Gary McLellan

Video poker odds are a critical aspect of the game that can significantly impact players’ strategies and potential payouts. Unlike slot machines, video poker allows for a degree of skill, as players must make decisions affecting the outcome.

Therefore, understanding the odds of drawing specific hands is essential to making educated choices during gameplay. The odds in video poker are determined by the probability of making a particular hand with a standard 52-card deck or 53 cards if a joker is included.

Different variations of video poker have different payout structures and odds. For example, the popular Jacks or Better game offers different odds compared to Deuces Wild or Joker Poker because of the inclusion of wild cards, which can change the dynamics of the game.

Players must familiarize themselves with the specific video poker game they are playing to make the most of their chances to win.

Each game’s paytable reflects the odds of hitting certain hands, and players need to seek out the most favorable payables to maximize their returns.

Knowing the odds of video poker also helps players in choosing which cards to hold and which to discard.

With optimal play based on the probabilities, players increase their chances of earning a higher return. However, the element of chance always plays a role, and even a perfect strategy does not guarantee a win.

Therefore, players should approach video poker with a solid understanding of the odds while also being prepared for the inherent unpredictability of the game.

Understanding Video Poker Odds

In video poker, odds are a critical factor that influences both the strategy a player uses and the potential return from the game. A sound understanding of probability, payout structures, and hand rankings is necessary to optimize playing strategies.

Probability and Randomness

Video poker machines at live venues and even on crypto casino sites use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure that each card dealt is statistically independent of the previous events. The odds of drawing a particular hand in video poker are based on a 52-card deck.

For example, the probability of getting a Royal Flush in a game of Jacks or Better is approximately 1 in 40,390. This is derived from the 2,598,960 possible 5-card combinations from a 52-card deck.

Payout Structures

The payout structure in video poker directly influences the game’s odds. Each type of video poker game has a distinct paytable, which details the payouts for different hands. The following table showcases a simplified payout structure for a Jacks or Better game:

Hand Coins Bet Payout
Royal Flush 5 800
Straight Flush 5 50
Four of a Kind 5 25
Full House 5 9
Flush 5 6
Straight 5 4
Three of a Kind c 3
Two Pair 5 2
Jacks or Better 5 1

The payouts increase for higher ranked hands, and typically, betting the maximum coins results in a disproportionately higher payout for the top hand (Royal Flush).

Hand Rankings

The probability of forming any given hand is an important aspect to understand, and video poker hand rankings are consistent with traditional poker. Below are hand rankings in descending order of value:

  1. Royal Flush
  2. Straight Flush
  3. Four of a Kind
  4. Full House
  5. Flush
  6. Straight
  7. Three of a Kind
  8. Two Pair
  9. Pair (Jacks or Better)

Each hand has a distinct probability of occurring and is tied to the payouts described in the game’s paytable. The higher the hand on the ranking list, the lower the probability of its occurrence, and typically, a higher payout is associated with it.

Video Poker Variations and Their Odds

Video poker odds vary between game types due to different paytables and winning hand requirements. An understanding of each variation’s odds is crucial for strategic play.

Jacks or Better

In Jacks or Better, the odds of hitting a royal flush are approximately 1 in 40,000, contributing to the game’s reputation for having a high payout percentage of about 99.5% with optimal strategy. Full houses and flushes are pivotal hands in this variation.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild offers a 100.76% payout with perfect strategy, due to the wild cards (deuces). The probability of a natural royal flush (no wild cards) is about 1 in 45,000. Full pay versions of Deuces Wild are significant for their positive expected returns.

Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is known for higher payouts on four-of-a-kind hands. A player can expect a royal flush roughly once every 48,000 hands. The theoretical payout is around 100.2% with optimal play, emphasizing the importance of a strong strategy.

Odds Calculation Techniques

Calculating odds in video poker requires understanding two key concepts: Return to Player (RTP) and Variance. These metrics provide insight into expected payouts and the risk associated with a particular video poker game.

Return to Player (RTP)

The Return to Player (RTP) is a percentage that indicates the average amount of money a player can expect to get back from their total wagers over an extended period of play. To calculate RTP in video poker, one must consider the paytable for the specific version of the game being played. The calculation involves two main steps:

  1. Paytable Analysis: Assigning a value to each hand based on the paytable.
  2. Probability Assessment: Multiplying the values by the probability of achieving each hand.

A simple paytable with hypothetical probabilities may look something like this:

Hand Type Payout Probability Expected Value
Royal Flush 800 0.000025 0.02
Straight Flush 50 0.000015 0.0075
Four of a Kind 25 0.00140 0.035
Full House 9 0.0112 0.1008
Flush 6 0.0201 0.1206

To find the RTP, one then sums the expected values of all potential winning hands.


Variance in video poker crypto sites or live measures how much a player’s actual winnings are likely to deviate from the expected RTP in the short term. A high variance indicates more significant swings in wins and losses, signaling a higher risk.

Conversely, a lower variance suggests a more stable playing experience with less dramatic bankroll fluctuations.

Variance is determined by calculating the squared deviation of each possible payout from the game’s RTP, weighted by the probability of that outcome. The general steps are:

  1. Identify Hand Payouts: List the payout for each potential winning hand.
  2. Find Deviations: Calculate the difference between each hand’s payout and the RTP.
  3. Square the Deviations: Square each result from step 2 to remove negative values.
  4. Weight by Probability: Multiply each squared deviation by the probability of the respective hand.
  5. Summation: Add up all the values obtained in step 4 to find the variance.

For example, calculating the variance for a hypothetical full house with a payout of 9:

Hand Type Payout RTP Contribution Probability Squared Deviation Weighted Variance Contribution
Full House 9 0.1008 0.0112 (9 – RTP)^2 Probability * (9 – RTP)^2

It’s important to remember that both RTP and variance are theoretical and derived from statistical probabilities. They serve as guides, not guarantees, of performance in video poker.

Odds Impacting Strategies

In video poker, understanding the odds is crucial for developing effective strategies. The player’s decisions can drastically affect the game’s outcome.

Basic Strategies

In video poker, a basic strategy involves holding onto cards that have a higher chance of forming a winning hand. For instance:

  • High Cards: A player should retain high cards (Jack, Queen, King, Ace) as they can lead to forming a high pair, which is a minimum requirement for a win in most video poker games.
  • Low Pair vs. High Pair: It is often more strategically sound to keep a low pair rather than holding a single high card because a low pair can potentially become a three of a kind or a full house.

Advanced Strategies

Advanced strategies in video poker take into account the game’s paytable and variation. Players analyze potential hands based on the game’s specific odds. Examples are:

  • Optimal Play for Full Pay Jacks or Better:
Hand Strategy
4 to a Flush Keep unless you have a high pair.
Low Pair Hold, unless you have four to a straight/flush or three to a royal flush.
Unsuited AKQJ Keep instead of holding a pair below Jacks.
  • Deuces Wild Strategy Adjustments:
    • When possessing deuces, the player should never discard them; they are crucial for creating winning hands.
    • The strategy shifts significantly, prioritizing the completion of hands that are improved by the presence of deuces.

Increasing Winning Odds

To enhance the probability of winning at video poker, players should focus on effective game selection, seek out beneficial bonuses, and consistently play the maximum number of coins.

Game Selection

Choosing the right game is crucial in video poker. Players should look for games with the best pay tables, indicating higher payback percentages. For instance, a 9/6 Jacks or Better game pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush per coin bet, offering an expected return of around 99.5%, compared to an 8/5 Jacks or Better game with a return of about 97.3%.

Bonus Hunting

Players can gain an edge by looking for casinos that offer generous promotions, such as bonuses on sign-ups, deposits, or for earning player points.

For example, a casino offering a 100% match bonus up to $200 can significantly increase a player’s bankroll, thus enhancing their chances of hitting a winning hand.

Playing Maximum Coins

To maximize winnings, players should always bet the maximum number of coins. This strategy is particularly important in video poker because it often qualifies players for bonus payouts on the highest-ranking hands.

A Royal Flush typically pays out at a 250 to 1 ratio for bets of one to four coins but jumps to 800 to 1 when the maximum coins are played.

Common Misconceptions

Video poker is a popular casino game that combines the elements of slots and poker, and like any game of chance, it is surrounded by misconceptions.

One common misconception is that video poker machines are rigged against players. This is not the case. Video poker machines use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure that each hand is dealt randomly, just as it would be with a physical deck of cards.

Another misconception involves the ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ machine myth. Players sometimes believe that machines that haven’t paid out in a while are ‘due’ for a big payout.

However, because each hand is an independent event, past results do not affect future outcomes. Therefore, machines are neither ‘hot’ nor ‘cold’ in reality.

Some players also misunderstand the odds of hitting a royal flush. While the odds vary depending on the game variation, the chance of hitting a royal flush in Jacks or Better, for instance, is typically around 1 in 40,000 hands.

Nonetheless, players occasionally believe that this rare event is more likely to occur than it actually is.

Lastly, there’s the concept that betting five coins is unnecessarily risky. On the contrary, betting the maximum number of coins can actually increase the return to player (RTP) rate because the payout for a royal flush is disproportionally higher with a five-coin bet.

Myth Fact
Machines are rigged Each hand is determined by a RNG.
Machines are ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ Each hand is independent and unaffected by past results.
Royal flushes are common Royal flush odds are typically 1 in 40,000.
Betting five coins is risky Five-coin bets can increase RTP for certain hands.

Video Poker Myths

Understanding video poker odds is crucial, but players often encounter widespread myths that can impact their gaming strategy.

The Gambler’s Fallacy

The Gambler’s Fallacy is the incorrect belief that previous outcomes affect future results in a game of pure chance. In video poker, each hand is an independent event with fixed odds.

The odds of receiving a particular card remain constant, irrespective of past hands. The probability of getting a Royal Flush is always 1 in roughly 40,000 hands, no matter what happened in the previous game.

Betting Strategies

Many players assume that using certain betting strategies can influence the odds of video poker. However, this is not true. The odds of winning are determined by the paytable and the player’s decisions during the game.

There is no betting pattern that can change the predetermined odds of the machine. For instance, betting maximum coins increases the potential payout for a winning hand but does not alter the likelihood of being dealt a winning hand.

Odds Comparison

Comparing odds in different gambling activities provides insights into the potential payouts and the risks involved.

Video Poker vs. Slots

Video poker generally offers better odds to players than slot machines. This is because video poker games involve a degree of skill and decision-making that can influence the outcome. For instance, the return to player (RTP) in video poker can be as high as 98-99%, whereas slots typically range from about 90-97%.

  • Video Poker: RTP ~98-99%
  • Slots: RTP ~90-97%

Players have the opportunity to make decisions that impact their chances in video poker, unlike the purely chance-based slots.

Video Poker vs. Table Games

When compared to table games, video poker odds are comparable and can even be superior to some games, depending on the player’s knowledge and strategy.

Blackjack, when played with optimal strategy, can offer an RTP of up to 99.5%, making it competitive with video poker.However, games like American roulette have a significantly lower RTP at approximately 94.74%.

  • Blackjack: RTP ~99.5% (with optimal strategy)
  • American Roulette: RTP ~94.74%

Players who master video poker strategy can potentially achieve better odds than with some table games, but table games like blackjack can provide similar returns with perfect play.

Glossary of Terms

Paytable: The chart that shows the payouts for winning hands in video poker.

House Edge: The statistical advantage that the casino holds over players.

RNG (Random Number Generator): A computer program that ensures each hand dealt is random and unpredictable.

Payback Percentage: The percentage of money returned to players over time.

Full Pay Machine: A video poker game that offers the best standard paytable, resulting in a higher payback percentage.

  • Flush: A hand containing five cards of the same suit.
  • Straight: A hand with five consecutive cards of different suits.
  • Full House: A hand with three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.

Jacks or Better: A popular video poker variant where payouts begin at a pair of jacks.

Deuces Wild: A video poker game in which all twos act as wild cards.

Term Definition
Royal Flush The highest-ranking hand possible, containing 10, J, Q, K, and A of the same suit.
Straight Flush Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
Four of a Kind Four cards with the same rank.
Variance The measure of how the game’s payouts are spread out.


In summary, a strong grasp of video poker odds is essential for strategic play. Understanding probability, payout structures, and hand rankings guides decision-making, while variations like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild require tailored strategies.

Calculating Return to Player (RTP) and considering variance provides insight into potential outcomes and risks. Dispelling myths around machine rigging and ‘hot’ machines reinforces the role of chance.

Effective game selection, bonus utilization, and betting max coins enhance winning odds. Video poker outshines slots in terms of player influence, and its odds compare favorably to certain table games.

In the end, informed decisions based on a solid understanding of odds pave the way for success in video poker.

Gary McLellan

Gary McLellan has been involved in the gambling sector for years after studying Journalism in Glasgow. Starting out with running a poker blog over 10 years ago, he has since worked with many betting publications, focusing on crypto-related sites more recently due to their growing popularity. Gary brings his expertise on gambling to since 2022 after successfully overseeing the launch of several sports betting sites including