Video Poker Technique and Developing Fundamentals

Published on: July 16, 2014 

The main decision that you have to make in video poker, other than which game to play, is which set of discards you can make. There are 32 different ways to play any five-card video poker hand, and you have to try to pick the one that is the best. General rules and fundamentals can get it down to two or three options, but solid technique is what allows you to narrow it down to the correct choice from there. We want to show you how to develop this type of technique and what to do about building on your fundamentals.

There are three main classes of hands: pair-based hands, draws and high card hands. For pair-based hands, you're generally going to break things up into high pairs and low pairs where high pairs are the pairs that can pay off by themselves unimproved. Low pairs have to improve to two pair or three of a kind or better to get a payout, so they're kind of like a draw in that regard. Solid technique involves knowing which pairs are stronger than which types of draws, and that's what we're going to look at now.

In almost every type of video poker, a royal flush draw with a single discard trumps anything smaller than a straight flush. So if you have AdKdJdTd4d, you should discard the four, break up the flush, and go for the long-shot to the royal. With smaller draws, however, it's a little more complicated than that. High pairs are almost always stronger than flush draws, and flush draws are stronger than low pairs. Low pairs, however, tend to be better than open-ended straight draws except when there are a lot of cards in the draw that can make high pairs. For example, with KQJTT with no flush draw in Jacks or Better, you should discard a ten.

Finally you have high card hands with no draws. These are the most difficult types of hands to play, and correct technique really comes into play when you have more than one high card to work with. With something like AsQhJd8s4c, a lot of players have the tendency to want to keep the AQ or AQJ combinations. However, QJ is the right combination to keep. Since it's often anti-intuitive, high card hands require the most technique of any type of hand in video poker.

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