To the beginner, video poker might look like just another slot machine. However, this is definitely not the case! Video poker is one of the best casino games to learn, because video poker often has some of the best odds in the entire casino. Sometimes, the player can even hold an edge over the house – how often do you see that?
How to Play Video Poker
A video poker game begins with the player putting a number of coins into the video poker machine – usually, players have a choice of playing with between one and five coins.
Once you are dealt your five cards, the goal is to make the best hand possible. Every video poker game is different, but each will have a minimum hand you need to make in order to win; it might be a pair of jacks (in Jacks or Better) or three of a kind (in Deuces Wild).
If you don’t start with a winning hand, that’s okay; you’ll get one chance to drop as many cards as you want and get them replaced. Video poker is dealt from a single deck of cards, so if you discard the 3 of clubs, of instance, you won’t be seeing that card again. Some video poker games also include jokers.
After choosing which cards to hold and which cards to discard, the machine will deal new cards to replace the ones that were discarded. The player now has their final hand, and will be paid based on the pay chart being used on their machine.
Video Poker Tips
- It is very important to always play video poker using the maximum number of coins allowed on the machine (normally five). Jackpots are usually awarded for royal flushes, but the amount you’ll win for a royal flush is significantly reduced if you aren’t playing with the full number of coins, and this can affect your returns significantly.
- No single strategy is right for every video poker game. For instance, the strategy of what hands to hold and what to discard in Jacks of Better won’t help you play Double Bonus video poker correctly. If you want to play a specific machine as well as possible, it’s worth looking up the proper strategy for it.
- Always look for “full pay” machines. While you’ll find Jacks or Better video poker almost anywhere you look for it, not every machine is the same, since the operator can change the pay table and make the game more or less lucrative. For instance, the full pay Jacks or Better machine is known as 9/6 Jacks or Better, because it pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush. This machine has a return of over 99.5%! However, many lower pay tables exist, sometimes returning as little as 95%.
- There are a few video poker games that actually pay out with over a 100% return – meaning that players actually hold an advantage over the house, if they play the optimal strategy. These include, but are not limited to, some of the following:
Double Bonus Video Poker: The full pay 10/7 (full house and flush payouts) pay table returns 100.2%.
Deuces Wild Video Poker: The full pay Deuces Wild play table returns nearly 100.8%! The key thing is to look for a pay chart that offers five coins on a four of a kind and 15 on a five of a kind.
Double Double Bonus Video Poker: This very complex form of video poker returns about 100.1% if you can find the rare 10/6 payouts on full houses and flushes.