Video Poker Strategy – When to Break a Pair

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If you want to improve your video poker win rate, you need to learn a basic strategy for the video poker games you play. Along with a basic strategy, you need to know the situations where it is correct to throw away a pair in video poker.

Some of these situations may seem counterintuitive, especially if you are throwing away a winning pair. However, the long term EV of the moves makes them the right play. These tips work on almost all video poker variants at Australian online casinos and will help improve your overall win rate.

Four Card Royal Flush Draw

This may seem a no-brainer, but whenever you have four cards to a Royal Flush, you will drop the fifth card regardless of what it is. If you have a pair of aces and four to a Royal Flush, you will drop the pair. If you have a regular flush with a Royal Flush draw, you will drop the flush.

What if you have a king-high straight flush? Believe it or not, you are supposed to drop the straight flush and go for the Royal Flush. (We understand if you think this sounds crazy because it does.)

Your fifth card is irrelevant. You’re drawing one card for a 4,000 coin payday. As a video poker player, I can tell you that this move does pay off. It’s not going to pay off every time, but it only has to pay off once in 800 times to be profitable.

Straight Flush Draw

A less common scenario is when you have a pair and four cards to a straight flush. For example, if you have 5-5-6-7-8 with four spades. In this payoff, you’re facing a decision to draw to improve to three of a kind or a straight flush. Three of a kind generally pays 15 credits as opposed to 250 for the Straight Flush. You’re going for the bigger payday.

Four Straight Flush with Pair - Video Poker

So what about a hand where you have a paying pair with a straight flush draw? What if you have 9-10-J-Q-Q? You have a guaranteed paying pair. Yes, you will drop the paying pair for the chance to improve to the Straight Flush. You’re giving up 5 credits for a shot at 250 credits. You only have to catch one time in 50 to make this a profitable play.

Flush Draw With a Low Pair

A situation you’ll see regularly is four cards to a flush with a low pair. For example, a pair of threes and four clubs. In other scenarios, you would hold the threes and go for two pair or three of a kind. This time around you will drop the pair of threes and go for the flush.

You still have to improve your hand to win, and drawing to the flush gives you more outs to making a hand. Nine cards can give you a flush as opposed to just two cards for three of a kind. Also, if your flush draw has a jack or higher in it, you can back into a winning pair.

Four to Open-Ended High Straight

If you are dealt a hand such as a pair of jacks with a Q-K-A or 10-Q-K, you would automatically keep the jacks and take three cards. But what if you have 10-10-J-Q-K? Would you drop the tens or go for the straight?

This is the one scenario where you should drop the pair of tens and go for the straight. You have an open-ended straight, meaning any nine or four will complete your hand. Also, you have nine outs to back into a pair of jacks, queens, or kings.

Again, the tens are a non-winning hand, and you have many more outs to improve to a winner.

Low Pair and Three Royal Flush Cards

If you have a pair of fours and 7-8-9, you would automatically hold the pair of fours. One of the only times you should drop the low pair is if you’re holding three cards to a Royal Flush. The same pair with A-K-Q of spades is an example.

Two reasons for this move. The first is that you are taking a shot at a Royal Flush. While two-card draws to a Royal are somewhat rare, they do happen. Also, you have three high cards and you can back into a winning pair. The long term EV of this move makes it a profitable play.