Michael McKean is an experienced writer with a portfolio that includes work on the subjects of sport, gambling, travel and finance. With a background rooted in journalism, Michael first ventured into the professional writing world based in Switzerland, where he wrote for a number of language and travel sites and magazines before moving into the world of sports writing and gambling sites.
As an avid soccer fan, who follows everything from the Scottish lower leagues to the European elites, he has earned himself a solid reputation as a reliable football betting tipster and predictor. Outside of work, Michael has always gotten involved with grassroutes football everywhere he has worked and lived - UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil - and still isn’t shy when it comes to pulling the boots on himself. As well as soccer, he has also developed a love of North American sports, particularly ice hockey - a love which began in Switzerland and saw him venture across the pond to follow the NHL. Moving away from dry land, he’s also a keen longboard surfer and is happiest when writing with a view of the ocean.
If you are reading this then online poker is legal in your state. That's great! You'll have a good time and possibly be able to make some money off of it. But video poker isn't like playing a slot machine. There is an element of skill involved with it as well. That means that by placing the right bets and discarding the right cards you can greatly increase your chances of getting a big win.
captaingambling wants to help you out. We believe that people should have the best chance of winning the most amount of money possible. That's why we've put together this poker strategy guide. It will take you through all the steps whether you are playing at home on your desktop or laptop or on the go wagering through a poker app.
Take careful note of the advice we give you. Everyone has their video poker strategies, but these will be a general guide that should help you make the right choices and up your potential for winning.
Video Poker Strategies & Guide
We should start out by saying that there is a good deal of luck involved when it comes to video poker. You aren't betting against other people so there is no chance to bluff. When you are looking for an online poker strategy then your best bet is to play the numbers and hope that your increased odds lead to better payoffs.
This poker strategy guide is designed with the new player in mind. If you've played poker for years you probably have your own online poker strategy and don't need us to guide you. But we understand that if you are new to the game the entire process can seem fun but also somewhat threatening. These video poker strategies should all be easy to implement and not tax you too much.
We understand that once you become used to video poker and implementing these video poker strategies you'll want to move on. That's why we are in the process of creating an advanced poker strategy guide which we will release in the future.
But that's for when you are more experienced. For now, focus on the basics and let our poker strategy guide help you go from clueless to a cool operator.
Online poker strategy guide #1: Always Choose The Maximum Bet The Machine Will Allow
Take a close look at the video poker machine. There should be a payout table in the upper left- or right-hand part of the screen. This lists what you will win given the hand you end up with. You'll notice something. The more you bet the higher the payouts are. And those payouts are exponentially higher. Often to claim the jackpot for the game you have to not only get a royal flush but get one when you've been betting the maximum amount allowed. This means that if your choices are $1, $2, $4 or $5 per spin you always want to bet $5. The payouts will end up being much larger. You wouldn't want to get your one royal flush a year when you have bet the minimum and know that you could have cleared the jackpot on the game.
Online poker strategy guide #2: Bet Your Real Money First
When you make your first deposit at the casino, you'll be credited with the real money you put in. You'll probably also be given bonus money to play with.
Your best bet is to play your real money first. Why? It's because when you bet with real money you win real money you can withdraw right away. When you bet with bonus money and winnings you get will have to be played 10 or 20 times before you can withdraw it from the online casino.
It's obviously much better to be able to take your money out if you get a big win than to have it stuck in the bonus money loop that you could lose later one.
Online poker strategy guide #3: Never Draw To An Inside Straight
This poker tip is essential no matter what type of poker you are playing. And it's one that gamblers often mess up. The fact that it's so tempting to ignore this advice is why we feel so strongly about emphasizing it as one of our top video poker strategies.
For example, imagine you are dealt a two, a three, a five, a six and a 10. Your first thought will be “I just need a four and I'll get a straight and a big win.” Wrong. Instead, you want to discard all five cards and get a new hand.
The odds of getting that four are so low as to be negligible. It almost never happens. Don't get tempted. Of course, going for an outside straight is ok.
Imagine you got a hand with a three, a four, a five, a six and a 10. In that scenario, you can get a straight and win with a two or a seven. That doubles your odds and makes it reasonable to go for.
You always have to measure what your return will be if you get the hand you want versus the chances you have by throwing your hand away and simply starting from scratch.
Online poker strategy guide #4: The Pair Versus The Potential Royal Flush Conundrum
This is a situation that comes up more often than you would think. And it asks a very good question of players – do you hold onto a guaranteed low win or hold out for what may be a huge win?
Imagine you are dealt a king of clubs, a king of spades, an ace of spades, a queen of spades and a jack of space. You have two start choices. You can keep the two kings and get a minimal win and maybe get a third or a fourth king. Or you can throw out your king of clubs and hope for a 10 of spades. What do you do?
The answer is to remember you are playing on a video poker machine. If you were playing Texas Hold 'em against real players where you have to have a hand to beat, then you would keep the two kings and throw out the rest as garbage.
But you are not doing that. Instead, you are playing video poker. And that means you don't have to beat anyone else. The odds of getting that 10 of spades are roughly 1 in 50 (slightly lower because of the cards you've already been dealt and the possibility of getting a joker.) If you look at the paytable, you'll notice that the payoff for getting a royal flush is much, much higher than 50 times the payoff for holding a pair of kings. Then add in the chances of getting a 10 of hearts, a 10 of clubs or a 10 of diamonds and getting a decent payoff on a regular straight.
When you add all these factors in it becomes clear the move to make is to keep your cards that go towards the royal flush and dump the king of clubs. The odds are simply much more in your favor.
Online poker strategy guide #5: Never Go For The Bonus Win
This is not an option on all video poker slot machines. But it does appear on some and it's a trap. Here's what happens. You end up the game with a three of kind. A decent but not great win.
The machine then asks you if you want to try to double your win. If you click yes it will start a high/low game. It will turn over one card. Then you turn over another card. If your card is higher you get double your winnings. If it's not you lose everything you have won.
You never, ever want to take the computer up on this option. A bird in the hand is better than one in the bush. Always collect your winnings and don't push your luck. You can use what you've won to play additional hands and perhaps score a big win.
Online poker strategy guide #6: Always Push For The Flush
This is the opposite advice from our “never go for an inside straight” tip. And it is a key online poker strategy to use. It will pay off in huge dividends down the line.
Say you are dealt a five of clubs, a three of hearts, a five of heart, a nine of hearts and a 10 or hearts. Newer players will just dump the entire hand and hope that they will get something better when newer cards come out.
Experienced players know better. Flushes pay out very well and are worth going for. Plus, the odds of getting a flush versus the payoff of a flush are very high. What you want to do in this situation is dump the five of clubs and hope you get a heart. You will roughly 25% of the time and the increased payoff is much better than you are likely to get simply by throwing away the entire hand and hoping the next five cards give you something good.
Online poker strategy guide #7: Always Be Aware Of The Wild Card
Most video slot machines have at least one and sometimes more than one wild card in them. And that's a game-changer. The wild card can be any card you need to make a win.
Check out the machine and see how many wild cards there are. You are just as likely to get a wild card as you are any other card. That can change how you place your bets. This is particularly true if there are two wild cards involved.
In general, the more wild cards there are the more you can push your chances of getting a better hand. If you need one specific card to have a great hand the odds of getting it are around one in 50 without wild cards. With a wild card, they drop down to about one in 25. add more wild cards and you can see how the odds start to shift in your favor.
But take note. If you have already been dealt a wild card, that card is not out of the deck. If you need one specific card, then your odds return to normal. So always be aware of the possibility of a wild card coming out of the deck when you decide what cards to keep and which ones to discard.
Online poker strategy guide #8: Understand The Video Poker Machine You Are Playing On
This bit of advice should just be common sense. But we have found out over time that it's not. We are including it in our list of video poker strategies. It's an important one and we are going to tell you why.
Each and every video poker game you play is different. They all have different rules and different pay tables. This will greatly affect how you play the game. You have to adjust your strategy to the game you are playing against.
Some games will payout for a pair of jacks. Some ask you to have at least three of a kind. Others have different pay tables. Some machines have on the joker. Some have more than one joker. Some have no jokers at all.
You can't just jump from one video poker machine to the other and assume you are playing the same game. You are not. Instead, you have to imagine the game is completely different.
Read all of the rules they provide you with. See how that affects the strategy of what you are going for. If you need three of a kind to win then getting a pair of aces won't help you.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of what game you are playing, what the rules are and what your potential payout will be if you get a win. Only then will you know exactly how you want to play. Having this understanding will greatly increase your odds of winning and making a big win when you do so.
This has been our eighth and final tip in or online poker strategy guide. These are all basic tips. Remember soon we'll be coming out with our advanced tips. But master these ones first and you'll be well on your way to becoming a much better video poker player.
If you've not yet found the perfect poker platform, be sure to take a look at our reviews where we answer all the most important questions like "Is PokerStars scam?" and "Is Global Poker legit?".
Online Video Poker FAQs
How Is Online Video Poker Different From Texas Hold 'Em?
There is much more luck associated with online video poker than with Texas Hold 'Em. While both do have luck involved when you are playing Texas Hold 'Em you can employ strategies to get your opponents to fold and win even off a hand where you essentially have nothing. When it comes to video poker the hand you have determines how much you have won. You can't bluff. You are stuck with what you got dealt and can't do anything to change that.
What Are My Chances Of Getting A Royal Flush?
A royal flush is very rare. That's why video poker machines pay out a ton of money when you get one. You can count on it coming up. The odds without a joker are roughly 1 in 650,000. Those are incredible odds. In other words, you will probably not get one in your lifetime. If you do get one it will probably be the only one you will ever get. Keep that in mind while you are playing video slot machines.
Do I Really Have To Bet The Maximum?
Well no, you don't have to. The game will let you bet whatever you want to bet. However, the payout increases drastically the more you bet. If you bet $5 instead of $1 you win more than five times your original payout when you win. Since the return to player goes up with a higher bet it just doesn't make sense to stick with the lower bet and win less money when you do get a win. The math at playing a minimum bet simply doesn't pan out. That said you have to make your own choices about these things.
How Old Do I Have To Be To Play Video Poker Online?
Like all gambling in the United States, you have to be at least 18 years of age to play. If you are not 18 you will probably get caught. And when you are caught the online casino will keep your money. They might even call the cops. Taking the risk of playing underage is a bet you don't want to make.
The advantage of playing online and applying your strategies
When you're online, you'll have all the time of the world to go over and over through our Video Poker Strategy: How to win in Video Poker. It's evident that these possibilities for online gamblers are a big part of the reason why the industry is growing so fast: the experience is getting much more personal, so let's keep on learning!