How to Play Video Poker?

Date Published

Authored by

Paul De Freitas

Video Poker

A popular casino game played by gamblers worldwide, video poker is a variation on the classic game of poker. The game rules aren't difficult to understand, but they may not appear very obvious at first glance.

Most people who play video poker enjoy the fast pace of this exciting game and that it requires a little bit of skill but nothing too complicated! We will go over some basic info on what video poker games are and what they offer players. We'll also provide an overview of the rules and explore the different variations so you can get started playing with confidence. If you want to know the basics of how video poker works, keep reading.

What Is Video Poker?

Video poker is a casino game that is based on five-card draw poker. When video poker first came out, it was just like a regular video monitor displaying images of cards. Today video poker machines look more like slot machines in appearance and have become extremely popular.

In video poker, you are not playing against any other players but against the machine, which makes video poker one of the easiest games to play in casinos.

Due to the widespread popularity of online casinos, you may now enjoy video poker games that can be played from the comfort of your own home or on your portable devices.

The goal of video poker is quite similar to that of regular poker; you want to get as close to a Royal Flush as possible with a single hand. If you haven't played poker before, don't worry, video poker is much easier, and after we've explained the rules and hand rankings to you, you'll be playing the game like an expert in no time!

Basic Rules of Video Poker

Most people can get to grips with the basics of video poker in a matter of minutes. Jacks or Better is the video poker game that the majority of players begin with. The game is appropriately titled as the lowest hand you can win with starts with a pair of jacks or better. For this reason, we will show you how to play Jacks or Better first but also look at some of the other video poker variations available.

When playing video poker online, you will need to place a bet before pressing the deal button. Once your bet has been placed, the video poker machine will display five cards face-up for you to choose from. You can then decide which to keep or discard by clicking on the cards showing on the screen using your mouse or touchpad before pressing the deal button again. If the new hand is better than the original one, and you have a qualifying poker hand, you win an amount based on the paytable displayed on the screen.

How to Play Video Poker - Hand Rankings

Royal Flush

Types of Hand Rankings

Knowing the hand rankings is extremely important; in video poker, the hands are ranked from strongest to weakest, just as with table poker. You can see a list of these rankings below. This is a valuable resource for learning how to play this game and understanding which hands you should be going after.

  • Royal Flush - The best possible hand in video poker is called a Royal Flush, consisting of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and ten, all in the same suit. It is an unbelievably special event for any player to have this winning hand; many players would consider themselves lucky just to see one.
  • Straight Flush - A straight flush is a poker hand consisting of five cards in sequence, all of the same suit. It ranks above four-of-a-kind and below a royal flush. An example of a straight flush could be 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of spades.
  • Four of a Kind - A four of a kind is when you have four cards with the same value. Essentially you need a card from each suit with the same rank, such as ten of hearts, ten of diamonds, ten of spades, and ten of clubs. It doesn't matter what the fifth card is in video poker and doesn't need to be matched.
  • Full House - A full house is another valuable video poker hand. It consists of three of a kind and two of another kind. An example of a full house would be eight of diamonds, eight of spades, eight of hearts, four of spades, and four of clubs.
  • Flush - In poker, a flush is a hand that consists of five cards of the same suit. Unlike the straight or royal flush, a standard flush doesn't need a hand that runs in sequence. So you could have the following, for instance, diamonds- 7,2,9,4,8, and this would be a flush.
  • Straight - A straight is five consecutive playing cards that don't have any matching suit or number value. An example of a straight could be two of diamonds, three of clubs, four of hearts, five of clubs, and six of spades.
  • Three of a Kind - A three of a kind is a poker hand with three cards that have the same value and two unmatched cards. An example of this hand could be 9 of diamonds, 9 of hearts, 9 of clubs, 2 of spades, and 8 of hearts.
  • Two Pair - A two-pair is a hand in video poker consisting of two cards of the same rank, two cards of another rank, and an unmatched card. The two pairs can be any combination, such as ace, ace and queen, queen or king, king, and four, four.
  • Jacks or Better - This is the hand that the most popular video poker game is named after. It is the lowest possible qualifying hand you can win with. You are required to have a pair of jacks or better to achieve this hand ranking. So jack, jack, queen, queen, king, king or ace, ace, and one unmatched card.

Types of Video Poker Games

Jacks or Better

If you're just starting out, then we recommend Jacks or Better because it's the most popular type of video poker game in casinos across America and online. We've laid out all the rules and cards hands above so you can get started straight away. Once you have mastered Jacks or Better, every other variation will be easy to pick up.

Joker's Wild

Nearly all video poker games are variations of Jacks or Better, and Joker's Wild, which is also sometimes called Joker Poker, isn't an exception. Compared to Jacks or Better, the difference is primarily due to introducing an additional wild card, the joker. When the Joker becomes a wild card, this basically means that you can play this card to substitute for any other card in the deck in order to create a winning hand. Joker's Wild uses a 53-card deck rather than a standard 52-card deck, as with Jacks or Better. You'll find that the paytable has been adjusted to account for the increased possibility of you receiving a high-ranking hand.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild ranks in popularity just below Joker's Wild. In Deuces Wild, all twos are wild cards and substitute for any other card to form winning hand combinations. Consequently, winning at Deuces Wild is significantly easier than with other video poker variants such as Jacks or Better. However, this does reflect in the payout tables as a result of this.

Aces and Eights

Aces and Eights has an interesting and slightly macabre story attached to it, and it is sometimes referred to as the deadman's hand. The story is that legendary gunslinger and gambler Wild Bill Hickock was shot and killed in a saloon while playing poker. His final hand consisted of a pair of aces and a pair of eights. Aces and Eights is different from other video poker variants because the payouts are higher on certain hands, for instance, Four of a kind made up of Aces or Eights. However, a Royal Flush still remains the qualifying hand with the highest payout.

Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is a lot of fun but maybe not for beginners. In this video poker game, you get a bigger payout for Four of a Kind hands, but two pairs are reduced from a 2:1 payoff to even money. You also get the chance to double your bet after each win by drawing a higher card than the dealer's hand.

Why Play Video Poker?

There are many reasons to play video poker, including the chance for a big payout. It's also fun and easy to learn. Playing video poker online also offers you the convenience of playing to your own schedule and for as long or as little as you want.

Here are some other good reasons for giving video poker a spin.


Playing a hand of video poker will take a lot less than a minute; for more experienced players, they can manage more than 600 hands an hour! As the game is so quick to play, this allows you to enjoy a few hands whenever you have some spare time. You can play while waiting in line to pay for your groceries, on your commute to work, while preparing dinner; the options to win some real money while going about your everyday business are endless!

Requires Some Strategy

Let's face it, slots are fun, but you have no input in the game’s outcome; some players don't mind this; they are happy to hand their fortunes over to lady luck. However, if you play poker slots, you get some influence on how the game plays out if you use a little strategy. This can make the game more engaging than slots or other gambling games of chance.

Play for Free

Though this option isn't available at the land-based casinos, if you want to play video poker games such as Jacks or Better for free, you can do this at most online casinos. Other than getting play money to wager with, the game is played exactly the same as the real money version. Once you have played a few hands, you can then progress to the real money games and the excitement of potential big wins.

Video Poker Tips and Tricks

Below we'll go over some quick ways to improve your odds at video poker by learning how to play smart. We'll also talk about some things you should avoid so as not to lose money unnecessarily.

Use a Cheat Sheet

When you're learning how to play video poker online, it's important that you know about video poker strategy charts before placing real money bets. There are many simple guides and charts available which can help keep you on track during your game by providing suggested optimal strategies for winning hands. A video poker strategy chart can show you when certain cards should be discarded or held to improve your chances of winning.

These charts are typically available online and look similar to blackjack strategy charts. Without such help, at times, new players at video poker can lose a lot of dollars in winnings without even realizing it's because they are playing video poker poorly.

You'll also find strategy charts for different variations of the games. So once you've mastered one type of video poker, a quick visit to your preferred search engine will allow you to find further strategies that suit each game the best. For video poker variations that offer wild cards or jokers, video poker strategy charts will provide information for optimal playing decisions when these are part of the game.

Poker hands

All the Poker Hands

Play Maximum Bets

Placing Max bets is a video poker tip that many players neglect. You can actually win the maximum amount when playing video poker by enabling the max button on video poker machines or video poker online. Video poker pay tables are displayed as one to five coins on a video poker machine. By placing the maximum bet of five coins, you will be able to increase the video poker payout substantially.

Placing maximum bets is a good idea if you want to play video poker for real money. However, you should only choose this option if you have enough cash in your bankroll. We also understand that if you are on a budget, betting the maximum coins might not be an option; in this case, wager what you can afford. You can still win plenty even when you bet a lower number of coins though you won't get the maximum returns if that elusive Royal Flush comes in!

Play at Your Best

When compared to certain other casino games, such as slots, where the game's outcome is entirely dependent on chance, video poker demands the use of strategy if you want to win on a consistent basis. As a result, you should only engage in video poker when you are in the best frame of mind. If you are angry, upset, tired, or even had a little too much to drink, this is definitely not the time to play video poker.

Distraction is another enemy of the video poker player. If you have friends or family chatting to you while playing or you are multitasking, watching Netflix, and checking your social media account, then you are best to stop playing and return to the game when you are less preoccupied.

Another pitfall that some players fall into is that of playing too fast. They make mistakes due to playing too many hands too quickly without giving themselves enough time to think.

Make The Most of Casino Bonuses

When you sign up to an online casino, you are sure to receive a welcome bonus. Often this is a matched bonus in which the casino matches your deposit up to a certain sum. For instance, they may offer a bonus of up to $1,000 matching your deposit; if you were to deposit $200, you'd receive an extra $200 to play with! You'll also find that there are ongoing promotions and rewards, so it's best to check the casino bonus page or talk to someone on live chat to find out the latest ones and not miss out.

Video Poker FAQ

You don't have to worry about video poker machines being rigged. Video poker machines depend on random number generators (RNGs) to determine the outcome. RNGs generate thousands and thousands of random numbers per second on every video poker machine to ensure that each poker hand is dealt in complete fairness. In addition, these machines are tested under strict scrutiny by gaming authorities and third-party auditors.

The answer is yes! Video poker is available for both Android and iPhone devices to play at home or anywhere else you want.

Video poker could be described as a hybrid of slots and poker, so they are the most similar in gameplay. However, you might want to try out some other card games. Like video poker, the game of blackjack offers a good balance of simple rules combined with a bit of strategy. If you prefer a game that relies totally on the luck of the draw, then baccarat is a fast and exciting gambling game to check out.

Video poker, along with blackjack, provides some of the most favorable gambling odds for players at an online casino. In most cases, the house edge in video poker is significantly lower than that of other games such as slots, and it ranges anywhere from 0.5% to 5% and sometimes better. A 9/6 full pay Jacks or Better game has a house advantage of just 0.46% if you use a perfect video poker strategy.

As most online casinos let you play video poker games for free, you have the opportunity to try different variations out at no risk, so you can decide which one is your preferred style. Still, most video poker players start with Jacks or Better as this is widely found at most casinos and is straightforward to play.

There's really little difference between the two. The main benefit of playing a video poker game online is the convenience. You can easily find your favorite games, and even if it's the most popular video poker game at the online casino, you don't need to wait your turn to play it. Not forgetting you have the opportunity of playing video poker games anywhere that you have an internet connection.

In contrast to slots, there is an element of skill to video poker. To improve your chances of winning, you need to play the hand dealt in the most advantageous way possible in accordance with poker-hand rankings.

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