Casino Strategy

Understanding expected value in online video poker

Understanding expected value in online video poker

Being able to analyze the expected value properly can go a long way to delivering success

Expected value (EV) is a crucial concept to understand when playing online video poker. It refers to the average amount that a player can expect to win or lose on each bet over the long run. By understanding EV, players can make informed decisions about which hands to hold and discard, ultimately maximizing their chances of winning.

In video poker, each hand has a specific EV based on the probability of achieving different outcomes and their corresponding payouts. The basic strategy revolves around selecting the optimal play that yields the highest expected value.

To calculate the EV of a particular hand, players need to consider the probabilities of each possible outcome based on the cards they hold and the payout table. They then multiply each outcome by its corresponding payout and sum them up to get the expected value. A positive EV indicates a profitable play, while a negative EV suggests a losing one.

For example, suppose a player has a hand that includes a pair of Jacks. Based on the payout table, a pair of Jacks typically pays out 1x the bet. The probability of getting another pair to form Two Pair is approximately 7.69%. By multiplying the payout (1x) by the probability (0.0769), we get an expected value contribution of 0.0769.

To maximize their EV, players should aim to hold the hands that offer the highest expected value. For instance, if a player has a hand with a pair of 9s and a 10, they should hold the pair and discard the 10, as the expected value of a potential Three of a Kind or Four of a Kind is higher than the expected value of keeping the 10 for a possible Straight or Flush.

It’s important to note that understanding expected value doesn’t guarantee instant success or individual hand results. Over the long run, however, consistently making decisions with positive expected value will lead to overall profitability.

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