7 Ways to Improve as a Video Poker Player Without Using Strategy

Excited Man With a Video Poker Logo and Machine

Video poker strategy is easy to use when you have the right tools. And using these tools gives you the best chance to win. But strategy isn’t the way to improve your video poker play.

And the truth is that the best video poker players use a combination of strategic and nonstrategic tactics when they play.

Here’s a list of seven things you can do to improve your video poker results that don’t have anything to do with strategy. Once you master these seven tactics, you can add strategy to the mix and play the best real money video poker possible.

1 – The Machine Matters

The video poker machine you choose to play is the first big decision you need to make. The way most gamblers do this is they try several different variations and settle on 1 or 2 machines that they like.

Some gamblers enjoy video poker games with wild cards and some like a machine with a simple game mechanic.

While you should try a few different video poker variations, you should do this a little differently than most gamblers. The good news is that there are good options if you like wild cards or if you prefer a more simple game.

Video Poker Game Selection Screen

The difference is that you should narrow your choices down to the video poker machines that offer the best chance to win before you settle on a particular game or two to play. And the good news gets even better.

I can narrow the field of possibilities down to exactly two options to help you get started. I’m not saying that these are the only two video poker variations that you’re ever going to be able to play, but these two are the best options to start with.

If you want to play a simple straightforward video poker game, play Jacks or Better. If you prefer a game with wild cards, play Deuces Wild.

Both of these variations are easy to learn, and they both give you a good chance to win. And when you’re ready to start using strategy later, both of these variations have readily available strategy charts that are easy to use.

2 – The Pay Table Matters Even More

Now that you know which machine or machines that you’re going to play, the next step is to learn more about the available pay tables. Pay tables are the single most important thing when you play video poker.

Each unique pay table has a particular minimum edge for the casino. This means that if you play on a machine with a bad pay table, you’re playing against a higher edge for the casino than when you play on a machine with a better pay table.

Pay tables can be a little confusing, especially when you’re comparing two or more pay tables on the same type of machine.

It’s easy to see that a pay table that has all of the numbers the same except for one number is a better choice. But how do you determine the better pay table when multiple pay outs are different, with some numbers higher and some numbers lower?

You can run some complicated math to figure this out, or you can simply look up the best pay tables from a resource that has already run the numbers. Here are the pay tables you need to look for when you play Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better.

The Deuces Wild pay table you should play has the following payouts in the five-coin column:

  • 4,000 coins for a royal flush with no wilds
  • 1,000 coins for four deuces
  • 125 coins for a royal flush with one or more wilds
  • 80 coins for five of a kind
  • 50 coins for a straight flush
  • 20 coins for four of a kind
  • 20 coins for a full house
  • 15 coins for a flush
  • 10 coins for a straight
  • 5 coins for three of a kind

The Jacks or Better pay table you should play has the following payouts in the five-coin column:

  • 4,000 coins for a royal flush
  • 250 coins for a straight flush
  • 125 coins for four of a kind
  • 45 coins for a full house
  • 30 coins for a flush
  • 20 coins for a straight
  • 15 coins for three of a kind
  • 10 coins for two pairs
  • 5 coins for a pair of jacks or higher

3 – Too Fast Means Too Bad

Even when you choose the best game variation and use the best pay table, there’s another thing that has a large influence on how much you lose. The variable I’m talking about is how fast you play.

Whether you play video poker in a land-based casino, or on a mobile device or computer, you control how fast you play. This might not seem like it’s very important, but you need to limit your losses when you play video poker.

Video Poker Four of a Kind of Threes

And one of the best ways to limit your losses is to play fewer hands. Every video poker hand you play increases the total amount you risk. The video poker machine is designed to keep a small percentage of your total amount risked as profit.

This means that the higher your risk, the higher the profit for the casino. This also means that the higher your risk, the higher your losses.

You don’t have to play to slow, but the slower you play video poker the less you lose and the longer you can play.

4 – Low Denomination and Maximum Coins

I listed the pay tables you need to look for in an earlier section for the two best video poker variations, but those tables are based on using a five-coin wager. If you risk less than five coins, the top payout amount goes down.

If the top payout amount goes down, it raises the casino edge. This simply means that you need to use the five-coin option.

This also means that you need to play machines that have a low coin denomination. Find the lowest coin denomination that has the pay table you want, and use the max coin wager.

5 – Hot and Cold Machines

Some superstitious gamblers spend all of their time looking for a hot machine and trying to avoid cold machines. But I’m going to tell you a secret about hot and cold video poker machines—they don’t exist.

Video poker machines are designed using simple math based on a deck of playing cards. A machine isn’t hot or cold or “due” for a win. Everything that happens is simply mathematical.

Forget about finding a hot machine or avoiding a cold machine. Just find a good machine with a good pay table and forget about hot and cold.

6 – Video Poker Casino Bonuses

Beyond the tactics listed on this page, and using a strategy chart, there isn’t much you can do to become a better video poker player. But online and mobile video poker play does have one extra benefit.

Online Casino Video Poker Game

A few mobile and gambling sites offer an online bonus for video poker players. When you make a deposit, you can get a bonus amount that makes your bankroll larger.

A video poker bonus doesn’t usually help you win more money, but it does let you play longer and have more chances to win the top prize.

7 – Video Poker Tournament Play

The final tip is a way to play video poker on a set budget. It helps you play a minimum number of video poker hands with a chance to win while setting a hard limit on how much you can lose.

A video poker tournament has an entry fee, and you compete against other video poker players. The players with the highest totals win cash prizes.

Video poker tournaments aren’t exactly common, but some casinos do run them. Ask about video poker tournaments where you usually gamble, and look for listings at online and mobile casinos to find tournaments you can join.


Every choice you make when you play video poker, even the choices you make before you start playing hands, influence your chance to win. The most important choices are picking the right machine or game and the right pay table.

You’re in control of how fast you play, and if you can play slower, you limit your long-term losses. Another way to control your losses is to play on machines with small coin denominations.

Don’t fall for the hot and cold machine myth, consider playing in video poker tournaments, and use bonuses when you can find them.