Video Poker: Low Pairs vs High Cards

 Video Poker: Low Pairs vs High Cards

One of the most important strategy tips for video poker players to remember is that low pairs are almost always more valuable than high cards. You win more hands when you hold a Jack or higher, but have larger average payoffs and win more money when you hold low pairs instead.

A reader asked recently if that also applies to having two high cards in the hand.

“What if you have a hand like King-Queen-8-8-4?” he wrote. “Is it still better to hold the low pair instead of the two high cards? Does it make a difference if the King-Queen are the same suit or different suits?

“Please explain for 9-6 Double Double Bonus, because that’s the game I play.”

Let’s do this assuming King of spades, Queen of hearts, 8 of diamonds, 8 of clubs and 4 of clubs, and again with the King and Queen both being spades.

Either way, if you hold the pair of 8s and discard the other three cards, there are 16,125 possible draws, with 11,559 being losing hands.

Of the 4,556 winners, 2,592 are two pairs bring 1-for-1 payoffs, 1,854 are three of a kind paying 3-for-1, 165 are full houses paying 9-for-1 and 45 are four of a kind paying 250-for-1.

The average return per five coins wagered is 3.67 coins.

If the King and Queen are different suits, the 16,215 possible draws include 6,154 winners, with 5,015 high pairs (1-for-1), 717 two pairs (1-for-1), 283 three of a kind (3-for-1), 128 straights (4-for-1), 18 full houses (9-for-1) and two four of a kind (250-for-1).

The average return is 2.27 coins. So by a 3.67-2.27 margin of average return, the better play is to hold the low pair over the two high cards.

If the King and Queen are the same suit, flushes, straight flushes and a royal flush become possibilities. That raises the average return for holding King-Queen suited to 2.83 coins. That’s still not as high as the 3.67 return on the low pair.

High cards are tempting, but never underestimate low pairs.

One Comment
Posted by Bob on

What if you’re faced with a choice of needing one card to complete a straight or flush or new draw

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