How to Turn The Game of Video Poker
far, if you have any experience playing poker at all, you
probably feel pretty smug.
All Table 1 shows are the standard poker hands, the first
thing anyone learns who plays the game.
let’s talk poker strategy.
You are playing five card draw poker (the same kind of
game the video poker machines offer) and are dealt the following
Evaluating this hand quickly, you decide to discard the 6
and 8 and keep the low pair of 5s and the Ace.
You reason that keeping the Ace with the low pair may
improve your chances of winning the hand. The Ace is your kicker card.
Also, by discarding only two cards it appears that you
may be holding 3 of a kind, thus deceiving your opponents.
won't slight your strategy at your Saturday night poker game.
But holding that kicker will cost you dearly in video
poker. Look at the
odds against improving a hand drawing three cards to a pair as
These are the odds you face when you hold just a pair.
Continuing our example, if you hold the pair of 5s, you
only have one chance in 97 of drawing a full house.
As bad as these odds are, just look at the odds you face when you decide to hold the Ace as a kicker.
Against Improving a Hand Drawing Two cards to a Pair and a
against any improvement
3 to 1
against making 2 pairs
5 to 1
against making 3 of a kind
12 to 1
against making a full house
119 to 1
against making 4 of a kind
1,080 to 1
holding the Ace as a kicker, our chance of making 4 of a kind,
which has a high payoff in video poker, has dropped from one in
359 to only one in 1,080. This
is the kind of edge we can never afford to give up in video
could review different combinations of hands involving holding a
kicker. If you hold three of a kind and keep a kicker, your odds
against improving the hand are 11 to 1 against improvement. However, without the kicker, your chances of improving the
hand are only 8.5 to 1.
that holding a kicker will always reduce your chances of
improving your hand and winning.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
take a look at straights and straight flushes.
Many players tend to underestimate the difficulty of
making these hands. The
odds against making a straight or straight flush vary dependent
upon the number of ways that a hand can be made.
the following poker hand:
If we discard the 9, we can make the straight by drawing
either a 2 for a straight of 2 3 4 5 6 or a 7 for a straight of
3 4 5 6 7. This
straight is considered open ended or an outside straight as
there are two ways of making it if we discard the non-matching
assume that our hand consists of a
With this hand, we decide to discard the 9.
But now we can make this hand only one way, by drawing a
5. This straight is
now considered an inside straight as it is only by drawing one
card in the inside of the straight that we can make the hand. Since there is only one way to make this hand, we are less
likely to be successful in turning an inside straight into a
winning hand. A
hand like A 2 3 4 is also considered an inside straight as it is
only by drawing a 5 that we can make the straight.
Look at the odds summarized below:
Against Completing a Four Card Straight
against making a straight open at one end or in the middle
11 to 1
against making a straight open a both ends
5 to 1
you see why we might be more inclined to attempt to complete a
four card straight open at both ends than one only open in the
middle or at one end? The open ended straight is a potentially more valuable hand
in that we have a greater chance of turning it into a paying
face the same consequences in trying to make straight flushes. Assume that our hand is:
3©4©5©6©9¨. If we discard the 9, we can make
the straight flush by drawing either a 2©
or a 7©.
This straight flush is considered open ended, as there
are two ways of making it.
assume that our hand is 3©4©6©7©9¨. If we discard the 9, there
is only one way to make this straight flush, that is by drawing
This straight flush can only be made in one way and is
considered an inside straight flush. The odds against making an inside straight flush are
considerably greater than making an open ended straight flush as
Against Completing a Four Card Straight Flush
against making a straight flush open at one end or in the middle
- 46 to 1
against making a straight flush open at both ends - 22 to 1
of the most difficult decisions in video poker entail making
hold and draw decisions for three and four card straights and
straight flushes. And, as you can see, the number of ways available for making
the hands varies greatly, dependent on the number of ways we can
make the hand. These
decisions are especially important in playing long-term video
poker strategies. With
short-term play, we tend to discount many of the potential
straight and straight flush hands as "not feasible"
and go for hands which are easier to make.
assume that we are dealt the following hand:
There are at least four ways that we can consider playing
can keep just the low pair of 8§8©, discarding the 5, 6 and 7. This
hand does not pay off as is, as virtually no version of video
poker pays for only a low pair.
However, by keeping the low pair and drawing three new
cards, we can hope to draw two pair, three of a kind, a full
house or even four of a kind.
way to play this hand is to play the hand as a four card
straight, discarding one of the 8s.
We could keep a hand of 5©6©7©8§.
Here a draw of either a 4 or a 9 would complete the
straight. This hand
looks very tempting as the straight is open ended and the hand
should we go for the higher paying hand.
We recognize that if we keep 5©6©7©, discarding both 8s, we have a possible straight flush.
Maybe this is the hand we should try to make.
actually have a fourth option.
We could decide to discard all five cards and hope for a
hand is not unusual in video poker.
Yet there are four identifiable ways we can consider
playing this hand. We can work with improving a low pair, or making a straight,
or making a straight flush or discard all the cards. Most of you with any poker experience will recognize that
discarding all of the cards is not a very good choice, but do
you know which of the other options is better?
Making these kinds of decisions is critical to becoming a winning video poker player. In this particular case, there is one clear-cut decision for most versions of video poker. The question you must learn to answer is which one?
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© 1998 - 2013 Gamblers Bookcase · All Rights Reserved