Video Poker Hand Analysis: Ask The Expert

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2 of clubs 2 of hearts 9 of clubs 8 of clubs A of spades


This month analyzes a common 'type' of hand that is often misplayed by beginner and intermediate video poker players, alike. An example of the type of hand we are referring to is demonstrated above, along with the hold/discard choice selected by our random player.

Our question to you this month is: Is holding the pair of twos the correct play? Try to think about your answer before scrolling down to read our expert's analysis.

Interestingly enough, the correct play depends on the variation of video poker game you are playing! The four most common forms of video poker are: Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, Double Joker Poker and Jacks or Better Bonus Poker, and (Note: You can play each of these games for FREE by clicking on any of our FREE NO DOWNLOAD VIDEO POKER GAMES to the right.)

In Jacks or Better (full pay 9/6 - click here for an explanation of video poker payout schedules), holding the pair of twos is the correct choice. Since 2 pair pays 2:1 on the 9/6 Jacks or Better machine, there is a much better chance of getting another pair or another deuce (three of a kind pays 3:1) than getting the two club cards for the flush if you would have held the two, eight and nine of clubs.

The name of the game is to conserve money for the big payout because the longer you play the more chances you have to hit the Royal Flush and by holding the pair of twos you can still gain from a 2:1 or 3:1 payout. Although, the flush if you hit it would pay 6:1, the odds are very much against you actually completing the flush because there are only 10 club cards remaining in the deck to fill the flush. Holding the pair opens up the greatest amount of chances with any pair or a deuce to give you a payout. And as I state you gain with the 2:1 or 3:1 payout.

In Jacks or Better Bonus Poker (with a 8/5 paytable), again the pair of twos is the correct play. Now you would say "Why, when you only get paid 1:1 on 2 pair?". The answer to that is the big bonus for getting 4 of a kind "2"s. The bonus far outweighs the flush payout of 5:1. Bonus poker gives you greater payouts or "bonuses" for four of a kind "2,3 or 4"s. It is well worth the bonus to keep the pair of twos and if you do get only two pair you still conserve your money for the bigger payout. You would definitely kick yourself if you hold the 3 clubs and get the pair of twos!

Deuces Wild - Do I really have to analyze that one?! Obviously, the two wild cards are the must hold. Anyone could see that.

Double Joker Poker - Here is where the excitement really begins! (kidding) This is where holding the pair of 2's is INCORRECT! Double Joker Poker does not payout for two pair (the minimum winning hand on this game is three-of-a-kind, or trips) and Double Joker Poker only pays 1:1 for three of a kind. This means another 2 or a joker has to be dealt just for you to break even and to get any sort of decent payout you would need to get at least a full house. The chances of getting a full house are actually much least than getting the flush. The 3 clubs in this instance is the right choice since 10 clubs and the jokers are available AND you get a 4:1 payout when you hit the flush. Again, by holding the clubs, you get the decent flush payout plus better odds of keeping your bankroll alive.

One final comment: The payouts can vary from different online casinos, Vegas and Atlantic City (AC). The quoted payouts are for MOST machines in Vegas and AC, however many online casinos give more favorable odds to attract customers and sometimes you'll find the occasional "Kings or Better" or "Two Pair-Joker Poker". In this case the strategy would be different then what I analyzed here. So the most important take home message is to ALWAYS look at the type of payouts for each hand and calculate the percentages that give you, the player, the greatest opportunities to keep your bankroll alive.

Going for the bigger payouts with lesser odds of winning will only wipe you out. That is what the casinos want you to do. You want to keep your bank roll going until the big payout comes and you "break the machine!" Remember, if you play certain video poker machines correctly in some cases you will have a 100% or more payout which means you will make money for the time you put into the game!


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