Video poker is one of the best-kept secrets of the gambling world. While most players blow their money on pokies, the smart punters stick to these machines.

Pokies are games of chance, but video poker allows actual strategy to be employed. This makes a world of difference on the payback percentage, especially over the long term.

Despite these facts, you can still lose at video poker if you don’t pay attention. In order to help, I’ve compiled a list of helpful video poker tips for players of all experience levels.

Know the Rules

You should learn the rules before you play any game, and this certainly applies to video poker. While there are plenty of variants, all of them are based on five-card draw poker.

The player receives five cards and then chooses which (if any) to keep. The game then replaces any discarded cards and determines your final hand. Most video poker games pay for a pair of jacks or better, but you’ll receive more for hands such as a flush or straight. The most coveted hand is the royal flush, but it only turns up around every 40,000 games.

Seek Out Full Pay Machines

Full-pay machines offer the best payouts for video poker. You can determine if a game is full pay by looking at the paytable.

Check the payouts for a full house and flush. If a full house is worth nine times your bet, and a flush is worth six times, then this is a 9/6 machine. This makes it a “full pay” machine.

When you play one of these machines and employ basic strategy, you’ll enjoy some of the best odds in the casino. In this case, Jacks or Better will offer a generous payback percentage of 99.54%. This means you’ll receive $99.54 for every $100 wagered (on average).

Always Play Maximum Coins

You must play maximum coins in order to gain the top payout for a royal flush. The payout is usually 800 to 1, while using fewer coins may result in a 250 to 1 payout. Since the royal flush is so rare, you don’t want to blow this opportunity when it comes around.

Learn Basic Strategy

There’s an ideal way to play each version of video poker. This is known as “basic strategy,” and it gives you the greatest mathematical chance of winning a hand.

Some players choose to memorize the basic strategy for their game of choice. However, online video poker makes this unnecessary, as you can simply refer to a strategy chart whenever needed.

Basic strategy is far superior to playing by intuition. And in the long run, it’s also much more profitable.

A video poker screen displaying a royal flush win.

Take Your Time

Pokie players want to get in as many spins as possible per hour. However, that shouldn’t be the case with video poker devotees. This game is all about analysing the cards and employing the proper strategy. It’s much harder to do that when you’re in a rush. Just remember the old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

Jacks or Better for Beginners

I urge beginning players to start with Jacks or Better video poker. Not only does this game require a less complicated strategy, it also offers payouts on a more consistent basis. This will allow you to gain some confidence (and cash) before moving on to more challenging options.

Practice

Before you play for real money, I suggest practicing your video poker skills. You can play for free online, or you can purchase software that provides dozens of video poker variants. I recommend the latter, especially if you’re serious about the game.

Pick a Quality Casino

Not all online casinos are created equal. Before you play, make sure you’re gaming at a reputable establishment. You can accomplish this by reading online reviews and consulting watchdog sites. Pay attention to elements such as payout speed, quality of customer service, and selection of games. I also suggest finding a casino with multiple payment options, from credit cards to Bitcoin.

Stay Sober

It’s a bad idea to get drunk while playing online video poker. You’re more likely to make strategic mistakes, and this will cost you money in the long term. It’s okay to drink a few beers, but moderation is key during any gaming session.