Video poker can be a very fun game to play, but you surely need to understand the basic math to make correct decisions at the table.
One of the most overlooked things in video poker is differences in pay tables.
Many players are not aware that Jacks or Better video poker actually has many “variations.” While all of the games follow the same poker rules and gameplay, they have different paytables that drastically influence your long-term expectations. This is exactly what we will cover today.
Identify Best Jacks or Better Paytables
Payouts are mostly determent by two numbers next to the name, for example, 9/6 Jacks Or Better.
In this case, the first number refers to a full-house payout, which will be 9 times your initial bet, and the second number says how much you will win when hitting a flush. This is how the pay table looks for this game:
So if you play 8/5 Jacks or better instead of 9/6, you will get 8 times your bet when hitting the full-house and 5 times your bet when you hit the flush. This creates a huge difference in the long run.
9/6 games has a payout of 99.54% when played correctly, meaning that you will only lose $0.46 after placing a total of $100 in bets. That is a very cheap price to pay for having some fun at the tables.
However, if you pick 6/5 Jacks or Better, you will only have 95% payouts, meaning in this exact same situation, after placing $100 in bets, you will lose $5, which is 11 times more compared to the previous version. A whopping difference if you ask me.
But before you hit the real tables and invest any of your money, you should practice playing free video poker games to get the feel of it and experience these expectations yourself.
Of course, it is worth knowing that this is not an exact result you will have every time when you play.
Payout percent shows your long-term expectation meaning the average of your outcomes over thousands of hands, not a single session.
You can easily win or lose more in a single session, but it all breaks down into math and choosing the best games. Here are payout percentages for the most popular Jacks or Better versions:
- 6/5 game – 95.12%
- 7/5 game – 96.17%
- 8/5 game – 97.25%
- 9/5 game – 98.33%
- 9/6 game – 99.54%
Clearly, you always want to be playing a game with the best possible return to the player, which is 9/6 Jacks or Better.
Bet maximum and follow a sound strategy
These numbers are based on the assumption that you will be betting 5 coins per hand to be eligible for the Royal Flush bonus, which is only available with max bet. If you choose to play with fewer coins, you will decrease these payouts and reduce your long-term expectation.
Therefore, one of the first things you need to learn when playing video poker is that you always should bet 5 coins per hand.
If you are playing on a $1 machine and betting $5 per hand is too much for your bankroll, instead of betting 1 coin, move to $0.25 machine and bet those 5 coins. This way, you will be betting a total of $1.25 per hand but will be eligible for the jackpot, which will drastically increase your results overall.
Of course, this is just a simple tip, and to get those 99.54% payouts, you need to learn the game and play the perfect strategy. If you are ready to take it to the table, here is a couple of simple tips:
- If you do not get any combination with the initial 5 cards, keep one or two cards with a Jacks or higher value since that will increase your chance to hit a pair of Jacks or a better hand for the payout.
- If you get dealt a small pair, always keep the pair and discard the other three cards unless you have four to a flush.
- If you get dealt high pair like JJ, QQ, KK, or AA, always keep the pair and discard other cards unless you have 4 cards to a Royal Flush, in which case take one card and try to hit that jackpot.
- If you get a made hands, keep all cards and take the guaranteed payout.
These are basic tips that will help you have good results in video poker, but if you want to take your strategy to the next level and master even the smallest things, read a full article on how to play Jacks or Better and take that knowledge to the table.
Take Your Time In Video Poker
Last but not least, always take enough time to make your decisions.
Rushing in video poker will almost undoubtedly lead to some mistakes along the way, which will reduce your winnings. So unless you are an experienced pro, better take your time and make sure you select the right cards to discard and understand poker hand rankings and all other essential information.
This way, you can still have a lot of fun and prepare yourself to have better results in real money games.
So while it might take some time in the beginning to get a feel of the game flow, you will soon be able to hit these machines like a pro.