Online Video Poker Guide

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How to Win at Video Poker

Video poker is the perfect mix of slot machines and traditional poker. Not only can you make smart strategy decisions to improve your chances of winning, you can also get lucky and hit huge jackpots. If youíve ever had questions about how to win at video poker or how it works, this is the page for you. Weíll unpack video poker in detail and explain everything in really simple terms to get you playing and winning fast.
Video Poker Guide

#1 - how to play

There are lots of different kinds of video poker but they all work roughly the same way. Youíll find video poker in real life casinos, often among the slot machines and on the counter at casino bars, as well as at all the best online casinos. Getting started playing video poker is really simple. Just follow these easy steps:

Choose your coin value and how many coins to bet
1
Press Deal to receive five cards
2
Select which cards you want to hold in order to make the best possible poker hand
3
Press Draw and your un-held cards will be exchanged for new ones
4
Make a qualifying poker hand
5
Get paid according to the gameís paytable
6

Your game screen

Regardless of which video poker game you choose to play, the game screen will look a lot like this. Hover over the different parts of the example screen below to learn about all the different elements of the most popular video poker games.

Loose Deuces Video Poker Screenshot
1
Payout Table
Find out how much each poker hand pays out depending on how many coins you bet.
2
Your Cards
This is your poker hand. Select which cards you want to hold and exchange the others during the draw.
3
Coin Value
Set the amount each coin or credit is worth.
4
Action Buttons
Choose how many coins to bet and hit Deal. Select the cards you want to hold and then hit Draw.
5
More Info
Check out your balance, how many coins youíre betting and how much youíve won.
1
Payout Table
Find out how much each poker hand pays out depending on how many coins you bet.
2
Your Cards
This is your poker hand. Select which cards you want to hold and exchange the others during the draw.
3
Coin Value
Set the amount each coin or credit is worth.
4
Action Buttons
Choose how many coins to bet and hit Deal. Select the cards you want to hold and then hit Draw.
5
More Info
Check out your balance, how many coins youíre betting and how much youíve won.

Different games, sites, and machines all have slightly different layouts and buttons but theyíre really similar. You wonít have any problems picking up a new game quickly.

Video Poker game showing 3 of a Kind
Video Poker game payout table
No matter where you go, youíll always find the same handful of really popular video poker games. This includes Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus, Double Jackpot Poker and Deuces Wild to name just a few.

The winning hands

Video poker uses traditional poker hands to determine how much you win. Most of us are familiar with the hands but itís worth spending a minute going through the chart below to make sure youíve got it all straight.

HAND
  • ROYAL FLUSH
  • STRAIGHT flush
  • 4 0F A KIND
  • full house
  • Flush
  • STRAIGHT
  • 3 of a kind
  • two pair
CARD
  • ROYAL FLUSH Royal Flush
  • STRAIGHT flush Straight Flush
  • 4 0F A KIND 4 of a Kind
  • full house Full House
  • Flush Flush
  • STRAIGHT Straight
  • 3 of a kind 3 of a Kind
  • two pair Two Pair

All video poker games use the same poker hands but the payouts can be way different depending on which game youíre playing. This is a really key concept in video poker so keep reading to learn more about it in the next two sections.

practicing your strategy

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#2 - Paytables explained

A paytable tells you the payouts for all the winning poker hands for that game. All the winning hands are listed in the left column. As you move to the right in the table it tells you the payouts depending on how many credits you bet.

Double Double Bonus Video Poker Payout Table

All the numbers refer to the number of coins you will win for each winning hand. Notice that the odds get better as you bet more credits per hand. The best odds are always reserved for when you bet max credits.

HOW PAYTABLES CAN DIFFER

The most important differences between video poker games are the levels of risk and reward, also called variance. Looking at the gameís paytable is the easiest way to figure out how risky a game is. Some games have really big payouts but you have to hit huge hands to get them. Others have smaller payouts but you only have to hit smaller hands to win.

Deuces Wild Video Poker
WILD CARD GAMES
The biggest difference youíll see in pay tables is in games that use wild cards. Since itís so much easier to make big hands when you have wild cards, the minimum winning hand is always way bigger and the corresponding payouts are smaller compared to non-wild card games.
Progessive Jackpot Video Poker
PROGRESSIVE JACKPOT GAMES
Similar to slots, some video poker games have a progressive jackpot that keeps growing until someone wins it. A little bit out of each bet goes to the jackpot which usually means the payouts are a little bit worse compared to non-jackpot games.

We always advise checking the paytable before you start playing, as it will greatly impact how much you can win.

#3 - Video poker betting

When you start a new game of video poker, the first thing you have to do is select how much you want to bet. If youíve never played before it can be a bit confusing but donít worry, itís really simple. Just follow these steps to make sure youíre on the right track.

Choose Which game you want to play. For example, Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild
Choose the denomination of coin, sometimes called credit, you want to bet.
Choose how many coins you want to bet on each hand.
Press the ďDealĒ button to start your first hand.

#4 - odds, house edge, and payouts

Some of the reasons video poker is so popular are the odds, payouts, and house edge. Theyíre all really good compared to lots of other popular casino games. In this section weíll explain how the house edge works in video poker and explore the odds of getting different hands and their payouts.

Hand
Royal Flush
Straight Flush
4 Of Kind
Full House
Flush
Straight
3 Of a Kind
Two Pair
Jacks or Better
Nothing
Total Return
Variation
payout
4000
250
125
45
30
20
15
10
5
0
frecquency
64.345748
284.08995
640.1617
29919.766
28626.273
29184.676
193489.19
335990.7
57697.91
1417562.9
probability
0.00%
0.01%
0.24%
1.15%
1.10%
1.12%
7.45%
12.93%
21.46%
54.54%
occurs
40390.55
9148.37
423.2722
86.86431
90.78932
89.05221
13.43207
7.735214
4.660157
1.8334
return
1.98%
0.55%
5.91%
10.36%
6.61%
4.49%
22.33%
25.86%
21.46%
0.00%
99.54%
19.51468

Remember, the payouts for the same poker hands can be totally different depending on the game youíre playing. Also note that when thereís a wild card involved, the chances of getting big hands go way up.

HOW THE HOUSE EDGE WORKS

The house edge refers to the statistical advantage that casinos build into their games in order to turn a profit. The good news when it comes to video poker is that if you use proper strategy, the house edge can be less than one per cent.

how to calculate house edge
  • First calculate the odds of making each winning poker hand.
  • Next figure out how much each winning hand pays out.
  • Compare the odds and payouts to see how much, on average, you will win for every $100 you bet.
  • The difference between how much you bet and how much you win, expressed as a percent, is the house edge.
Image of a calculator
Video poker is similar to blackjack in that the house edge changes dramatically based on how smart a strategy youíre playing. Making lots of mistakes in video poker will send the house edge through the roof while making all the right moves will send the casinoís edge plummeting to almost nothing.

video poker payouts

One thing thatís really important to understand is that different kinds of video poker have different payouts. When youíre playing Deuces Wild, for example, the payout for a full house is tiny. The same hand in Jacks or Better, however, pays out three times as much. So how do you use what weíve learned about video poker payouts to pick the game thatís right for you?

risk/reward ratio
  • Games like Jacks or Better have bigger payouts for smaller, more common hands and smaller payouts for big hands.
  • Games like Double Bonus Poker are weighted more towards bigger payouts for big hands with smaller payouts for small hands.
  • Games like Deuces Wild are the most heavily weighted towards big hands with a much higher minimum qualifying hand.
Risk/Reward Ratio
Choosing the right game comes down to identifying how much risk youíre willing to take on in exchange for the chance to win bigger prizes. Jacks or Better has low risk and low reward so you can make a smaller bankroll last a long time. Games like Double Bonus Poker, on the other hand, are more volatile but give you the chance to win a bigger prize.

#5 - different types video poker

There are tons of different games that all fall within the video poker category. That means thereís always something new to test your luck and strategy. Each game has its own special twist and rewards a different kind of strategy. Check out the most popular video poker variations below to see which one appeals to you.

Check out the most popular video poker variations below to see which one appeals to you.

Jacks or Better
jacks or better
This is the lowest variance video poker game. The minimum winning hand is a pair of jacks or better which pays out 1 to 1. The payouts are weighted more heavily towards smaller hands. That means less risk and less reward. The highest hand is a Royal Flush which pays out 4,000 coins when you bet max credits. Look for machines that pay out nine credits for a full house and six credits for a flush, these are known as 9/6 Jacks or Better or ďfull-payĒ.
Main Points
  • Low risk, relatively low reward
  • Royal flush still offers big prize
  • Roughly 0.5% house edge with basic strategy
Popular Games
  • 9/6 Jacks or Better
  • 9/5 Jacks or Better (Flush pays 5 credits)
  • 8/6 Jacks or Better (Full house pays 8 credits)
Wild Card Video Poker
wild card
Wild card video poker games have more risk and more reward compared to Jacks or Better. The minimum winning hand is usually three of a kind which pays out 1 to 1. Youíll notice the payouts are a lot lower than other games but because there are wild cards itís way easier to make big hands. Wild Card games are fast-paced and offer tons of action.
Main Points
  • Higher risk/reward ratio
  • Lots of action
  • Higher minimum winning hand
Popular Games
  • Deuces Wild
  • Joker Poker
  • Double Joker Poker
Pick'em Video Poker
pickíem/pick a pair
This style of game plays a lot differently compared to the ones weíve covered so far and itís a lot of fun. Instead of being dealt five cards, you receive two pairs of cards. One appears on the left and one on the right of your screen. You must choose one of the cards on the right. This card is added to the two cards on the left and then two more cards are automatically dealt to make your five-card hand.
Main Points
  • Extremely low house edge
  • Less complicated strategy decisions
  • Lower minimum winning hand (pair of nines)
Popular Games
  • Pick'em Poker
  • Pick'em Poker Deuces Wild
  • Pick'em Poker Double Double Bonus
Multi Hand Video Poker
Multi-Play (Multi-Hand)
Multi-hand or multi-play video poker is an exciting twist thatís available on most popular games like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. In this version the gameplay is the same, except when you hit the Draw button. Instead of just dealing your draw once, the machine will automatically deal three, five, 50, or even 100 hands, depending on the machine. A fresh deck is used for each hand and you get paid out on winning hands just like in the single-play version.
Main Points
  • Tons of action and winning hands
  • The more hands you play, generally the worse the payouts become
  • Use caution because you must bet on each hand and it adds up fast
Popular Games
  • Jacks or Better Multi-Hand
  • Deuces Wild Multi-Hand
  • Double Bonus Multi-Hand
Progressive Jackpots Video Poker
Progressive Jackpots
Progressive jackpot video poker is a special add-on thatís available in many of the most popular video poker games. In these games a small part of each bet goes towards a huge jackpot that keeps growing until someone wins it. The upside is that if you get lucky you can win a seriously big prize. The downside is that the jackpot comes at the expense of worse payouts for some of the other smaller hands.
Main Points
  • Chance of winning massive prize
  • Payouts for smaller hands are worse
  • Available in all popular video poker games
Popular Games
  • Jackpot Deuces
  • Poker Ride
  • Jacks or Better Jackpot

Nowadays there are tons of different video poker games and variations. That means there really is something for everyone. If you love poker or slot machines, itís worth giving video poker a try. Itís also worth noting that software developers are constantly innovating new games and gimmicks so keep an eye on our comprehensive casino reviews for the latest releases.

#6 Ė Video Poker Strategy

Depending on the casino games you play, you might not be familiar with how to learn and use a proven strategy. Roulette and baccarat, for example, donít really have complicated strategies beyond choosing which outcome to bet on.

Video poker is much more similar to blackjack where a solid strategy makes a massive difference to how much you win or lose.

We canít stress this enough. When it comes to video poker, learning the basics will make a big difference. With our help you can do it quickly and easily right now. In the next section weíll break down our top tips to get your video poker game up to speed.

How to Read Strategy Charts

Optimal video poker strategy is all about memorizing the correct decisions for every different kind of hand you might be dealt. For example, do you hold three to a royal flush or a big pair? What about four to a flush versus two pair?

Strategy charts are tables that show you what to do with every kind of hand you can be dealt. Theyíre easy to use and they contain everything you need to know to play perfect video poker strategy.

Jacks or Better Strategy Chart
jacks or better strategy chart
Since there are so many different kinds of video poker, itís really important to learn the strategy thatís designed specifically for the game youíre playing. Get our free video poker strategy charts to learn the right decision for every situation you might encounter. Download Your FREE Strategy Chart

Start by memorizing the most common and important situations. These will make the biggest difference to your game in the short term. After you know the basics, continue to the more complicated situations to take your strategy to the next level.

a note on strategy cards

The closer you can play to perfect strategy, the lower the house edge will be and the better your chances of winning become.

That said, strategy cards can only take you so far and itís important to incorporate them into an overall strategy that works for you. After youíve developed your strategy, the next challenge is to always stick to it no matter what.

Our Top Video Poker Tips

A well-rounded video poker strategy is crucial to winning but there are a few individual tips that can make a huge difference if you donít know them. Below are the three most important pieces of video poker advice from our gambling experts.

Bet Max Credits
ALWAYS BET MAX CREDITS
The payouts are almost always better for the player when you bet max credits. If you canít afford to bet max credits, look for a game with a lower coin denomination that will allow you to bet five coins per hand without busting your bankroll.
Look for 9/6 Jacks or Better
LOOK FOR 9/6 JACKS OR BETTER
Different casinos offer different pay tables for video poker. If youíre playing Jacks or Better, make sure to choose machines that pay 9 to 1 on a full house and 6 to 1 on a flush. These are known as ďfull-payĒ games.
Free Drinks
FREE DRINKS IN LAS VEGAS
One of the most fun ways to play video poker is for free drinks at casino bars in Las Vegas. Depending on the casino, you can pop a $20 in the machine, play a few hands and drink for free. Itís a great way to socialize with your friends if youíre on a budget.
In addition to these tips, make sure to download and study the more advanced strategy chart from the last section. Itíll make a big difference in your chances of winning.

#7 - Offline video poker

Even before the internet existed people were playing video poker in casinos all over the world. The child of traditional slot machines and poker games, offline video poker continues to offer players an awesome way to test their skill and their luck.

the main differences

  • online
  • offline
online
internet casinos

Online video poker can be played at all the best casinos on the internet. Check our reviews to see who has the biggest and best selection of games.

Big Bonuses

One big perk of playing video poker online is the huge bonus you can get for signing up and depositing. Welcome bonuses can kick start your bankroll so itís a great reason to try out new sites.

More Privacy

If you like to be in your own world and get some much-needed privacy when youíre playing video poker, playing online might be the ticket for you.

offline
Live Casinos

In real bricks and mortar casinos you can find video poker machines mixed in amongst the slot machines and located on the counters at most casino bars.

Loyalty Programs

Real life casinos donít offer bonuses like online but they do have VIP programs you can sign up for. Make sure to sign up and use your member card every time you play video poker to earn valuable points and rewards.

More Social

Playing video poker in a casino is fun for groups of friends or meeting new people so if youíre a social butterfly, playing in a live casino is a great choice.

Whether youíre playing online or offline, the rules and strategies for all the different video poker games are exactly the same. Brushing up on the basics and then working on more advanced strategies is a great approach to playing on the internet and at bricks and mortar casinos.

Video Poker Tournaments

Just like slot machines, video poker is also offered in a tournament format and itís an awesome way to compete against other people while playing the game you love. Tournaments are usually limited to a certain number of hands or period of time and whoever finishes with the biggest profit wins.

tournaments at a glance
  • Everyone starts with the same bankroll and the same game.
  • The goal is to make the biggest profit in a certain time or number of hands.
  • Prizes go to the top finishers with the winner getting the biggest prize.
Trophy

Video poker tournaments are often set up as a promotion by the casino to reward its best players. In order to qualify you must be signed up for the rewards program so itís another great reason to always use your rewards card when you play at an offline casino.

Expected Etiquette

Since youíre playing one-on-one with your own machine, there are a lot less etiquette rules to worry about compared to a game where youíre interacting with other players and a dealer.

That said, there are a few key rules to be aware of to make your experience as smooth as possible. Itís also important to remember that these rules only apply to offline video poker in real-life casinos.

Joker Poker Video Poker
free drinks
If youíre playing to get free drinks, always tip the bartender at least $1 for every drink. Most casinos will also ask you to play continuously and sometimes theyíll even make you bet max credits if youíre drinking for free.
button-slapping
The single biggest pet peeve of video poker players is when someone beside them is loudly smacking the buttons every time they make a play. Donít do it. In fact, donít make any overly loud noises that may annoy other players.
Personal space
If thereís a long row of free machines, consider leaving a buffer of a machine or two between you and strangers who are also playing. Itís definitely possible to be social and make conversation while also respecting peopleís personal space.

#8 - History of video poker

It wasnít until the 1970s that the first real video poker machine was invented but its ancestors can be traced all the way back to the end of the 1800s. Since then, video pokerís come a long way. More games, better graphics and of course bigger prizes have all contributed to video pokerís popularity in gambling establishments all over the world and the internet.

1891

The Sittman and Pitt Company in New York release the worldís first poker machine. It had five wheels which each had ten playing cards printed on them. The machineís wheels would spin and come to rest to make a five-card poker hand. Ten years later they introduced a draw version that allowed players to choose which cards to hold and re-spin to replace the others. Gambling was illegal at the time so winning hands were paid in cigarettes and liquor.

1970s

A man named Si Redd who worked for Ballyís Gaming presented an idea for a new game called video poker. Ballyís rejected the idea and Redd took the patent to Fortune Coin Company in Reno, Nevada. By the beginning of the 1980s Redd was mass-producing video poker machines and putting them in casinos all over the United States. Redd went on to create the company International Gaming Technology (IGT) which became a serious force in the casino industry.

1994

When the first online casino was created in 1994 it wasnít long before video poker was available on peopleís home computers all over the world. Nowadays software developers have created even better versions of video poker with flashy graphics and exciting innovations. People love online video poker for the same reasons they love it offline: Low house edge and the chance to use strategy to improve your odds of winning.

Video poker continues to be a massively popular game both online and in bricks and mortar casinos all over the world. One of the biggest reasons is that it appeals to a lot of different people. Slots players appreciate the one-on-one aspect and exciting graphics while poker players love the chance to actually use some strategy to try to beat the casino. And if youíre a beginner, video poker is an easy and fun first step into the world of online gambling.

#9 - glossary

Just like all gambling games, video poker has its own set of special words and slang. If you want to fit in next time youíre at the casino, brush up on the preferred nomenclature with our handy video poker glossary below.

Action
Bet Max
Cash Out
Coins
Deal
Deuces Wild Poker
Discard Cards
Double Down Poker
Double Up
Draw
Edge
Flush
Four of a Kind
Full House
Hand
Hold
Inside Straight
Jackpot
Joker
Maximum Coins
Multi-Hand
Odds
Pat Hand
Paytable
Progressive Jackpot
Random Number Generator
RNG
Royal Flush
Sequential Royal Flush
Straight
Straight Flush
Three of a Kind
Two Pair
Wild Card
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