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, is widely available at most NJ online gambling sites. Here we break down all you need to know about video poker, including where you can play and how you can win.
Best NJ video poker sites
Video Poker Basics
As with all successful games, many variants of the original video poker game 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, 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 NJ 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.
Optimal strategy for Video Poker
We mentioned above that video poker has some of the best returns in the casino, and you can cut the house edge to less than 1% if you use optimal strategy. This starts with checking the pay table. Finding the right game with a high pay table can cut the house edge from 3% (similar to the high return slots) all the down to just 0.5%.
The most common game suite you will find in a retail casino, and online is the GameKing suite of games, and the most basic variation in that suite is Jacks or Better. For beginners, at least, we recommend sticking to this variation as it normally offers high returns.
Before we start, there are a few things to consider when playing video poker. The frequency of certain high paying hands is way lower than those of lower-paying hands. A pair of Jacks or better won’t pay much and basically just allows you play an additional deal. But playing it safe when you have a chance at a big payout will cut into your returns over time.
There are 2,598,960 different possible five card hands when playing with a 52 card deck with the following odds of those hands being dealt.
|Four of a Kind||624||0.0240%|
|Three of a Kind||54,912||2.1128%|
Just as it sounds, Jacks or Better pays out when you make a pair of Jacks or Better and awards the following on a $1 bet:
|Hand||Payout per $1 Bet|
|Four of a Kind||$25|
|Three of a Kind||$3|
|Jacks Or Better||$1|
When looking into a perfect strategy chart for a game like blackjack you will have no problem finding tons of charts online and in any casino giftshop, but when you look for a perfect video poker chart, the truth is, there is no perfect play. That doesn’t mean there are not some basic strategies that can help you get the most bang for your buck.
When choosing which cards to hold, there are situations where the decision is easy — for instance if you are dealt a Royal flush or Full House, it is obvious to just hold those five and enjoy the payday. But most of the time, you will have a decision to make.
Here are some basic suggestions to go on when playing your favorite New Jersey video poker games online.
- Use the chart above for hand rankings and hold the highest ranked hand. Hands that can improve to one of the top tier hands take precedence over lower ranked hands. For example, if you are dealt Jd Kh Qh Jh 10h, you would not hold the pair of Jacks, you would hold the Kh, Qh, Jh and 10h as you have a legitimate chance at a Royal Flush (Ah), Straight Flush (9h), Flush (any heart) Straight (any A or any 9) or a pair (any K,Q,J).
- Start at the top of the chart, if your dealt hand is on the top of the chart, great! Hold those five cards and collect the win. If not, move down line by line and hold accordingly. If your hand contains all but one card, hold those four and draw towards that hand. For example, if you are dealt 2, 3, 4, 5 10, you would hold all the cards except the 10, and hope for an A or 6 to make a straight.
- When dealt two draws, hold the cards that could lead to the bigger pay out. For example, if you are dealt 4h, 5h, 10h, 6d 7h, you would hold all of the hearts to draw to a flush, since a flush pays 5:1 and a straight only pays 4:1.
- If you are not dealt any real draws, but are dealt a single A, K, Q or J, hold the face cards in hopes of getting a pair.
- Avoid holding three cards when chasing a straight or a flush. The odds of two perfect cards being dealt are extremely low.
Online Casinos that Offer Video Poker
The following online casinos are our top picks for Video Poker and all you need to do is click on the name below to be taken to a full review along with exclusive promotions to let you try Video Poker for free with the chance to win real money when you sign up!
- BetMGM: Offers the full suite of Game King Video poker plus IGT Bonus Poker, Ten Play Draw Poker, Jester Poker and Double Double Regal Poker.
- Tropicana: Offers Game King video poker variations including Double Bonus Poker, Jacks or Better, Five Play Draw multihand and more.
- Golden Nugget: Golden Nugget has one of the most impressive library of games offered including all the Game King offerings plus Regal Poker Deluxe, Double Regal Poker, Aces and Faces, All American Poker, Destiny Poker and more.
- Borgata Online: Borgata online casino offers all your favorite Game King games plus Destiny Poker, Regal Poker, Double Regal Poker and Double Double Regal Poker.
- Betfair Casino: Betfair online casino offers all your favorite Game King video poker variations in addition to Destiny Poker, an exclusive Betfair branded Jacks or Better and PokerBet.
Video Poker FAQs
What video game variation has the best odds?
The best odds are in a game called Full-Pay Dueces wild where you can actually get a 100% return if played perfectly, but this game is rare. Jacks or Better is a good starting point as this game has the best paytable.
Does Video Poker have better returns than slots?
Yes! The highest returns you will see in any slot will top out around 98% with Video Poker returns sit around 99.7%.
Can I use Video Poker to clear bonuses?
The simple answer is yes, but there are a few exclusions. Some sites only allow slots to clear bonuses, but some will let you play Video Poker to clear them, albeit your play will only count towards the goal at a reduced rate, like 25%. See our detailed site reviews or the Terms and Conditions of each site’s bonus for details.
Is it worth it to use Video Poker to clear bonuses when they only count as 25%?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors. First, you will need to play A LOT of video poker to clear a bonus. Let’s take Golden Nugget’s $1000 welcome bonus. If you were playing slots, you would only need to wager $20,000 to clear the bonus, but it will take $80,000 in wagers to clear it using Video Poker. On the other hand, even with the extra $60,000 in wagers, the Video Poker returns are slightly higher.