Video Poker Slots: The Numbers Game Where Skill Meets Fortune



Video poker has been a staple of casinos for decades, but its popularity continues to surge thanks to its engaging gameplay and potential for strategic advantage. While luck undoubtedly plays a role, the numbers reveal that skillful players can tilt the odds in their favor like few other slot games.

At its core, video poker is a game of mathematics and probability. The odds of receiving specific hands are firmly established – a 1 in 649,740 chance at the coveted royal flush, 1 in 4,165 for a straight flush, and so on. With modern video poker’s use of certified random number generators (RNGs) to electronically shuffle and deal, each hand is a unique and unpredictable event. In fact, these RNGs can produce over 100 million new random numbers in the span of just 20 seconds as numbers are continually cycled.

However, this doesn’t mean skilled video poker play is rendered futile. Mastering perfect strategy, often with the aid of commercially available strategy cards, can dramatically improve one’s expected return. Research shows that while the average casual player makes the correct hold decision only 41% of the time on games like Deuces Wild, a small handful of “advantage players” utilize proper strategy over 99% of the time.

Their impact is substantial – a study of over 3 million hands found that just 1% of video poker’s top strategists caused casinos to lose the equivalent of over 25% of their total win from carded players. With prime games like 9/6 Jacks or Better offering a 99.54% return with perfect play, their prowess turns the house edge microscopically thin.

In contrast, the majority of players fail to grasp optimal strategy, losing money at a far higher clip. An unskilled player making 500 hands per hour on a standard 7/5 Jacks or Better machine can expect to lose nearly $100 hourly on average, even with flawless luck.

For those willing to put in the effort, video poker games like Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Bonus Poker remain among the most strategically rewarding casino games. But the numbers emphasize the razor-sharp line between long-term winners and losers.

While the house retains an underlying edge, the top video poker strategists have essentially made that edge a rounding error through mathematical precision. With the global market for video poker machines projected to soar from $21.61 billion in 2023 to $177 billion by 2033, there has never been a better time to join their ranks


Those unmoved by the statistics can simply enjoy video poker’s novelty as an entertaining digital twist on five-card draw. But for players seeking to gain a unique tactical advantage against the house, the numbers have spoken – video poker remains one of the few casino games where skill and discipline can genuinely overcome fortune.

Joe Scales

Joe Scales