Video poker odds and the house edge

In the casino gaming world, the popular wisdom goes that the house always has the edge. In simple terms, this translates to saying that the “house,” or casino, always takes in more money in bets than it pays out in prizes. After all, a casino is a business and it must make a profit to keep going. However, like many sayings, this is true in some cases but not in all. First, online casinos have revolutionized the business. Not only do they bring casino games into your living room, but they also operate on a much lower overhead than brick and mortar establishments. Therefore they can afford to take a much lower house edge. Second, there is a type of game where it’s possible to turn the tide and reverse the house edge.

Why Video Poker is Different

Slots are the favorite game on the Internet these days, and video poker looks an awful lot like an online slots game. However, appearance aside, video poker is in a class of its own. Winning at video poker relies heavily on the alertness, knowledge and skill of the person playing. Someone who studies the rules and strategies and looks for opportunities to apply them can beat the video poker odds and the house edge, achieving a return of over 100 percent. In other words, a video poker player can end up winning more than he loses.

What Are the Odds?

Everyone who plays video poker and plays to win is looking for the ultimate hand – a royal flush. A royal flush is a sequence of 10, J, Q, K and Ace, all of the same suit. The odds of getting one in a deal of five cards are 649,740:1. That indicates that players will get a royal flush one time out of a total of 649,740 hands. OF course, the rarity of this type of hand means that it pays off very well. Other winning hands have lower odds. For example, odds of getting a full house (a pair plus three of a kind) are 700:1. This hand will pay off correspondingly lower than a full house.

Working with the Odds

If all you had to work with in video poker was the hand you were originally dealt, then the game would be like slots, based on chance alone. However, in video poker you have the option to discard any of your original cards and receive replacements from the dealer. Once you have studied video poker and its strategies, you will be able to use your judgment to decide which kind of card combination is possible, based on your hand, and which cards you should hold or discard. In this way, an experienced player can even the odds and reduce the house edge.