When to Make the Maximum Bet in Video Poker


No matter which video poker game you are playing, you will have the option of betting anywhere from 1 coin to 5 coins per hand. These coins will range anywhere from one cent to ten dollars in value, which means that you can bet anywhere from one cent to 50 dollars on every hand.

However, this article will not focus on the dollar amount per spin as much as it will focus on how many COINS you should be betting per spin. In most situations, you should be betting the maximum number of coins for each hand due to the additional prizes that come with hitting a royal flush. Even though you do not hit a royal flush very often, it is still a huge mistake to leave this extra money on the table by betting smaller than the maximum bet.

Many players set out to play at video poker casinos without having any idea how many coins they should be betting each hand. By looking at many of the various situations that may arise and considering the best strategy for each one I hope to get all of my readers on the same page when it comes to video poker betting strategy.

Scenarios When You Should Make the Maximum Bet

Scenario #1: You Are Playing In a Video Poker Game That Rewards Extra Money for a Royal Flush

Nearly every video poker machine you play on will fall into this category, especially in places such as Las Vegas casinos. In most games, the payout will jump from 1000 coins for a royal flush while betting four coins to 4000 coins for a royal flush while betting five coins.

It is pretty easy to see that this is a very large payout jump for simply raising your bet one measly coin, which is why you should NEVER be betting four coins or less on machines like this.

This extra money is rewarded ONLY to those who hit a royal flush, which is a pretty rare occurrence. For example, if you are playing an optimal strategy in Deuces Wild, you will hit a natural royal flush in just 0.0022% of the hands you play. However, even though the royal flush hits so infrequently, it is still highly recommended to do the maximum bet so that you pick up that extra money in the long run.

Scenario #2: You Have Enough Money in Your Bankroll to Comfortably Make the Maximum Bet Every Hand

Many people understand this concept but they do not know exactly how much money they really need to play in these high variance games to guarantee that they have a small risk of ruin. The smaller your risk of ruin, the more likely you are to walk away with some money in your bankroll at the end of the session; which is something that you should always strive for.

I recommend having a bankroll of at least 5,000 units before you set out to play these games where a unit represents a maximum bet of five coins.

For example, if you are playing Deuces Wild with a bet of one dollar per coin, a betting unit would represent $5.00 which means that you should have a bankroll of at least $25,000. By playing at stakes where you have around 5,000 units to bet with, your risk of ruin will be 5% or less over a VERY long period of time while using an optimal strategy, which is pretty good compared to other casino games.

Scenario #3: You Are Playing a Video Poker Game Which Rewards a Large Progressive Jackpot Amount for a Royal Flush

Not every machine will reward you with 4000 credits for nailing the royal flush since some of them have a progressive jackpot in place that is constantly rising. Whenever this jackpot reaches over 4000 credits then you should be playing in one of these progressive games as opposed to the standard ones with similar payouts.

For example, let’s assume that you have the choice between two different $0.25 video poker games with the exact same payout structures except that one has a $1,100 jackpot for a royal flush and the other has a 4000 credit jackpot for a royal flush. In this instance, you should always play the game with the $1,100 jackpot because you will receive more money back in the long run over a huge number of spins and that can never be a bad thing!

Scenario #4: Whenever You Are Feeling Lucky

Just kidding, everybody calm down!

The luck that you perceive yourself to be having on any given day should never play into your decision of whether to make the maximum bet or not. The main reason for this is that there is no way to actually know how hot your luck is running

If you could accurately gauge your luck at any given time you would become a millionaire very quickly. The results of each hand are separate and unrelated to the outcome of past hands so deciding your bet size according to past hand results is quite silly.

Scenarios When You Should Not Make the Maximum Bet

Scenario #1: You Do Not Have Enough Money to Complete the Maximum Bet Each Hand

As a general rule, you should never be gambling with money that you do not have. Since these games all have an unbeatable house edge built into them, gambling with your rent money will usually end disastrously.

Therefore, if you do not have enough money in your bankroll to make the maximum bet you should not even be gambling at all. If you insist on gambling with a low bankroll you should at least drop down to the lowest stakes possible in order to minimize your risk of ruin while still making the maximum bet.

Scenario #2: You Are Playing In a Game Which Pays Extra When You Bet Less Than the Maximum Bet

Some land-based casinos offer video poker machines which allow you to bet up to ten coins per hand instead of the usual five coins. Most of these games will reward you with the royal flush bonus when you bet just five coins which means that you do not need to make the maximum bet of ten coins on these machines if you do not wish to do so.

I recommend betting whatever amount you are comfortable with if you find yourself in this situation, as long as that bet is 5 coins or higher. If betting five coins is too steep for you at the stakes that you are currently playing on then you should definitely step down in stakes until betting five coins is not a problem.

Scenario #3: You Are Playing in a Game Which Does Not Give Extra Bonuses for Hitting a Royal Flush

These games are becoming extremely rare these days, but they are still worth mentioning here for the sake of argument. The fact that I need to dig this deep to come up with reasons NOT to make the maximum bet just goes to show that it really is the best option most of the time.

To be specific, you will know if you are on one of these machines if the royal flush payout difference between betting three coins and betting four coins is the same as the royal flush payout difference between betting four coins and betting five coins. Feel free to bet whatever number of coins you wish on these machines as it will not make any difference as far as long-term value is concerned.


It is undeniable that getting the biggest returns possible on your bets is a good idea for every video poker player in the long run. An increase in return percentage will allow you to play for longer periods of time with the same original investment which increases the amount of fun that you have per dollar invested. It will also allow you to play more hands per deposit which gives you more chances to hit that sweet royal flush jackpot in the long run.

The best way that you can start to increase your long-term return percentage in video poker is to make the maximum bet of five coins on every single hand. This is not a superstition or an opinion; it is a scientific fact due to the way that the payouts are structured in most video poker games. It might be a rarity to hit the jackpot, but that does not mean you should bet less than the maximum bet just to save a little bit of money most of the time.

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule of always betting the maximum bet but you will rarely find yourself in one of these situations.  Therefore, your basic rule of thumb should be to make the maximum bet on every hand for whatever video poker game you are playing in that offers extra value to those who are lucky enough to hit a royal flush.

Petko Stoyanov
Get in touch with Petko
About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.