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High cards count in video poker process

Nov 11, 2008 5:07 PM

Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome |

Hopefully by now, you’ve all voted – for video poker, that is.

You don’t need delegates, superdelegates or even an electoral college for this one. All that matters is your vote, and you can bring the change – mostly quarters and nickels. So, if asked if you picked video poker, hopefully, you answer, "Yes we did!"

For three of the last four weeks, I’ve been reviewing the strategy table for jacks or better video poker. This version of the game is the one that I recommend you start out with because of its abundance and relatively easy strategy table. Learning the first strategy table is the hardest because you need to learn so many of the basic concepts.

In my last part on this topic, I covered the need to count high cards as part of the process.

The key to remember here is that we only count the high cards that are part of the hand we want to keep.

I can’t possibly cover everything about these hands in the space allotted for this column, but I’ll try and hit the high points. First of all, this is the first we see of 2-Card Royals. In other words, they are not very strong hands.

I’ve seen players throw far better hands trying to catch a Royal by overplaying 2-Card Royals. You’ll note that all 4-Card Straights, 4-Card Flush and 3-Card Straight Flushes are played over 2-Card Royals.

One hand not played over the 2-card Royal is 3 High Cards.

If you are dealt 3 High Cards (JQK) and two are suited, then you hold the two suited cards.

By overplaying 2-Card Royals, you will wind up with more Royals, but in the long run, you’ll still do better if you stick to the strategy.

Another thing to note is that we don’t play 10-A 2-Card Royals. You’ll also note that we have broken down our 2-Card Royals into four categories (3 appear on the strategy table and the 4th – the 10A - is too low to be played).

As powerful as the Ace is in regular poker, it really is less than the JQK in video poker.

Once you have an Ace, there are less possible straights that can be made.

The JQ, JK, QK Royals are worth more than the ones containing Aces. At the same time, because an Ace is a high card and can be paired for a push, it is more valuable than the 10.

The 10A is so weak because only one is a high card and there is only one way to complete the Straight/Straight Flush (as a Royal).

There is actually one last hand I left off the strategy table. What do you do if you don’t have a single high card, and no 3-Card Straight Flushes or 4-Card Straights, etc…?

Well, then you have the dreaded razgu – a phrase my father coined for this hand, which he in turn borrowed from a dear friend of his who used it to refer to a bad poker hand.

A razgu means you discard all 5 cards. As bad as it is to do this, it would be even worse to try and make something from nothing.

Next week, I’ll discuss the razgu in more detail.