Video Poker Strategy
Video Poker, unlike every other machine game, relies on strategy and skill as well as luck to determine payout. Yes, it is true that at first draw, the advantage swings far in favor of the House – only 21% of dealt hands contain at least a pair of Jacks – but it is what happens after the draw that makes up video poker strategy. Don't believe me? Type in "video poker" strategy at your favorite online book source and marvel at the number of books that exist. Why is it that so much strategic training exists for video poker?
Let's look at roulette -- one could argue that certain bets make one more likely to win, and while this is true it still does not imply need for strategy. Simply knowing that betting on a single number in roulette is less profitable than, for instance, betting on a column does not equal having a strategy. That's just statistics, available to any player capable of reading letters on felt.
Where the strategy of video poker comes in most is knowing WHAT to discard to give yourself the best chance of a high payout. Like roulette, there is a posted schedule of payment – a payback table that lists so many units per hand, based on bet size, etc. Unlike roulette, the player has a chance to improve his odds by playing smart poker, rather than by depending on the toss of a ball bearing.
The payback table becomes the great equalizer – understand the payback table and you'll understand the video poker machine. One basic way this helps is in identifying the highest paying tables, also known as Full-pay tables. You may pick a machine that pays 8 for a straight and 5 for a flush, just at random to play Jacks or Better -- but without paying attention to the payback table, you don't see that the machine next to you pays 9/6, and is therefore far more profitable, especially when played at the max bet level. The payback table is what will reinforce good poker habits – betting max, playing nickels, and keeping your eyes on the game.
As for specific video poker tips – well I can't give secrets like that away for nothing. Fortunately for you, there are a number of excellent guides (and a number of not-so-excellent. . .) on how to win big at video poker. Bob Dancer's aptly titled Million Dollar Video Poker is something of the industry standard. Bob Dancer himself is a video poker god of sorts, having written and taught extensively on the subject of video poker strategy, and he comes complete with a story of turning 6 grand into a million in just a few short years. This book's huge – 200 pages plus – and Bob really does share his secrets, but its more of a book for advanced players, or players looking to turn into professionals. For the everyday player, there's Frugal Video Poker by Jean Scott and Viktor Nacht – a plainly-worded system that teaches you to read payback tables and pick the machines most likely to win. With so many guides available, no player should walk up to a machine without some kind of basic strategy.
You can also learn about slot machine strategies on this site, and poker strategies here. And this article about slot machines strategy is also helpful, from a different perspective though.