How to Play Video Poker - Play Video Poker Online and Win - HowToBet

How To Play Video Poker

While many players think of video poker as being a chance-based casino game akin to slots, that isn’t strictly true. While there are certainly similarities in the way the games are presented, video poker allows you to make your own decisions. That means you can influence the outcome of the game rather than merely accept what the reels give you. In other words, video poker is as much about skill as it is luck.

We can also tell you that video poker has one of the smallest house edges in the casino. So, if you play your cards right, you can give yourself a great chance of having a winning session. If that sounds like an attractive deal, read on and we’ll explain how to play video poker so that you can get involved.

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How to Play Video Poker

There is no one type of video poker. Instead, there are different variants and game variations out there that you can choose from. Fortunately, all video poker games are played to a similar set of rules, because they're loosely based on Five Card Draw poker. They also use the same traditional table poker hand rankings. In other words, if you know how to play one video poker game, you won't find it difficult to pick up the others.

In the majority of video poker games, a bet is placed and the player is dealt five starting cards. The player then looks at those cards to see what hand he has or what hand he has a chance of making. He can then choose to discard as few or as many cards as he wants. Discarded cards are replaced with new ones and the five-card hand is assessed automatically.

If the final five-card hand is a winner then the corresponding prize for that hand will be paid. The better the hand, the bigger the payout. Of course, if the final hand isn't a winner then no prize will be paid and the bet will lose.

As you can see, the basic procedure is very straightforward, so we'll now look at how it applies to two of the most popular video poker games around - Jacks or Better and Joker's Wild.

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is the most common video poker game around, and consequently, the most popular. This game uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards and plays exactly like the outline above. However, as the name of the game suggests, you must have a pair of Jacks or better for your bet to win. 

Payouts are made according to a predetermined pay table, and a typical one is illustrated below. Bear in mind that payouts only apply to the highest hand value you are holding. So, if you have four of a kind, you will not get paid for three of a kind as well, even though, technically, you have it in your hand.

Jacks or Better Typical Pay Table

Royal Flush250x (4000x bonus with max coins paid)
Straight Flush50x
Four of a Kind25x
Full House6x to 9x
Flush5x or 6x
Three of a Kind3x
Two Pair2x
Pair of Kings or Better1x
Jacks or Better - A Typical Pay Table

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

There are countless books that have been written on Jacks or Better video poker strategy, and you will probably want to take a look at a few of them, especially if you intend to play this game regularly. In the meantime, here are a few key strategies that could help you to get off to a winning start.

  1. If you have been dealt four to a Straight or a Flush, hold all four cards and draw one.
  2. If you have been dealt three to a Royal Flush, hold those three cards and draw two.
  3. When you have been dealt any Pair, you should hold the pair and draw three cards.
  4. Hold any three cards to a Straight Flush.
  5. If you have none of the above, hold any cards that are higher than the Jack inclusive.
  6. If you have none of the above, bin them all, draw five new cards and hope for the best.

Joker's Wild

The video poker game Joker's Wild uses 53 playing cards in total - a standard 52 card deck plus one Joker. The Joker serves as a 'wild card', which means that it can substitute for any other card in the deck. For example, if you have 4-4-4-3 and the Joker, you would be paid for Four-of-a-Kind, as that's the best hand that could be made.

You should note that the presence of the Joker in the deck makes winning hands easier to achieve, so you will usually need a pair of Kings or better to win. The Joker also makes it possible to create a whole new hand, namely the Five-of-a-Kind. The full pay table for a typical Joker's Wild game would look something like this:

Joker's Wild Typical Pay Table

Royal Flush (without joker)250x (4000x bonus with max coins paid)
Five of a Kind200x
Royal Flush(with joker) 100x
Straight Flush40x or 50x
Four of a Kind15x to 20x
Full House5x to 8x
Three of a Kind2x
Two Pair1x
Pair of Kings or Better1x
Joker's Wild - A Typical Pay Table

Joker's Wild Video Poker Strategy

Because Joker's Wild is very similar to Jacks or Better, the strategies given earlier can also be applied to this game. However, you might also want to add the following strategies too:

  1. Hold on to all Three-of-a-Kind hands and higher, especially if holding a Joker.
  2. Keep all four cards that lead to a big paying hand.
  3. Hold on to three cards that lead to a big paying hand, if you are holding a Joker.

More Video Poker Variants

Now that you know how to play Jacks or Better and Joker's Wild, you can start exploring plenty of other video poker variants. Some of the most popular are:

  • Deuces Wild
  • Tens or Better
  • Bonus Poker
  • Joker Poker
  • Double Bonus Poker

Where to Play Video Poker

That, in a nutshell, is how to play video poker. So the next question is where to play. Well, you certainly aren't short of options. Almost all online casinos offer at least one and in many cases multiple video poker variants, and some will give you scores of different games to choose from. Take a look at the games available at the casinos which operate in your own state and try them all to see which ones you like playing the most. Some recommended online casinos that you might like to start with are highlighted below.

Recommended Online Casinos

Video Poker FAQ

What is the difference between video poker and slots?

While the physical machines in land-based casinos do appear to be similar, slots and video poker games are actually quite different. All slots are entirely random and players have no influence over the outcome of any particular spin of the reels. In video poker, on the other hand, you can make decisions that do affect your chance of winning. This makes video poker as much a game of skill as luck.

Do video poker games come with progressive jackpots?

Yes. There are many progressive jackpot video poker games that can be played. Most often, these progressive games will pay the jackpot when you hit a Royal Flush.

Can you play multi-hand video poker games?

Yes. There are video poker games that allow you to play 20, 50 or even 100 hands at a time. Of course, each hand will cost you a bet, so you will need a bigger bankroll to play at your usual stakes. That said, you can reduce your stakes to accomodate more hands if you’d prefer to do that.

How do we know video poker games are fair?

To keep games fair, video poker machines employ what is known as a Random Number Generator (RNG). An RNG is an internal computer program that runs through all the numbers and card permutations at the rate of thousands per second.

In video poker, the probabilities are all built around a standard deck of playing cards, which enables you to calculate the correct strategy for each hand.

Is video poker based on a regular poker game?

Most video poker games are loosely based on Five Card Draw. Take a look at our how to play Five Card Draw page and you’ll see the similarities, as well as detailed information about standard hand rankings.

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