Video poker tournaments are either limited to a certain number of hands or a specific amount of time. Sometimes the tournament has both a time limit and a limit to the number of hands. In a tournament with a time limit, playing fast is important. The royals-only strategy introduced previously is ideal for fast play while still giving the player a decent chance to end up in the money. With no time limit, a player can take the time and decide how to play video poker with a strategy that is more complicated.

This article covers some more complex strategies that might be used in timed tournaments, but would be more suited to those that are not timed.

VP player scratching his head

As stated before, some players prefer to play the same video poker strategy as in non-tournament play; that is, play the optimum strategy designed to get the most return from each hand played. The reasoning is that the player will have to be lucky to win the tournament and this strategy will give you most from each hand. Hopefully that will be enough to put the player in the winner’s circle

While that logic may work, when faced with a limited number of hands or a limited amount of time, a strategy that favors high-paying hands makes sense. The royals-only strategy in 
video poker took this idea to the extreme – save for nothing but royal flushes. 

So now let’s look at video poker strategies
 favoring not only royal flushes but also other high-paying hands. 

Because the royals-only strategy saves for – well – royals only, the strategy does not change based on game type or pay table. Once we add other high paying hands to the mix, the strategy becomes dependent on the video poker game
 and pay table. Other high paying hands vary depending on the game. Check the list below. It lists the top paying hands for several jacks or better based games with five credits played (this article cover only the Jacks or Better game).
 

Jacks or Better
Royal Flush 4000
Straight Flush 250
4 of a Kind 125

 

Bonus Poker
Royal Flush 4000
4 Aces 400
Straight Flush 250
4 2s, 3s or 4s 200
4 5s thru Kings 125

 

Double Bonus Poker
Royal Flush 4000
4 Aces 800
4 2s, 3s, 4s 400
4 5s thru Kings 250
Straight Flush 250

 

Double-Double Bonus Poker
Royal Flush 4000
4 Aces w/2, 3 or 4 2000
4 2s, 3s or 4a w/A, 2, 3 or 4 800
4 Aces 800
4 2s, 3s or 4s 400
4 5s thru Kings 250
Straight Flush 250

 

Triple Double Bonus Poker
Royal Flush 4000
4 Aces 1200
4 2s, 3s or 4s 600
4 5s thru Kings 375
Straight Flush 250

 


Notice how different video poker hands pay more than others depending on the game. 

If you want to save for royals and straight flushes, the five credit column of the pay table used to generate the playing strategy would look like this:

 

 

Hand Pays
Royal Flush 4000
Straight Flush 250
4 of a kind 0
Full House 0
Flush 0
Straight 0
3 of a kind 0
2 pairs 0
Jacks or Better 0


The strategy generated from this pay table, after combining lines with equal returns looks like this:

  1. Dealt Royal Flush
  2. Dealt Straight Flush
  3. 4 cards of a Royal Flush
  4. 4 cards of a Straight Flush
  5. 3 cards of a Royal Flush
  6. 3 cards of a Straight Flush
  7. Suited JT, QJ, QT, KQ, KJ, or KT
  8. Two Cards of an Open Straight Flush (Suited 45 - 9T)
  9. Suited AK, AQ, AJ, or AT
  10. Any Two Cards of a Straight Flush with One Gap
  11. Any Two Cards of a Straight Flush with Two Gaps
  12. Any Two Cards of a Straight Flush with Three Gaps
  13. A, K, Q, J

The strategy is a bit more complicated so it may be a bit harder to learn and also a bit harder play quickly. It is up to you to determine if the added complexity is worthwhile.

It is possible you might also want to include four of a kind hands. To do that, simply change the “4 or a Kind” line in the pay table to 125 and generate the strategy.

 

Hand Pays
Royal Flush 4000
Straight Flush 250
4 of a Kind 125
Full House 0
Flush 0
Straight 0
3 of a Kind 0
2 Pairs 0
Jacks or Better 0


The strategy generated from this pay table, after combining lines with equal returns looks like this:

  1. Dealt Royal Flush
  2. Dealt Straight Flush
  3. 4-of-a-Kind
  4. 4 cards of a Royal Flush
  5. 4 Cards of a Straight Flush
  6. 3-of-a-kind
  7. 3 Cards of a Royal Flush
  8. 3 Cards of an Open Straight Flush (Suited 345 – 89T)
  9. 3 Cards of an Inside Straight Flush – 1 Gap
  10. Any Pair
  11. 2 Cards of a Royal Flush (Suited JT, QJ, QT, KQ, KJ, KT, AK, AQ, AJ, AT)
  12. 3 Cards of a Straight Flush – 2 Gaps
  13. 2 Cards of an Open Straight Flush (Suited 45 – 9T)
  14. Jack
  15. 2 Cards of an Inside Straight Flush – 1 Gap (Suited 35 – 8T, 34)
  16. Queen, Ace
  17. 2 Cards of an Inside Straight Flush – 2 Gaps (Suited 25 – 7T, 23, 24)

Video Poker player with a smile on his face

As you can clear see, this video poker strategy is quite a bit more complex. Use it in a timed video poker tournament only if you are sure you can play it perfectly and quickly.

All tournaments require luck, but if luck is on your side, a strategy favoring the higher paying hands will pay off.

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.

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