Do You Always Need to Max Bet on Video Poker?

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Brian Christopher sits at a video poker machine

A lot of the conventional wisdom around casinos were developed in a different era. Some casinos do have windows now! (Clocks on the other hand…) Casino layouts have changed drastically in the past few years, making them easier to see through and navigate.

One area where the conventional wisdom doesn’t always apply is Video Poker. These games have been around for decades, and for the longest time they had a pretty specific structure: Bet 5 credits to qualify for the best Video Poker payout.

However, an increasing number of casinos have set up machines with higher than 5 credit maximums, especially on lower denominations. And depending on the configuration, you may or may not have to bet more than 5 credits. And the number of credits you have to bet to get the optimal payouts may or may not be the max bet of the machine.

What you need to be looking at here is the payout for the royal flush on video poker. On a conventional machine, wagering 1-4 credits awards a payout on a royal flush of 250 credits per credit wagered. Adding that fifth credit improves that payout to 800 credits per credit wagered, or 4000 credits for 5 credits wagered, vs. 1000 credits for only 4 credits wagered.

With some casinos allowing 10, 15 or 25 credit wagers per hand, the point where a royal flush reaches optimal payout can differ. On some machines, 5 credits is still enough; on others, 10 credits or more may be the tipping point.

You can review the pays by reviewing the pays, and using the Up/Down buttons to look at what each credit pays out. When it shifts from 250 credits per credit wagered up to that 800 credit point, that’s the minimum level you should bet to ensure you are receiving maximum payout for that denomination. Betting less than that means you’re giving up a portion of the payouts (in excess of 1 percent of the game’s total payout) betting short of that level.

Even though royal flushes are somewhat rare, they’re not impossible, and leaving that money on the table can be costly over time. That said, betting more than you have to by following the conventional wisdom of “max betting” all the time on Video Poker is not necessarily the ideal strategy either. You should at minimum bet at least enough to qualify for maximum payouts, whether that is max bet or not.

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