Video Poker

Video Poker is one of the most popular casino games and it’s perfect for people who like to play poker alone and compete against the system. The general rules of Video Poker are very similar to the table poker games played with two or more players at land-based and online casinos. The only difference is that, since they play alone, users get their payouts according to their hands, unlike with other poker games where the hands of several players are compared and there is only one winner.

How to Play Video Poker?

Playing Video Poker is quite simple. You start by placing a wager and tapping the “Deal” button, after which you are dealt five cards. You then have to decide which cards you want to keep and which you want to discard before the next hand is dealt. To do this, you either click or tap the cards you want to keep.

When you finish picking, you are then dealt new cards to replace the ones you’ve chosen to discard by tapping/clicking the “Draw” button. The objective is to get a winning hand, just like in traditional poker, preferably a higher paying one. How much you’re paid for each winning hand is decided by the paytable and your original bet size, which varies between casinos and game manufacturers.

And before you play, just remember that the Ace, just like in Poker, is valued as both an 11 and 1. Thus, you can combine it any way that suits you.

The Winning Hands

The following are the common winning hands you can get in a game of Video Poker. They are ranked from bottom to top, from the lowest to the highest ranking hand:

  • Jacks or Better – Basically, any pair of Jacks or higher ranking cards like Queens, Kings, and Aces. Jacks or Better is also the name of one of the most popular variants and it is usually the lowest paying hand. Some versions also have Kings or Better as the lowest paying hand.
  • Two Pairs – Like the name implies, this is a hand of two pairs of cards with the same value. This hand normally has the same payout like the Jacks or Better hand.
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards with the same value, along two cards with a different value. This hand is paid slightly better than Jacks or Better/Two Pairs hands in the variants that have it. On other hand, when these two hands are missing, the Three of a Kind is often the lowest paying hand.
  • Straight – Five cards in a sequence, in any mixed suit. For example, a hand of 10-J-Q-K-A in whatever suits available. When you’re missing a card in the middle to complete a straight hand, this is also called an “inside straight”. When an outside card at any end is missing, it is called an outside “straight” instead.
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, regardless of the sequence (e.g. a hand of 3-Q-8-A-9 in a suit of Spades).
  • Full House – A hand of Three of a Kind + a Pair (e.g. K – 3 – K -3 –K)
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards with the same value (e.g. 10-10-10-10).
  • 4 Deuces/ 4 sixes /4 fours, etc – Some variants also include these combinations for the same or higher payout than Four of a Kind hands.
  • Straight Flush – Five cards in a sequence and matching suit. For example, a hand of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, all in the same suit.
  • Royal Flush – The ultimate and the least probable hand. A Royal Flush also triggers the jackpot and it can be won by getting a hand of 10-J-Q-K-A in the same suit. There are also other variants like Joker Royal flush, etc.

Video Poker House Edge Explained

The house edge in a Video Poker game is represented as the RTP, or Return to Player Percentage. The RTP is basically the percentage you have to subtract from 100 to find out the house edge of a game. So, if a game of Deuces Wild has an RTP of 95.5%, this means that the house edge on that game will be 4.5%.

A 4.5% house edge means that for every £100 you spend, you can expect to lose £4.5 to the casino. Thus, this is an estimate over longer play, but also one that depends (even though little, in this case) on your skill. So, if you just play the game haphazardly, you should expect to lose more.

One convenient feature in today’s online casinos is that most operators will clearly list the house edge of their games, most commonly under a “Fair Gaming/Games” section). This way, if you already have a favourite casino, you can find the best Video Poker variants fast and easy.

Understanding Paytables

When playing a game of Video Poker, you can win different payouts depending on how many coins you’ve bet. The most coins you can bet is 5 and each coin increases the payout by its original value. Thus, a hand of Two Pairs pays out 2:1 on one coin, 4:1 on two coins, 6:1 on three coins, and so forth.

While playing with minimum coins can get you decent payouts, it’s the full bet that can grab you the most. Unlike slots, where you can hit a jackpot with even the lowest bet, in Video Poker the jackpot hides in the last column on the paytable. Thus, a Royal Flush with 1 coin can get you a 250:1 payout, but the same hand will get you a 4000 payout on 5 coins, instead of 1250 (5 x 250).

Finding the Best Paytables

One of the best things about Video Poker is that the paytables are always found on the screen, so that you can find the most lucrative variations faster. You can also play most online variants in demo mode, for both practice and test purposes.

Some of the best Video Poker games have what’s called the 9/6 or 10/6 payouts. What these numbers mean is that in these variants a Full House is paid 9:1 and a Flush is paid 6:1. This differs from the standard 8/5 payouts which you can find in most games and can have a significant effect on the house edge.

For example, in Jacks and Better Video Poker, the RTP is calculated to be 97.30% in an 8/5 game, while a 9/6 game will have better returns of 99.54%. In the first example, the house edge of the poker game is 2.7%, while in the second, it is 0.46%.

This is a simple example, of course, and there are dozens of different paytables spread across different poker variants. Thus, it always pays out to compare and do some research before you choose a game.

Video Poker Variants

You can find dozens of games in a well-equipped online casino, but almost every game will be a different take on a popular variant, with different paytables. The most common ones are as follows:

  • Jacks or Better – The most popular variant with the Jacks or Better payout included. Royal Flush Jackpots and overall paytables may vary between versions.
  • Deuces Wild – Another popular variant where the deuces (2s) are wild cards. Other payouts like 4 of a Kind (deuces), Royal Flush with/without a Deuce are also included.
  • Bonus Deuces Wild – A Deuces Wild game with even more deuce-related payouts like 4 deuces and an Ace, or different Five of a Kind hands.
  • Double Bonus – Another advantageous variant with two bonuses included: four Aces (higher paying) and four 2s, 3s, 4s).
  • Double Double Bonus – A variant with double bonus payouts on Four of a Kind hands + a kicker. A kicker is an Ace, 2, 3, or 4. So, you can get the double bonus with four Aces + a 3.

Optimal Video Poker Strategy

There are several simple rules that players have to follow in order to improve their chances of winning. Of course, the most important one is how do you decide which cards to keep and which to discard.

Since you only have one shot for a winning combination, you would have to think well before making your move. If you’re lucky enough to get four cards of a straight flush, you discard only one card, but if you’re not, you have to play the most probable hand.

That’s why the soundest strategy you can apply is to educate yourself on probability and keep yourself disciplined while playing. Sometimes, chasing pairs can turn out better than hoping for a straight flush to cover your previous losses.

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