Many video poker articles that explore specific games will include a strategy chart showing the reader the best way to play the game. However, only an extremely small percentage of video poker players tend to use strategy charts while playing their favorite video poker game. There are several reasons for this.

  • They are not aware video poker strategy charts exist.
  • They think video poker strategy charts – sometimes called cheat sheets – are illegal.
  • They don’t know how to use them.
  • They are uncomfortable using them as it may take a while before the correct play is determined.
  • It might bruise their ego to have to show they don’t have the strategy totally mastered.

Video Poker strategy charts are designed to help the player play optimal strategy. This allows them to extract every penny possible from their favorite video poker game. This article will:

  • Point out that strategy charts do, indeed, exist. 
  • Explain exactly how they should be used.
  • Show several charts for the most popular games. 

Video Poker player is exploring the game

First, let us dispel the misconception that video poker strategy charts are illegal. Electronic devices that determine proper plays are virtually uniformly banned. But, referring to a printed sheet for help is usually not. They are treated much like blackjack strategy cards which are not only allowed at the table, they are sold in casino gift shops. In fact, I have also seen video poker strategy cards for sale in a few of them. While some casinos may frown upon their use, this is rare, and the worst that will likely happen is a warning.

While some call them “cheat sheets,” they are no different than blackjack strategy cards. The term cheat sheet may be used by casinos to shame people into not using them. Don’t fall for this. Using a “cheat sheet” will maximize your return allowing you to be a winner in more sessions and give you the maximum playing time possible from your bankroll.

HOW TO USE A STRATEGY CHART

Listed below are several lines from a full-pay (9/6) Jacks or Better video poker strategy chart. The proper way to use this chart is described immediately following it.

The colors indicate the type of hand for which o\you are saving:

Red – Royal Flush
Blue – Straight Flush
Green – Pairs, Three of a Kinds, Full House, Four of a Kind
Purple – Flush
Brown – Straight

Video Poker Strategy Chart card

To use this strategy chart, proceed as follows:

  1. Compare the hand that is dealt to the first line of the chart.
  2. If the line defines the hand, save the stated cards. 
    1. For example, you are dealt the 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of spades (straight flush).
    2. This is a straight flush which is four of a kind or better.
    3. Save all five cards of the straight flush and hit the draw button.
  3. If the hand is not described in the line, move down to the next line of the strategy chart and then go to step 2 above.
    1. For example, you are dealt the 5, J, Q, K, and A of spades. 
    2. The hand contains four cards of a royal flush as shown in the second line of the strategy chart.
    3. Save the J, Q, K, and A of spades and hit the draw button.  
  4. Continue moving down the chart one line at a time and returning to step 2 until you reach the end of the chart.
  5. When you reach the end of the chart, do not save any cards, simply hit the draw button.

As you can see, the process is straight forward. Compare the hand to each line of the chart starting from the top. When the line of the chart defines the hand, save those cards. Otherwise, at the end, draw five new cards. Complete strategy charts for several of the more popular video poker games are at the end of this article. 

A WORD ABOUT PRACTICE

Even though you could simply take a strategy chart and play the game in a casino without any practice, it pays to practice at home. Until you become very familiar with the strategy chart, play will be very slow. The more familiar the player is with the strategy chart, the more quickly and accurately the game will be played. Fast play is particularly important if the game’s return (either from the game itself or from the game and comps received) is more than 100 percent. Faster (accurate) play means more money in the player’s pocket.

While the player can simply memorize the strategy chart of the desired game, it is better to actually practice the strategy before going to a casino in order to minimize any uncertainty. There are several computer programs and smartphone apps that mimic actual video poker play along with alerts when the wrong cards are held. I strongly recommend obtaining one of these and using it to hone your video poker skills.

As an added bonus, many of these programs and apps allow the user to generate and print strategies for almost any variation of several game types. This is very helpful if the casino does not have any of the games which are covered by the strategy charts at the end of this article.

SUMMARY

Video poker strategy charts help players maximize returns from their favorite video poker games by eliminating mistakes that can cost real money. While most players are hesitant to use strategy charts in a casino, they are legal and the player should not be concerned about using them. Many players do not want to take the time and effort to practice and use strategy charts in a casino. By not doing so, they are likely giving the casino more of their hard-earned money than is necessary. Video poker strategy cards for the many popular games are available for sale on the internet. Strategy charts for many more games are also available to view and print on the internet. If a strategy chart for your favorite game is not available at the end of this article, or on the internet, you can purchase a computer program or smartphone app that allows for generating strategy charts for user-customized games. These programs and apps are also excellent methods of practicing the strategy until it is perfected.

It is your money that is risked when playing video poker. Make sure you get the best return possible.

About the Author
By

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.