Almost all video poker machines use a Random Number Generator (RNG). The Players goal is to build the best hand possible starting with the first cards that are dealt. The opening hand dealt to the player is five cards. Then the player decides which ones to hold and which ones to discard. When the cards are discarded new cards are dealt to replace them bringing the hand total to five cards again.
The best way to decide which cards to hold and which to discard to build the best hand possible is to know the percentages, or odds of what the possible hands are that can be built from your starting cards. For instance, if you hold a pair of jacks, you automatically know it will be impossible to build a flush, straight, or royal flush. However, you have a chance to build three of a kind, two pair, four of a kind or a full house. What makes Video Poker such a good game to play is that many video poker machines pay out close to 100 per cent or more if you know how to play them. But casinos know most people won't bother to learn how to play the machines properly and that is how casinos make their money.
There are 2,598,960 possible hands that can be made with the 52 card deck that is used to play Video Poker. The RNG in machines is set to achieve that number of hands with the possible odds that number represents. Don't get nervous about big numbers. You really do have a very good chance to win because many of those hands pay off. And the payoff is where a little research before you play can really help to make you a winner. The odds of each hand occuring have already been set by the RNG so, the casino gets an advantage by setting the odds or payouts for each winning hand. That is where smart shopping will really pay off. Because if you can read the pay tables and understand them, you will know what your chances of winning are. This doesn't require any difficult math, it is really quite simple and that's why you should read the pay table before playing any video poker machine.
The table below shows how the pay tables are related to the overall return of the machine.
Full House / Flush Return = Approximate Machine/Game Return
9-1 for a full house and 6-1 for a flush = approximate machine payout of 99.5%
8-1 for a full house and 5-1 for a flush = approximate machine payout of 97.4%
7-1 for a full house and 5-1 for a flush = approximate machine payout of 96.3%
6-1 for a full house and 5-1 for a flush = approximate machine payout of 95.2%
It is almost always advisable to play the maximum number of coins on a good machine. This allows you to take advantage of bonus payouts for a royal flush etc. Playing progressive machines is also a good idea, simply because the payouts can be much bigger if you hit a royal flush. Try to find progressive machines that are showing approximately 80 per cent of the full payout amount.
Video Poker Quick Tips
Don't Keep lousy cards. If you are dealt cards that can't be used to form a winning hand (like a pair or three or four cards of the same suit or part of a straight) then discard all your cards and draw 5 more cards.
Always keep a pair instead of holding one high card. The odds and the payout percentages favor three-of-kind over a high pair. Don't keep an extra card along with your pair either, as this reduces your odds of drawing three-of-a-kind.
Always keep a high pair and try for three of a kind rather than drawing into a four-card straight, a flush, or a three-card royal. Going for three-of-a-kind offers you the best odds. In the long run you'll make more on going for three-of-a-kind.
It is also better to keep a low pair rather than drawing to a four-card straight. The odds of drawing three-of-kind are better.
If you have a four-card straight (can be completed on either end) without a pair, go for the one card draw. Do not try to draw a card however, to fill the middle of an incomplete straight.
If you have a choice between drawing two cards to complete a 3-card royal or keeping a low pair, a 4-card flush or a 4-card-open-ended straight, go for the royal flush.
If you find a high paying machine and combine it with a player's club bonus, with expert play you have a much better chance of beating the machine or program.
When playing regular "Jacks or Better" and "Bonus Poker" a Royal Flush pays 250 coins per coin bet with a bonus of 4,000 for maximum coins played. This appears on the pay table as 250/4000.
The key to the Jacks or Better game is the pay out for the Full House (9) and the Flush (6). This type of machine would be referred to as a 9/6 machine and it has an approximate return of 99.5 per cent.
A Bonus Poker game with full pay would offer Full House (8) and Flush (5) payouts.
A full pay Deuces Wild game offers a 100.7 return. The key to this game is the payout for 4-of-a-kind. A reduction in the 4-of-a-kind payout to four coins will reduce the overall return by approximately 6.4%.
A full pay Bonus Poker game often offers a return of over 100% with expert play. This type of machine pays double for 4-of-a-kind, over the standard Bonus Poker game, and gives you an extra coin for a straight. The additional bonus offered is made up for with a reduced payout on a hand of 2-pair, however, the key to the overall return lies in the pay out for the Full House and Flush.