Since the time when video poker was introduced back in the 1970s, it has become one of the most popular gambling games in the world, and there are a couple of reasons for that.
Video poker, just like Blackjack, is one of the very few casino games where you can make decisions, and your play greatly influences the outcome of the game.
When played correctly, video poker offers one of the best odds from all casino games, so it is an excellent option for the players.
It also reduces the stress of live poker games, since you do not need to deal with other players, listen to annoying comment or chat with anyone if you do not feel like it at the moment. Combined with great odds, the ability to make decisions, and low house edge, this makes a perfect gambling game.
In some games, you can hit the jackpot and make your payday even sweater, and if you find a casino that offers great bonuses for your play, you can even turn things around and make this game profitable to you.
Learning how to play video poker is also quite easy, so you should consider this game when choosing between various slots options.
Video poker rules
If you know how to play 5-Card Draw, you already know video poker rules since this is the format of the game.
This game uses a standard 52 card deck most of the time, with Jokers added in some variations. This is how video poker game flow looks:
- You decide how much you want to bet and start the hand
- You are dealt five initial random cards
- You choose which ones you want to keep and which to discard
- You click the “deal” button and get new cards instead of those you discarded
- You compare your final hand to the payout table
- You get paid if you hand qualifies to it based on video poker rules and your hand rankings
Video poker hand rankings
Video poker hand rankings are just like the standard Texas Holdem game, and features these hands:
- Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and a Ten of the same suit – A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ T♣
- Straight Flush: combination with five cards in a row with the same suit that is not A-high. For example T♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠ 6♠
- Four of a kind: combination with 4 cards of the same rank, like K♠ K♥ K♦ K♣ 4♣
- Full house: three cards of the same rank and a pair, like T♥ T♦ T♣ 7♥ 7♣
- Flush: five cards of the same suit that are not in a row, like Q♥ T♥ 7♥ 6♥ 2♥
- Straight: five cards in a row, like Q♥ J♦ T♣ 9♣ 8♦
- Three of a kind: three cards of the same rank and two cards that do not match, like 7♥ 7♠ 7♣ Q♥ 4♠
- Two pairs: combination with two different pairs, like 9♣ 9♠ 2♣ 2♠ T♣
- One pair: two cards with the same rank and three random cards, like J♦ J♥ Q♣ 8♦ 4♥
- High card: when all your cars are with different ranks, and no combination is possible, like A♥ T♠ 9♣ 5♠ 3♦
Video poker rules are as simple as that, so learning how to play video poker is a breeze. However, since you are making decisions when choosing which hands you want to keep, the math also comes into play, and you should carefully consider your options.
How to play video poker – essential tips
It is worth mentioning that some video poker games have slightly different rules, so it is worth knowing it before sitting down to play.
For example, in the most popular game, “Jacks or Better,” you will only be paid if you make a pair of Jacks or a better hand, as the name suggests, so it profoundly influences which cards you want to keep and what to discard.
If you do not have a pair with your initial five cards, it makes sense to hold J, Q, K, or A since you will be paid if you make this pair, but will not get anything if you make a pair of 9, for example.
In another popular game called “Deuces Wild,” a deuce can be counted as any card in the deck, so it is the most valuable one you can get. You surely do not want to discard it just because you do not know the rules of video poker format that you play.
On top of that, your video poker strategy might also change a bit since now there is no advantage of keeping Jacks+ from your initial cards, and you might be better of going more for straight and flush options.
While there are many strategy nuances in different video poker formats, there are some universal tips that you need to follow if you want to reach success in this game, and I want to share it with you.
Always bet maximum
Before every hand, you have an option to choose how many coins you want to bet, which ranges from 1 to 5 in the vast majority of video poker games.
While the value of these coins differs from machine to machine, you can surely find a suitable limit for you.
If you do not want to bet five coins while playing $1 game, then move to $0.25 bet video poker machine and bet those five coins to reap all the rewards.
You may ask why you should do it?
While many players overlook this factor, it is one of the easiest ways to reduce the house edge since you are eligible to hit a jackpot hand only when you bet the maximum on each of the machines.
This means that you will get a much better multiplier when you hit Royalflush, and instead of multiplying your bet by 250, you will get 800 times of your initial bet – 4000 coins.
While you obviously will not hit this hand very often, it makes a lot of difference when you do with now disadvantages of this play, so always take this option.
Choose the best payout table
Another thing that is great about video poker is that you can see your expectations of winning before even starting the hand, and some games are much better than others.
The most significant difference is often seen in the payout multiplier for Flush and Full-House.
In the best option, you want to see 9 next to Full-House hand and 6 when hitting a Flush. It is often listed as next to video poker name, for example, “9/6 Jacks or Better”.
On the other hand, if you see the game like 8/5, it means you will be only getting 8 times the amount of your bet for Full-House and 5 times your bet for the Flush.
While this might not look as important to you, in the first option, the return to the player rate is 99.54%, and in the second one, the house edge is a few times higher, so you surely do not want to play that option.
These payout tables can also vary if there is Joker in the games or wild cards that can be counted as it, so always make sure to take a look at rules and video poker payout tables before starting to play.
Take your time
Video poker is not a standard slots game where you can blindly click the play button as soon as you see it since you actually have to make some decisions.
There is no benefit in rushing when playing video poker, so you should make sure you know which hands to hold and which to discard before clicking that button.
It is very easy to misread your hand when playing on autopilot, so make sure to take as much time as needed and enjoy your game.
If you take it slowly, you will play fewer hands per hour but most likely have a much better time and almost surely better results in the long run.
Take advantage of bonuses
Many online casinos offer deposit bonuses, reward programs, or even specific promotions for video poker players, so take advantage of that.
Finding a good bonus for a video poker game can turn the edge in your favor.
Of course, it might be hard to keep it sustainable in the long-term, but if you learn sound video poker strategy and follow these tips, a nice bonus could be all you need to become a winner in this game.
Basic video poker strategy
While it is impossible to list down all situations in video poker, there are some sound strategies that you should always follow to increase your chance at winning. Let’s take the example of playing Jacks or Better:
- Never give up a winning hand – if you have a pair or other made holding, do not discard a part of it to try to hit a higher hand.
- Never try to draw to flush or straight with three cards – unless you are trying to hit a straight-flush keeping three cards in a row and drawing to hit exact two other cards is a losing proposition.
- Take your pair – if you have a pair with your first 5 cards, do not discard 3 other cards and do not leave the kicker next to your pair. Contrary to popular belief, that does not increase your chance of making a better hand.
- Leave high cards – If you do not have any made hand, hold Jacks or higher cards that will qualify for payout when hitting a pair.
- Don’t be afraid to take risks – if you do not have any maid hand or 4 cards to a straight or 4 cards to a flush, then drawing all five new cards is your best option.
After reading this article about how to play video poker, you should be fully aware of the main strategies in this game and make a sound decision.
When played correctly, video poker can be an exceptionally rewarding game and offer not only a chance to get big paydays but also some thrill of the game since you are making decisions when playing, just like in blackjack.