Holding a Low Pair in Video Poker – is it the Right Move?

Holding a Low Pair in Video Poker – is it the Right Move?

Video poker is a type of fixed-odds poker game. It is quite popular as unlike traditional poker, you play it in a terminal that is similar to slot machines. You can also play online video poker but the rules remain the same. As it is a five-card draw game, one of the questions that come up quite often amongst players is whether you should hold a pair with a lower value instead of holding a face card.

Holding the pair would mean you will at least be able to secure a quantifying card. Which means you will get the same amount of money you bet. But we are often moved by the shiny face cards and let lower pairs go. In this article, we are going to talk about which strategy is better if you draw a low pair.

Why do Players Hold High Cards? 

Whenever people play games like poker, they always relate having higher cards to a good hand. A pair of 2’s is not as appealing as a Queen. So we always think that letting the 2’s go will be a better idea because if we draw another Queen, that would be a better deal. Which is completely wrong. Because you see, having the pair of 2’s in your hand will mean you will at least get the money you bet back. And there is also a chance that the pair will turn into a two pair, a full house, a three of a kind or a four of a kind. All of these are better than even a pair of Queen.

The chances of you acquiring a Royal Flush, a four of a kind, a three of a kind, or a straight flush from a single suited or high card is very low. One of the worst strategies of the game is to let go of a low pair and hold onto a single high card. 

Why Hold a Lower Pair?

As we said in the previous sections, holding onto a higher card in the hopes of a miracle while letting go of a lower pair is a terrible strategy. Holding onto a lower pair means you are not going to lose any money in video poker. Sometimes it might seem like a good idea to let the pair go in hopes of a higher value pair or three of a kind. But the chances of that happening are really low. According to optimized strategy, holding a lower pair is one of the best moves in the game if you have no other better cards.

Statistically, the chances of winning with a three of a kind, or a two pair if you hold onto a lower pair are about 25%. And even though the chances of a player who holds a high card making a high-value pair is 26.38%, the three of a kind and two pair will always win more money. So it does not make sense for a player to let go of a lower pair in favor of a single high card. 

What if I Have Two High Cards?

One of the frequent questions that people ask is what if they have two high cards and a low pair? What should be their play then? Well, the answer is the same as before. A low pair is almost always better than two unrelated high cards. The only times that you can ditch the low pair in favor of higher value cards is if 

      1. Four cards that can make a Flush 

      2. Three cards that can make a Royal flush. 

       3. Four cards that can make a straight flush.

       4. Four cards that can make a Royal flush. 

These are the only four scenarios in which you can ditch a pair in favor of a none winning hand. 


It is good to look at strategies and practice games before you start playing real money video poker. Then you will be able to put all the strategies we talked about to use in reality. You will be able to see that holding a lower pair is one of the best moves in the game. Manage your money wisely and have fun playing this strategic slot game. 

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