How To Play Video Poker

When video poker first came out in the 1970s, the machines were referred to as poker slots since the game borrows a lot from slots. The machines are easy to use since any interaction with the dealer or other players is not required. Video poker has plenty of variants drawn from different styles of playing poker. All variants of the game follow the five-card draw rules, and a random number generator deals cards.

Playing video poker is very straight forward. The game starts with players being dealt five random cards. After this, you get one opportunity to pick the cards you intend to keep and discarding those you don’t want in your hand. Once the cards are discarded, the machine deals more cards to make up a five-card hand.

You have the choice to discard a single card or all the cards you receive on the first draw. The second draw is final, after which the player’s cards are checked for a winning combination. There is no dealer’s hand to beat, and only the cards in your hand are considered. Winning hands are paid according to a payout table with payouts for various hands.

Video Poker Winning Conditions

Winning at video poker is much like the classic game. The objective is to get a set of cards that gives a payout of some kind. Since combinations in video poker are like those in traditional poker, knowledgeable players should find it easy to play.

The hand is ranked according to the combination you come up with once the mulligan is played. Winning combinations are automatically determined by the game once the round ends. In a game of Jacks or Better, which is the foundation for video poker, you need a pair of jacks in your five-card hand to get the lowest payout. Because you can exchange cards on the mulligan, the game gives you some control over outcomes.

Video Poker Pay Table

Machines have payouts listed in coins or credits in accordance with combinations. These indicate how much you have won according to your hand’s ranking. Shortly after your deposit is made to your casino account, that money is converted to video poker coins.

A pay table is the core indicator of the game. It shows how much you win depending on the number of coins you stake. Aside from the size of your stake, the rarity of the hand you end up with also gives you higher payouts. With that being said, the Royal Flush comes with the highest payout.

This pay table is an example of an outline of your possible winnings, also indicating the lowest qualifying hand.

Royal Flush2505007501,0004,000
Straight Flush50100150200250
Four of a Kind255075100125
Full House918273645
Three of a Kind3591215
Jacks or Better12345

Playing Video Poker - The Steps

1. Place your bet

The game starts when you place your bet using coins from the game. Coin values vary from game to game. For example, a game may have the value of one coin at $0.05, $0.25, or $25. The total wager is calculated using the coin value multiplied by the coins you wager. Therefore, if the value of a coin is $1, then you will have wagered $5 for five coins. Additionally, this value is also applied to the coins you win. If you place a $5 wager and draw the Royal Flush with a payout of 4,000 coins, then you win $4,000 for a $5 bet. Most machines have a $5 max bet, which is what most players wager for each hand.

2. Click deal

Once you are satisfied with your bet, it is now time to get cards from the game. Clicking on the deal button prompts the game to issue you cards. You are given five cards face-up. The objective is to use these cards to build the strongest hand you can.

3. Choose which cards to hold

Strategy comes into play now that you have your first five cards. As a poker player, you decide which cards are beneficial to your hand and which ones you could give up in the hope of getting better cards in the do-over. Cards that you click on are held, those you don’t click on are discarded, and new cards are issued when you click draw. If you want your hand to completely change, you can discard all five cards.

4. Click draw

The draw button issues you more cards to replace the ones you gave up. This is the final and crucial hand. Thus, be mindful of the payout table because it will ultimately define the payout of your card combination.

5. Outcome is decided

The machine automatically detects a winning hand and pays you accordingly. The payout table indicates how much you win according to your hand’s ranking and the amount of your bet.

Video Poker Strategy

In online video poker, winning has a lot to do with the strategy you apply to your game. While you might lose some rounds here and there, strategy increases your chances of winning in the long run. Poker strategy cards are there to guide players on what actions to take depending on the cards they have on their hand.

As you play the game, your goal is to get paid on as many hands as possible, all while taking small, calculated risks for the big payout. The optimal strategy suggests different moves you should make when holding and dropping cards.

One of the first pieces of strategy for video poker players is to always hold all four cards to a straight or flush. Hence, your draw should be aimed at the straight or flush, having dropped only a single card. Players are also advised to hold three cards for a straight flush or royal flush outcome.

The trick for pairs is to hold them drawing three cards on the mulligan. If your first five-card hand does not have any of the cards mentioned, then you should keep any jacks or higher. Dropping all five cards depends on what you get on your first hand. We recommend dropping all five cards when there’s no combination to play. While the move is risky, the only hope is that the do-over draws a better set of cards, giving you any type of payout.

When to Hold All Five Cards

Moreover, there are instances when players get lucky enough and are dealt a winning hand at the beginning of the game. If this occurs, we recommend holding all cards in case you land a flush on the first deal. Players should wait to collect their winnings for the round.

However, you may consider dropping one card if it gets you to the royal flush. As an example, if you have a ten, jack, queen, king, and a five of the same suit, you are advised to hold all the high cards, but discarding the five. This same strategy is applied to a straight. Hold the straight unless you have the chance to hit a royal flush.

Video Poker Tips

Apart from the strategy, it would help if you won; video poker tips help you get more out of your game without exerting yourself too much. Video poker tips should be combined with the best strategy to help you take worthy risks.

Tip #1: Manage Your Bankroll

One of the most important tips for video poker players is to always practice bankroll management. Your bankroll should be a determinant of what video poker machine you play. For instance, you should avoid playing at a $1 machine that will take $5 for the maximum bet when you have $20 to play. The point is not to play at a level where you couldn’t ride out a streak because video poker machines often give back a high percentage of the money put in.

Tip #2: Always Play the Max Bet

Video poker machines allow players to bet anything from one to five coins per hand. The best way to play is to wager the max bet on every round. Experts recommend playing the max bet because of the jump in payouts for the royal flush, which gives a payout of 4,000 coins for a five-coin bet.

Tip #3: Find the Best Games to Play

Even if you might have strategy locked in, the type of game you play makes a huge impact. Some variations of video poker come with over 100% RTP, which means you have better chances of winning in the long run. Likewise, you should be comfortable with the style of play for the game you choose, as different variations come with slight tweaks to the style of play. As an example, a game of Joker Wild includes the joker card is played with a 53-card deck. The joker card is a wild that changes all cards in your hand into a winning combination.

Playing Video Poker with Bonus Money

While you can play video poker with a bankroll that you deposited at the casino, some operators let you play the game with your bonus rewards. Most players are used to playing their bonus on slots as well as a selection of table games.

Traditionally, a small number of operators will include video poker as one of the available games for bonus play. The main reason why only certain casino sites include video poker is due to the low house edge. Although the low house edge is great for players, it’s not great for the operator.

Final Thoughts

Video poker is an exciting game because it combines the perfect mix of strategy and chance. With online casinos constantly improving on graphics and gameplay, punters have a world of choice when it comes to video poker.

It also helps that the game has the lowest house edge, which means you have better chances of winning at video poker than any other casino games.

Video Poker Glossary

  • 86– Term describing a player banned from playing at a casino. It often happens for blackjack players with the habit of card counting and can also happen to video poker players.
  • Action– The total amount wagered by a player, including all wagers for all outcomes.
  • Bankroll– Total amount of money in a player’s account that they can use for wagers.
  • Bust– A hand that does not improve even after the draw
  • Cashback– The percentage of losses returned to a player after a certain period of wagering at a casino.
  • Cycle– The number of hands that a machine takes to hit the jackpot. Players win jackpots by hitting the royal flush. This happens in every 40,000 hands.
  • Drawing Hand– Cards initially dealt that can be improved to make a better hand.
  • Deuce– A card with the value of two, such as the “deuce of spades.”
  • Face Card– The jack, king or queen are referred to as face cards as they have faces on them instead of just suits and numbers.
  • Jacks or Better– The most played form of video poker. Players qualify for a payout by getting a pair of jacks or better.
  • Hand– A set of five cards dealt to the player in video poker displayed on the screen. The game’s objective is to come up with the best hand possible.
  • High Card– The least important hand in poker as it contains no flushes, pairs, straights, or anything else of note.
  • Hold– The act of retaining a certain number of cards after the first deal.
  • House Edge– A percentage advantage the casino holds over the player in the long run.
  • Payout– The amount a player wins for a particular hand of video poker.
  • Pay Table– A table with the payouts for different poker hands. The paytable indicates whether a game is full-pay or low-pay.
  • Perfect Play– This is a style of playing where the player uses optimum strategy and is always taking actions with the highest expected returns. This playing style brings down the house edge to its lowest level for the specific game. To apply perfect play, punters should have the strategy card for their preferred game at their fingertips.
  • Progressive Jackpot– A jackpot fed by a fraction of each bet placed thus keeps rising. The progressive jackpot keeps rising until a player wins it. This is usually achieved by hitting the royal flush.
  • Random Number Generator (RNG)– A computer algorithm that produces random numbers to keep the game fair. In card games like video poker, the RNG acts as the shuffle and makes it impossible to count cards.
  • Volatility– A deviation from the long term average expected for a bet. Highly volatile machines are more likely to lose you money.
  • Wild Cards– Cards substitutable for any other cards in the game. For instance, Deuces Wild poker lets you use twos and any card you want to make a winning hand.

Video Poker Rules FAQs

What is the difference between video poker and normal table poker?

Video poker is not played with a dealer nor with other players. You play your hand the best possible way with the machine shuffling the cards for you. Only the cards in your hand determine whether you qualify for a payout or not.

Can video poker be compared to video slots?

Video poker is only comparable to slots in the sense that it is a video machine but has totally different gameplay from online slots.

What should I know before I play video poker?

The first thing you should know is the ranking for poker hands. By learning which poker hand beats the other, you can apply a strategy for the best-ranking hand each time you play.

Can you play video poker using a strategy?

Yes. Players have a strategy card to use that indicates what they should do with the cards initially dealt. With the right strategy, you always know what cards to hold and discard on the mulligan.

What are the worst cards to hold in a game of video poker?

Players are advised against holding two face cards whose suits do not match. For instance, you shouldn’t hold a jack of spades when you have a queen of hearts in your hand.

Are there games that pay more than others for the same hand?

Yes. Different games have varying payouts for poker hands. It is advised that players look at the paytable before committing to playing a variant of the game.