Do I Need To Be A Poker Genius To Play Video Poker?

As I am sure that you are already aware, there is a big high stakes poker grudge match between Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu ongoing at the moment. These two poker legends certainly know more than most about the game, but could they put that knowledge to use playing Video Poker?

Or is Video Poker, despite the name, an entirely different beast altogether?

In this article, we are going to discover just how much poker knowledge you need to play video poker. We will also discover whether any of the skills you may have learned at the poker table can help you when you load up a Video Poker machine.

Do I Need To Be A Poker Genius?

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At the highest level of professional high stakes poker, there is no doubt that the top playersknow pretty much everything there is to know about the game.

They can calculate their outs and their chances of success in a hand like a computer, almost instantly too with the turn of every card.

Not only that, but they can pick up on subtle reads from their opponents, especially if they are not quite so experienced, that can give them an insight into what cards they hold at a particular point in the game.

Of course, acquiring this knowledge, insight and skill can take many, many years to master.

That sounds ominous if you fancy a game of Video Poker, but the good news here is that other than a rudimentary understanding of the ranking of the different poker hands, and what the general aim of a game of poker is, that’s all you need to enjoy Video Poker to the fore!

Why Is Video Poker Different?

Video Poker is fundamentally different to standard poker because it is played against thehouse, rather than another opponent and it has a very high randomised element.


It is not a game were understanding your opponent, or being able to bluff well, or make the right call at the right time, matters.

Essentially, Video Poker is less like Poker, and more like a slot machine. The generation of the cards you receive in a game is randomised and you are playing against the house to win a stated amount of money for each type of paying hand. The greater the value of that hand, the more money you win.

This is essentially the same set up as a slot, where different symbols have different values and the more you match these symbols on pay lines across the reels, the more you stand to win.

If you think of the different hands you can achieve in Video Poker, the less chance you have of hitting that hand, the higher the value of the payout. This is the same structure as a slot game, where the jackpot pay lines are much more difficult to hit than the lower paying wins.

Once you have got your head around the fact Video Poker is much more like a slot, things then start to make a lot more sense!

What Poker Skills Are Useful?

As I mentioned before, to enjoy Video Poker you only really need two bits of knowledge from the game of poker.

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  • What the overarching aim of the game is (ie, to get the best hand possible).
  • To understand the different types of hand in the game and how they rank against each other.

The great thing is, most people understand that the aim of poker is to get the highest ranking hand and also most people know that, for example, three of a kind, beats two pairs or similar.

So equipped just with that knowledge, you are ready to play Video Poker.

What Skills Or Strategies Can I Use In Video Poker?

The key to Video Poker comes in deciding which cards in your hand to keep and which to discard, to be replaced with new cards dealt from the deck.

Now, if you are inclined to learn it, there is a strategy that you can follow for this, which basically improves your chances of winning more often by a very slight amount.

However, you can also play using your own strategy and this will not impinge negatively on your enjoyment of the game, or your realistic chances of winning on a hand.

In many Video Poker games, if you land a winning hand on the initial deal, the software will hold those cards for you anyway, so that you don’t accidentally throw away a winning hand. This makes the game even more accessible for novice players as they are less likely to make a beginner’s mistake.

There are a number of variants of video poker available. Tens or Better or Jacks or Better are two common types, but you can also find games where certain cards are ‘wild’ cards and can be used as any card in the pack Deuces Wild is a good example of this type of game.

So, in short, you don’t need to be a poker expert to enjoy video poker. In fact, even a basic understanding of the game is more than sufficient. Furthermore, if you enjoy slot games, then video poker will also be very much to your liking as the games are very similar in many respects.

*Featured Image Courtesy of Surv1vs – Public Domain



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