Basic video poker strategy says to try and play conservative unless you see a good opportunity to win a really big hand. Most video poker games pay the player if they get "jacks or better." This means that a pair of jacks is the lowest possible hand that you can have to still win money. Having a pair usually only breaks you even, and you do not really win anything other than your original bet.
If you are using a conservative Video Poker Strategy, you are looking to hold onto a jack, queen, king, or ace in hopes that you will get another one after the second deal. If you have a pair on the first deal, you will want to try and hold onto those cards in hopes of hitting a three of a kind on the second deal. When presented with the opportunity to either hold a high card or a pair, choose the pair because it has a higher payoff if you were to hit another one for a three of a kind.
Big Money Video Poker Strategy
You need to alter your conservative video poker strategy when the opportunity presents itself. This means that if you notice there is a good chance to hit a bigger hand, then forget about playing conservative and try and hit the big hand. The reason for this is that a big hand will pay off significantly more than just trying to get a high pair.
The two best opportunities for this is when you are on straight draws and flush draws. This means that you are only one card away from getting either on after the first deal. If you have four hearts, drop the last card and try and get the fifth one, since it will be a high payout, even if it means dropping an ace. This is considered a risky video poker strategy, but it is necessary to win any significant hands.