How to Play Video Poker

Video poker machines offer several variations on five-card draw games and can net you some serious money if you’re lucky. These fun games have been around since the 1970s and can be enjoyed in both land-based and online casinos around the world. Unlike slot machines, which are entirely random, video poker games do require some skill and best of all, some of them have a payout rate of nearly 100 percent.

Where to Play Video Poker

Video poker is offered at a wide range of online casinos, including InterCasino, Genting Casino and William Hill Casino. Swedish developer NetEnt produces great video poker games for online casinos, which can be found at Mr Green Casino. However, the productions by IGT and Playtech are still top-notch.

InterCasino

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Genting Casino

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William Hill Casino

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Video Poker is not typically played in UK land-based casinos, where electronic roulette and slot machines are more common. However, it is extremely popular in Las Vegas, with many casinos, such as the Palms, offering a wide selection of video poker machines.

Rules

“Video Poker” is used to refer to a number of different games, each of which has slightly different rules and methods of play. However, the basic principle is the same - players pay into the machine to get credits, make a bet and then hit the “Deal” button, receiving five cards. They can then choose to “hold” or retain each of the cards or discard them. Keeping your hand as it is dealt is referred to as a “pat hand”.

If they choose to replace certain cards, the player presses the “Draw” button. Should they then end up with a winning combination, such as a Royal Flush or Straight, they will win the amount shown in the paytable displayed on-screen.

Here are some of the more common video poker variations:

  • Aces and Faces - Similar to Jacks or Better, Aces and Faces will pay out when a player has a hand with at least a pair of jacks. This game offers a larger payout if a player grabs four of a kind with face cards or aces, hence the name.
  • All American - In All American, players must hold jacks or better to win, but the payouts for higher ranking hands are increased.
  • Deuces Wild - A variety of video poker in which twos are wild and can substitute for any other card in the deck to create a better hand.
  • Double Bonus - Based on Jacks or Better, Double Bonus provides an extra cash reward for producing a hand of four aces.
  • Jacks or Better - In this variation of video poker, players must hold at least a pair of jacks at the minimum to create a winning hand, though two pairs of any value will still pay. Players with a pair of jacks are usually paid even money, while holding a royal flush can pay out 800:1 in most land-based venues.
  • Joker Wild - A joker card is added to the deck as a wild and can be used to create stronger hands for the player.
  • Tens or Better - Like Jacks or Better, Tens or Better pays out when a player has a hand with at least two tens.

Keep in mind that payouts might vary between sites and venues.

Some casinos offer a “double-up” side feature when a player earns a payout. Typically, the player must guess the colour of a card, or choose a card whose value is higher than the one shown. The likelihood of the player doubling their winnings is 50 percent, while the likelihood of losing is the same. This is a game where the house edge is zero - a truly rare thing. 

Etiquette

Similar to slot machines, video poker is a rather individual activity, so try not to disrupt players who are involved in the game. If you see a chair leaned against the machine or draped with an item of clothing, it’s best to assume that it’s occupied. Similarly, if you need to leave a video poker machine in mid-game, try to return as quickly as possible.

Don’t slam on the buttons or make excessive noise during play - it disturbs players around you and can ruin their own experience. Similarly, don’t yell or shout when winning or losing. Be graceful in both victory and defeat and remember that it’s just a game!

Strategy

You should try to bet at the maximum amount allowed by each machine, even if this means you don’t play as many hands as you’d like. The larger your bet, the more credits the machine will give you, increasing the value of any prizes won. “Bet Max” might seem like a bad idea, but if you solidly manage your bankroll [LINK HERE] and know when to stop, you can end up doing quite well.

Just as with physical poker games, it’s important to have a good knowledge of poker hands, as you’ll need to rely on your memory at the tables. This is less important when playing video poker online, as most software platforms will tell you what your best hand is. In general, you should never discard a royal flush, straight flush, full house, four of a kind, three of a kind or two pairs. When you hold three of a kind, dump the other two cards to see if you can improve your hand - you could end up with a full house or four of a kind.

The average or expected payback on video poker is what makes it such an attractive option to online and land-based casino visitors; when played with good strategy and foresight, players can do quite well. Choose a very generous paytable when playing and always take the double-up feature when offered, as there is no house edge to this side game and it can be a great way to increase any winnings.

Important Terms:

1Bet Max

The maximum bet allowed for each hand.

2Credit

Money paid into video poker machines is shown as credits. The value of each credit depends on the machine. For example, if you put £30 into a £1 machine, you would have 30 credits with which to play.

3Expected Payback, Average Payback

The average rate of return on a video poker game.

4Pet Hand

Keeping your hand as dealt; “holding” each of the five cards given.


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