Penalty Cards in Video Poker

Many Video Poker Enthusiasts May Have Heard of the Concept of Penalty Cards, but Few Players Really Understand the Impact Penalty Cards Have on Correct Strategy

(The following is an original article from

Many serious video poker players have heard of the concept of penalty cards, but few understand how to adjust their playing strategy based on the presence or absence of these types of cards. So, what is a penalty card in video poker? A penalty card is one of the originally dealt cards, which is usually discarded, whose absence from the remaining deck of 47 cards negatively affects one or more of the remaining combinations in the hand. For example, in 10/7 Double Bonus Poker (which means that a full-house pays 10 coins for every coin bet and a flush pays 7 coins for every coin bet), from a hand consisting of

Ace of Spades King of Clubs Eight of Clubs Seven of Hearts Six of Diamonds

the correct strategy is to hold the Ace only, but from a hand consisting of

Ace of Spades King of Clubs Eight of Clubs Seven of Hearts Five of Clubs

it is correct to hold both the Ace and the King.

The reason is that if we were to discard the five of clubs, the simple fact that this card has been discarded reduces the value of holding the Ace all by itself because now the A2345 (wheel) straight is harder to make (because there is one less five that can be drawn).

So how can we use this knowledge? We can simply consider the cards that we are throwing away, consider the possible hands that we are drawing to AND ask ourselves if one of the cards we are going to discard from our original hand may make it more difficult to make an of the possible hands to which we are drawing. If the answer is Yes, it may help us to reconsider our original drawing decision. Just as in the second example hand above, the fact that we were going to discard the five of clubs changed our correct strategy for playing this 10/7 Double Bonus hand from simply holding the Ace to Holding the Ace and the King.

By considering penalty cards the next time you play video poker, we're sure that you will start making better playing decisions and have more winning video poker sessions. If you want to practice changing your video poker strategy, try our free video poker games by clicking the link below.

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