Video poker is all about learning to play common scenarios with an extremely high degree of accuracy and looking for patterns to play off of to make learning strategy easier. With that having been said, there are some situations that aren’t very easily explained since they are often the exception to the rule, and we want to look at some of those situations here. Knowing the exceptions will allow you to get your payout rate as high as possible because it covers the scenarios that are not covered by the typical rule set.
The first situation that we’re going to look at is an important one because it sets the tone for our other examples. This example comes from Jacks or Better, and it’s when we have KQJTT with no flush or flush draw. In the vast majority of situations, the rule is that a small pair is better than an open-ended straight draw. However, the power of the high card draw here makes keeping TT for an average payout of 0.824x a mistake. Instead, you should keep KQJT for an average win of 0.872x, a noteworthy improvement. It’s worth pointing out that this is the only exception for this particular rule.
Another good example is also from Jacks or Better with AhKhJh5h5c. The relevant rule here that most people will know is that you’re going to always choose a flush draw over a low pair. While there are no exceptions for this rule, it can lead you to overlooking another important aspect of the hand. If you keep the four hearts here, you’re going to have an average payout of 1.340x. However, keeping the three cards to the royal flush gives you a larger payout of 1.387x which is a very important improvement. This exception comes up relatively often, and it’s a trap a lot of players fall into.
Our final example comes from Deuces Wild with the hand AsJs8s5s5h. A lot of people will look at this and immediately think that the right play is to go with the flush draw by discarding the five of hearts. However, this is a big mistake. You have to remember that pairs are all worth the same in Deuces Wild because there are no single pair payouts at all. A pair of 5s here is worth 0.560x on average, but the flush draw is worth slightly less at 0.511x.