Online Gambling

Video Poker Probabilities

The majority of video poker variations have an expected return of over 100%. That’s great, but to win big in video poker one needs to hit that elusive royal flush. So the question becomes how often can a player hit a royal flush? The odds of hitting a royal flush in Jack or Better video poker are about 1:40,000. That means you will get one royal flush every 40,000 hands.

In full pay Jack or Better video poker the expected return is 99.5%. That is if you play a proper Jacks or Better strategy. The key here is that to get that 99.5% return you would have to play 40,000 different hands! Now the majority of people won’t even come close to playing that many hands. This is because the payouts for royal flushes are so high. It makes the lower rated hands worth far less.

This is how the numbers break down. A player gets dealt 5 random cards from a 52 card deck. This means that we have a little over 2.5 million different hand possibilities off the initial draw and out of those 2.5 million only four will be royal flushes. That means you have a 1 in 650,000 shot of hitting a royal flush before you draw new cards.

Fortunately in video poker you get a chance to discard up to 5 cards and receive new ones. This dramatically increases a players odds from a 1 in 650,000 to a measly 1 in 40,000. Now this is using the law of averages, when you include luck it could be much lower or higher.

This all adds up to the fact that in the long-term a player using sound video poker strategy could beat the casino but in the short-term the player will most likely lose money. Perhaps this is why players in general tend to choose games like blackjack or roulette as these games have a much more even payout variance.