Conflict Hands in Video Poker

In video poker games players have to decide which cards from their dealt hand are to be retained and which are to be discarded. In many cases the choice is simple because there is only one possible winning combination that can be achieved. However, in some dealt hands there are two winning combinations that are likely. Such hands are known as conflict hands and are a little more difficult to resolve. In one type of conflict hand the player already holds a winning combination but can hope to get a higher ranking one if he breaks the dealt winning combination. In such cases the general rule is not to break the dealt winning combination except in certain cases when a royal flush is possible. This has been dealt with in another article.

The second type of conflict hand is the subject of this article. In this hand by discarding certain cards the player can hope to achieve a higher ranking winning combination that is less likely to occur. And by discarding certain other cards the player can hope to achieve a lower ranking winning combination that is more likely to occur. It is extremely difficult to formulate a standard policy for such cases. It is simpler to discuss the more commonly occurring cases on an individual basis.

Consider the following hand – 3C, 3H, 4H, 5H and 6H. By discarding the 3C the player can hope to get a straight flush, a straight or a flush. Alternatively by discarding the 4H, 5H and 6H the player can hope to get three of a kind, four of a kind, two pairs or a full house. In this case the player should discard the 3C and hold the other four cards. Some dealt hands may contain four cards to a flush instead of four cards to a straight flush as indicated above. Even then the player should opt for the flush by discarding the appropriate card from the low pair. Some dealt hands may contain four cards to a straight instead of four cards to a straight flush as indicated above. In that case the player should hold the low pair and discard the other three cards.

Many conflict hands have a conflict between a straight and a flush. The classic case is four to a straight versus four to a flush. An example of this hand is 3D, 4D, 5C, 6D and KD. By discarding the KD the player can try for a straight. By discarding the 5C the player can try for a flush. The correct play is to go for a flush.

There are many hands in which three cards to a straight flush are in conflict with other possible winning hands. Some of these are described below. One conflict is between three to a straight flush and four to an outside straight. A dealt hand that illustrates this type of conflict is 3S, 8H, 9H, 10H and JD. The player should hold all the four cards to the outside straight rather than hold only the 8H, 9H and 10H and try for the straight. However if the choice is between four cards to an inside straight and three cards to a straight flush then the player should hold the three cards to a straight flush. An example is 3S, 8H, 9H, 10H and QD. In the example of the outside straight any 7 or any Q can complete the straight. In the case of the inside straight only any J can complete the straight. This is the reason for the difference in the strategy.


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