Playing online video poker is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it seldom makes up the most popular array of games at online casinos. The games are often deemed primitive, and arguably not as exciting as other titles to many players. However, there is much more to video poker than you might expect, and yes, video poker can be exciting if you play the right game.
Most casino players will already have a good understanding of the basic hands used in poker. That is all you really need to play video poker. If you aren’t familiar with them, you needn’t worry, though. Our short guide to video poker will have you playing like a pro in just a few moments. With that said, let’s begin by looking at the history of video poker, before moving on to how the poker game is played and the options you have open to you at online casinos today.
A Brief History of Video Poker
The history of video poker stretches back to the foundation of slot machines. Way back in 1891, the very first slot games were actually poker games, with each drum consisting of 10 playing cards. Only 50 were used, and players were blissfully unaware that they were being shafted by two missing cards. The idea back then was to form winning poker hands in exchange for cash. Of course, there were slot elements to the game, so you couldn’t swap out cards, or use any kind of strategy. Those early poker slots were quite literally games of chance.
The first video poker machines didn’t truly appear until 1970 when Dale Electronics unveiled its Poker-Matic. It rapidly appeared in Las Vegas casinos but did not make a massive name for itself. By the mid-1970s, Bally Gaming started to experiment with poker games using television screens, and “video poker” was born. Despite the idea being rejected initially, Bally’s Si Redd would be permitted to patent the game himself, which he did. Si Redd’s creation would be much more critically acclaimed and helped to form IGT, one of the most respectable software developers in the casino world today.
Video poker games have not changed much since they first appeared properly in the 1970s. They use the same gameplay and features as they have done for the last fifty years. Although many variants can now be played, the basic idea behind each game is the same. The rapid evolution of graphics and technology in games hasn’t altered video poker games, either. They still look as though they belong in the 1970s, whether you are playing video poker in a land-based venue, internet or mobile casino site.
How to Play Video Poker
Video poker is essentially a single-player game. Unlike most other gambling games, there is no action against a deal, a banker or other players. Instead, the objective in virtually all video poker games is to simply form the best poker hand you possibly can do.
Video poker is based on Five-Card Stud, and the player may opt to swap out as many as five cards, but only once. Their final hand is then compared against a paytable to see if a winning hand has been acquired, and what prize the game should pay to the player. Simple in almost every way, video poker is a game that any player can sit down and play in mere minutes.
Placing Your Bets
Many video poker games allow you a fair degree of customisability when it comes to stakes and wagers. In most cases, you can select your own coin values and denominations. You can also opt to wager several coins per hand. In multi-hand video poker, your stake is then magnified by the number of hands you play with. The majority of video poker games will feature a wagering range which offers gameplay from $0.10 up to $100.00 a hand. A few have minimum stakes which cost less, and there are opportunities to bet up to $500 per hand, possibly more in some video poker variants. Ultimately, a bet is made before the hand is dealt, and constructing a bet is done in much the same way as with online slot machines.
Video Poker Gameplay
Once a bet has been made, the game deals a player five cards. They can opt to “hold” any of the cards which appear on the screen. New ones will replace any cards which are not held once the “deal” button is hit. If you wish, you do not have to take any new cards.
Players can only swap out cards once. After this, the completed poker hand is weighed against the paytable to see if it forms a winning combination. Standard poker hands are used in video poker, and they include:
Jacks or Better: A hand which consists of at least a pair of Jacks.
Two Pair: A basic poker hand consisting of two pairs of cards worth the same value.
Three-of-a-Kind: Three cards are worth the same points value.
Straight: All five cards appear in numerical order.
Flush: All five cards appear in the same suit.
Full House: The five cards consist of a Pair and a Three-of-a-Kind.
Four-of-a-Kind: Four cards are worth the same points value.
Straight Flush: All five cards appear in the same suit and in sequential order.
Royal Flush: The hand consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace in the same suit.
Some video poker games feature a Two Pair as the lowest-ranking hand, while in others it is a Three-of-a-Kind. Other video poker games include non-conventional hands, which are formed with the use of wild cards, such as Jokers and Deuces (2s). These hands can consist of:
Four Deuces: The hand has at least four 2s
Five Wilds: The hand consists of a joker, and four deuces (2s).
Five-of-a-Kind: Four cards have the same value, and a wild card forms the fifth card.
Unnatural Royal Flush: Same as above
Other hands may also be available depending on the game you are playing. Moreover, the value of each of these non-standard hands can also vary. You are advised to consult the paytable of the game you are playing to learn more.
How to Win at Video Poker
Winning a video poker is far simpler than in many other casino games. All you really need to do is form a hand which appears on the paytable. You can swap out cards just once to help you do this. If your final five-card poker hand matches one of those displayed on a video poker game’s paytable (which appears on the screen alongside your hand), then you will win. The amount you can win depends on your stake. For instance, playing with two or three coins will see you win double, or triple what you would with a single coin stake.
The value of each hand can vary depending on the game you are playing. However, in basic video poker (Jacks or Better), this is what you can expect to win with a single coin wagered and a winning hand…
- Pair of Jacks or Better: 1:1
- Two Pairs: 2:1
- Three-of-a-Kind: 3:1
- Straight: 4:1
- Flush: 6:1
- Full House: 9:1
- Four-of-a-Kind: 25:1
- Straight Flush: 50:1
- Four Deuces: 200:1*
- Royal Flush: 250:1 or 500:1
* Again, the non-standard Five-of-a-Kind, Four Deuces and other hands are only available in selected video poker games and the prizes those hands pay may vary from game to game.
The Most Popular Video Poker Games
Video poker games come in many different formats. They can have different rules, and these alter not only the payouts that feature in games, but also the minimum hand required to win, and the house edge present in the game. Here, we will take a look at some of the more popular and commonly found video poker games you can expect to see at online casinos.
Jacks or Better: This is the most basic version of video poker you will find at an online casino. It features conventional poker hands, no wild cards, and is straightforward to play.
Tens or Better: Tens or Better makes a Pair of 10s the lowest ranking hand required to win. However, because of this good fortune, Tens or Better may lower the value of the other prizes.
Aces and Eights: This video poker game offers you special prizes of 50:1 and 80:1 if you land a hand of Four Sevens, or 4 Aces or 4 Eights, respectively.
Aces and Faces: Additional hands in this game include Four 2s through 10s for a payout of 25:1, Four Jacks, Queens or Kings for a 40:1 prize, and Four Aces which pays 80:1.
Multi-Hand Video Poker: Multi-Hand Video Poker is often a game of Jacks or Better. However, you can opt to play with anything from one up to one hundred hands. The game will cost more, and any cards you choose to hold will be held in every hand.
Deuces Wild: As mentioned, 2s act as wilds in this game and added hands include Wild Royal Flushes (Unnatural Royal Flushes), and the fabled Five-of-a-Kind. The lowest paying hand in a Deuces Wild game is a Three-of-a-Kind.
Bonus Poker: Games such as Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Triple Double Bonus Poker and more all revolve around the same concept. Players can pocket bonus cash prizes should they land some of the “special” hands listed on the paytable.
Joker Poker: This video poker game features jokers as wild cards. Landing a Joker Royal Flush, Five-of-a-Kind, and other non-conventional hands are, therefore, very much possible with Joker Poker.
All-American Video Poker: Many All American Video Poker games are quite the same as Jacks or Better, although their design is very much centred on the stars and stripes of the USA. Prizes for Straights, Flushes, Full Houses and Four of a Kind may differ from game to game, though.
There is no shortage of other video poker games for you to play, either. Taking a quick look at any reputable casino will reveal a wealth of different options for you to enjoy. Always check the paytable before playing video poker variants, though, so you can familiarise yourself not only with the added hands and hand ranking system but also with what the hands pay before you play.
Top Tips to Improve Your Video Poker Skills
There isn’t a whole lot you can do to improve your video poker skills to be honest, save for practising. Most video poker games can be played for free, and that unquestionably helps you get a better idea of how the hand rankings work and how to form them. At the same time, you can also practice at home, as most video poker games use just a single deck of cards.
What few tips and hints that are available are displayed below:
Betting Strategies: Video poker games are straightforward enough that you can use the Martingale System to decent effect, provided you have a fair balance. This should help you cut down your chance of running out of money too soon.
Explore Variants: Make notes about how you play, and the types of hands you commonly form. Then explore the video poker variants out there, and find one which suits your style.
Look for Jackpots: Some video poker games carry progressive jackpots which pay out if you land a Royal Flush. If you’re going to be playing video poker anyway, these may be worth a shot.
Do Your Homework: Ultimately, the best video poker games are those which have a relatively low minimum hand (such as a Two Pair), coupled with decent winnings, and a low house edge. You can find this handy information readily available online, and it is worth doing so before you play any video poker game.
Where to Find the Best Internet Video Poker Games
You shouldn’t find yourself stuck for somewhere to play video poker games. Most online casinos carry the games. They could be found in their own dedicated video poker section. Alternatively, they could be lumped into an “Instant Win” or “Other Games” section at casino sites. Video poker games are not the most popular at any site, so some online casinos only carry a few titles. Others, though, are known to support quite a large selection. In most cases, at least Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild will be available.
Online casinos are your best shot of finding an excellent array of video poker games, with few sportsbooks and poker rooms carrying them in any real number. We’ve got an ample range of top casinos which are offering you these games right here at this website. All our casinos are recommended and certified as safe to play at, so feel free to browse around.