Video Poker

Over the last few years, Video Poker has considerably increased its presence on the online gambling market thanks to the fact that more and more online casino customers find it attractive. As a matter of fact, the great interest towards the game is based on the fact that video poker is undoubtedly a game that can help a player make a winning, unlike a large number of other games.

The game of video poker is often considered too complicated to understand, but as a matter of fact, it is a game of simplicity. Players make their bets, after which they are dealt a total of five cards. The strategy each player follows is strictly individual.

Up to date, there is a great number of video poker variations. A large and respectable contemporary casino may offer more than 100 different variations of video poker games. Despite the numerous video poker variants, however, the rules of the game are not that complicated and players can easily learn how to play it and even master a strategy to help them stack up great payouts.

With a little help from us, you will be able to learn the rules of video poker, its key elements and some of the most popular variations of the game. You will also find a FAQ section which will provide useful information about your virtual video poker experience.

Objective of Video Poker

Once you start playing video poker, especially online, you will notice that there are many variations of the game. This being said, the objective is always the same and players would have no issue grasping the specifics of every video poker variant. In order to understand the rules of video poker, you can start by learning about Jacks or Better. This is the most popular and easy-to-find variant of the casino game. Video poker is a single-player version of five-card draw poker but instead of being paid for beating the cards of other players, you are rewarded according to the rank of your hand.

The game starts when 5 random cards from the deck are dealt. Then, the player has to decide whether to replace certain cards from his/her hand, keep all five cards or discard the entire hand and draw five new cards. After the player has made a decision there is a second draw which replaces the cards that have been discarded. If there is a hand of a certain rank, the player will receive a payout which depends on the paytable of the game. Your goal is to make the optimal decision and form the highest possible paying hand. One key element of playing video poker is knowing the hands of standard poker as this will help you determine your moves and will eventually allow you to learn a video poker strategy.

When you are choosing a video poker game to play, you should always check the paytable first, as it will tell you whether the game is worth playing and what the expected return is. Since there are different variations of video poker, there are some instances when there are wild cards added to the deck. They usually change the payouts for certain hands and, in some cases, allow for special payouts on certain combinations of cards.

Video Poker Hand Rankings

You cannot play video poker if you are not familiar with the hand rankings as this is the way to know when you will receive the highest payout. While there might be some tweaks in the payouts for hands, the typical ranks usually apply for the majority of video poker games.

Royal Flush

Let us start with Royal Flush which is the hand that every poker player hopes to land. No matter which video poker variation you play, you will receive the highest payout if you manage to form Royal Flush. In fact, there are many games that will actually reward a jackpot if you get this hand on your first draw. Royal Flush consists of 10-J-Q-K-A of the same suit and while it offers major payouts, it is extremely difficult to land this combination, especially in a single draw. The chance of forming Royal Flush on the first draw is estimated to be 1 in 649,740 hands. If you are playing a game which offers a progressive jackpot, keep in mind that often one of the conditions to win the big payout is to draw the cards in consecutive order, i.e. either 10-J-Q-K-A or A-K-Q-J-10. When playing a standard Jacks or Better game, the usual payout for Royal Flush is 250 to 1.

Straight Flush

Straight Flush is the next hand that will bring you a generous payout. It is formed of 5 consecutive cards which are of the same suit. The only exception, of course, is 10-J-Q-K-A as this is Royal Flush. The payout for this hand typically varies between 40 to 60 credits for 1 coin. If you are playing a standard Jacks or Better variation, the payout should be 50 to 1. The odds of drawing Straight Flush on the first deal are 1 in 72,000.

Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind is the next hand you should strive to form when you are playing video poker. As the name of the combination suggests, it is formed by four cards of the same face value. When you play a typical Jacks or Better game, the payout should be 25 to 1. As there are different variations of video poker, however, often Four of a Kind offers a much more generous payout when it is formed with wild deuces or has a certain kicker, i.e. the fifth card of the hand. The odds of drawing Four of a Kind on the first deal are 1 in 4,000.

Full House

The next hand is Full House which is formed of three cards of the same value and two cards of another. For example, if you draw a hand that looks like 7-7-7-2-2, then you will receive the payout for Full House. The payout for this hand may vary from 5 to 9 credits for a single coin. If you have come across a full-pay version of Jacks or Better, you will see that the payout is 9 to 1. In fact, Full House is one of the hands that will help you determine whether a certain Jacks or Better game is a full-pay version. It has been estimated that the chances of forming Full House on the first draw are 1 in 700 hands.

Flush

Following up is Flush which is comprised of five cards which have different face values but are of the same suit. In addition to the payout for Full House, players should also check how much Flush pays when playing Jacks or Better. If the payout is 6 to 1, then you can be certain that the game you have come across is a full-pay variant. The odds of having Flush on the first deal are 1 in every 500 hands.

Straight

Moving on to the next hand, we have Straight which is formed by five cards in consecutive order but of different suits. If you, for example, land a 4-5-6-7-8 hand and the cards are not of the same suit, you will be paid for Straight. Typically, this hand pays 3 to 1 or 4 to 1. If you happen to play a full-pay version of Jacks or Better, the payout must be 4 to 1. The odds of having Straight on your first draw are 1 in 256 hands.

Three of a Kind

If you happen to draw a hand which consists of three cards with the same face value, then you would be paid for Three of a Kind. For example, drawing 4-4-4-7-5 will reward you with a payout for Three of a Kind. Keep in mind that if the remaining two cards have the same value, different from the one of the three cards, you have Full House and not Three of a Kind. The usual payout for Three of a Kind is 3 to 1 and the chances of landing this hand on the first draw are 1 in every 50 hands.

Two Pair

The next hand is Two Pair and it is formed whenever you are holding a hand that consists of two different pairs. A combination similar to 2-2-5-5-10 will bring you a payout for Two Pair. Usually, players are awarded a payout two times their stake but some variations of video poker would pay less. The odds of landing Two Pair on the first draw are estimated at 1 in 20 hands.

Pair

The winning hand with the lowest rank is Pair which will pay out even money when you have one pair in your hand. It should be noted, however, that not all pairs will qualify for a payout. Often the pair must be comprised of 10s/Jacks or cads of a higher value. The chances of having Pair on the initial draw are 1 in 2.381 hands.

Expected Return in Video Poker

One of the main reasons why so many players enjoy video poker is the game’s low house edge. If you combine that with the right strategy, you can actually enjoy a very fruitful gaming experience. Before you learn the right strategy for the video poker variation you are intending to play, you must be well aware of the expected return of the game. Simply put, this is the average profit you can expect to earn over time, provided you have used a perfect strategy and made the right decision on every draw.

Whenever you are choosing the right strategy for your video poker game, you should pick the one that offers the best payouts in the long run. I.e. the highest expected return. Keep in mind, that using the optimal strategy still cannot guarantee that you will win every round but it will definitely bring you the most fruitful result after playing for a while.

When you take a look at a video poker strategy chart, you will notice that the hands are ranked in accordance with their expected return. Naturally, whenever you need to make a decision, you should opt for the moves that offer the best expected return.

Full-Pay Video Poker

The best way to make the most of the strategy you have learned is to find the video poker game with the best possible payouts. This will further improve your winning chances and will lead to the lucrative results you are hoping for. The video poker games that offer the highest payouts are also known as full-pay versions.

It is easy to understand whether a game is full-pay or not if you check its paytable. You can take for example Jacks or Better which is the most popular variation of video poker. If you are using an optimal strategy and you have found a full-pay version of Jacks or Better, you can enjoy an expected return of 99,54%.

The full-pay version of Jacks or Better is also known as a 9/6 version. This comes from the payouts for Full House and Flush which should respectively pay 9 to 1 and 6 to 1. Whenever you are checking the paytable of the game, make sure to check the payouts for those two hands and stay away from versions which pay less.

It is also important to check how much Full House and Flush pay on video poker games with bonus rounds. If you wish to play with an expected return of 99.2%, you should find a version which pays 8 to 1 for Full House and 5 to 1 for Flush.

There is also the chance to tilt the scales in your favor and play with a negative house edge. If you come across a Double Bonus video poker variant with a payout of 10 to 1 for Full House and 6 to 1 for Flush, then you can enjoy an expected return of 100.1%. Keep in mind, however, that this percentage can be achieved only if you play with a perfect strategy.

Popular Video Poker Variations

Despite the fact there are many video poker variations, there are a few which are very popular among players. This is usually due to the better odds that these variants are offering, allowing players to snag better payouts.

Jacks or Better

Probably the most popular video poker variant that you will come across is Jacks or Better. It is very easy to play and when players are using an optimal strategy, they can enjoy a rather fruitful game in the long run. Just like with any video poker game, here, the goal is to keep or discard the cards you are given so that you can form a paying hand. One thing you should know about the hand rankings on Jacks or Better is that players will enjoy a payout if they have at least a pair of Jacks or cards with a higher value.

The typical paytable for Jacks or Better looks like this:

Hand Payout
Royal Flush 250 to 1 (when players make max bets, they can be rewarded huge bonuses that can reach up to 4,000x)
Straight Flush 50 to 1
Four of a Kind 25 to 1
Full House 9 to 1/ 8 to 1/ 7 to 1/ 6 to 1
Flush 5 to 1/ 6 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Three of a Kind 3 to 1
Two Pair 2 to 1
Pair of Jacks or Better 1 to 1

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is another interesting variation of video poker where the deuces of the deck play the role of wild cards. This means that players have a better chance to form a winning hand when they draw a wild 2. In addition to that, there is a special payout for Four of a Kind comprised of four deuces.

The following paytable is typical for Deuce Wild:

Hand Payout
Natural Royal Flush 250 to 1 (max bets can win you bonuses of 4,000x or more)
Four Of a Kind Deuces 200 to 1
Wild Royal Flush 20 to 1/ 25 to 1
Five of a Kind 12 to 1/ 16 to 1
Straight Flush 8 to 1/ 10 to 1
Four of a Kind 4 to 1/ 5 to 1
Full House 3 to 1/ 4 to 1
Flush 2 to 1/ 3 to 1
Straight 2 to 1
Three of a Kind 1 to 1

Bonus Poker

Yet another popular variation of video poker that players enjoy is Bonus Poker. It is similar to Jacks or Better but offers very generous payouts for a few Four of a Kind hands. Thanks to these special payouts, many players enjoy Bonus Poker.

The usual paytable for this video poker variation looks like this:

Hand Payout
Royal Flush 250 to 1
Four of a Kind Aces 80 to 1
Straight Flush 50 to 1
Four of a Kind 2s, 3s or 4s 40 to 1
Four of a Kind 5s to Ks 25 to 1
Full House 8 to 1
Flush 5 to 1
Straight 4 to 1
Three of a Kind 3 to 1
Two Pair 2 to 1
Jacks or Better 1 to 1

Conclusion

Video poker is a game that has a lot of charming points and the lower house edge is definitely one of them. It is extremely easy to play the game, especially if you are familiar with five-card draw poker.

Although the game has plenty of variations, the objective of the video poker is always the same. As long as you know the hand rankings and the expected return of the game you are playing, you will be able to enjoy a fruitful gaming experience.

When you are picking the video poker variation you would like to play, make sure to check the paytable. This way you will be able to select the option that offers the best payouts and will reward you the most in the long run. No matter which video poker variation you choose, you can be sure that your experience will be fun and rewarding.