Video poker is an interesting and surprisingly rewarding casino game that follows the basic rules of table draw poker but it is much simpler than the traditional game. Although it has been around for more than 30 years, there are still casino players who are unaware that video poker offers the best odds in the casino. In fact, some variations of the game promise a negative house edge if played with an optimal strategy.
Since in land-based casinos, video poker is played on machines that resemble slots, it is often misunderstood and ignored by gamblers as a game that relies on chance. In reality, it requires a good amount of knowledge and skill, the ability to spot the games with the highest return, and the financial discipline needed when taking part in any form of gambling. In this guide, novices will learn the basics of all this, as well as essential aspects of video poker, including the rankings of the poker hands and how they pay out.
The following guide to video poker online also lists the most popular variations of this game and explains the differences between single and multi-hand video poker. It also brings forward the importance of full-pay video poker and includes information about the different software development companies, which have created the most online variations.
Basic Rules of Video Poker
The standard game of video poker is based on 5-card draw poker, which is why it is sometimes called simply draw poker. It is played with a single standard deck of cards, which is “shuffled” before each deal – of course, since this is an automated computer game, there is no actual shuffling. Still, cards are dealt randomly and it is impossible for players to count them or for casinos to manipulate them. There are two deals in each game round and the goal is to form a winning poker hand.
Adjusting the Bet
The game starts once players place their bets and choose the Deal button. Of course, to make the most of their play, they need to adjust the size of the stake. Typically, they can bet 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 coins of different denominations ($0.05, $0.10, $0.20, $0.50, $1, $2, $5, etc.).
Once the bet has been placed, players need to choose the Deal (Deal/Draw) button and they will be dealt 5 random cards. Here, they have the option to keep any number of cards with the Hold button or they can choose to discard them all. Clicking the Deal button once more removes the discarded cards and new ones are dealt in their place.
If a winning poker hand has formed, the player receives a payout according to the specific paytable of the game. Most video poker versions also give players the chance to double their winnings with the Double/Gamble button. Usually, players need to predict the color of a playing card or to guess whether it is high or low. If they succeed, the winnings from the current round will be doubled and if they fail to guess correctly, they will lose the gambled amount.
Some variations of video poker include the so-called wild cards – cards that can substitute any other card from the deck. Originally, Jokers played this role but any card could be a wild substitute. One of the most popular video poker versions, Deuces Wild, features wild Twos, for example.
Video Poker Pay Table
There are various payouts in video poker and they depend on the ranking of the specific poker hand that has been formed. In fact, the payout depends not only on the strength of your combination of cards but also on the size of the bet. Usually, the highest-ranking hands in video poker pay a little bit more when betting the maximum number of coins. Here are the payouts for all 1-coin play:
- Royal Flush – 10, J, Q, K, A of the same suit; 250:1
- Straight Flush – 5 consecutive cards of the same suit; 50:1
- Four of a Kind – 4 cards of the same face value; 25:1
- Full House – 3 of one card and 2 of another; 9:1
- Flush – 5 cards of the same suit; 6:1
- Straight – 5 consecutive cards of any suit; 4:1
- Three of a Kind – 3 cards of the same face value; 3:1
- Two Pairs – 2 pairs; 2:1
- Jacks or Better – 2 cards of the same value, a pair of Jacks or higher; 1:1
When players bet 5 coins, however, the payout for Royal Flush jumps to 4,000:1 – typically, it should be 1,250:1 (5×250:1). This is why experienced players recommend always playing video poker with the maximum number of coins.
Video Poker Variations
Jacks or Better
Aces and Eights
Double Bonus Poker
The simplest, most basic form of video poker is known as Jacks or Better, named after the lowest-paying combination that brings a payout. This game does not have wild cards or bonus payouts but the easy gameplay makes it a favorite among casino players.View more...
The Mechanics behind the Game
Video poker players sometimes mistakenly believe that a long losing streak must be followed by a streak of wins that will make up for the lost rounds. Others think that a slot or a video poker machine will be at some point “due” to hit a big win. But these are all misconceptions and forms of the so-called “gambler’s fallacy”. In reality, the game of video poker consists of random, independent events.
To be consistently successful when playing this game, casino patrons need to understand its mechanics. There are two basic concepts every video poker fan should know – randomness and house edge.
Just like all computerized casino games, video poker produces random results with every deal and game round. Randomness is achieved by the use of a random number generator (RNG), which is a piece of software built-in in every game. It uses a complicated pseudo-random number algorithm that generates sequences of numbers that cannot be predicted in any reasonable way.
As a result, each card that is dealt throughout the game round in video poker is random and does not depend on any previous or next cards. This means that losing or winning streaks simply appear as “streaks” but in reality, they happen by chance and players cannot rely on them to create some strategy or betting system. Moreover, a Royal Flush may not appear in a million rounds but at the same time, it may appear three times in a row, even though such a favorable scenario is highly unlikely.
RTP and House Edge
All casino games, including video poker, offer a long-term advantage to the casino and this is known as house edge. It is secured by a small difference between the payout and the “true odds” of the different outcomes in the game. The odds represent the likelihood of a winning hand appearing in each round – for instance, the odds of having Royal Flush in the initial draw are very low, at 649,740 to 1.
The typical Jacks or Better game has a house edge of 0.46%, which suggests that players can expect to lose $0.46 out of their $100 total bet. This is a simply theoretical concept, however, that is true for an unlimited number of rounds – in reality, players can end up with a profit or at a larger loss. The house edge and the Return to Player can be seen as the two sides of a coin a Jacks or Better game with a house edge of 0.46% will have RTP of 99.54%.
How to Choose a Video Poker Game?
Video poker may be a skill-based casino game but still, the outcome is heavily dependent on pure chance. This is why players should carefully choose the variation of video poker and the specific game that would suit their skill level, bankroll, and personal preference.
Full-Pay Video Poker
The first thing casino players should do is search for a full-pay video poker variation. The term refers to the amount of money offered by any specific version and more precisely, for two poker hands – Full House and Flush. A full-pay Jacks or Better, for instance, is a 9/6 game, offering 9 and 6 times the bet size for getting Full House and Flush, respectively. Games with lower payouts such as 8/6 or 6/5 should be avoided.
Single vs Multi-Hand Video Poker
Another thing to consider is playing with multiple hands simultaneously – this is a preferred option for experienced players who have a higher tolerance for risk. In multi-hand video poker, you receive one hand at the beginning and after you choose which cards to hold, they are replicated in all 5, 10, 25, 50, or even 100 hands. Each hand is independent and dealt from its deck of cards. More importantly, the original bet is multiplied by the number of hands you play with.
Progressive Video Poker
Some video poker releases feature a progressive jackpot – a jackpot that increases with every bet placed in the game. Usually, the jackpot is paid when players get a Royal Flush or some other specific hand. It should be noted, however, that the progressive jackpot will most likely be unlocked only when betting the maximum amount of coins.
Winning Strategy for Video Poker
Players who want to generate reliable winnings with video poker should stick to several fundamental concepts – know the basic rules of the game, apply a strategy, and control their spending. Of course, profits cannot be guaranteed since most video poker variations have negative expected value and the house has the advantage. Still, players can significantly increase their winning chances by employing several different tactics.
2Tips for Beginners
In order to play video poker properly, casino players first need to know all possible poker hands and understand the rules of the game. Then, they need to choose a high-return, full-pay variation by checking the paytable. Of course, betting the maximum number of coins is always a good tactic as this is how you take the full advantage for Royal Flush – to avoid spending too much per round, players can simply bet 5 coins of the lowest possible denomination.
They should also make sure they know the optimal strategy for the video poker variation they play – strategy cards can be easily found online for free. Last, but not least, beginner-level players should practice before they start playing video poker for real money. In most online casinos, patrons can play the games in demo mode and apart from that, they can find software that tells them how to play each hand.
Every different version of video poker has its specific strategy, developed and tested by professionals. There are obvious moves such as to always keep winning hands such as Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, or Full House but there are also right and wrong actions when having Two Pairs in Deuces Wild, for example. They will depend on the specific paytable of the game.
To avoid losing all your money on video poker, you should employ at least some basic tactics for bankroll management. The first and most important one is to set up a bankroll – money that is strictly for casino play and that you can afford to lose. Adjusting the bet size is crucial, while some players would also set limits to their losses or winnings in order to know when to end their game session.
Popular Video Poker Games
Major Providers of Video Poker Software
Due to its relative simplicity and very low house edge, video poker has a loyal following, especially among online casino players. Software development companies are, of course, trying to meet the demand for challenging and interesting video poker variations. And many of them have released a good range of single and multi-hand video poker titles over the years.
Founded more than two decades ago, the software provider from the Isle of Man Microgaming launched the first online casino in 1994. The studio is famous for its slots with huge progressive jackpots but it also has a large collection of video poker games in its portfolio. Many of them are available in multi-hand mode and those can be found within the Power Poker series.
NetEnt is a Swedish developer of online casino software and since 1996, it has released a diverse range of award-winning slots, table games, and video poker variations. Along with Microgaming, it is known to offer games with exceptionally high RTP rates. The company also has a fantastic Live Casino platform that powers some of the leading gambling websites today.
Playtech is one of the largest developers of online gambling software and its gaming portfolio is incredibly diverse. In terms of video poker offerings, it has all the basic variations of the game and has added several unique titles such as the 10-hand Jacks or Better Progressive, the single-hand Mega Jacks Progressive, and 2 Ways Royal, which offers RTP of 99.80% with perfect strategy.
Betsoft was established in 2006 and since then, it has developed a great number of online casino games, including unique 3D slots, realistic card and table games, as well as beautifully designed video poker variations. In addition to the standard video poker games, Betsoft also has several one-of-a-kind pyramid pokers, which are quite different from anything else created so far.
Can I Beat the Odds in Video Poker?
No, it is impossible to beat the odds in video poker as they are fixed. However, some video poker games offer very low or even negative house edge, which means that if players use perfect strategy, they are likely to make decent profits over time.
Is Video Poker Very Different than Table Poker?
Yes, although video poker is based on regular draw poker, it is played in a very different way. In video poker, you do not play against the dealer or other gamblers – this is a solo game and its bet size, speed and difficulty could be adjusted by the player.
Can I Play Video Poker for Free?
Yes, video poker can be played in a free-play mode in many online casinos and often, players are not even required to register an account. This is a great option when you want to try a new game or practice while using a strategy card. Of course, those who are new to video poker are advised to first play the variation they have chosen for free.