Video poker is a great option for gamblers who enjoy strategy-based games, but aren’t quite ready to face off against real-life competitors at a live poker table. The game, which offers some of the best odds in the casino, was made possible in the 1970s when advances in technology made it feasible to attach a video screen to a solid-state central processing unit.
Video poker exploded in popularity in the 80s, around the time that International Game Technology released its legendary game, Draw Poker, also known as Jacks or Better. Video poker continues to be one of the most popular betting games in the world, and can be found offered in casinos all over the globe.
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Video Poker Basics
As with all successful games, many variants of the original Jacks or Better (only hands with pairs of jacks or higher are paid) have been created. Fortunately, once you learn the basic rules and gameplay of the original game, you’ll be able to easily understand and enjoy playing a wide variety of spinoff video poker offerings.
In video poker, your goal is to make the highest hand possible, as illustrated on the game’s paytable. Playing the game is exceedingly simple; the only thing you need to know beforehand are the basic poker hand values (see table below).
Video Poker Hand Values
|Five of a Kind||Five cards of the same value – at least one joker card is needed|
|Royal Flush||The highest possible straight, with cards of the same suit (e.g. 10h,Jh,Qh,Kh,Ah)|
|Straight Flush||Five cards of the same suit in sequence (e.g. 5c,6c,7c,8c,9c)|
|Four of a kind||Four cards of the same value (e.g. 9,9,9,9,3)|
|Full House||Three of a kind combined with a pair (e.g. Q,Q,Q,2,2)|
|Flush||Five cards of the same suit that don’t make a straight (e.g. 7s,3s,8s,Js,5s)|
|Straight||Five cards in sequence, but not of the same suit (e.g. 8c,9h,10h,Js,Qc)|
|Three of a Kind||Three cards of the same value (e.g. 3,3,3,K,5)|
|Two Pair||Two cards of the same value, plus another two cards of a different value (e.g. 7,7,3,3,A)|
|One Pair||Two cards of the same value (e.g. K,K,7,5,3)|
|High Card||Five unrelated cards (e.g. 5s,9c,Ah,10s,Jh)|
Video Poker Game Play
To begin, select the number of coins you’d like to bet on the hand and click “deal”. You’ll then be dealt five cards and will have the option of “standing pat” (not drawing any cards) or discarding any or all of your cards. To keep a card in your hand, either select the card by clicking it or click the “hold” button beneath it. Once you click “draw” any unselected cards will be replaced by new ones. When you receive your new cards your hand will be compared to the game’s paytable and you’ll be paid out accordingly.
Popular Video Poker Variations
Here are a few of the most popular video poker variants and their special quirks.
- Jacks or Better – Also known as Draw Poker, Jacks or Better was one of the first video poker games ever created. Its name is derived from the fact that only hands with a pair of jacks or higher are paid.
- Bonus Poker – A variant of Jacks or Better which pays a bonus on four of a kind hands which include aces, twos, threes or fours.
- Double Bonus Poker – This version of Bonus Poker doubles the payout of every four of a kind hand, while reducing the payout for smaller hands.
- Deuces Wild – In Deuces Wild, all four deuces in the deck are wild and have the ability to represent any other card in order to make the best hand possible.
Video Poker Types
- Single hand games – These are games which use only one deck and deal just one hand at a time. The first video poker machines ever introduced offered this simplistic version of the game.
- Multi hand games – This type of video poker beefs up the regular video poker experience by allowing players to play multiple decks during the same hand. It works like this: players are dealt their initial five-card hand and select which cards they would like to keep. When those cards are selected, they will simultaneously appear selected in the other hands located on the screen. Once “draw” is clicked, your held cards will stay in place while the others are discarded and replaced by new ones. So, for example, if you decide to hold two pair, all of your other hands will display the same two pair. They’ll then draw cards from their respective decks, giving you the possibility of making several types of hands, each greater or equal to your original two of a kind.
Simple Tips for Winning Video Poker
If you play your cards right, video poker offers some of the best odds of any game in the casino.
- To take full advantage of your machine, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of the specific variant you choose and play nearly “perfectly,” or rather, play according to a mathematically optimal strategy. For insanely detailed video poker strategies and charts, check out the Wizard of Odds.
- Always play five coins, or max out your bet. If you take a look at a game’s paytable, you’ll see that when betting max coins, you’ll get paid out at much better odds when you hit winning hands than you would with a smaller bets.