Video poker has come a long way since its inception in the 1970s. What started as a simple electronic adaptation of table poker aimed at single players has evolved into one of the most popular casino games, both online and in brick-and-mortar establishments. And with good reason – properly executed video poker strategy offers some of the best odds in the casino.
The typical video poker player understands which hands they should hold and which to discard when aiming for a winning combination like a flush or full house. But to truly excel at the game requires a deeper level of strategizing based on mathematical probabilities and calculated risk-taking. This is what separates amateurs from professionals.
Know Your Pay Tables and Return Rates
You can’t develop an effective strategy without understanding the pay tables and return rates of the particular video poker game you’re playing. These determine the payout amounts for the various hand strengths and combinations. Some Joker games offer better returns than others, so research and knowledge is key.
Generally speaking, the better returns come from “9/6 Jacks or Better” pay tables – meaning it pays out 9 coins for a Full House and 6 for a Flush based on a 5 coin wager. Compared to 8/5 pay tables, 9/6 returns over 99% with optimal play versus 97% for 8/5. That’s a meaningful difference in the long run.
Leverage Optimal Hold Strategies
Once you know the pay tables inside out, applying the mathematically optimal hold strategy is critical for maximizing your edge. Professional video poker players utilize software tools to determine the ideal hold choices for every hand dealt based on the game’s probabilities and payouts.
While casual players often simply try improving mediocre hands that “look good” at first glance, the pros make far more nuanced decisions knowing when to break up promising starters to draw improved combinations. It takes experience and nerves of steel, but the math doesn’t lie.
Pick Your Spots Carefully
Even utilizing optimal strategies, the inherent variance of video poker means you’ll still have plenty of losing sessions. Seasoned players mitigate this by picking their spots carefully and moving between machines. For example, after hitting a nice score at one machine, they’ll bank the profits and find another “cold” machine ready to pay out.
This way of dabbling between hot and cold machines minimizes exposure to natural losing streaks and keeps bankrolls intact which is critical to long-term earnings.
Take Advantage of Bonuses and Comps
To further leverage your winning odds, take full advantage of video poker bonuses and comps offered by online casinos and loyalty programs. Reload and matching bonuses can significantly pad your bankroll which fuels your earning potential. Be sure to understand any associated playthrough requirements before claiming bonuses.
Likewise, many programs award players comp points that can be redeemed for free slot play, cash back, or other perks.
Slow Down and Avoid Costly Mistakes
In their haste and excitement, novice players often make foolish mistakes that cost them dearly. Taking your time to analyze hands and ensure you lock in the mathematically optimal plays for the given pay tables is paramount. One small mistake can wipe out a sizable bankroll in minutes.
Likewise, refrain from drinking alcohol which impairs decision making or playing when overly tired or distracted. Video poker success requires clear focus and calm nerves. Making sound mathematical choices repeatedly over the long haul maximizes your profits. Stay cool under pressure.
Know When to Walk Away
One attribute the best video poker players possess is self control. They walk away when they hit predetermined loss limits for a session rather than trying to recoup losses which often backfires. Stick to your profit goals and loss limits religiously at web casinos. More hours at the screens usually equates to more losses, so play in controlled bursts. Quit while you’re ahead.
Conclusion: Master Video Poker Probabilities
Like any casino game, video poker involves substantial variance and risk. But by studying pay table mathematics extensively, adhering religiously to optimal hold strategies, leveraging bonuses and comps, and exercising discipline around bankroll management – players can systematically crack video poker codes and maximize potential profits.
In a game of odds and probabilities, numbers and percentages rule the day. Master the math behind the machines, get dealt the right cards at the right time, and with the advanced strategies above the codes can be cracked for those ready to step up their game.