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Video Poker (Jacks or Better) Tips

Video poker made its entry in the 1970s. It has proven to be a popular form of gaming. Video poker offers players the opportunity to gamble with anonymity, skill and a relatively low "house" advantage.

The objective of video poker is to achieve a winning combination of cards. The player firstly chooses how much to bet on the game. The machine then presents the player with 5 cards. The player chooses which cards, if any, to keep and discards the remaining cards. The machine then replaces the discarded cards with new ones.

The payout schedule displays the machines winning combinations and the values for each combination. These values vary according to the credit bet.

If the player's last hand of cards form a winning combination, the player is awarded an amount corresponding with this combination and the number of coins bet.

Some machines give players the opportunity to win even more credit, by allowing them to bet their winnings and original bet using a secondary betting system.

There are various forms of video poker, such as 'Jacks or better', 'Aces Faces', 'Deuces Wild' and 'Joker Wild'. Each is said to have varying rules and strategies.

Basic video poker winning combinations

Below is a list of common video poker winning combinations. Some video poker games incorporate other combinations also.

Royal Flush
A Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace, all in the same suite.

Straight Flush
5 cards in sequence and in the same suite.

4 of a Kind
4 cards of the same rank and in any suite + 1 unmatched card.

Full House
3 cards of the same rank and in any suite + 2 cards of the same rank and in any suite.

5 cards of any rank and in the same suite.

5 cards in sequence and in any suite.

3 of a Kind
3 cards of the same rank and in any suite + 2 unmatched cards.

2 Pairs
2 cards of the same rank and in any suite + 2 other cards of the same rank and in any suite + 1 unmatched card.

1 Pair
2 cards of the same rank and in any suite + 3 unmatched cards.


This form of video poker generally requires a minimal winning combination of 2 'Jacks'. Always check the machine's payout schedule to confirm this.

Ensure you understand the payout schedule prior to deciding whether to bet and how much to bet on each game. Try to compare different machines and see if any offer a higher payout rate for certain winning combinations, such as for 'full house' or 'flush'.

Generally, it seems more beneficial to bet the maximum amount of credit on each game. The jackpot for a 'Royal Flush' combination, for example, is only awarded if the player has bet the maximum number of coins. The problem, however, is that this has the potential to quickly exhaust your wallet. With this in mind, find a machine that best suits your budget. A quarter machine may suit your budget more so than a dollar machine, for example.

If your initial hand of cards does not contain a winning combination but contains a 'Jack', 'Queen', 'King' or 'Ace', it may be worthwhile holding onto this card and discarding the other four.

If your initial hand does not contain a winning combination but shows the potential to give you one should you hold certain cards and discard others, consider the probability of obtaining certain combinations versus other combinations.

If your initial hand does not contain a winning combination and seems to hold no promise of one should you hold any cards, consider discarding all 5 cards. The next lot of 5 cards have the potential to give you a winning combination.

If your initial hand contains a winning combination, it is generally less risky to hold on to the cards that form this winning combination than to not do this in the hope of obtaining a higher winning combination. This is probably a question of guaranteed returns versus possibly higher returns that are NOT guaranteed.

If your initial hand contains a '4 of a kind' combination, hold onto all cards as changing the unmatching card will not improve your winning combination.

If your initial hand contains 4 cards needed to achieve a 'Royal Flush' or 'Straight Flush' but you need one more card to achieve this winning combination, SERIOUSLY CONSIDER holding onto these four cards and discarding the non-matching card. 'Royal Flush' and 'Straight Flush' combinations are most rewarding.

If your initial hand contains 4 cards needed to achieve a 'Straight' or 'Flush' but you need one more card to achieve this winning combination, consider holding onto these four cards and discarding the non-matching card. 'Straight' and 'Flush' combinations are relatively rewarding.

Recognize when a jackpot (large value) has been won. Some machines will ask you to call an attendant who will organize payment to you. Never handle or walk away from a machine that has just produced a jackpot winning. Call the attendant or have someone call him/her for you while you wait at the machine.

Find out if the venue you intend to play at offers other incentives, such as points, meals, accommodation, etc., that goes with your game play. This however doesn't mean that you should play purely for these secondary benefits.

Practice your strategy for free using a video poker simulator. Many online casinos offer free game play.

Try to recognize when your luck may have changed. There are many examples of people winning significantly then "getting greedy", so to speak, and losing everything.

Make sure you empty the machine of your credit prior to leaving it. Each year, people accidentally abandon machines that still have their credit inside.

Assign a budget for the day's play. If the budget is lost, you will know when to leave the casino.

Don't bet more than you can afford to lose.

Remember to always have fun :)

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