Video poker, a blend of traditional poker and slot machine simplicity, offers players the chance to exercise strategy and decision-making skills. Understanding the hierarchy of winning hands and making optimal decisions based on the dealt cards can significantly improve a player’s chances of success. Let’s delve into the key winning hands and strategic decisions in video poker.

Understanding Hand Rankings

Royal Flush: The Holy Grail of Hands

A Royal Flush—a sequence of the highest-ranking cards from 10 to Ace in the same suit—is the ultimate winning hand in video poker, offering the highest payout. It’s a rarity, but when dealt, it promises substantial rewards.

Straight Flush and Four of a Kind

Following the Royal Flush, a Straight Flush (five sequential cards in the same suit) and Four of a Kind (four cards of the same rank) are high-value hands, offering significant payouts.

Full House and Flush

A Full House (three cards of one rank and two of another) and a Flush (five cards of the same suit, not in sequence) constitute strong hands, providing moderate payouts in video poker.

Straight, Three of a Kind, and Two Pair

A Straight (five sequential cards of mixed suits), Three of a Kind (three cards of the same rank), and Two Pair (two sets of pairs) are mid-tier hands offering lower payouts.

Pair of Jacks or Better

A Pair of Jacks or higher (Queens, Kings, or Aces) is the minimum hand required for a payout in most video poker variations.

Making Optimal Decisions: Hold or Discard

Understanding Hold Strategies

After being dealt five cards, strategic decisions involve selecting which cards to hold and which to discard for the second draw. The objective is to form or improve the best possible hand from the initial deal.

Holding High-Value Hands

For hands like Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, and Two Pair, players should hold all cards as they form a winning combination.

Discarding Unnecessary Cards

When dealt incomplete or lower-ranking hands, players aim to discard and draw new cards strategically. For instance, if dealt a pair, the strategy often involves holding the pair and discarding the remaining cards to attempt a higher-ranked hand.

Optimal Strategy Charts

Experienced players often refer to optimal strategy charts specific to different video poker variations. These charts provide guidelines for the best decisions based on the dealt hand, maximizing potential winning outcomes.


Mastering video poker strategy revolves around understanding hand rankings and making informed decisions on which cards to hold or discard. By aiming for high-value hands and employing optimal decision-making based on the dealt cards, players can significantly improve their chances of success in this engaging blend of skill and chance. Practice, understanding the game variations, and using optimal strategy charts can aid in making well-informed decisions, leading to more rewarding video poker experiences.