All American Video Poker Strategy Guide
All American is a specific style of video poker characterized by flat payouts (usually of 8x) for straights, flushes and full house hands. This is more generous than the usual pays for straights and flushes, and the strategies involved reflect this in a big way, so you have to learn to adjust properly to get the best payouts.
Introduction to All American Video Poker
Everyone knows that Jacks or Better is the most popular style of video poker out there, and most non-wild video poker games are variations on that one particular title. This is the case with All American as well.
All American is a variation of Jacks or Better that’s based on the premise of the straight and flush hands giving players better payouts than usual.
If you’re the type of player who really likes games with a lot of involved strategies but that aren’t so overly complicated that they’re virtually impossible to learn, then this game is a solid pick because it fits that description perfectly.
House Advantage and Payout Rates
When playing online, you’ll usually see what’s called the 34-8-8-8 pay table. This is characterized by having matching payouts for a full house, flush and straight at 8x along with 34x for four of a kind. The bottom end of the pay table includes 3x for three of a kind, 1x for two pair (important for certain strategic decisions) and 1x for a pair of jacks or higher.
This leads to a payout rate of about 99.4 percent with correct play. If you put in some time to learn the strategic differences between this title and other games like Jacks or Better, then you’ll easily keep your payout rate well over 99 percent even with making small mistakes here and there.
Important Rules for All American
There is really only one key thing to understand about the rules of All American video poker in terms of how the strategies are affected.
- The value of straight and flush draws are increased compared to their usual payouts.
If you keep this in mind, then we’re going to assume that you’re already skilled at the strategies we have put forth in our page about Jacks or Better video poker, and our discussion in what follows will be in the sense of modifying those strategies to affect the point noted above.
Strategies for All American
We’re going to look at a handful of situations to see how they should be played when you have the option between two key choices for how to issue your discards. We’re going to focus on how things are different from Jacks or Better instead of reinventing the wheel, so to speak, and that will draw out the complications and make them easier to understand.
The values that we’re going to note here in parentheses are the average payout that a given discard will pay out. This is the value used to determine which one of your plays are correct, and we’ll list some of them so that you can understand the level of mistakes that can be made and see where you should focus your study efforts first.
Breaking Made Flushes and Straights
If you’re dealt a flush or a straight, the last thing most players think of is discarding anything to get a draw, but that’s actually what you should do a significant percentage of the time.
You should always break a made hand for four to a royal flush. However, knowing when to break for a straight flush can be a little more complicated. Here are some example payouts for different kinds of hands to give you an understanding of what to look for when breaking a made flush:
- A made straight or flush (8x)
- Four consecutive cards to a straight flush (10.55x)
- Four cards to a straight flush with one gap and three high cards (6.15x)
- Three cards to a royal flush (1.51x)
What you see here is that you should only break a made straight or flush in this game for four to a royal or four consecutive cards to a straight flush. That’s pretty easy to remember, so this part of the strategy isn’t very difficult to learn.
Pairs and Flush Draws
Most of the difficult decisions in any style of video poker will come when you can keep a pair or split that pair to go for a draw to a flush or straight.
This decision is further complicated in All American video poker by the increased payouts given to straights and flushes.
A flush draw in Jacks or Better is not as good as a high pair (aces, kings, queens or jacks). However, it’s the reverse in All American. If you have AA642 with a four-card flush draw, for example, then here are the available payouts:
- A pair of aces (1.41x)
- Ace-high flush draw (1.57x)
The flush beats out the high pair by a bit in general with no exceptions. It’s also clear that they beat out all low pairs along similar lines.
Pairs and Straight Draws
Straight draws are a little more tricky because the best play actually depends on how many high cards are going to be in the straight draw. Consider the following situation where a player has JJT98 with no available flush draw:
- A pair of jacks (1.408x)
- Jack-high open-ended* straight draw (1.404x)
* Note: An open-ended straight draw means that eight cards can be used to complete the straight. The opposite is an inside straight draw, which means that only four cards can be used to make the straight.
What you see here is that there is a very small difference, but the pair of jacks is actually slightly better here. Now consider what happens if we slightly adjust the hand to QJJT9 with no flush draw:
- A pair of jacks (1.408x)
- Queen-high open-ended straight draw (1.468x)
There’s a much bigger difference here, and that leads us to a general rule:
For almost all situations (ie: JJT98 being the only exception), an open-ended straight draw is better than any pair in All American video poker.
As for inside straight draws, things continue to be complicated. Consider what happens with a 99865 hand with no flush draw where the player can keep the pair 99 or the inside straight draw of 9865 (only sevens make the straight):
- A pair of nines (0.695x)
- Inside straight draw with no high cards (0.681x)
In the above scenario, we see that a low pair beats an inside straight draw in this game. But what happens if we add high cards to the draw that can make paying high pairs?
We can check this out with the hand JT997 with no flush draw. A player’s options will be to keep the pair with 99 or to go for the inside straight draw with JT97 (only eights make the straight).
Here’s what we get:
- A pair of nines (0.695x)
- An inside straight draw with one high card (0.745x)
This indicates that inside straight draws are better than low pairs if there is at least one high card in the draw.
A Summary of These Strategies
That’s a lot to digest the first time you read it, so we’re going to summarize the main points here:
- Only break a made straight or flush for any four-card royal flush draw or four consecutive cards to a straight flush.
- Always choose a flush draw over any single pair, no matter if it’s a high pair or a low pair.
- Always choose an open-ended straight draw over any single pair, no matter if it’s a high or low pair, except for the one exception of JJT98 where the pair is very slightly better.
- A high pair is always better than an inside straight draw.
- An inside straight draw is only better than a low pair if it includes at least one high card (jack or higher).
If you can remember those five adjustments to make from Jacks or Better strategy, then you’ll be able to play All American on a pretty high level right out of the gate.
All American video poker is a tricky game with a lot of core strategic changes that have to be made in response to some minor changes to the pay table. Because of this, it’s actually one of the most strategically interesting video poker games once you understand the basics of strategy for this genre in general, and it tends to be a player favorite among strategically minded individuals.
However, you really have to look out for going on auto-pilot in this game because playing with the otherwise “standard” strategies will actually kill your payout rate and drive the house edge up to several times what it actually needs to be. If you follow the adjustments above, however, you’ll typically have no problem keeping the house advantage under 1 percent and your payout rate above 99 percent.