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Mar

06

2015

Holding Low Pairs vs. High Cards In Video Poker

Sometimes video poker players find the goal of winning the most hands at odds with the goal of winning the most money.

Such is the case of a reader who recently emailed, “Please explain to me holding low pairs vs. holding high cards. I think you recommend holding the low pairs, but don’t you get more chances to draw a winner with a high card?”

The short answer is that holding a single high card will indeed bring more winning hands, but holding a low pair will bring more money. Most of the winners when you hold a high card are pairs of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces that just bring your money back. You get fewer winning hands, but more big winners when you hold the low pair.

Let’s look at the game statistics. If you’re dealt Queen of spades, 9 of diamonds, 6 of clubs, 6 of hearts and 2 of spades, and hold just the Queen, you’ll win 33.6 percent of the time. However, most of those winners are high pairs, and the next largest segment are two-pair hands that just get your money back on Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Bonus Deluxe and other popular games. Only 3.1 percent of all draws bring three of a kind or better, the hands that bring 3-for-1 payoffs and higher.

If you hold 6-6, you win less often  – 28.7 percent of all hands. However, 12.2 percent of your draws bring three of a kind or better. It’s nearly four times as likely that you’ll get at least three of a kind when you start with a low pair than a single high card.

No matter what the game, the average return per hand is greater if you hold 6-6. On 9-6 Double Double Bonus Poker, the average return is 3.67 coins per five wagered if you hold 6-6, and 2.18 if you hold just the Queen. If the game is 9-6 Jacks or Better, with a 2-for-1 payoff on two pairs, the average return is 4.12 coins on 6-6, and 2.39 on the Queen.

You give yourself the best chance to win the most money that by holding low pairs instead of single high cards.

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