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Video poker is one of the toughest games in the casino. It requires you to make important decisions in every drawing round.
You might feel that becoming a good video poker player takes too much work. The reward, though, is that you can enjoy some of the best odds in the casino. However, you will have to work to enjoy these great odds. Luckily, many routes exist for improving at video poker.
The following tips will help you become better and win more money. Each one of these tips is important for becoming a complete player.
Learn Which Games Pay the Best
Many different video poker variations exist throughout the casino world. You can’t just sit down at one machine and expect the same chances of winning as with the next machine.
You must choose the highest-paying video poker games to have the strongest chance at winning. Fortunately, many high-paying variations are available.
The absolute best video poker games offer over 100% return to player (RTP).
These machines, though, are only available in Nevada. More realistically, you want to look for a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine. This game, which pays nine coins for a full house and six for a flush, offers 99.54% RTP.
You can also locate high-quality video poker games online. Microgaming’s All Aces and Real Time Gaming’s Aces and Eights offer 99.92% and 99.78% RTP, respectively.
When looking for certain games, the key is to find the best pay table. After all, just a one-coin difference in certain payouts can have a huge impact on RTP.
Take 9/5 Jacks or Better (JoB), for instance. This game only offers 98.45% payback versus 99.54% RTP for the 9/6 version. With that said, you want to thoroughly know the pay tables in any given variation before choosing a machine.
Review a Video Poker Strategy Chart
Knowing what games to play is only part of the equation. You also need to have the skills to earn the most RTP from a given variation.
RTG’s Aces and Eights might offer up to 99.78% RTP. However, you’ll likely be earning a few percentage points less than this if you’re a bad player.
Unfortunately, video poker strategy isn’t exactly easy to master. It requires you to know how to handle lots of different situations on the draw.
If you’re totally new to strategy, the best way to get started is with strategy charts. These resources show which hands you should keep in a particular game based on their importance.
I suggest beginning with a 9/6 Jacks or Better strategy chart for the following reasons:
- Jacks or Better forms the basis for every video poker game.
- JoB strategy is easy to pick up and provides a solid base.
- You might end up using this strategy if you play 9/6 JoB.
- JoB strategy charts are the easiest to find.
The first point is key no matter if you focus on JoB or not. Once you master this game’s strategy, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to any other variation.
The last point is also important because most video poker variations don’t even have any strategy charts floating around. You’ll only find these resources for the most-popular games.
Use a Video Poker Trainer
A strategy chart is a great place to begin in understanding how video poker strategy works. Again, though, these charts aren’t available for most variations.
Here’s where video poker trainers become important. A trainer is a software program that indicates when you’re making correct and incorrect decisions while playing. With time, you’ll hopefully eliminate the incorrect decisions and play perfectly.
Free video poker trainers exist on a variety of websites. You can find free trainers for popular games like JoB, Bonus Poker, and Double Bonus.
Just like with strategy charts, though, the average trainer doesn’t cover all games. You might consider purchasing a more advanced trainer if you want to practice a wider variety of games.
Such trainers allow you to customize pay tables and practice accordingly. Therefore, you can train for basically any variation with these programs.
Search for Video Poker Smartphone Apps
Assuming you want to practice video poker on the fly, you can find a number of smartphone apps. You can search for something as simple as “video poker practice” to locate such apps.
Training apps are becoming more and more popular. With that said, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a program to use on your phone.
These trainers are akin to the free versions that you’ll find at different websites. They’re not quite as advanced as the trainers for sale, which are CDs that must be used on a PC.
Nevertheless, you might appreciate being able to use a smartphone app to get better. You can log a few hands here or there when you’ve got free time and gradually become a stronger player.
Practice for Perfection
You don’t have to necessarily become an amazing video poker player. If you want the most out of this game, though, then you should perfect your skills.
Fewer mistakes mean that you stand to earn more money. Hours spent on a trainer and/or app will help you develop the skills to win more often.
Of course, you might still make some mistakes every now and then even if you thoroughly know strategy. The key, though, is to limit these events as much as possible.
Avoid Abstract Strategies
Some video poker players like using unique strategies. One of the most common ones involves only holding royal flush cards.
The point of this strategy is to maximize your chances of getting a royal flush. Holding royal cards will certainly help you accomplish this goal.
The problem, though, is that you’ll sacrifice many smaller payouts along the way. You’ll also sacrifice 5% to 10% of the RTP when doing so.
That said, you’re better off focusing on the regular strategy for whatever game you’re playing. You’ll maximize your short-term and long-term chances of winning this way.
Build Your Stamina
You might not think of the word stamina when it comes to video poker. After all, you’re not running a marathon or doing a triathlon.
However, you definitely want to consider mental stamina as a serious player. The more stamina you have, the better you’ll be able to make good decisions for hours.
The best way to develop this mental longevity is to simply play more and more hands. Provided you frequently use a trainer to get better, you may develop this stamina naturally.
Play With a Clear Head
Video poker isn’t like slot machines or roulette where you’re relying on luck to win. Instead, it contains a fair amount of strategy.
You’re not going to play very well when you’re tired, drinking, or stressed out. You won’t be at your best in these cases and are likely to lose more money.
The best way to play video poker is with a clear head. This way, you can focus on the decisions at hand and make the correct plays again and again.
Manage Your Bankroll Properly
Most video poker players don’t pay much mind to bankroll management. Instead, they simply insert their money and begin playing indiscriminately.
The problem with this approach, though, is that it can lead to a lack of discipline. As an undisciplined player, you’re more likely to chase losses and even bet money you can’t afford to lose.
A good way to solve this problem is by coming up with a bankroll management plan. This plan can be as simple as setting a budget for each session and sticking to it. For example, you might stop playing any time that you lose up to $50.
You can also develop a more-complex plan that involves breaking your bankroll down into units. Here’s an example:
- You have $500 for video poker.
- You bet $1.25 (five coins) per hand.
- 500 / 1.25 = 400 units
- You set a stop-loss limit of 50 units for each session.
- 400 / 50 = 8
Your bankroll will last for at least 8 sessions.
Cash In on Rewards
Casinos offer video poker rewards to members of their loyalty programs. You want to make sure that you’re part of these programs to collect comps.
You can sign up for the loyalty plan at a brick-and-mortar casino either online or at the player’s desk. After receiving a card, you insert it into the machine to rack up loyalty points.
Most online casinos automatically enter you into their VIP programs after you’ve completed registration. In this case, you just need to make a deposit, play real-money hands, and earn points.
Becoming a strong video poker player isn’t an overnight process. It instead involves many components, such as learning the best-paying games and practicing your skills.
However, you should find the effort to be worth the reward. This is especially true if you plan on becoming a serious player.
The biggest hurdle involves learning the strategy for whatever game you’re playing. Assuming you’re playing 9/6 Jacks or Better, for example, then you want to master this specific variation.
Other steps, such as getting loyalty rewards and playing with a clear head, are easier to master. They’re still important, nonetheless.
Like with anything else, you stand to get more out of video poker when putting more time into it. This being said, I recommend that you spend some time improving your video poker skills.