Video Poker Strategy

Video poker has been popular since the 1970s, first in land-based casinos and now online. And whilst easy to learn, winning over the long-term requires a solid strategy.

Unlike slots, where you can play without paying much attention, video poker, modelled on five-card draw poker, is more a game of skill. As such, it’s one of the few online casino games where you can have an edge over the house. We’ll look at some of the main video poker strategies below, to help you improve your odds of winning.

Jacks or Better Strategy

Jacks or Better is the most common variation of video poker, and as the game name implies, pays out any hand with a pair of jacks or better.

When playing Jacks or Better, you should always keep a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, three of a kind, or pair.

However, if playing according to perfect strategy, sometimes, you’ll need to break up a strong hand to go for a higher payout. For example, say you’re holding:

  • 3 of Hearts
  • Jack of Hearts
  • 5 of Hearts
  • Queen of Hearts
  • 3 of Diamonds

You have a low pair, four cards to a flush, and two suited high cards. The four cards to a flush combination is highest on the list in terms of potential payout, so it’s recommended to discard the three of diamonds and draw to the flush.

Deuces Wild Strategy

With Deuces Wild video poker you can use a 2 as a substitute for any other card in the deck in order to make the best hand possible. Because of this, it requires a different strategy compared to other video poker games.

You’ll want to use the wild 2s to go for the most lucrative hand possible.

For example, let’s say you have a 6 of clubs, 7 of clubs, 8 of clubs, queen of clubs and a 2 (wild card). You can keep the pat flush or keep the four-card to a straight flush, (consisting of three consecutive single cards, starting with 5 or higher). The best strategy here would be to break the pat flush and draw to the open ended straight flush, because the payout is so much higher.

Double Bonus Strategy

After each winning round of Double Bonus play, you can opt to take the money, end the game and get your payout, or double down.

  • Doubling down: If you wish to double your payout, you will be shown five cards on the screen – one face up and four face down. To double your payout, you must pick a card from the four face down cards. If the card is higher than the face up card, you double your money. If the card is lower, you lose the whole bet.

You can keep doubling your bet until you lose or choose to take your payout.

  • Beating the Double Bonus house edge: To exert a winning edge over the house you will need to be playing online Double Bonus video poker for the maximum bet of five coins per hand, as this is the only way to get a bonus for royal flushes. Without this bonus, even playing perfectly, you will have an expectation of less than 100% of your original bet.


Note: Double bonus video poker is a complex game because of the skewed paytable from the four of a kind payout. Beginners would do well to learn the principles behind other variations before trying their hand at Double Bonus.

Jokers Wild Strategy

With the Jokers Wild game you can use the one joker in the deck to substitute for any other card, making it easier to create strong hands. But keep in mind Jokers Wild has one of the lowest ROIs of all online video poker variations. Even playing optimally your expected return is around 99% of your investment.

The best play for Jokers Wild in any given situation will be based on the payouts of the particular casino, which can vary wildly. A good rule of thumb is to focus on using the joker to try for high payout hands such as royal flushes wherever possible, as this is where you have a chance at winning big.

Bottom line

As you can see, there are many variations of video poker, each with its own subtle differences. Before you take on a new variation, it’s a good idea to learn a little background about it so you can focus on using the best strategy possible. With the high skill edge involved in video poker, it’s important to understand what your best play is in each situation.

To try your hand at your favourite variation of video poker – or to try something new – visit one of our best video poker casinos today.