How to play Video Poker online

Bonus Poker Game
Bonus Poker Game

Video poker is the common name for a fixed-odds poker game based on five-card draw and played in either online casinos or on terminals similar to slot machines in physical casinos. It is poker is often praised over slot machines, because the return on your money and odds of winning a hand are higher.

Video poker is simple and similar to regular poker in that you are aiming for a hand that will give you the most return. In video poker, just like regular poker, you will be given five cards. With those five cards you'll want to achieve a winning poker hand (royal flush, straight, full house, flush, four of a kind, three of a kind, two pair, jacks or better). To do this, you'll have the opportunity to keep certain cards in your hand and exchange others to gain new cards that may help you gain a winning poker hand.

The History of Video Poker

Video poker machines
Video poker machines

Video poker is very interesting game which is based on principles of traditional poker and has a lot of fans all over the world. This game, as all other casino games, has its history which can be interesting for some players.

Video poker is closely associated with slot machines. But video poker adds something slot machines don't have - an element of skill. The first slot machines were developed in 1981 by Sittman and Pitt, and they used activity 50 card symbols across 5 drums. The Jack and Cardinal of Spades were removed because it made things too difficult for the player - to complete poker hands much as straights. These 2 cards warranted the maximum number of sections. Generally, players played to win food or cigars for hitting a winning poker hand.

In 1898 Charles Fey, commonly known as the father of the slot machine, created the Card Bell. This poker machine could automatically pay cash prizes to winner of up to 20 coins for a royal flush.

Poker may be a branch of psychological warfare, an art form or indeed a way of life, but it is also merely a game in which money is simply the means of keeping score.

Anthony Holden

In 1901 Fey created a new poker machine called the Skill Draw which had a “Hold” feature. After the initial spin created a poker hand, the player could hold some of the cards and re-spin the un-held cards in an effort to improve the hand. This was the first 5-Card Draw Poker machine. During the early 1900’s Sittman and Pitt also began manufacturing machines with the draw feature. They became so popular that they could not be manufactured fast enough. These machines were available in almost every liquor store and smoke shop throughout the United States. Poker was already the card game of the people.

1970's Video Poker machine
1970's Video Poker machine

In the mid 1970's the idea of a personal computer was just coming to reality. As is often the case, the gambling industry would embrace this new technology to make a whole new range of ways for players to gamble. Interestingly enough in the earliest days of video poker the game almost never made it off the ground.

The earliest game was known as Draw Poker and featured a lowest possible hand of two pairs. Changing this to a pair of jacks or better further increased the popularity as more hands were winners. The original machines were very primitive by today's standards - the screen was much like the TV's of the era.

Throughout the 1980’s the popularity of video poker grew. People who felt intimidated by casino table games were not intimidated by these games. The invention of video poker actually improved the popularity of video slot machines. The early video slot machines were avoided because players were used to seeing the reels spin, but with the acceptance of video poker, having spinning reels was no longer the issue it once was.

The internet has been revolutionary in increasing the vistas of visual communication poker. High speed internet enabled a high number of players to play machines based on poker game. It even introduced this game to countries which don't have live casinos.

Video Poker Basics

Using a particular machine and betting on it is known as action. The amount of action you give refers also to the amount you bet on a particular machine during a session.
The amount of money you have in a machine is known as credits. This is just another way that casinos try to disassociate that the player is actually wagering real cash.
On video poker machines, the pay table is divided by coin payouts, from one through five. The denomination of the machine will determine how much an individual coin is worth. If you play on a $5 machine, then one coin is worth $5 and five coins are worth $25.
As outlined above, the denomination of a machine is the value of one coin. On some video poker machines, the player can change the denomination. It’s important to always bet max coins when playing video poker to ensure you’ll be getting the highest payback percentage possible, so ensure you play at a denomination that supports this and your bankroll.
The player draws for different cards once only. You can do this by selecting any or all of the initial cards you’re dealt and then hit the draw button to get new cards and establish your final hand. It is this hand that will be compared to the pay table to determine if a win should be awarded.
Face card
Jacks, Queens, and Kings are known as face cards.
Full Pay Machine
A machine with the highest payback percentage is known as a full pay machine. In jacks or better this would be a machine that has a 9/6 pay table. That is, a full house pays out 9 coins and a flush 6 coins. In deuces wild, a full pay machine can actually pay back over 100% when the optimal strategy is used.
The five cards that a player holds at any point in time in video poker is known as a hand. The term hand can also refer to the particular combination of cards that player has, such as a flush or full house. A hand can also refer to the full round from when the bet is first placed to when payouts are determined.
Once a player is dealt their initial five cards they’ll have the option of holding certain cards and discarding others to draw for new ones. The hold button on the machine allows a player to choose the particular cards they wish to hold.
House Edge
Any casino game will have a house edge that gives the casino operator a percentage edge which will mean they will always win in the long run. Some video poker games do pay back over 100%, meaning there isn’t a house edge, but casinos rely on players making mistakes to push that back down below 100. Of all casino games, video poker is one of the best for players when it comes to the house edge.
When a player holds a particular made hand in video poker, that is a hand that pays out, the remaining cards that aren’t included in the winning combination of cards are known as kickers. In some variations of video poker, the kicker is extremely important as it can increase the payout on certain hands, such as four of a kind hands in double bonus poker. In other games, the kicker will have no value.
Max Bet
The highest amount you can bet on a video poker machine on one hand is known as the max bet. Many machines will have a max bet button that automatically bets the maximum and deals the hand. A max bet in video poker will be five coins at the rate of the machines particular denomination.
Min Bet
On the opposite end of the betting spectrum from a max bet is a min bet. This is the absolute minimum that a machine or game will allow you to wager on a single hand. It’s never a good idea to min bet as the payback percentage will be impacted by the lower payout for hitting a royal flush. You want to always bet the maximum coins in case you hit a royal flush. If this makes a single bet too large for you, then drop down to a lower denomination machine.
Most video poker games will also have multi-hand options. These will allow the player to play multiple hands at once. Each extra hand played is completely separate from the initial hand and the same bet must be made on every hand. Multi-hand games first deal a player five cards, the player then chooses which cards to hold and these are held for every extra hand. Each hand is then dealt the relevant number of new cards from separate decks.
In most casino games, odds provide the player with a percentage chance of what outcomes will occur. The odds can instruct a player on what action to take based on the expected outcome.
Pat Hand
When you’re dealt a five card made hand that can’t be improved by drawing more cards, you have a pat hand. This can occur when you flop a flush, straight, straight flush, or royal flush. Depending on the game you’re playing it can also occur when you hit a four of a kind. A pat hand purely means you stand pat with what you have.
Pay Table
On all video poker machines, you’ll be able to find a pay table that outlines how much you’ll win when you hit a winning hand. The tables will usually list payouts based on one through five coin bets. It’s always a good idea to inspect the pay table before playing to ensure you’re using a machine that has the best possible payback percentage.
Payback Percentage
In the long run, the return that a machine gives back to players is known as the payback percentage. In video poker, the player’s strategy is vitally important in respect to getting the highest possible payback. A payback percentage can be calculated based on the pay table and when the player is using perfect strategy. Obviously terrible play can push a payback percentage way down, so you need to properly learn how to play video poker before starting to bet on a machine.
Random Number Generators or RNGs
Many casino games operate by using random number generators to determine particular outcomes. These are programs that are developed to ensure that the results of any type of draw or deal are completely random. This means that every time a card is dealt, every card in the deck has the same probability of coming up. Contrary to popular belief, video poker machines in casinos are not rigged, and the vast majority of games online also are not rigged. They both operate using RNGs to assure the player and the casino that everything is completely random. Like slots, each hand is independent of the hand before it, so a machine can’t be running hot or cold as all the results are random.
The value of a card is referred to as the card rank.
If a group of cards have the same suit, then the cards are considered suited.
In many forms of video poker such as deuces wild and jokers wild, there are wild cards that can be substituted for any card in the deck to allow you to make the best possible winning hand. In deuces wild, all the twos are wild, meaning you have four possible wild cards in the deck. This makes deuces wild a very attractive game, and if you find a full pay machine then it will pay back over 100% when the perfect strategy is followed. In jokers wild, there is one extra card in the deck which is a joker. The joker acts as a wild.

People would be surprised to know how much I learned about prayer from playing poker.

Mary Hunter Austin

Video Poker Gameplay

In essence video poker is a very simple game from a math standpoint. You have a single deck of 52 playing cards (53 in some cases) and these cars are constantly being shuffled by the random number generator (RNG) located inside the machine. When you press deal the first five cards from the top of the deck are displayed on the screen. You can then select to hold or discard the cards.

Pressing deal a second time the cards you decided to discard are replaced by new cards that are taken from the same deck. The cards that you did not keep cannot be dealt a second time around. After the second deal is complete you are awarded any wins and the whole process starts again. Each hand is in no way related to the last or the next and every hand is a random selection of cards.

Video poker winning combinations
Pair: two cards of the same rankA♣ A♦ 2♥ 3♠ J♦
Two pairs: two cards of one rank and two cards of another oneK♣ K♦ 2♥ J♠ J♦
Three of Kind: three cards of the same rankQ♣ Q♦ Q♥ 3♠ K♦
Straight: 5 consecutive cards3♣ 4♦ 5♥ 6♠ 7♦
Flush: all the cards of the same suitA♣ Q♣ 2♣ 3♣ 5♣
Full House: three cards of the one rank and other are differentA♣ A♦ 2♥ 2♠ 2♦
Four of Kind: 4 cards of the same rank5♣ 5♦ 5♥ 5♠ Q♦
Straight Flush: 5 consecutive cards of the same rank4♥ 5♥ 6♥ 7♥ 8♥
Royal Flush: 5 high cards of the same suitA♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ T♣

Don’t get mad that you lost, get mad because you didn’t win.

Michael Gersitz

Types of Video Poker

The games are popular. Video poker is an affordable game that combines the excitement and user-friendly status of slot machines with the skill element of poker. Casinos will always host popular games. But because video poker tends to offer the house a small edge, casinos have to host a ton of them, and entice people to play with rule and pay table variety. People are naturally drawn to new titles. They’re also susceptible to gimmicks, like the kind new video poker titles provide.

There are many different types of video poker slots. Listed below are few of the most popular varieties played in online casinos:

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better Poker
Play Jacks or Better Poker

This is the original and easily our favourite. Why? Because if you pick the right game, with the right paytable and the right strategy, you can expect at least 99% return on this machine. Also, it’s by far the simplest machine and you can get decent returns even with a basic strategy.

This is the machine we always recommend complete beginners to get started with. Mostly because most of the other machines are simply a variation of the Jacks or Better game. The main thing you need to remember is that you are trying to create a poker hand that is stronger than a pair of Jacks. If you know the basic rules of video poker, you know how to play Jack’s or Better.

Bonus Video Poker

Bonus Poker
Play Bonus Poker

The explanation for this type of game was so simple we slapped our forehead when we asked the questions ‘what is bonus video poker?’ All this means is that this Jack’s or Better machine will give you a ‘bonus’ payout for extra hands. A typical example is simply a larger payout for four aces, or four twos. To compensate, these usually come with smaller rewards for the smaller value hands with a pot limit.

Double Bonus

Double Bonus Poker
Play Double Bonus Poker

So you’ve read the bonus rules? The double bonus video poker rules are basically the same, except the paytable will place an even higher value on those ‘special hands’. Special hands can include 4 aces, four of a kind with a King as the five card etc… Again, the paytable will decide if the machine is worth playing as you have to be careful to read the paytable properly in order to pick the right machine.

Double Double Bonus

Bet you are starting to see a pattern here hey? Except Double Double Bonus video poker is slightly more intricate, with more possible combinations and higher payouts for those specific combinations. These usually include the likes of four aces with a two, three or four as the extra fifth card, three or four of a kind with an Ace as one of the extra cards etc… That’s all the bonus mobile video poker we promise. If anyone creates a double double double bonus bonus bonus game we will be the first to complain.

Joker Wild

This game has 53 cards rather than the standard 52 card deck. The extra card is that wild joker which can be used to replace any card to create any winning combination. These usually have a secondary winning amount for a royal flush using joker, which will be less than a ‘natural royal flush’; i.e one without the wild. Because of the extra card, the starting winning hand tends to be either a very high pair (Kings or Aces) or two pairs.

Deuce Wild

Jacks or Better video poker with 52 card deck, but the 2s (deuce) are wild or joker cards. How does this affect the game? Well, it’s better than joker poker variants as there are only 52 rather than 53 cards, so the odds are better, and you get a potential 4 wild cards, rather than just the one. But as the twos can now be used to create more winning hands, three of a kind and not a pair is the smallest paying hand, changing the odds dramatically, but with a good strategy can give you over 100% returns overall. A machine for the intermediate player.

Bonus Deuce Wild

Remember what we said about bonus video poker? And about deuce wild video poker? Yes…? Now combine it. This type of machine will have additional bonus payout for a high hand (five of a kind with aces for example) and have ‘twos’ (deuce) as wild cards.

Aces and Eights

Back to the more basic games, these machines are a little like the bonus machine, but have a more generic special payout. You’ll get extra cash for getting four of a kind with aces, four of a kind with eights and four of a kind with sevens. Why sevens? Because calling it Aces, Eights and Sevens would have been sillier than double double bonus.

Aces and Faces

This game is far more accurately named, with rewards granted for four aces or face cards (king, queen, jack). An Aces and Faces machine is one of the few instances where you’ll get more for hitting four aces than you will a straight flush. This is a hard game to play, better left for when you’ve mastered the basic strategies as you may be tempted to keep more Aces up your sleeve than you should.

Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.

Steven Wright

How to Start Playing Video Poker Online

Double Up Poker Table
Double Up Poker Table
  1. Pick a game

    There are dozens of different video-poker games in casinos. Different games will have different rate of returns, meaning some games, if you win, will give you a higher percentage of your money back and others will give you a lower percentage. A "9/6 Jacks or Better" paytable is the best because the rate of return is 99.54%, meaning the casino only keeps .46% of your money.

  2. Learn how to play a basic game

    Almost all video poker machines in use today are variations on five-card draw poker. Attempts have been made to introduce machines based on seven-card stud, and a few machines based on five-card stud are in use. But five-card draw is the basic game, and Jacks or Better is the game by which most varieties are based.

    To play video poker you will tap on the cards you wish to keep or on a button on the console, and then draw cards you wish to replace. You win by having a traditional poker hand, and the amount you win is determined by the machine you are playing on.

    There is no dealer's hand or no other player's hand to beat; payoffs are strictly according to a pay table posted on the machine. The lowest winning hand is a pair of jacks or better (a pair of queens, kings, or aces).

  3. Play for free

    Practice with fake money first. Before you begin playing video poker with your own money, try practicing it on your computer with fake money so you can become familiar with the format of the game and better your chances of doing well at an actual casino. Practicing online with fake money is the best way to familiarize yourself with the strategy for a specific game and give you practice in using the strategy sheet.
    Play Free Video Poker Games!

  4. Set a budget

    When you are ready to play with your own money, it’s a good idea to set a budget before you start. That way you don’t start spending what you can’t afford to at the casino. Playing Video Poker can be an expensive hobby and things can quickly get out of control. Setting a budget also helps you to know how much you want to spend per round to make the fun last longer.

  5. Understand your average loss

    As well as understanding possibilities in a game of poker, it's good to keep in mind what your average loss during a session of video poker will be, so you go in with realistic expectations. To determine your average loss multiply the house end(the return the casino makes) by the bet size by the number of rounds per hour.

    An average slot machine brings you to a loss of about $40 an hour, so playing video poker is a much better way to earn money with limited loss.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be good at poker.

Phil Gordon (poker player)