Beginner Strategy: Pay Tables and Returns
Anytime you play a game at a casino, it’s good to know what the prizes are. Some games have bigger house edges than others, especially games with minimal skill involved. Video poker isn’t one of those games. By using the right strategy, you can minimize the house edge, or even flip the game in your favor. It all depends on the game and the payouts.
With video poker, the pay tables are always visible. And with a little math, you can figure out the probabilities for making each hand, from Jacks or Better (21.46% in the standard game) to a Royal Flush (0.0025%). From there, you can calculate how much money the game in question returns to the players who use an optimal strategy. In the case of “9-6” Jacks or Better, where you get paid nine coins for a flush and six for a straight, it’s 99.54%. Even blackjack doesn’t offer an edge that low.
Fortunately, you don’t actually have to do all that math yourself. There are plenty of online resources, free for anyone to use, that will tell you the returns for just about every video poker game out there. Looking at these numbers ahead of time will help you choose a game that’s more in your favor. For example, the return for the standard “10-7” Double Bonus Poker game (10 coins for a full house, seven for a flush) is actually 100.17% – if the pay table shows a 50X payout for making Four of a Kind with Fives through Kings, and if you place the Max Bet every time.
Here are the returns for specific versions of the more popular video poker games you’ll encounter. Some casinos will have lower or higher payouts built in, so be sure to cross-reference the pay tables and see which version of the game is in use.
|Jacks or Better||99.54%|
|Double Bonus Poker||100.17%|
|Double Double Jackpot||101.14%|
Although there are some video poker games out there with a positive return, you have to play an optimal strategy, which takes time to learn, and you have to play mistake-free for long periods of time. Focus instead on enjoying the games you play; use the information on pay tables and returns to maximize the amount of fun you get out of the game. If you can carve out a decent strategy that gets the house edge close to zero, you can get close to full value from the comps that you’ll receive when you play live, without having to worry about making the occasional mistake. Your online experience will be a lot more enjoyable, too.