Video Poker: Essential Strategy Tips - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Video Poker: Essential Strategy Tips

There’s no card game quite like poker. Its formed an essential component to the narrative of numerous movies, it has a pro scene that gets headline coverage on the major sports networks and there’s even been talk that it should become an Olympic event!

It has also spawned dozens of variations. Traditional poker games like Texas Holdem and Omaha are hugely popular, especially in states where online poker rooms are legal, such as Nevada, New Jersey and soon, it is anticipated California (see for the latest update on that particular saga). But whether it’s at a physical card table or online, all the calling and bluffing can be daunting to the poker novice.

Fortunately, there are plenty of single-player versions that are ideal for beginners, and video poker is without doubt the most popular starting point. While video poker is simple once you know it, there’s still plenty to take onboard to be successful. Here are some strategy tips to help you along the way.

Start with Jacks or Better
Most terminals or mobile apps will offer as many as a dozen video poker games. You’ll hear people extolling the virtues of Deuces Wild or Joker Poker, but when you start out, stick to Jacks or Better. This is the basic game with no added complications. Once you feel you’ve mastered it, that’s the time to start broadening your horizons, but not before.

Bet the max
You can bet 1 to 5 coins in most video poker games. The rewards for a Royal Flush are usually contingent on the amount you bet, going from 250 for one coin to 5000 for 5 coins. For this reason, the general rule is to always hit the “max bet” button. The only exception is if you’re playing some variation where the payback percentage is the same regardless of the wager, but this is uncommon. In short, we’ll add an extra tip right here, which is always to read the pay table closely before you start.

Use a strategy chart
Don’t be shy about using strategy cards, even if you’re sitting at a terminal in the Golden Nugget in Vegas. There’s no rule against it, and nobody will pay the slightest attention or think any the less of you. You’ll soon find you don’t need them, but using them initially prevents you from getting into bad habits and making suboptimal decisions.

Start out with a free training app
Playing for real money when you’ve only half an idea what you are doing makes no sense. There are dozens of free video poker apps out there that you can play online or download onto your smartphone. This discussion thread from Vegas Messageboard makes compelling reading. Ideally, choose one that also acts as a training tool, and will provide feedback on when you are making the statistically wrong decisions. Half an hour playing on an app like that is all it takes to get you match sharp and ready to take on the house for real.

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