Everything You Need to Know about the Royal Flush in Video Poker

Royal Flush on a Video Poker Screen

The royal flush is the ultimate prize in video poker, whether you’re playing on a standard Jacks or Better machine or a more modern video poker game with a progressive top prize. Regardless of the game you play, some form of royal flush will be the hand you’re playing for.

This post contains everything a video poker newbie needs to know about the royal flush, including how to hit it, the odds associated with royals, and strategy based on trying as hard as possible to hit a video poker royal flush.

How to Hit a Video Poker Royal Flush

A royal flush is a specific type of straight flush. That means it’s a hand made up of consecutive cards of the same suit. To be considered a royal flush, a straight flush must include the ace, king, and queen of the suit, along with the 10. The presence of royalty on the cards means the hand is “royal.”

Video poker games mostly play like traditional 5-card draw poker. That means you may be dealt a royal flush, or you may build your hand into a royal flush by discarding and drawing new cards.

Video poker players use the phrase “hitting a royal flush” to refer to both being dealt a royal and using discards and draws to build a royal yourself.

Learning to play in such a way that you’ll be as likely as possible to hit a royal flush just means learning the basics of the game and following optimal video poker strategy. I cover this in more detail in the rest of the post.

Let’s start with some discussion of the odds of hitting a royal while playing video poker.

Odds of Hitting a Royal Flush in Video Poker

The exact odds of hitting a royal flush in video poker depend on the game.

For a traditional video poker game (9-6 Jacks or Better), you’ve got a 1 in 40,391 chance of hitting a royal. That means that on average you’ll see a royal flush every 40,391 hands. The odds of being dealt a royal flush in poker is even worse than that!

The same figure is different for every different video poker game. On a 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker game, you’ve got a 1 in 40,779 chance of hitting a royal, meaning you’ll see fewer royal flushes (theoretically) over time playing Double Double Bonus Poker.

If you want to know the odds of drawing a royal flush on your first five cards, just consider the total number of possible five-card combinations and how many of those combinations produce a royal flush result. There are 2,598,960 possible five-card draws, and 4 of them are royal flushes. Your chances of a royal flush on the deal are 1 in 649,740.

What about my odds of hitting a royal on a total redraw? Your chances are a little better on a complete redraw of all five cards, since you’ve eliminated five cards from the deck.

Royal Flush of Diamonds

If you redraw all five cards, your odds of getting a royal on the redraw are 1 in 383,484. If any of your discards include a 10, those odds get a little longer – 1 in 511,313. That’s because eliminating a 10 takes away one of the four possibly royal flush results.

The number of results you see has a big impact on your odds of hitting a royal. Controlling the speed of the game is sometimes important for bankroll management – playing too fast can lead to a huge swing in the number of outcomes per hour that you see.

If you slow down your play, you’ll increase the time between your likely royal flush results. At 500 hands an hour, it may be 80 hours of play before you hit that royal. Cut that play speed in half and you double the amount of time it could take to see a royal.

You’ll need to balance your desire to see a royal flush with a play speed that supports your overall bankroll strategy.

How Much does a Royal Flush Pay Out in Video Poker?

Video poker machines use their pay tables as one of the main ways of distinguishing themselves from one another.

Since every game has a different pay table, and since different pay tables exist even for the same variant, it’s impossible for anyone to say, “A royal flush in video poker is worth xx amount.”

Having said that, if we consider 9-6 Jacks or Better to be the standard video poker game, we can look at that pay table and determine a typical value.

On a standard 9-6 Jacks or Better game, a max bet of five coins pays out 4,000 coins for a royal flush. Most people play for $1 a coin, meaning the royal flush payout is $4,000. Obviously, if you’re playing at $5 a coin or whatever, the payout will be worth more money.

I’m not talking about progressive jackpots or outlier games with massive payouts for odd royal flush combos.

I know of video poker games that offer bonus payouts for so-called sequential royal flushes – this just means that the cards appear in order on the screen, either ace-king-queen-jack-ten, or ten-jack-queen-king-ace. These payouts are usually progressive, so the jackpot can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Generally speaking, the top payout on a standard video poker game is going to be 4,000 credits, provided you place a max bet.

Here’s the typical value of a royal flush payout without placing a max bet:

  • 1 coin bet – 250 coin payout
  • 2 coins bet – 500 coin payout
  • 3 coins bet – 750 coin payout
  • 4 coins bet – 1,000 coin payout

The royal flush payout is generally the only one that pays more for a max bet, but if you aren’t chasing that 4,000-coin payout, you’re robbing yourself of advantage against the house.

Two-, Three-, and Four-Card Royals in Video Poker

When you’re dealt two of the five cards necessary for a royal flush, your odds of drawing to a royal get significantly better.

Holding two cards towards a royal, you’ve got a 1 in 16,215 chance of landing it. Holding three cards towards a royal, your odds are even better, at 1 in 1,081. When you’re holding four cards towards a royal flush, you’ve got a 1 in 47 shot at drawing to the big win.

Video Poker Machine Screen

Think about it like this – if you’re holding four towards a royal, you’ve already seen 5 of the 52 cards in the deck. There’s 47 left for your draw. One of those 47 cards is the card you need – nothing else will do.

Looked at from another angle, you can see how difficult it is to pull off a royal flush, and why this card combo results in the biggest winnings in the games. Even with 4 of the 5 cards you need for the big prize, you’ll fail 46 out of 47 times on average. That’s like playing a slot machine with a 2% payback percentage, and you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

More Video Poker Royal Flush Strategy

I wish I could buy a lucky rabbit’s foot or say a certain incantation and receive better luck seeking royals at my favorite video poker machine.

It doesn’t work that way.

Optimal strategy is what will lead to more royal flush results.

If you follow optimal strategy, the kind written up in charts and printed on cards in the casino gift shop, you’ll make yourself as likely as you can be to hit a royal flush playing Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild or whatever variant you prefer.

Two- and three-card royals are a big part of game strategy. Learning to recognize and properly play hands with two or three cards towards a royal flush makes a big difference in your likelihood of hitting one. The optimal game strategy has this tactic built in – so don’t be ashamed, follow basic video poker strategy and you’ll see a royal flush eventually.

The truth is, most of the value in video poker comes from three of a kind and full house hands, not the much-sought-after royal flush. Royals just don’t happen often enough to bolster your bankroll.

Good video poker strategy (and optimal strategy as created by mathematicians) would tell you to avoid chasing the royals outside of a few very specific situations.

Still, video poker players love to chase the royal flush. And I can’t blame them – after all, it’s the biggest payout on the board.

Remember that you’ll need to play video poker for about 100 hours in single-hand format to see a royal.

In Summary

This post outlines the basics of royal flush video poker strategy.

Generally speaking, so long as you bet max and follow basic game strategy in terms of building your hand, you’ll see a royal flush during your first few sessions of video poker play.

You don’t sit down at a video poker to avoid getting a royal flush. It’s the thing you’re playing for, akin to a top prize on a slot machine or a long string of luck with the dice at the craps table.

Posted in: Video Poker

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