Winning Hands in Pick'em

Those who already played Pick'em Poker probably noticed how long does it take to hit winning poker hands like Straight Flush, Full House or even Flush or Straight. At first it may be very frustrating but after understanding the poker hand ranking, probabilities and paytable of this video poker game it will become clear why Pick'em is one of the most attractive video poker variations available online or in live casinos.

The poker hand rankings is very similar in all video poker games. With some exception especially in games with wild cards like Deuces Wild where paytable has to be adjusted as the wild cards cause higher ranked combination like Straight Flush or Royal Flush hit more often than for example in Jacks or Better video poker. Pick'em Poker is the opposite. It is harder to hit higher ranked winning poker hands when playing Pick'em. The table below shows the winning hand combinations in Pick'em along with probabilities of hitting them compared to probabilities of Jacks or Better.

Hand Probability - Pick'em Probability - Jacks or Better Example
Royal Flush
ace high straight flush
1 in 351,818 1 in 40,391 Royal Flush
Straight Flush
suited consecutive 5 cards
1 in 38,451 1 in 9,148 Straight Flush
Four of a kind
4 cards of the same rank
1 in 2,361 1 in 423.3 Four of a Kind
Full House
three of a kind and a pair
1 in 424.4 1 in 86.9 Full House
non consecutive suited 5 cards
1 in 313.6 1 in 90.8 Flush
consecutive non suited 5 cards
1 in 197.4 1 in 89.1 Straight
Three of a Kind
3 cards of the same rank
1 in 33.3 1 in 13.4 Three of a Kind
Two pair
2 same rank cards twice
1 in 16.1 1 in 7.7 Two Pair
Nines/Jacks or Better
a pair of 9/J or higher card
1 in 4.4 1 in 4.7 Jacks or Better
Low/No Pair
none of the above
1 in 1.5 1 in 1.8 Nothing


The reason why the winning poker hands are so much harder to hit in Pick'em is the nature of the game. In regular poker games you are dealt usually 5 poker games and then, based on the cards you get, you can draw required number of cards. The drawing round actually dramatically improves your chances of hitting top paying combinations like Royal Flush.

However in Pick'em you are dealt 2 cards face up on the left. And two 3-card piles with the top cards face up on the right. You do not get the option of drawing cards. You pick one of the 3 card piles. So in Pick'em basically all winning hands must be dealt before you pick them.

Drawing Video Poker Hands

When you compare odds of getting Royal Flush it is just 1 in 351,818 hands in Pick'em comparing to 1 in only 40,391 hands in Jacks or Better. So it will take you more than 8 times longer to hit Royal Flush playing Pick'em. Comparison with Deuces Wild is even more interesting, thanks to the wild cards the probability of hitting Wild Royal Flush is 1 in only 557 hands, however Natural Royal Flush is harder to get (again thanks to the wild cards) than in Jacks or Better with just 1 in 45,282.

Based on the lower probability of hitting the top winning poker hands in Pick'em Poker most players assume that it is very volatile game and that the variance of this game must be unbelievable high. In fact the exact opposite is the truth. Thanks to lower chance of hitting the top paying hands these hands are less important (they present lower share of the total theoretical payout than in other video poker games) and thus the variance is actually lower than in other video poker variations. When we compare the most popular video poker variation based on variance then Pick'em is featuring the lowest one of just 15.01. So you won't need as high bankroll for successfully playing Pick'em as for other video poker games.

Video Poker Game Variance
Pick'em Poker 15.01
Jacks or Better 19.52
Bonus Poker 20.91
Deuces Wild 25.84
Double Bonus 28.26
Double Double Bonus 41.99


It is also interesting top compare the odds of completing winning hand when drawing cards in Jacks or better and picking one of the two piles in Pick'em based on the up card. Surprisingly the odds of completing Royal Flush are pretty close in Picke'm or Jacks or Better. The calculations were made in WinPoker software. Based on the calculations from input of 3 suited consecutive cards which give us chance to hit Royal Flush and drawing 2 cards (in Jacks or Better) and picking pile with 2 hidden cards (in Pick'em) gives us probability of 1 Royal Flush in 1,128 for Pick'em and 1 in 1081 for Jacks or Better.

Winning Hands Draw Odds Analysis

We probably went too far comparing drawing cards in Jacks or Better with picking pile of 3 cards in Pick'em but the statistical findings are interesting so we wanted to share those. 

Always remember that the probability numbers are only correct when playing perfect strategy. You are never going to hit Royal Flush if you do not hold or pick the correct cards. Make sure to master the perfect Pick'em strategy in order to get as close to the probability numbers as possible and thus close enough to the 99.95% theoretical payout of full pay Pick'em as well.