How to Win at Video Poker

By eHow Hobbies, Games & Toys Editor

Video poker is one of the most popular slot machines because it allows players to use strategy instead of relying entirely on luck to win. To increase your chances of winning, however, you need to really learn the game and select the right machines to play on.

Find a full pay video poker machine. Many people sit down at a slot machine assuming they are all equal. This is not the case at all. The easiest way to spot a full pay machine is to look at the pay table on a Jacks or better machine in the one coin column. You are looking to see how much is paid if you have a full house or a straight. If it pays nine coins for the full house and six for the straight, then it's a full pay machine. This is also known as a 9/6 machine. Other variations that aren't full pay include 8/5, 7/5, and 6/5.

Decide how much you are willing to lose. No matter how good your strategy is, expect to lose money. At least for a while. Typically your luck will go up and down over the course of a gaming session. What you are hoping for is a really high scoring hand that will make up for what you have lost, and maybe even put you ahead. Set a limit for yourself before starting to play, and walk away when you reach that limit. You can always play again another time.

Read the pay tables. You don't have to memorize them because they are written on the video poker machine. Refer to them when trying to decide which cards to keep. Consider sacrificing a small gain if it gives you the chance to win a larger jackpot.

Memorize a video poker strategy chart. The website Videopoker365 (see Resources below) offers a good one. You use the chart by comparing the cards you are dealt to the hands listed, starting from the top and working your way down. When you reach your hand, follow the instructions on which card(s) to discard.

Practice for free. Before playing with real money, try playing a free game online. It will help you to learn the charts to help you win when you play for real.