Why Strategy in All Non-Wild Video Poker Games is Connected
February 7, 2014
If you're the type of player who really likes video poker, you know that most games can be sorted into two categories just based on whether or not they use wild cards. While wild card games can have wildly different strategies (pun intended), all games that do not use wild cards have certain strategic principles that hold true no matter what you're playing. This goes for all games that qualify with a single pair or better, and the pairs that make payouts are called high pairs for the purposes of these strategies.
The main things that these games have in common is the relationships between different kinds of pairs and different kinds of draws. The main draws are four to a royal, four to a straight flush, four to a flush, four to an outside straight and four to an inside straight. Then you can have either a high pair that will get a payout on its own or a low pair that won't. If you have both a pair and a draw, or if you have four to a royal along with a straight or a flush, you need to know when you should break your made hand for the draw and when you should just keep the made hand that you were dealt in the first place.
One piece of information that makes a lot of this easy to remember is that four to a royal is better than any made hand in the game except for a straight flush. It's just such a powerful hand that the chances of getting it or a flush or straight or high pair combine to make an exceptionally strong draw. This is even true whenever you miss everything and don't get a payout at all because it's the draw you make that matters, not the outcome.
From there, high pairs are better than both flush draws and straight draws. However, flush draws are better than low pairs. Straight draws are pretty weak, weaker than low pairs even, because they don't hit as often and they pay out worse when they do hit. What this means for you is that if you have the option of keeping a low pair or going for a draw, then you should go for the draw if it's a flush draw and you should keep the pair if it's a straight draw.