Video poker is a casino classic that offers a dynamic gameplay experience, high payouts, a low house edge, and, most importantly, huge jackpots. Yet, most players are intimidated by it at first.
The game itself is easier than you might think, and the outcome rests completely upon your shoulders. Winning at video poker requires you to learn the basics and have a top-notch strategy if you want to score big.
In this article, we will show you the ropes and provide you with some advanced tips and strategies to help you expand your bankroll.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
What is Video Poker?
Video poker—sometimes called poker slots—is a popular casino game that is usually played on a console similar to a slot machine. It became hugely popular in the 1980s with the introduction of video devices in casinos.
Nowadays, video poker is mostly played online, where players can enjoy better odds and play games with lower stakes.
The game gained a lot of popularity because, like slots, it’s super simple and doesn’t require special skills. The player gets 5 cards every hand and usually has two buttons to click on. It’s that simple!
Most importantly, video poker has a low house edge, meaning that you can win big without the casino grabbing most of your money.
Lastly, many players love anonymity in video poker. Unlike online poker, you get to be completely anonymous since you’re playing against a computer program that serves your cards based on an RNG algorithm.
Why is Using a Video Poker Strategy Important?
Although it’s super simple, video poker still requires some tinkering if you want to score big. It’s not a game of chance, which means that it’s up to you to determine what will happen. You decide how much you’re wagering, which cards you’re keeping, etc.
All of this requires strategy.
By using certain tricks of the trade—which we’ll cover later on—and a well-thought-out strategy , you greatly improve your chances of winning.
Knowing your pay tables well, getting familiar with different video poker variants, and similar is also important, as you won’t be playing blindly.
Crucial Online Poker Terminology
To become a master at online video poker and win easily, you first need to understand the basic lingo of this game. For more details, check out the table below:
TermDefinitionBankrollBankroll is the sum of money every player designates for gambling. It’s a budget that, once depleted, shouldn’t be renewed.HandEvery hand in video poker is made up of five cards displayed on the screen. After making each bet, the player gets a new set of cards or a new hand.HoldHold refers to the act of keeping the desired cards in hand once they’re dealt.KickerA kicker is a card that doesn’t belong to any combination. Let’s say that you have a pair of 10s, a pair of aces, and one queen. The queen here would be a kicker.Lady, Cowgirl, DameThese are all slang terms for the queen card.Max BetMax Bet is a button in video poker that lets the player wager the maximum allowed amount of coins.JackpotTo win a jackpot in video poker, you usually have to score a royal flush. The reward for this is usually huge but also very rare.RNGRNG is short for “random number generator”—a piece of software that deals 5 cards to a player from a deck that doesn’t really exist.House EdgeHouse edge is a long-term advantage that the house (casino) has over the player. The lower the house edge, the better.Pay TablePay table is a diagram that tells the player their hand’s worth based on their bet and card strength.Wild CardA wild card can be replaced with any other card.CashbackCashback is a monetary bonus awarded to a player for placing wagers at a casino.
How to Play Video Poker
Now that you’re familiar with the most important online video poker terminology, it’s time to learn how to actually play the game.
Although it might seem difficult at first, don’t worry—it isn’t as scary as it might seem. Video poker is quite easy—it only requires you to:
Place your wager. The first step you need to take is to decide how many coins you want to wager. In most video poker titles, you can wager between one and five coins. You should also make sure not to bet more money than you can afford to lose. So, if you have $100, don’t bet $50, as you can go broke in two turns.Press the “Deal” button. Once you’ve settled on how much money you want to wager, you need to press the “deal” button to receive your cards. The number of cards you’ll receive depends on the video poker variant you’re playing. In most cases, you should receive five cards.Select your cards. The third step is the step where your poker strategy actually comes into play. It requires you to select which cards you want to keep by pressing their corresponding buttons. You can select one, two, or even all five cards at once, but you’ll want to make smart moves depending on the poker variant you’re playing. We’ll show you how to win and explain this step later in the article.Press the “Draw” button. After selecting which cards you want to proceed with, you need to press the “Draw” button, which will discard any cards you didn’t hold and replace them with new ones.
Whether you win or lose depends on whether the cards in your hand form a combination listed on the pay table. The combinations vary from title to title.
Rules of Different Video Poker Variants
As you’ve probably figured out by now, there are several variants of video poker that have their own sets of rules. We’ll help you get familiar with the basic rules of the most popular online video poker variants, such as:
Jacks or BetterJoker Wild and Deuces WildAces and FacesBonus, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus PokerPick-em PokerTens or Better
Jacks or Better
By far, Jacks or Better is the most popular variant of video poker, and you’ll see it in most online casinos. The game is also known as a 9/6 machine because it pays 9 credits for a full house and 6 credits for a flush.
The basic principle of this video poker variant is that your hand needs to contain a pair of jacks or at least a pair of cards that are stronger than a jack. This means that a pair of 10s can’t win, but a pair of jacks, queens, or kings can.
There are nine winning combinations in Jacks or Better, and each combination contains at least one jack.
Joker Wild and Deuces Wild
Joker Wild and Deuces Wild are two variants of online video poker with rather similar principles. In the former, all the deuce cards in the deck are wild cards. In the latter, all the joker cards are wild cards.
With so many wild cards in the deck, the game of video poker becomes much more exciting.
If you exclude this rule, this video poker variant is played in a typical manner. This means that you still have to land some of the winning combinations to win. Keep in mind that the payout is quite lower because it’s easier to make up a winning hand.
Aces and Faces
Aces and Faces is a video poker variant that is mainly based on Jacks or Better. The biggest difference between the two is that payoffs are tied to combinations of face cards and aces in Aces and Faces.
To win in Aces and Faces, you need to have jacks or stronger cards in your hand. The highest payouts are for 4 of a kind combinations, meaning 4 aces, kings, queens, and jacks.
Unlike in Joker Wild and Deuces Wild, there are no wild cards in this game, and the minimum and maximum payouts are usually set by the casino.
Bonus, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus Poker
Other variants of online video poker that are loosely based on Jacks or Better are the Bonus, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus video poker games. You can find them at most casinos, and their basic premise is that they pay more for four-of-a-kind hands.
Bonus, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus video poker also have more winning hands allowed, meaning that your chances of winning are higher.
Because they are simple and offer loads of bonuses, these video poker variants are perfect for players who want to transition from regular video poker to a more complex type of the game.
Pick-em Poker is an unorthodox version of video poker that differs greatly from all other variants of this ever-so-popular game. It’s played with a standard deck of 52 cards, too, but the cards are dealt completely differently.
In Pick-em Poker, the computer deals eigh cards: two exposed on the left side and two stacks of three cards on the right side of the screen. Only the top card of each stack is exposed, and you must choose which stack of three cards you keep while holding onto the two cards on the left by default.
Tens or Better
Last but not least, another popular clone of Jacks or Better is Tens or Better. As its name suggests, your hand needs to have at least a pair of tens in it for you to win. For example, a pair of 9s loses, whereas a pair of tens not only wins but lands you a bonus.
Most players who play Tens or Better prefer it because of its frequent winnings since this video poker variant naturally has more winning combinations. But, the downside to this is that these winnings are paid lower even though they are more frequent.
Basic Video Poker Strategy
To expand your bankroll, you need to have a video poker strategy. Here are some essential tips you should keep in mind whenever you’re playing.
Get Familiar With Pay Tables
Knowing your pay tables is crucial if you want to make adequate bets. Before, when video poker was played on machines, players had to remember a table for every poker variant they played. Nowadays, the tables have turned! (pun intended)
In online video poker, you can find the pay tables displayed at the top of your screen at all times. Although this means that you don’t have to remember them all by heart, you should get familiar with them. Find out what all the numbers mean, what each hand can earn you, etc.
Hit the Max Bet Button Frequently
If you want to earn big, you must hit the “Max Bet” button frequently. In the majority of video poker games, you’ll be able to bet between 1 to 20 coins. Yet, when you bet max, you will be eligible for the game’s top payout.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should go over your betting budget. You should choose video poker games that suit your bankroll and won’t make you go broke in five hands. For example, if you have a $50 gambling budget, play games where the max bet is $5.
Hold on To Pairs
In regular poker, holding on to a pair would be considered a bad move, especially if it’s a weaker pair like two 4s or 3s. However, this isn’t regular poker we’re talking about.
If you’re playing video poker, holding on to a pair is always worth it. It will score you at least some money rather than putting you at risk of losing your bet. Discarding a low pair to chase a better paying hand is always a bad idea. Still, there are times when you’ll need to discard cards in strong combinations just to have a chance of landing an even stronger one.
Break Up Straights and Flushes
In all poker variants—including video poker—the strongest hand is a royal flush, which is a straight that includes a 10, jack, queen, king, and an ace, all belonging to the same suit. As this hand is quite hard to come by, you sometimes have to break up a straight or a flush to get it.
For example, if you have a straight from 10 to an ace with the queen not being in the same suit, you shouldn’t hold on to the queen, as you have 1 in 13 chances of getting a royal flush.
Play the Variant You Know Well
To ensure your win rate stays high in video poker, you should only play the variants you’re familiar with and know well. There is no reason for you to waste your hard-earned money on placing bets in video poker variants you have no experience in.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t switch it up from time to time. For example, if you are used to playing Jacks or Better and want to try something new, such as Pick-em Poker, you should do it, but start at lower paying games first.
Join a VIP Club
Whether they operate live or online, most casinos nowadays have VIP clubs, which offer numerous rewards that are available for no extra charge. The rewards are usually cashback bonuses, cash prizes, free spins for slots, and similar.
The more you play at a casino while a member of a VIP club, the bigger your rewards will be. So, the best way to earn money in video poker is to become a VIP member and play the games with the lowest house edge. This way, your bankroll will slowly but surely expand over time.
Video Poker Odds
When playing video poker, you may sometimes think that a royal flush is right around the corner. But have you ever wondered how likely you are to actually get such a rare combination? If so, check out the table below and see what your odds of doing so are:
HandOddsStraight1 in 80Flush1 in 85Full House1 in 90Four of a Kind1 in 4232s to 4s1 in 2,601Four Deuces1 in 4,909Four Aces1 in 5,7612s to 4s with a Kicker1 in 6,984Straight Flush1 in 9,150Four Aces with a Kicker1 in 16,236Royal Flush (when holding/discarding cards)1 in 40,000Royal Flush (when dealt immediately)1 in 650,000
What to Consider When Choosing a Poker Casino
Now that you know all about video poker strategies, it’s time to put them to work! But how do you choose a casino? Here are some things you should consider when looking for a place to play video poker:
Payout percentages are unique to every casino, and they tell you how much a casino pays out on average. For example, when playing at a casino that has a 96% payout percentage, you will get $96 for every $100 you bet.
The higher the payout percentage, the bigger your bankroll will be in the long run. So, always choose a casino that has a higher rate.
Bonuses are super important if you’re a dedicated gambler, as they can spice things up more than anything. Usually, to earn a bonus at a casino, you must either deposit a certain amount of money or place a specific number of bets on a game.
Casino bonuses range from generous welcome bonuses to free daily spin awards and cashbacks.
Keep in mind that every casino has a specific set of wagering requirements you must meet before withdrawing your bonus funds. You should always check them out before settling on a casino.
When choosing an online casino, one of the most important things to consider is its safety. The video poker games you’re going to be playing must be fair and use RNG algorithms, and the casino must have certain security features in place, such as:
FirewallsSafe payment optionsLatest SSL encryptionFrequent security checksTwo-step verification
Besides the security features, there are other additional features you should be looking for in a casino before playing at one. These include:
Reliable payment methods (e.g., PayPal, Skrill, etc.)Low or no transaction feesFast deposit and withdrawal timesReliable customer supportProper jurisdiction documentation
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Hopefully, this article has taught you how to play video poker efficiently, so now you’ll be able to score big in your preferred online casino.
To sum it up:
Video poker is played with five cards, and the player has to get the strongest possible combination of cards by either holding on to them or replacing them to win.To play video poker, all you need to do is place your wager, press the “Deal” button, select your cards, and hit the “Draw” button.If you want to become adept at video poker, you need to get familiar with pay tables, hold on to pairs, break up straights and flushes, and hit the max bet often.When choosing the best casino for video poker, you should consider its payout percentage, bonus offers, security, and additional features.
Video Poker Strategy FAQ
#1. What is the best video poker variant?
There isn’t a best video poker variant, as they all offer their own, specific set of features. Some players will prefer one variant, while others will prefer another. To win, you should play the one you’re most familiar with.
#2. How do you win at online video poker?
To win at online video poker, you need to hold on to pairs, learn to break up straights and flushes to get royal flushes, and play patiently and within your means.
#3. What should you hold in video poker?
As a rule of thumb, you should always hold pairs in video poker, no matter how weak they might seem. They’ll always win you at least something.
#4. Is video poker a skill-based game?
Yes, video poker is a skill-based game, although there is some luck involved. Most of your outcomes depend on your decision-making skills.
#5. How do you know whether your video poker machine will hit?
It’s impossible to know if a video poker machine is going to hit. Every dealt hand is random, and cards are replaced based on random chances.