Wild Card Video Poker Tournament Strategy Essentials

November 1, 2013


One of the things that makes wild card video poker games so atypical is that there are a lot of hands where the differences between playing a hand one way and playing it another way will have just a small difference in value. However, they can have some pretty big differences in variance, and this creates a number of situations where finding the right play in a tournament scenario can be a bit tricky. Because it's often a good idea to sacrifice a small amount of value for a degree of stability, you'll usually have to take your place into consideration whenever making decisions in certain types of scenarios.

Let's take a pretty basic Deuces Wild hand for instance. Suppose we have the hand 9s 9d 8d 7d 2h. There are two main ways that we can play this hand. First, we can go for the straight-flush draw by discarding the nine of spades. Alternatively, we can secure the three of a kind payout and go for a better hand by discarding the seven and eight of diamonds. In this situation, going for the straight-flush is actually the better play in terms of strict chip value. However, if you are looking to play a much more stable game, then going with the three of a kind could be a better play.

Another common scenario where this will come up is when you have an opportunity to keep a made hand or draw to a better hand. For example, suppose you have 5d 5s 8s 9s As. With no wilds available, it's better to keep the pair than it is to go for a regular flush draw. However, if you need to make up some lost ground or risk not being able to catch up in time in certain types of tournament formats, it might be better to go ahead and try to make the flush. The key here is that you're accepting a slightly worse average result for your stack size in exchange for better chances to overtake your opponents.

There are two factors that you have to balance whenever you're deciding to make what would otherwise be sub-optimal wild card video poker plays. The first factor is the pure value of your play in terms of your stack size, and the second factor is whether you're winning or losing. Whenever you're losing by quite a bit, you have to make some hail mary plays that might not be the best for your stack in the moment.