Slot players are the most common gamblers in the casino. They feed their money into the machine, select the bet size, hit the spin button (or pull a lever) and hope for the best.

They do not know the casino edge. They only know that most of the time they lose. They expect this. They play with the hope that they will hit a jackpot. Slot jackpots can be amazing, it is true.

After a while, however, many slot players get tired of losing. They quit playing or look for a different game. The game that many of these players choose is video poker.

But unlike slots, video poker requires some player knowledge to improve results.

This article has advice for novice video poker players that will help them ease into the wonderful world of video poker.

1. Video poker basics

Slot machine players insert money, make a bet and hit a spin button (or pull a lever) to play. 

That is where the similarity in play ends. Video poker players:

  • Hit a Deal button. This causes five randomly-selected cards to be displayed on the screen.
  • Select the card or cards, if any, to hold.
  • Hit the Draw button.
  • Cards that are not held are replaced with new, randomly-selected, cards.

2. Video poker advantages

Video poker has many advantages over normal slot machines. They include:

  • The return of each game and pay table combination can be determined.
  • Playing strategies are available that show how to get the highest return.
  • The returns from video poker games are higher than returns from slots.
  • The player has an active role in determining the outcome of each round of play.

Video Poker

3. Video poker disadvantages

As with most things in life, there are also disadvantages.

  • While video poker has some big jackpots, they do not approach the huge levels of slot machines.
  • The player has an active role in determining the outcome of each round of play. Yes, this is also an advantage. To be successful takes work. Players must obtain the proper strategy, learn it, and practice it. This takes time. This takes effort. Many players do not want to put in the time and effort required to maximize their results.

For information on video poker basics, go here: How to Play Video Poker (

4. Best games for beginning video poker players

There are dozens of different video poker games, each with multiple pay tables. Beginning players should limit their selection of games. They should walk before they run. 

The best games for beginners have a:

  • Good return.
  • Low variance (volatility).
  • Simple playing strategy.

Three of the best video poker game for beginners are:

  • Jacks or Better
  • Bonus Poker
  • Deuces Wild

These games satisfy all three criteria for good beginner’s games.

For more information on available games, go here: Video Poker Games and Games Categories ( For information on variance, go here: Low Variance or High Variance Video Poker – Which is Your Style?

5. Strategy

Playing the perfect strategy for the selected game and pay table is a major key to success in video poker. Strategies for common games (such as those that are ideal for novice players) are available online. There are also several video poker apps that can generate strategy charts for any game and pay table.

A strategy chart lists hands with highest return hands on top. Each successive line lists another hand or hands with a lower return than the previous line. 

To use a strategy chart, compare the dealt hand to the first line of the chart. If it matches the hand on the machine, save the cards indicated in the strategy. If not, continue to the next line and repeat the process. 

If the hand on the game is not listed in the strategy chart, discard the entire hand to receive a totally new hand. It is that simple.

Before heading to a casino and dropping hard-earned money into a game, players should know how to properly play the game. Make sure to take the time beforehand to obtain and learn the strategy before risking any real money.

For more information on strategy, go here: Video Poker Strategy (with Charts & the Basics) (

Video Poker

6. Practice

Learning the proper strategy can be accomplished by memorizing the strategy chart. That alone will not guarantee the strategy will be played properly during live play. It is wise to practice playing at home prior to playing for money.

There are several video poker-playing apps available. With them, players can play on their computer or smartphone. The apps will issue warnings when errors are made. 

Practice using the app until there are no – or very few – errors before risking hard earned cash. Your bankroll will thank you.

For more information on practice, go here: Practicing Video Poker Play Strategy (

7. Bankroll

Speaking of bankroll, there are a few important points to follow for successful play.

  • Money should be designated solely for live play.
  • Bring it with you – do not go to an ATM.
  • Divide the trip bankroll into session bankrolls. If you lose the entire session bankroll, that session is done. Do something else until it is time for the next session. 
  • If you are unfortunate and lose the entire trip bankroll, that is it. No more play that trip.
  • Do not hit the ATM or obtain casino credit.

Following these bankroll tips will limit any losses to sustainable levels.

For more information on bankrolls, go here: Video Poker Bankroll Requirements (

8. Summary 

  • Video poker is different from normal slot machines. It allows players to impact results.
  • New video poker players should choose a high return, low variance, simple strategy game.
  • Video poker players should know the proper playing strategy.
  • They should learn and practice it at home before playing for money.
  • Bankroll management is important for video poker success.

Jerry “Stickman” has been involved in casino gambling for nearly 30 years. He is an expert in blackjack, craps, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He started playing blackjack in the late ‘80s, learned several card counting systems and used these skills to become an advantage blackjack player and overall winner of this game. He also acquired the skills necessary to become an overall winner in the game of craps, accomplishing this by a combination of throwing skill and proper betting techniques. Stich is also an overall winner playing video poker.