Video poker is one of the best games to play in an online casino because the house edge is very low compared to that of other games. A reason for this is that video poker allows you to make choices in an effort to improve your hand similar to the choices a player can make in blackjack. You can decide to hold certain cards and redraw, or you can choose to “stand pat.”
What does it mean to “Stand Pat” in Video Poker?
In real poker, to “stand pat” means to retain your original cards because you have a strong hand that does not require improvement. Thus, a “pat hand” in video poker means that you have been dealt a winner with your first five cards.
Here’s an example. In a game of video poker at your favorite online casino you have been dealt the following cards: 2H, 6H, 7H, JH, KH. As you can see, there are five hearts which means you have made a flush. In video poker a flush is a pretty good hand and can pay as much as 8-1. Because you do not need to draw more cards to make a hand and collect a payout, this is a pat hand. You will be given the option to stand pat and retain all five cards without redrawing.
It is certainly wise to take a win whenever you can get one in video poker. Even small wins will keep you in the game and playing. On closer inspection, however, the hand in the example produces a tough decision for the smart video poker player.
When to Release a Pat Hand in Video Poker
A pat hand like the one given in the foregoing example is a good thing, right? Well, not so fast. In video poker the largest jackpots are awarded for a royal flush, or A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit. If you are not drawing cards when you have a chance to make a royal flush, you will never win one of the big progressive jackpots that can pay thousands of dollars.
Take a look at the pat hand again. As you can see, it contains the JH and KH. These are two cards needed for a royal flush. Rather than take the guaranteed win offered by the pat hand, many players will prefer to hold the two hearts and draw three new cards in an attempt to make a royal flush.
It can be difficult to surrender a hand which is a guaranteed winner and take a chance on a making a big hand, but the whole point of playing video poker is to win a large jackpot. You must take a chance and refuse to stand pat if you want to win big.
There will be other times, of course, when drawing for the royal flush does not present this difficult choice. You may be dealt three or four of the five cards you need for a royal flush, in which case it is much easier to draw.
There are many pat hands you can receive in video poker. Some of them, like a straight or a full house, should always be held to collect a payout. It may be to your advantage to surrender others such as a pair of jacks or kings when you have a chance to further improve your hand.