11 Video Poker Secrets You Need to Know

11 Video Poker Secrets You Need to Know

Video poker is often hyped as one of the best games to play in the casino. In reality, the best games vary by player. Do you have fun? Do you keep your losses to a minimum? But competitive players who enjoy a challenge and want to bring some skill to their gambling do prefer video poker over many other games. Here are a few secrets of the game to help you enjoy it more.

1 - Video Poker Has a Better Payback than Slot Machines

You know slot machines are famous for having low return to player percentages. Gaming news sources report that some land-based slots are set to pay back as little as 57% of player wagers. Slot players look for "loose" machines or turn to more competitive online slots for 93% to 98% RTP.

Still, video poker can beat that 98% RTP. When played correctly some video poker games pay as much as a 101% RTP. That is better than baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. Traditional table games are favored by experts over slot,s but video poker can pay the best RTP. That is where the house edge is the thinnest.

2 - Video Poker Game Rules Allow Different Payback Percentages

Two identical video poker machines may have wildly different payback percentages. That sounds a lot like slot machines. Casinos may have a few "loose" versions of your favorite slot game on the floor. But unlike slot machines video poker machines reveal how much their payback percentages are. You just have to look for the payout for the full house and flush.

Video poker experts advise players to seek so-called "9-6" Jacks or Better games over "8-5" games. Video poker games that pay 9X for a full House and 6X for a Flush offer better overall payback than their "8-5" counterparts.

3 - Not Every Video Poker Game You See is really Video Poker

In some casinos the video poker machines are just slot machines designed to look like video poker machines. You often find these games at travel casinos and in Native American games. Welcome to the world of pull tab video poker. These are Class II gaming machines.

Class II gaming, as defined by US law, differs from Class III gaming in how the game outcomes are determined. Class II games use the results of bingo games played across networks. Class III games determine non-progressive results by themselves.

The class II video poker machine is getting its results from a network bingo game that may be using several different "entertainment displays". The entertainment display could look like a video poker game or a slot game.

4 - Payback Percentages on Class II Video Poker Are Different from Class III

Are you getting a raw deal?


The gaming companies match up the probabilities from winning bingo patterns with the probabilities for winning poker hands. You get a very close approximation in payback percentages.

But one thing to keep in mind is that the result of your Class II video poker game is determined as soon as you hit "Deal". It doesn't matter whether you hold or discard anything.

Class III games are regulated by the states but Class II games on reservations are regulated by the sovereign Native American nations. You will often find the expected return posted on Class III games per state laws. You may not find expected return information in Native American casinos.

5 - Multiplay Video Poker Is Designed to Help You Lose Faster

If you are intimidated by the idea of playing 100 hands of poker at the same time that is a good reason not to play. But multiplay video poker has some disadvantages over single hand video poker. For one thing, you're more likely to make a mistake as you play more hands at the same time.

Each hand in a multiplay video poker game is dealt out of a different deck. But one secret many video poker players don't know is that the random numbers for the first hand are shared across all the games. If you win once you win on all hands but if you lose once you lose on all hands. After the first hand each game uses its own random numbers.

In other words, you might as well be playing 100 machines at the same time, betting on every one. You'll burn through your money faster by doing this.

6 - Read Strategy Cards from the Top Down

When you have never used a strategy card before you need to keep three thoughts in mind:

That last rule of thumb may be the most important lesson for new players. Don't mix and match strategy cards across different games. As noted above, you'll find that even Jacks or Better can have different optimum strategies based on the different paybacks.

7- The Draw Probabilities Never Change

It takes new players a while to realize that the game is not dealing down from a single shuffle. The probabilities of which cards will be drawn never change. In blackjack if you are playing from a 6-card shoe you can calculate how the probabilities change from hand to hand based on which cards are dealt. In video poker you're always playing from a single deck that has just been shuffled.

8 - Some Video Poker Games Are More Volatile than Others

Even gambling experts struggle to explain volatility in layman's terms. To keep it simple think of "volatility" as how often a game is probably going to pay a big prize.

Player wagers fund all the prizes. High volatility games pay fewer small prizes in-between large prizes. Low volatility games pay more small prizes and fewer large prizes.

High volatility games entail more player risk. Low volatility games entail less player risk. Jacks or Better is a low volatility game. Double Bonus is a high volatility game.

9 - Games Are Only Hot in Retrospect

Video poker combines your skill with a random factor. Casinos will never offer predictable games. Players often speak of "hot" or "cold" machines. In video poker these are unpredictable streaks. Some slot machines are programmed to be looser than their counterparts. Video poker machines don't work that way.

There are no loose machines in Class III video poker. There are just machines that have better payback percentages. And since you cannot guess how long a machine will be "hot" don't gamble on the basis of past wins.

10 - Promotions Give You an Edge

Professional gamblers learn to take advantage of promotions, even the odd hour promotions. When a casino puts free playing time or money on the table pay close attention. If the promotion requires you to play a game you're not familiar with do so only if you can afford to lose. That is a learning experience and any wins are just a bonus. The best value for accepting casino promotions is where you know the game already. Why not take advantage of the offer?

A promotion won't make you a winner but it will give you a little extra play time. That play time softens the blow on your bankroll and gives you a better chance at winning a nice prize. Treat promotions like money because that is what they are.

11 - Use Your Player History to Learn

Some players keep diaries or download their online play histories in the hope of predicting when machines will be more likely to pay. This is just a player superstition. You cannot get an edge on a machine or game by looking at past wins or losses.

What you can do, however, is improve your game by analyzing the choices you made. Maybe you could have made better choices. Maybe you misremembered strategies. It helps to study your mistakes and learn from them.


As much as we would love to tell you how to win at video poker every time that's just not possible. All the basic strategies are well documented. When it comes to playing video poker successfully you just need to focus on avoiding mistakes, maintaining a good bankroll, and looking for any promotion that gives you an edge. Always keep the game fun because if you are not winning or if you are miserable there are better ways to live your life.