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Analysis of Video Poker Situations Using Basic Math

By: Joe Valentino, Friday June 6th 2014
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If you're wanting to get better at video poker, then one of the best ways to do that once you've handled the basics is to learn how to do your own analysis of draws. Here we're going to give you a method for performing analysis on hands with a single discard using some very basic math. This process can be very simply performed with a calculator and a piece of paper, and it only takes a couple of moments to completely analyze a hand. Let's get started with a fun example.

Suppose you have the hand Ah Kh Jh Th 4h in 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker. We want to look at the difference between how much we'll make if we keep our pat hand and if we discard the four of hearts. What you do is make a list of every possible paying made hand that you could get in a column on your piece of paper. Here that column should include: high pair, straight, flush, royal flush. Now for each of those columns, you'll want to note what the payout is for each of those cards. In 9/6 Jacks or Better, it's 1x for a high pair, 4x for a straight, 6x for a flush and 800x for a royal flush.

After you write those numbers in another column, you'll also create a column that lists how many cards give you each of those hands. For the high pair, there are three aces, three kings and three jacks that can give you a high pair for a total of nine. There are three ways to make a straight (the three non-heart queens), seven ways to make a flush after drawing (remember that you can't get the four of hearts again and that the queen of hearts makes a royal), and one way to make a royal.

For each made hand on your list, figure out the value that it contributes to the draw by multiplying the payout value for each type of made hand by the number of cards that can make that draw and divide that product by 47. Add up these numbers for each of the types of made hands to get the total value of the draw. You'll see that this is worth a lot more than the 6x payout you get from discarding zero, so drawing is the better option.

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