything lost. Keep this in mind: If you are dealt four to the royal, there is a one in forty-eight chance that you will deal in the remaining card. If you get dealt four to the royal 48 times, probability dictates that the hand will come in soon. Of course the question is how soon? That’s the gamble.

So, if you are just starting out in video poker, this is a guide for playing. Stop at the player’s club and pick up a card. Use it. The perks will begin to accumulate and increase your payout total. A free buffet is valuable after all. Watch for special deals or special presents for certain hands. Some casinos will have a four-of-a-kind bonus, for example, so if you hit this hand you will get a complimentary shirt or jacket or the like. Always keep up on casino special promotions.

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