Video Poker

Video Poker

Looking for a game that delivers the face paced action of a slot machine with odds similar to blackjack? Then look no further than video poker.  Already a highly popular casino game to begin with, video poker is growing even more popular with online bettors thanks to the rise in fame of poker, particularly Texas Hold’em poker (despite the fact that video poker more closely resembles 5 card draw). Optimized with the use of mathematical strategy, video poker gambling on the internet provides an exceptionally low House Edge and the same exact experience to be found in a brick and mortar casino, where banks of video poker machines of various stakes can be found.

Video Poker Games and Rules

The rules of video poker are simple, and if you already know your poker hands, you’re well on your way to playing and winning. See this list of High Ranking Poker Hands. The only hands not to be found at the preceding link are the two highest video poker hands – Five-of-a-Kind (five cards of the same value), and a Royal Flush (Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit)

You will find many variations of video poker available online, but Jacks or Better is usually the standard game that everyone learns first. This is because Jacks or Better is the most conducive to learning strategy, not to mention the fact that the most variations of video poker are derived from Jacks or Better, including Aces and Eights, Aces and Faces, Bonus Poker, Tens or Better and All Aces. The next most popular video poker game is Deuces Wild, which happens to provide an even lower House Edge than Jacks or Better. A popular variant of Deuces Wild is Deuces and Joker Poker.

Joker Poker, Power Poker and Double Poker round out the next most popular video poker games that are available at online casinos.

As for the actual rules of play, video poker has a simple structure that involves the initial dealing of five face-up cards. You will then have the option of putting any cards on “Hold” and replacing any other cards with a re-deal. This is where strategy comes into play. The final hand will then be weighed according to the poker hand rankings for that particular game, and a payout will be given according to the paytable. With Jacks or Better, a pair of Jacks or Higher wins your bet back. Other hands win varying amounts as deemed by the pay table, which is the most important element in choosing a good video poker game, as not all video poker machines of the same game offer the same pay table.

Video Poker Odds

Here’s what’s behind the pay table. An online casino cannot change the actual odds of certain hands being dealt in video poker because that is determined by the 52 card deck. The way the casino makes their money is by determining how much will be paid out for each win.

While the Royal Flush is the ultimate jackpot hand that casinos will lure players with, the actual odds of hitting one are 1 in 40,000.  The smaller wins, however, are what a player really depends on to stay in the game and walk away with funds in their bankroll. And it is these smaller hand payouts that the casino will often adjust – typically going from a full pay to a partial pay machine.  For every variation of video poker that you play, you will want to know what the full pay chart is.  For Jacks or Better it’s a 9/6 chart, which means a Flush pays 6 to 1 and a Full House 9 to 1. For Deuces Wild, it’s 15/9/5, which means a Five of a Kind pays 15 to 1, a Straight Flush pays 9 to 1 and a Four of a Kind pays 5 to 1.

Video Poker Tips & Strategy

The first rule of video poker strategy is to find the best pay table available for the version of the game you are playing. If you play at a reputable online casino, this shouldn’t be difficult. The best online casinos offer the highest paying tables because they know it’s easy for a player to go elsewhere. For Jacks or Better video poker, full pay machines are common online. Be on the lookout for games that pay 8/5 instead of 9/5, as this gives the casino an additional 2% House Edge.

In the case of a full pay game of Deuces Wild played with perfect mathematical strategy, the House Edge is actually negative (in favor of the player by almost 1%). Thus, it is highly rare to find full paying Deuces Wild online video poker games. Brick and mortar casinos may offer them every now and again, but not for a long duration of time. The next best thing is a 15/9/4 pay table for Deuces Wild, which brings the House Edge back to 1% in favor of the casino – still not bad odds, whatsoever.

There is another element of general video poker you’ll want to take note of – the maximum bet. At any video poker machine, the amount you win is determined by the number of coins that you bet. A maximum bet is generally 5 coins. For the smaller hands, the winnings increase by simple multiplication. For example, 3 of a kind will pay 3 to 1, 6 to 2, 9 to 3, etc.  But for a Royal Flush, while the hand pays 250 to 1 for a single coin bet, there is usually a jackpot that runs from 2,000 to 4,000 times your bet if you wager five coins. That jackpot is what you’re playing for (or at least should be), whether you’re in a land based casino or playing online. So, if you want to play for a dollar a hand, don’t play the dollar machine for a single dollar. Instead play the quarter machine for 5 quarters a hand. If you hit a royal, you’ll make more money off the quarter bets for a maximum bet.

In addition to playing the maximum number of coins on video poker machines offering the highest pay tables, you should NEVER risk winnings on the high card bonus round and ALWAYS  hold cards making up a paying hand. The one exception to the latter rule is if you are one card short of a Royal Flush.

In terms of the finer points of video poker strategy, you are advised to consult a strategy guide for the specific version of video poker that you are playing.


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