The Royal Flush Draw in Video Poker Games
September 6, 2013
There's something that almost all recreational video poker players underestimate, and that's a royal flush draw. No matter what game you're playing or whether it uses wild cards, a royal flush draw can be stronger than other already made hands. Being able to pick out when these draws are available and what made hands you can break to use them is a key part of becoming a well-rounded video poker player. Here we're going to use examples from popular games to show you how this whole thing works out.
In Jacks or Better, three cards to a royal flush is stronger than four cards to a regular flush. For example, if you had AKQxx with four hearts which included the Ace, King and Queen, then you should go for the three-card royal draw instead of the regular flush draw. The key here is that most of your value actually comes from the chances of hitting the high cards in this scenario anyway, so you don't lose much value by breaking your flush draw. That difference in value is more than made up for with the chances of hitting a royal, a long-shot flush or a long-shot straight.
Jacks or Better has another fun situation that comes up sometimes. A four card draw to a royal flush is stronger than an already made flush or straight. This guideline tells you exactly when you should break made hands in this situation, and it's really cool because it's easy to remember. While these scenarios don't come up extremely often, when they do come up, you want to be ready to make the right play. This example really shows just how powerful a draw to a royal flush can be, and it's about as instructive of an example as you can get.
So what about a wild card game like Deuces Wild? If you have no deuces in your hand, then three cards to a royal is stronger than a single pair or a four-card flush draw. Along similar lines, four cards to a royal is stronger than any made hand other than a straight flush. With one deuce in your hand, four to a royal is stronger than anything lower than a full house. Three to a royal is worth a bit less because of the flexibility that the deuce provides.