Video Poker Bankroll Management Guide

The video poker genre allows for a lot of in-depth strategies, but many miss the strategies they can use when managing their money. Here we offer a comprehensive system for choosing bet sizing based on a variety of factors so that you can have a money management strategy for video poker that’s catered to you.

Getting Started With Video Poker Bet Sizing

In most types of online casino games, you have a lot of options about how you pick and choose your bet sizes. You can often use a variety of coin or chip sizes in many denominations and multiples of those denominations to really get down to something close to the exact wager size that you want.

In video poker, however, that’s not always the case because of the rigid coin-based system that you often find in many games.

Video poker games also have particular strategies that you need to use based on certain bet sizing elements (eg: often needing to play the maximum number of coins per hand) to avoid payout rate penalties, and that’s another restriction on your betting.

Within these parameters and restrictions, we want to show you how to come up with and implement your own bankroll management strategies to maximize your chances of staying in the game and winning.

Understanding the Betting Restrictions

There are two main restrictions that players need to understand very well before we can get into any discussion of video poker bankroll management strategies:

  1. The first restriction is that you almost always have to wager five coins per hand to avoid your payout rate dropping.
  2. The second restriction is that you will only have certain coin sizes available, and they don’t always offer a variety of denominations.

You have two ways to deal with these restrictions. The first restriction is just a fact of life for the overwhelming vast majority of video poker games out there. However, the second restriction on the available betting increments can be avoided as an issue depending on where you play and which games you choose, so there’s a game selection issue at play here.

In what follows, we’re going to assume that you have available bet sizes that are suitable for your resulting money management strategy for the video poker games you want to be playing. If you are having trouble with this, then we recommend checking out games from other software providers to see what’s available that fits the levels you’re wanting to bet with.

The Three Key Deciding Factors

There are three main factors that go into determining what kind of bankroll management strategy you should use with a video poker game. The main format for this strategy will be a straightforward guideline number that represents the number of “bets” you have available in your bankroll as per a maximum bet size her hand.

For example, if you have a 300x bankroll management guideline number with a €400 bankroll, then you’ll divide €400 by 300x to get bet sizes of €1.33 as a maximum per hand.

This guideline number will increase or decrease based on three key factors that we’re going to describe in what follows. Knowing where you stand on these three items will make it a lot easier to pick out a money management strategy that fits what you’re looking to achieve with how you handle your bankroll and bet sizing.

The First Factor: House Advantage and Payout Rate

It’s possible to get a really low house edge in certain video poker games, and that requires that you choose those games appropriately while simultaneously having a consistency with your playing strategies that will facilitate maximizing your payout rate over time.

In short, you have to choose games with a high maximum available payout rate in the first place, but you also need the skill set to achieve close to that maximum payout rate as well.

The higher your payout rate and lower the house advantage, the smaller your bankroll management guideline number can be. To put this another way, you’ll need a larger number of bets of a given size in your bankroll if the house has a bigger edge against you.

For convenience, we have broken up all games into three categories based on the payout rate you can expect to get with your given strategies, game selection and skill level:

  • Small Number of Bets – 99.25 percent – 100 percent
  • Medium Number of Bets – 98.50 percent – 99.25 percent
  • Large Number of Bets – 97.75 percent – 98.50 percent

With all of this having been said, you really don’t need to play if the payout rate is going to be less than 99 percent. It’s simply not necessarily unless you really want to play a certain game because there are games with simple strategies and high payout rates available in abundance.

The Second Factor: Wild Cards and Volatility

The volatility of the game you’re playing can increase or decrease the number of bets you need in your bankroll to maintain a reasonable risk of ruin. The whole point is to keep you in the game so that you have a chance to win, and if a swing from a high-volatility game takes you out early, then you kill off any chances of running up a big payout.

Along these lines, the volatility of the vast majority of video poker games will be determined by whether or not they have wild cards.

What wild cards do to a video poker game involves making it easier to make stronger hands. As a result, the value on the pay table is increased to the higher-level hands while lower-level pays like single pairs or even two pair hands are removed from being paying hands completely.

The end result is that, the more wild cards you have, the larger the increase to the volatility.

A game like Jacks or Better or even Bonus Poker won’t have a very high volatility at all because there are no wild cards, and the pays go all the way down to some relatively low-value hands (ie: single pair hands). Joker Poker is an example of a game with only one wild card, so the volatility is increased slightly but not an overwhelming amount.

Then you have games like Deuces Wild and Deuces and Joker Wild that have a tremendous number of wilds as a percentage of the deck (7.7 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively), which shifts the pay tables around in ways that drastically increase the volatility.

When the volatility increases, you need more bets in your bankroll. Vice versa is also true.

The Third Factor: Progressive Jackpots

A small minority of video poker games out there have progressive jackpots available, and they are a special case when it comes to bankroll management guidelines because they affect both the house edge and the volatility in extreme and atypical ways.

  • The house edge of a progressive video poker game will depend largely on the value of the jackpot itself, so you’ll want to know the current and average values of that jackpot so that you can play only when it’s at an above-average level.
  • The volatility is always increased quite a bit by the progressive being available because so much value gets tied up in it that it will naturally have big swings overall.
  • This volatility issue is further compounded if it’s a title with wild cards available as well.

In short, progressive jackpots throw a wrench in the overall system by giving us a lot more to worry about both with regards to the volatility and the house edge.

Forming a Strategy for a Given Situation

Generally speaking, you’re going to want to start off with a guideline in the range of 100x to 500x just depending on how often you expect to deposit. If you deposit often (even if it’s small amounts) and want to play aggressively, then a 100x guideline will be plenty. However, if you do not deposit very often at all and want to be more conservative, then you’ll want to stay closer to the 500x end of the range.

For a €500 bankroll, for example, you could play for between €1 a hand on the conservative side to €5 a hand on the super aggressive side.

There are obviously many shades of gray between these extremes, but this is our starting point.

From there, we look at whether the game has wild cards and what our edge looks like. We can increase or decrease our bankroll management guidelines as needed along these lines.

Examples of Forming Strategies for Specific Scenarios

Let’s start off with a simple example. Suppose we have someone who wants to play Jacks or Better video poker. This individual makes small deposits fairly often when he or she wants to play, and the skill level and game selection are at a high level.

Here are the relevant pieces of information and how they can affect our decision-making process:

  • Deposit Frequency: High (indicates an aggressive approach)
  • House Edge/Payout Rate: High (indicates an aggressive approach)
  • Wild Cards and Volatility: Low (indicates an aggressive approach)
  • Progressive Jackpot: No (indicates an aggressive approach)

As you can see from the above, everything here indicates an aggressive approach with a relatively low number of bets in the bankroll for the game. A rule of 100x would be a good fit here.

Now let’s look at a more complicated example. Suppose someone plays Deuces Wild, has a strong strategic understanding of the game, deposits infrequently and the game has no progressive. Here’s how it all unfolds:

  • Deposit Frequency: Low (indicates a conservative approach)
  • House Edge/Payout Rate: High (indicates an aggressive approach)
  • Wild Cards and Volatility: High (indicates a conservative approach)
  • Progressive Jackpot: No (indicates an aggressive approach)

What you see here is that there isn’t just one clear picture being painted. In this case, something in the middle of our 100-500 range would be appropriate, and even maybe something a little on the conservative side, so somewhere in the 350-400x range for a general rule would be sufficient.


The topic of creating bankroll management strategies for video poker players is a complicated one. This is largely because there are so many different types of games, and the strategic element of the game (combined with different skill levels in different players) really complicates things further.

However, if you take the approach that we have laid out for you above, you can come up with a good strategy that will fit what you’re working with on a game-by-game basis instead of having to treat all video poker variations as if they are the same.