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HOME > Gaming > How to play every video poker hand perfectly

How to play every video poker hand perfectly

29 March 2014

By Henry Tamburin

You can play every hand dealt to you on a video poker machine perfectly by bringing along a strategy card. It’s unfortunate that so few video poker players carry video poker strategy cards with them when they play. In fact, the next time you go to a casino, glance down an aisle of video poker machines and see how many players have strategy cards. I’ll bet you won’t find one. Why is that? Several years ago, I decided to find out for myself by randomly asking a dozen or so video poker players this question. This is what they told me.

1. They didn’t know video poker strategy cards existed.
2. They thought that strategy cards were illegal.
3. They didn’t know how to use a strategy card.

Let me address these three points. First, pocket-sized strategy cards for video poker players are commercially available for players (check my Web store at www.smartgaming.com for the ones that I recommend). Secondly, I can unequivocally state that strategy cards are legal to use in all gambling jurisdictions. Therefore, that leaves the third excuse — namely, how to use a strategy card, which I will now address.

A video poker strategy card will show you the correct way to play every hand dealt to you. Think of it as a “cheat sheet,” an aid that you can (legally) use when you play video poker to help you make the correct play (meaning you will be keeping the cards in your hand that have the highest expected value).

Strategy cards contain a table of hand rankings, with the hands at the top of the table having a higher rank than the hands below. By way of example, the table below shows the top five lines of strategy from a commercially available 9/6 Jacks or Better strategy card (by Bob Dancer and Liam Daily). All you do is look at your hand and determine whether you have any of the hands listed on the strategy card, and if you do, hold the hand that is closest to the top of the table.

Top Five Lines
9/6 Jacks or Better

"Recreational Strategy Card"

  • TWO PAIR or higher-paying combinations, except: break a FLUSH or STRAIGHT for a 4-card royal flush

  • Any 4-card straight flush


  • 3-card royal flush

  • 4-card flush

For example, suppose you were dealt a hand that contains a three-card royal flush and also a four-card flush. Would you hold the three-to-a-royal or the four-to-the-flush? If you start at the top of the above table and go down, you’ll find the three-card royal flush on line 4, and the four-card flush on line 5. The three-card royal flush is higher up the table then the 4-card flush; therefore, the correct way to play the hand is to hold the three-card royal flush. Pretty simple, huh?

There are commercially available strategy cards for many popular video poker games. They cost about eight bucks a card. That’s a cheap investment to ensure that you won’t make any costly playing mistakes when you play video poker. In my book, it’s money well spent.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

Henry Tamburin
For a FREE three-month subscription to Henry Tamburin's Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, which includes full membership privileges, sign up at www.bjinsider.com/free. For a free copy of Tamburin's Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or go to www.smartgaming.com. For information on the Golden Touch Blackjack course taught by Tamburin call 1-866-WINBJ-21 or visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com.

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