Video Poker Variations

Up until recently, video poker games were among the biggest attention-grabbers at land-based casinos, but their popularity quickly carried over the online gambling scene. It is one of the few casino games in which players can consistently maintain their advantage over the house, and say nothing of the rest of its intriguing features that add up to its appeal.

The growing popularity video poker enjoys flows from the skill element such games involve, which is exactly what sets them apart from slots. Even though most players think that very few other casino games can beat video poker in terms of simplicity, they should easily consider that these games are not short of any complicating factors either.

The aim of this article is exactly to give players a sense of the different video poker variants they will come across while placing their bets over the Internet, and most importantly, the things they need to pay special attention to in order to pick the best option.

The Most Popular Video Poker Variations To Look for

An essential thing players should not forget is that within each video poker version they will find out there, there will be a specific pay scheme, and the information it contains will be one of the most useful tools they can fall back to in order to determine which options should be avoided and which ones are worthwhile.

One of the distinguishing traits of video poker is that, in such games, the betting interval is just one. This is so as once gambling enthusiasts place their bet and hit the deal/draw button, they will not be required to use any of their funds until the round ends, which is not the case with blackjack or poker, for example.

Video poker variants are fan-favorites, and there is a good reason why as unlike poker games, where gambling enthusiasts pit their wits against each other, which makes it a must to adjust their strategy according to the skills and knowledge of the other players, in video poker they is neither a dealer, not other players. This is not the case with video poker. Therefore, while playing video poker, memorizing the respective strategy is what it takes to ensure that it will work out perfectly during your betting session.

Video poker is a casino game, which has been around for quite a while, and therefore it is reasonable to expect that the choice of such games is no longer as limited as it was in the past. The classic video poker games have significantly evolved, and presently, players are treated with versions that go together with progressive jackpots, special wild cards, more bountiful payouts, refined visuals, as well as such that offer the chance to bet on a number of hands at the same time.

Jacks or Better
Deuces Wild
Tens or Better
Aces and Faces
Bonus Poker
Double Bonus Poker
Double Double Bonus Poker
Joker Poker
Deuces and Joker Wild
Bonus Deuces Wild

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is often regarded as the game from which all other video poker variants were developed, which makes sense considering how many similarities it bears with the five-draw poker. Such video poker variants are available in the majority of the online casinos, and most importantly, they are part of the gaming suites of a fair share of the software providers. The best thing about such video poker variants is that their simplicity renders them a perfect fit for old hands and total novices.

No matter the case, as soon as players adjust their bet, they will receive five cards that are all face-up, and at this point, each of the 2.598.960 hands that can be formed is equally likely to appear. The next decision avid casino fans will be required to make is whether to hold all five cards, replace all of them, or only some of them. Then, based on the strength of the hand and the staked amount, players will get the respective payout.

One of the first things to take into account about games of this kind is that it is played using just one regular deck without jokers.

Gambling enthusiasts should remember that the paytable and return percentages of the different versions of Jacks or Better vary wildly. Naturally, the most sought-after are the 9/6 or full-pay variants as they offer more mouth-watering payouts for a Full House and Flush. If players get a Royal Flush while betting on such a video poker version and they have chosen the maximum bet size at the beginning of the round, they will be in for a 800 for 1 payout. Needless to say, such hands are not that easily formed as they should contain suited 10, J, Q, K, and A.

As for the rest of the payouts players will spot under the five-coin column, they will notice that a Straight Flush awards a payout of 50 for 1, while getting Four of a Kind will result in a payout of 25 for 1. Full House, Flush, and Straight award payouts of 6, 6, and 4 for 1, respectively. Three of a Kind is a hand, which gives a payout of 3 for 1, while forming Two Pairs means that the payout which will come the way of gambling enthusiasts will be 2 for 1.

The least-rewarding hand is a Jacks or Better, and players will be paid for such a hand when they are dealt two J, Q, K, or A. Remember that with Tens or Better, players will qualify for the same payoff also when they get two 10s.

Since not all versions of Jacks or Better share the same payscale, it makes sense that their RTPs will not coincide as well. The full-pay versions are the ones that have the highest return percentages, and the RTP of the 9/6 versions is normally around 99.54%. The RTP percentage of 9/5 variants is 98.45%, while the lowest return percentage is offered by 6/5 Jacks or Better.

The difference in the return percentages is not the only thing to pay attention to while playing Jacks or Better, as gambling enthusiasts should also check the maximum number of hands they will be allowed to play at a time. Playtech’s Jacks or Better allows betting on 1, 4, 10, or 25 hands simultaneously. The same maximum number is available in the variant designed by NetEnt.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is another one of the most popular video poker variants, and it has a lot in common with Jacks or Better. That being said, the most outstanding difference between the two stems from the fact that in Deuces Wild, there are wild cards. This is exactly the reason why if you are a total novice at the game, you might feel somewhat overwhelmed at first.

In spite of the fact that Deuces Wild is also played using a standard deck, the key difference is that the deuces act as wild cards. This is to say that winning hands can be formed a lot easier as the deuces can come instead of all other cards. This also means that while playing Deuces Wild, players will see hands that are unavailable in Jacks or Better, for example, and this is exactly the case with Five of a Kind and Wild Royal Flush.

Needless to say, the paytable of such games is adjusted in order to reflect these changes in the rules, and by closer inspection, players will notice that the lowest-paying hand is not Jacks or Better but Three of a Kind. The payout for such hands is also not the standard one, and getting such a hand means players will be paid at even odds.

With this in mind, Royal Flush remains the best-paying hand, and depending on the chosen version, forming such in a full-pay version means that players benefit from pay odds of 800 for 1. Getting four Deuces will also result in a respectable payout, but avid casino fans should have in mind that the payouts for the rest of the hands are dramatically decreased.

Players should bear in mind that variants of Deuces Wild that have an RTP of 98.91% are often referred to as “ugly” ones. To recognize these video poker versions, gambling enthusiasts simply need to take a look at the payouts Five of a Kind and Straight Flush offer. If they are reduced to 15 for 1 and 9 for 1, respectively, this should go to show that you have picked such a version of Deuces Wild. Such games give the house an edge of 1.09%, while with the full-pay versions, players will be the ones to keep the upper hand.

Tens or Better

Tens or Better is also among the most widely available video poker variants, and the biggest difference with Jacks or Better is that the least-lucrative hand is a pair of Tens. What this means is that the requirements for getting a winning combination are lower when compared to most other video poker versions, but as you might expect, this has its price.

The pay scheme of Tens or Better is easily not as lucrative as the one of Jacks or Better, and, although this only applies to specific hands, the difference in the overall profit of players will become more noticeable over the long term. If players compare the payouts offered for a Full House, they will notice that Jacks or Better is a more favorable option. In spite of the fact that the difference in the return percentages of the two games is not that significant, Jacks or Better still poses like a better alternative.

Getting two Tens on the pre-draw and holding them means that gambling enthusiasts will get back the staked amount at the least. Besides, they stand a good chance to get Four of a Kind, Full House, Two Pairs, or Three of a Kind.

The payback percentage of these games is one more measurement gambling enthusiasts should examine closely, as it will give them an idea about their expected long-term profit. Giving a shot a full-pay variant of Tens or Better will be players’ best bet due to the fact that the RTP of such games will be around 99.14%.

Still, finding a full-pay version of Tens or Better might be challenging, and on such occasions, players should try to find the next-best variant, which is the 25/6/4 one. This time, the payout percentage will be 98.10%, but players should bear in mind that this will only be the case if they stake five credits. Such variants are also exceptionally rare, and in addition to their return percentage, players should also pay closer attention to the reduced payout a Flush offers.

Other rare variants of Tens or Better include 25/5/5, 20/6/5, 40/20/6/5. Players are advised to steer clear of the latter one due to the fact that the house gains greater edge through the decreased payouts for a Straight Flush and Four of a Kind.

Aces and Faces

Gambling enthusiasts who want to enjoy no-frills video poker variants might be taken with Aces and Faces as no wild cards are used in them.

What players should consider about the different versions of Aces and Faces is that while the payoffs for some hands are consistent, with others, the offered payouts will vary dramatically. Royal Flush is the hand which brings the most attention-grabbing payouts, and Aces and Faces is no exception as getting such a hand brings a payout of 800 for 1, if five cousins per hand are played. Choosing just one coin means that the offered payoff will be 500 for 1.

With such games, players will benefit from bonus payouts for Four of a Kind formed with four face cards, and getting such a hand will result in a payout of 40 for 1. The other bonus payout, which can come players’ way while they are reveling in Aces and Faces is given when four Aces appear together as in such cases, players will win 80 for 1.

With this in mind, gambling enthusiasts are advised to check if the casino they are playing at offers an 8/5 version of Aces and Faces. The return percentage of these games is around 99.26%. There are also 7/6 and 7/5 versions of Aces and Faces, and the return percentages of these games will be 99.2% and 98.1%, respectively.

Bonus Poker

Bonus poker is easily among the video poker variants that create greater excitement for players, as, although the gameplay it offers is pretty much the standard one, the bonus payouts that will come players’ way are not to be overlooked. In essence, the pay structure of such video poker versions is slightly altered in comparison with what players will be offered while playing Jacks or Better, which is where its appeal comes from.

The most common version of Bonus Poker is the 8/5 one, which means that when Full House is formed, gambling enthusiasts will be paid 8 for 1, while a Flush will bring a payoff of 5 for 1. Normally, the RTP of such versions of Bonus Poker is around 99.92%.

The payout will become even more whopping when four Aces appear together. Getting four Aces together will result in a payout of 80 for 1, while seeing four 2s, 3s, or 4s means players will be paid at the rate of 40 for 1. Hitting Four or a Kind formed with cards 5s through Ks means players will be in for a payoff of 25 for 1. Jacks or Better is the hand, which brings the lowest payoff, and as usual, it pays 1 for 1.

Along with the 8/5 versions, players will stumble upon 7/5 variants, meaning that a Full House will pay at the rate of 7 for 1. If this is the case, the RTP of the game will drop to around 98.01%, so in other words, the smaller the offered payments for Flush and Full House are, the lower the expected return percentage of the game will be.

Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is a Bonus Poker version, and as the name implies, it offers some more bountiful payouts. If they opt for such a video poker variant, players should prepare for more handsome payouts for Four of a Kind and reduced ones for Two Pairs that normally pay 2 for 1 but will now pay 1 for 1.

With Double Bonus Poker versions, getting four Aces will bring a payoff of 160 for 1, while forming Four of a Kind with cards of 2s through 4s means players’ balance will increase with a payout of 80 for 1. Getting four 5s through Ks means that the awarded payout will be 50 for 1.

That being said, gambling enthusiasts can gain an edge over the house, given that they use a proper strategy and find a version with a good pay scheme. This is exactly the case with the full-pay 10/7/5 Double Bonus Poker versions in which the expected return will reach 100.17%.

Yet, for most part, the available Double Bonus Poker games are short-pay ones. Thus, what players will be normally offered in terms of payoffs is either 9/7/5 or 9/6/5. Needless to say, this change in the pay scheme will have an impact on the expected return percentage of the games, and in the first case scenario, the RTP will be 99.11% while in the second, it will be around 97.81%.

Double Double Bonus Poker

Something essential to consider is that when you notice “double” or “triple” before the name of the chosen video poker version, this should indicate that you are most likely to benefit from more bountiful payouts for Four of a Kind.

This is exactly the case with Double Double Bonus Poker, which is a particularly appealing option for avid casino fans who are set to get more handsome payouts per hand. The pay schedule of such video poker variants offers significantly higher payoffs for all types of Four of a Kind, which is normally not the case with the regular video poker games. Say nothing of the kicker hands that offer more mouth-watering payouts. For starters, this is the odd card of a winning hand, which in this case, is Four of a Kind. Thus, if players’ hand consists of four Aces, while the kicker is two, three, or four, they will collect a payoff of 400 for 1.

Considering these extra payoffs, it is reasonable to expect that the payouts for the other winning hands will be adjusted. The payoffs offered for common hands like Two Pairs are not the regular ones, and forming such a hand means players will net a 1 for 1 payoff instead of 2 for 1.

The full-pay variant of Double Double Bonus Poker has an RTP of 98.98%, and for the means of comparison, the expected return percentage of the 9/6 version of Jacks or Better is 99.54%. Another common variant of Double Double Bonus Poker is the 9/5 one in which the payout offered for a Flush will be 5 for 1, while the RTP will drop to 97.87%.

Joker Poker

Also referred to as Joker Wild, Joker Poker is a video poker version, which stands out from the crowd with the inclusion of wild cards. This is to say that instead of using 52 cards, Joker Poker games will be played using 53 cards.

It goes without saying that the pay scheme of such games is adapted in order to make up for the better odds of forming a high-ranking hand.

There is a good reason why Joker Poker variants are so hugely popular as the full-pay ones boast an RTP of 100.64%, and as you can see, the edge players can gain over the house will be around 0.64%. The 7/5 Joker Poker machines are indeed worth checking as a Full House will pay 7 for 1, while Flush will award a payoff of 5 for 1.

The best possible Joker Poker variant brings a payoff of 800 for 1 for Royal Flush, while Five of a Kind pays 200 for 1. Thanks to the availability of a wild card, players can also benefit from a Wild Royal Flush, which pays at the rate of 100 for 1.

Of course, not all Joker Poker variants have such a pay schedule, and gambling enthusiasts will also come across such, where the offered payout for Five of a Kind is reduced from 200 to 150 for 1, while a Wild Royal Flush will bring a payoff of 80 for 1 instead of 100 for 1.

Double Joker Poker is also an intriguing derivative of the standard Joker Poker, and what makes it worth checking out is that players’ chances to win will be significantly higher because of the additional Joker, which is added to the deck. Still, some adjustments are made to the pay schedule to compensate for the higher chances of winning players will have as the payouts for some winning hands are cut.

Deuces and Joker Wild

Deuces and Joker Wild is a 52-card video poker variant in which a single Joker is used. While availing themselves in this video poker variant, players’ chances to form a winning hand will be significantly higher because along with the Joker, the four Deuces also act as wild cards. Thus, at the beginning of each new round, players’ chances of getting a Joker or another wild card will be 1 in 10.

Thanks to the presence of five wild cards, the chances of getting Five of a Kind while playing Deuces and Joker Wild will be the same as the chances of seeing a Full House in standard video poker variants.

The catch is that the advantage players will enjoy, thanks to the availability of five wild cards is compensated for through some modifications of the paytable. First off, Jacks or Better and Two Pairs are removed from the payscale, while the other hands pay significantly less than what they will normally bring.

An essential thing to note is that the payouts for Royal Flush and Wild Royal Flush are not the same. Depending on the chosen variant, a natural Royal Flush will pay 800 for 1, while the wild one will pay at the rate of 12 for 1.

Obviously, the full-pay variant of Deuces and Joker will be the most appealing option for players, and the expected return percentage of such games is normally around 99.07%.

Aside from the full-pay version, gambling enthusiasts will also find 8/6 and 9/5 versions, where the RTPs are 98.52% and 98.35%, respectively.

Bonus Deuces Wild

Bonus Deuces Wild is a video poker version, which is spun off from Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild and offers some truly juicy payouts when high-ranking hands are concerned.

The full-pay or 10/4/4 variant of the game awards a payout of 800 for 1 for a Royal Flush, but if you take a look at the bottom of the pay schedule of such versions of video poker, you will notice that the least rewarding hand is Three of a Kind, and together with a Straight, they pay 1 for 1.

This is to compensate for the introduction of the additional payouts that are awarded when four Deuces and Ace appear, which is when a payoff of 400 for 1. Players will be offered handsome payouts also when Four Deuces appear together, as on such occasions, their balance will increase by a payout of 200 for 1. Getting five Aces means that players will be in for a balance boost of 80 for 1, while five 3s, 4s, or 5s renders them eligible for a payout of 40 for 1.

Going for a full-pay version of Bonus Deuces Wild means that the expected return will be 99.86%. This is not the case with the short-pay variants of the game, and the one, which offers 9 coins instead of 10, for example, has an expected return of around 99.45%, which is still better than most other options available out there.

Video Poker Variants with Progressive Jackpots

Slots are by no means the only casino games that go together with progressive jackpots, as there is also a huge variety of video poker variants that offer constantly increasing prizes.

When Is The Progressive Jackpot Awarded
The House Edge

When Is The Progressive Jackpot Awarded

In the majority of the cases, players will qualify for the jackpot prize as soon as they get a Royal Flush, but it is also possible to come across games in which these prizes fall when a specific Four-of-a-kind hand is completed. No matter the case, it is a must for players to bet five credits if they want to qualify for the most mouth-watering prize.

Most of the time, while playing a progressive video poker variant, players will be offered significantly reduced payoffs for Full House and Flush in order to make up for the excitement, which is created by the constantly growing jackpot prize.

Players should be mindful that progressive jackpots are not applied to full-pay video poker variants for the simple reason that the return percentage will quickly exceed the 100% threshold. This is why, in most cases, players will get to see significantly less impressive pay schemes with progresive video poker variants when compared to the standard ones.

The House Edge

While playing video poker variants that have a jackpot tied to them, players will benefit from a lower house advantage as the jackpot amount escalates. Considering that in the majority of the cases, the jackpot prize is won when gambling enthusiasts get a Royal Flush, this means that there will be a slight possibility of players getting the biggest prize as such hands are formed once in 45.000 hands.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Full-Pay and Short-Payback Video Poker Variations

No matter how insignificant the difference in the return percentages of the video poker variants might seem to you at first glance, you need to know that this difference adds up over time. Of course, in order to find out what video poker variant you are about to start playing, you should first refer to its pay scheme.

Short-Pay Video Poker Versions
Full-Pay Video Poker Games

Short-Pay Video Poker Versions

Interestingly enough, the average number of hands gambling enthusiasts will play per hour will be around 600. Thus, if we presume that you will stake $1.25 per hand, this means that over the course of an hour, you will need to wager $750.

The edge the house gains over players while betting on an 8/5 version of Jacks or Better will be 2.7%, and for the means of comparison, the full-pay variant of the game gives the house an edge of just 0.48%. Therefore, the amount of money players are expected to lose during one hour of play will be $20.25 and $3.45, respectively, which is a difference, which will become even more pronounced if gambling enthusiasts play for longer.

Another thing players should pay closer attention to are the paying odds. As we explained already, in some video poker variants, the paying odds for Two Pairs are reduced because of the increased payouts for other hands. Checking the odds is an absolute must for players simply because such hands will be formed more frequently, and therefore, the impact on their bankroll will be more noticeable.

Full-Pay Video Poker Games

As you might have already noticed, these video poker versions offer bigger payout potential than the regular ones. As we mentioned already, the full-pay variants of Jacks or Better offer a payout of 9 for 1 Full House and 6 for 1 for a Flush. With an 8/5 Jacks or Better, the payouts for these hands will be 8 for 1 and 5 for 1, respectively. The latter is an example of short-pay video poker games.

The key number in these games is the RTP, which will drop from 99.54% in the first case to 97.3%. As you can see, with full-pay versions of Jacks or Better, the edge of the house over players is less than 0.50%. Say nothing of games in which the RTP gets even higher than 100%, which means that the house loses its edge over players.

Video Poker Variants Based on Their Variance

Volatility and variance are two terms many gambling enthusiasts are intimidated by, especially if they are first-timers. Still, getting a sense for them is a must for players in order to ensure that they will be able to find the games that suit them best.

What is Variance in Video Poker
Video Poker Versions by Variance

What is Variance in Video Poker

Perhaps, at this point, the question you are asking yourself is why volatility matters that much while playing video poker. In fact, it matters just as much as with other casino games, and players should remember that the higher the volatility of the game is, the greater the swings in their bankroll will be.

While volatility is used to describe how low or high these swings in the bankroll of players are, variance, on the other hand, is used to put a number to these rises and falls. When video poker is concerned, the variance of such games normally starts from 12 or 15 and reaches up to 200.

Thus, playing a high-volatility video poker version means that gambling enthusiasts will see how their bankroll decreases at a much faster pace.

Video Poker Versions by Variance

Video Poker Variant Variance
Jacks or Better 19.5146
Deuces Wild 25.8346
Double Double Bonus Poker 41.9849
Bonus Poker 20.9040
Aces and Eights 21.7259
Double Bonus Poker 28.2555
All American 26.7998
Deuces and Joker 45.5885

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