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.
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 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 Flush||250x (4000x bonus with max coins paid)|
|Four of a Kind||25x|
|Full House||6x to 9x|
|Flush||5x or 6x|
|Three of a Kind||3x|
|Pair of Kings or Better||1x|
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.
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 Kind||200x|
|Royal Flush||(with joker) 100x|
|Straight Flush||40x or 50x|
|Four of a Kind||15x to 20x|
|Full House||5x to 8x|
|Three of a Kind||2x|
|Pair of Kings or Better||1x|
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Get all the latest sports news, expert tips and reviews.