Searching for a quick strategy guide to get some video poker tips? Read and study this page in full and I guarantee it will increase your video poker knowledge! If you can’t remember everything, that’s fine, use it for reference while you’re playing. If you’re looking for even more scenarios, or if you are dealt a hand you’re not sure of, visit VideoPokerTrainer.org – a website that hosts a tool to analyze the Expected Value of Jacks or Better poker hands. All examples you see on this page are from this tool.
Note: The values vary slightly depending on a few factors, most especially what cards are dead and how many unpaired Jack or better cards are being held onto. The expected value comparisons take this into account, listing the lowest possible eV when it comes out on top to show that it comes out on top no matter what, and listing the highest possible eV when it comes out on the bottom.
All expected values assume the max 5 credits are played! eV depends on pay tables, which may vary. Always check the pay table! This is for entertainment only, always make sure to do you own research and math when playing for real money.
The Golden Rule
Going for the Royal Flush draw is not a fish move. It is best to hold 4 to a Royal Flush in every scenario (even when you have a made Flush!) except for one very specific one. The only time you don’t go for 4 to a Royal Flush is if you hold exactly a K-9 straight flush.
– Example 1: Dealt AQJT9 Hold the AQJT and throw away the 9: eV of the Royal Flush Draw is 91.06 vs 25.00 for the dealt flush.
– Example 2: Dealt KQJT9; Hold all 5 cards: eV=250.00 vs 92.34 of going for the royal.
Pairs vs Broadways (any card A through T)
Hold a small pair over holding a single Ace; in fact you should hold a small pair even over 2 to a Royal Flush (two suited broadways): eV=3.97 vs 3.06
– Example: Dealt 77AJ2; Hold the 77
Hold 3 to a Royal Flush (3 suited broadways) over a small pair: eV=6.18 vs. 3.97
– Example: Dealt 77AJT; Hold the AJT
Hold a Jacks or better pair over any 3 to a Royal Flush: eV=7.53 vs 7.24
– Example: Dealt KQQJ5; Hold the QQ
Pairs vs Draws
Hold any 4 to a Straight Flush (even inside draws) over any pair (even Jacks or better): eV=11.06 vs 7.55
– Example: Dealt A532A; Hold the A532
Hold a Jacks or better pair over any Flush or Straight draw: eV=7.53 vs 5.64
– Example: Dealt QQ27T; Hold the QQ
Hold a Flush Draw over a small pair (not Jacks or better): eV=5.00 vs 3.97
– Example: Dealt T8863; Hold the T863
Hold Jacks or better pair over a Straight draw: eV=7.53 vs 4.26
– Example: Dealt KKQJT; Hold the KK
When you hold 4 to a Straight and a small pair, it depends. You hold the small pair in all scenarios, except for when you hold exactly K-Q-J-T or Q-J-T-9 with either the T or 9 paired:
– Example 1: Dealt QJTT9; Hold the QJT9: eV=4.04 vs 3.97
– Example 2: Dealt JT998; Hold the 99: eV= 3.97 vs 3.72
Draws vs Draws and Strong Draws vs Made Hands
Hold 3 to a Royal Flush over a Flush draw: eV=6.18 vs 5.74
– Example: Dealt KQT44; Hold the KQT
Hold a made Straight over a 4 to a Straight Flush: eV=20 vs 17.13
– Example: Dealt 9TJQK; Hold all 5
Hold 4 to a Flush over 4 to a Straight: eV= 5.43 vs 4.36
– Example: Dealt KQJT5; Hold the QJT5
Hold any open-ended Straight draw over any three to a Straight Flush (not including 3 to a Royal Flush): eV= varies greatly
– Example: Dealt 6543T; hold the 6543
Hold Two Pair (discard the sole unpaired card) over holding one pair and discarding 3: eV=11.70 vs. 7.55
– Example: Dealt JJ339; Hold the JJ33
No Pairs, No Good Draws
Note: All hands from this point on are less preferable than even the worst paired cards. These combinations should only be held onto when you have nothing to work with at all.
It’s tough when you get dealt a bad hand with several possible combinations, none of which are obviously good. Here’s a rough list in descending order of expected value:
– Three to a Straight Flush, open-ended on both sides
– Any three cards towards a K through 9 or Q through 8 straight flush
– Q-J suited, K-Q/K-J suited, A-K/A-Q/A-J suited and A-K-Q-J are all very close, depending on how many useful cards are dead
– Other 3 to a Straight Flush hands, inside Straight draws and any other two or three broadway cards are all close. It depends on how many Jack or higher cards there are, how many useful cards are dead, how many gaps there are in the Straight Flush draws, etc.
– Single Ace, King, Queen, or Jack
– Absolutely nothing (discard all). An example of this would be 25984 – ew, get 5 new cards!