Holding Low Pairs in Video Poker

 Holding Low Pairs in Video Poker

Payoffs in most video poker games start at a pair of Jacks, so many players underestimate the power of low pairs.

If you’re dealt a single Jack along with a low pair, such as two 5s, what are you going to do? It’s tempting to keep the single Jack and draw four cards, each with chance to bring a second Jack that’ll at least get you your money back.

Holding the low pair, on the other hand, brings more winners that do better than just getting your wager back. In Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker, where two pairs pay 2-for-1, it’s an easy call. Dealt 5-5-Jack-8-3 of mixed suits in the basic game of 9-6 Jacks or Better, holding the low pair will bring an average return of 4.12 coins per five wagered, while the high card will bring just 2.46.

But even in games like Double Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus Poker that pay only 1-for-1 on two pairs, the average return is higher when you hold a low pair than when you keep a single high card.  Dealt the same hand in 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, the average return is 3.67 coins when you hold 5-5, and only 2.24 when you hold just the Jack.

Holding one high card will bring more frequent winners than a low pair, but the low pair will bring bigger winners — more of those three of a kind, full house and four of a kind hands that keep you going. Hold the low pair instead of a single high card.

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