How Does Variance Affect Video Poker Gameplay And Strategy?

Do you love playing video poker? Have you ever wondered how variance affects your gameplay and strategy? Well, buckle up because we’re about to dive into the fascinating world of video poker and explore how variance can make a big difference.

So, what exactly is variance? In video poker, variance refers to the level of risk and volatility that comes with a particular game. It determines the frequency and size of the payouts you can expect to receive. Understanding variance is crucial because it can greatly impact your overall experience and potential winnings.

But why does variance matter? The level of variance in a video poker game can affect your bankroll management, risk tolerance, and preferred strategy. Whether you prefer to play it safe with consistent, smaller wins or take a risk for a chance at a jackpot, understanding how variance influences gameplay is essential for making informed decisions.

Now that we have a grasp on the concept of variance, let’s explore how it can influence your video poker experience and the strategies you employ. So grab a seat, get comfortable, and get ready to become a video poker pro!

How does variance affect video poker gameplay and strategy?

How does Variance Affect Video Poker Gameplay and Strategy?

Video poker is a popular casino game that combines the elements of luck and skill. One crucial factor that players need to consider when playing video poker is variance. Variance refers to the volatility or the ups and downs in the game. Understanding how variance affects video poker gameplay and strategy is essential for players looking to maximize their chances of winning big. In this article, we will delve into the impact of variance on video poker gameplay and explore strategies to navigate through it.

The Basics: What is Variance in Video Poker?

Before diving into the details, let’s first define variance in the context of video poker. Variance, also known as volatility, measures the fluctuations in your bankroll while playing video poker. A game with high variance means that you can experience significant swings in your bankroll, with periods of losing streaks and winning streaks. On the other hand, a game with low variance has smaller fluctuations, with more consistent wins and losses.

The Impact of Variance on Bankroll Management

When it comes to video poker, understanding and managing variance is crucial for effective bankroll management. High variance games can be significantly more unpredictable than low variance games, making it essential to have a strategy in place to withstand the ups and downs.

One of the key aspects of bankroll management in high variance games is having a sufficient bankroll to weather the storm of losing streaks. It is recommended to have at least 50 times the maximum bet as your bankroll for high variance games. This will give you a better chance of surviving the inevitable losing streaks and give you enough cushion to turn things around during the winning streaks.

On the other hand, if you prefer low variance games, you can opt for a smaller bankroll since the fluctuations are less severe. However, keep in mind that the potential for big wins may be reduced in low variance games.

Adjusting Strategy Based on Variance

Variance doesn’t just impact your bankroll; it also affects your strategy. Different video poker games have varying levels of variance, and understanding this can help you tailor your gameplay to maximize your chances of success.

In high variance games, such as Double Double Bonus Poker or Deuces Wild, the strategy tends to focus on aiming for the rare but high-paying hands. This means that you might make riskier plays in pursuit of big payouts, even if it means sacrificing the frequency of smaller wins. Understanding the odds and probabilities of these games is crucial to making informed decisions and minimizing losses.

On the other hand, low variance games, such as Jacks or Better or Bonus Poker, require a more conservative strategy. Since the payouts for high-ranking hands are more modest, the focus is on making consistent smaller wins and minimizing losses. In these games, you would prioritize holding on to pairs and high-ranking cards to secure more frequent but smaller payouts.

Optimizing Your Win Rate in Video Poker

While variance is an inherent part of video poker, there are strategies you can employ to optimize your win rate regardless of variance. Here are a few tips to help you improve your chances:

  1. Choose the right game: Understanding the variance of different video poker games and selecting the one that aligns with your goals is crucial. If you’re looking for big payouts but are prepared to handle larger fluctuations, go for high variance games. If you prefer more consistent wins, opt for low variance games.
  2. Study the paytables: Each video poker game has a unique paytable, and understanding the payouts for different hands is key to making informed decisions. Familiarize yourself with the paytables and choose games that offer favorable payouts for the hands you aim to achieve.
  3. Practice optimal strategy: Video poker is a game of skill, and employing the right strategy can significantly improve your chances of winning. Take the time to learn and practice optimal strategies for the specific video poker games you play. Utilize strategy charts or software to ensure you’re making the best decisions in each situation.
  4. Take advantage of bonuses: Many online casinos offer bonuses and promotions specifically for video poker players. These bonuses can provide extra value and help boost your bankroll. Keep an eye out for these offers and take advantage of them whenever possible.
  5. Play within your means: It’s crucial to set a budget and stick to it when playing video poker. Avoid chasing losses and know when to walk away. Remember that video poker is a game of both luck and skill, and sometimes luck just isn’t on your side.

Common Video Poker Variants and Their Variances

When it comes to video poker, there are numerous variants available, each with its own level of variance. Here are some popular video poker games and their respective variances:

1. Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is a low variance game, making it ideal for players looking for more consistent wins. The payouts for high-ranking hands are modest, but the frequency of smaller wins is higher.

2. Double Double Bonus Poker

Double Double Bonus Poker is a high variance game that offers higher payouts for rare hands, such as four of a kind. The swings in bankroll can be significant, but the potential for big wins is also greater.

3. Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is another high variance game where the wild cards (2s) can increase the chances of hitting rare hands. The potential for big wins is high, but players should be prepared for substantial losing streaks as well.

4. Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker falls under the category of low to moderate variance games. It offers slightly higher payouts for four of a kind hands compared to Jacks or Better, increasing the potential for bigger wins.

5. Joker Poker

Joker Poker is a high variance game that adds a Joker card to the standard deck. This Joker can substitute for any other card, increasing the chances of hitting rare hands. The increases in potential wins also come with increased volatility.

6. Aces and Faces

Aces and Faces is a moderate to high variance game that provides increased payouts for hands with Aces or face cards. The combination of higher payouts and additional volatility makes it a game for those seeking bigger wins.

7. Tens or Better

Tens or Better is a low variance game that offers payouts for a pair of tens or higher. The lower variance makes it a good choice for players who prefer smaller, more consistent wins.

Understanding the variance of the different video poker games can help you choose the one that suits your preferences and bankroll management strategies.


When it comes to video poker, variance plays a significant role in gameplay and strategy. Whether you prefer high variance games with the potential for big wins or low variance games with smaller but more frequent payouts, understanding variance and adjusting your strategy accordingly is crucial. By following proper bankroll management techniques, studying paytables, and practicing optimal strategies, you can optimize your chances of success in the exciting world of video poker.

Key Takeaways: How does variance affect video poker gameplay and strategy?

  • Variance in video poker refers to the fluctuation in short-term outcomes.
  • High-variance games offer bigger payouts but with greater risk.
  • Low-variance games provide more consistent but smaller wins.
  • Understanding variance helps players choose the right strategy for their preferences.
  • A strategy for high-variance games may involve chasing big hands, while a strategy for low-variance games focuses on playing it safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ section where we answer some common questions about how variance affects video poker gameplay and strategy.

What is variance in video poker?

Variance in video poker refers to the level of risk and volatility associated with the game. It determines how frequently and how much you win or lose in the short term. If a game has high variance, you can expect to experience bigger swings in your bankroll. On the other hand, low variance games offer more frequent wins but with smaller payouts.

Understanding the variance of a video poker game is important because it directly impacts your overall strategy and how you manage your bankroll. High variance games require a more conservative approach with a focus on preserving your bankroll during losing streaks, while low variance games allow for a more aggressive strategy aimed at accumulating smaller, but more frequent wins.

How does variance affect my bankroll in video poker?

Variance plays a crucial role in determining the health and sustainability of your bankroll in video poker. In high variance games, there will be longer periods of losses where you might experience significant drops in your bankroll. However, when a winning streak hits, the payouts can be substantial and recover your losses.

On the other hand, low variance games provide a more stable bankroll trajectory as wins and losses are smaller and occur more frequently. This can give you a sense of consistency and make it easier to manage your bankroll. However, keep in mind that the overall potential for big wins may be reduced compared to high variance games.

How does variance affect my play style in video poker?

Variance affects your play style in video poker by influencing the level of risk you are willing to take. In high variance games, where the swings in your bankroll are more significant, a conservative approach is often recommended. This means playing more cautiously, relying on basic strategies, and being prepared for longer losing streaks.

On the other hand, low variance games allow for a more aggressive play style. With smaller swings in your bankroll, you can afford to take more risks, bet higher amounts, and aim for more frequent, albeit smaller, wins. This requires a different strategy that focuses on maximizing your chances of hitting smaller payouts more often.

What are the pros and cons of playing high variance video poker?

The pros of playing high variance video poker lie in the potential for big wins. If luck is on your side, you can experience substantial payouts that can offset previous losses and lead to a significant increase in your bankroll. Additionally, high variance games tend to have higher payout percentages, meaning that over the long run, you have a better chance of making a profit.

However, playing high variance video poker comes with the con of higher risk. The possibility of losing streaks and significant drops in your bankroll is more prevalent. It requires patience, discipline, and a larger bankroll to withstand these swings and wait for the wins to come. If you’re not prepared for the potential losses, this type of game may not be suitable for you.

What are the pros and cons of playing low variance video poker?

The pros of playing low variance video poker are the more frequent wins and smaller swings in your bankroll. This provides a sense of consistency and stability, making it easier for you to manage and grow your bankroll. Additionally, low variance games are less mentally taxing as you don’t have to endure long barren stretches without wins.

However, the main drawback of low variance video poker is that the potential for big wins is reduced. The maximum payouts are usually smaller compared to high variance games. If you’re someone who enjoys the adrenaline rush and excitement of chasing big wins, low variance games may not offer the same level of thrill. It’s a matter of personal preference and risk appetite.

Video Poker Strategy: How to Win at Video Poker


Variance is the ups and downs you experience in video poker. Higher variance games have bigger swings.

Understanding variance helps you choose the right strategy and manage your bankroll wisely.

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