Along the endless parade of poker games, video poker stands out as a much-loved variant that gives you the best of both online casino worlds. Often known as “poker slots“, video poker takes everything you love about slot machines and regular table poker to create something new and interesting.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to play video poker, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk through the rules, payouts and terms of this game; you’ll be a pro in no time!
HOW DO VIDEO POKER MACHINES WORK?
Video poker is a straightforward, single-player casino game that is played against an algorithm. It is a cross between regular poker and slots in that it offers standard poker gameplay with several slot-like elements. The game is based on five-card draw poker, in which five cards are dealt at the beginning of the round, and there are wildly different varieties in online casinos around the world.
The gameplay in video poker is strikingly similar to that of a slot machine, because both feature randomly-generated outcomes. However, there is no room for strategy with a slot machine. By contrast, video poker strategies do exist, allowing players to potentially influence the outcome of the game.
LEARN THE BASIC RULES OF VIDEO POKER
Cards can be held or discarded, according to what the players decide. When playing poker online, this process is easy as all players need to do is click on the cards they will keep. For video poker games that are played on land, such as the Deuces Wild video poker machine, players use the ‘Deal’ and ‘Hold/Cancel’ buttons to keep or discard their cards.
Basic steps have to be followed by beginners to understand how to play video poker.
- The first task is adding funds to the player’s casino account and choosing a coin denomination within the game. This will determine the amount which the player wishes to wager for each hand. This bet size can be increased or decreased accordingly by clicking on the respective buttons (typically labelled as ‘Bet’).
- Once the bets are selected, the player has to click the ‘Deal’ button to begin the game.
- After clicking on the ‘Deal’ button, the player is dealt a hand of five cards.
- The next step is to identify and choose which cards to hold and which to discard. The player can hold multiple cards by clicking directly on them.
- After clicking on the ‘Draw’ button, the cards which are not held are replaced by new cards from the same virtual deck.
- The outcome is then determined using the video poker paytable. If the player holds a winning hand, the corresponding payout is awarded.
- The video poker paytable lists the rewards corresponding to each winning hand. Usually, payouts are directly proportional to the amount wagered by the player.
BASIC GLOSSARY FOR VIDEO POKER
We’ve rounded up some terms you’ll need to know to join the skilled player’s clubs and play better video poker.
- Action: The action is the amount of money wagered in total.
- Bankroll: The amount of money a player has to gamble with.
- Cash Back: A bonus given by a casino for playing with them.
- Cycle: A cycle is the number of hands awarding a top payout on a video poker machine on average, usually when a royal flush poker hand appears.
- Drawing Hand: This is a poker hand that requires replacement cards to be improved.
- Face Card: The three cards include kings, queens and jacks.
- Full Pay: The best version of a game. The 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker game is the full-pay Jacks or Better. While some casinos do not offer full-pay games, players should always seek them out, as the other versions have a greater casino advantage.
- House Edge: The advantage the house has over a particular game. A lower house edge makes for a better game for a player’s chances.
- Inside Straight: An inside straight requiring one or more cards to fill a gap in the sequence of remaining cards.
- Kicker: The highest card in a hand. In traditional poker, the kicker is used as a tiebreaker, however, this is not so in video poker games.
- Outside Straight: A straight that requires one of two cards to complete a sequence of five-in-a-row with the other four cards. An outside straight is easier than an inside straight.
- Paytable: A paytable is an informational diagram explaining the payouts in a game relative to each hand. In a paytable, the payouts are expressed in terms of your bet size.
- Progressive Jackpot: A jackpot which grows its prize in accordance with players betting on it. Usually, a progressive jackpot is linked to more than one machine and will grow until a player makes their lucky play.
- Random Number Generator: An RNG is the algorithm that gives video poker its random events.
- Short Pay: Short pay is the counter opposite to full pay. They are slot machines with less than generous paytables. Full pay are generally the better video poker machines to look out for, as they pay out more handsomely to the player.
- Wild Card: In video poker online, a wild card will mimic another card and boost the value of a hand.
VIDEO POKER PAYTABLES — WHAT ARE THEY?
The paytable is a list of all paying combinations of cards and their respective payouts, both of which may differ from one game to another. The payouts are based on poker hand rankings, which largely stay faithful to classic poker.
The royal flush is the most valuable hand, followed by a straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, two pair and jacks or better.
- Royal Flush — A royal flush occurs when an ace, king, queen, jack and ten of the same suit are held in one hand. The royal flush is the most valuable hand in poker.
- Straight Flush — A straight flush is holding five consecutive matching cards of the same suit.
- Four-of-a-Kind — A four-of-a-kind is four cards of the same rank.
- Full House — A full house is three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank.
- Flush — A flush is any five non-consecutive cards of the same suit.
- Straight — A straight is five consecutive cards of any suit.
- Three-of-a-Kind — A three-of-a-kind is three cards of equal rank.
- Two Pair — A two-pair is two cards of one rank, two cards of another and a fifth card of a different rank.
- Jacks or Better — Jacks or better is a special video poker hand. This hand is usually the lowest-ranked hand in video poker. The Jacks or Better hand is simply a pair of jacks or better. It is also the name of a video poker machine.
Knowing your expected return is one of the key elements to devising the best strategy and going one step further to becoming a better video poker player.
Video poker games contrast typical slot games for this reason; it is recommended that you check out the game’s paytable before hitting that ‘Deal’ button, as you may find that some games are more profitable than others.
THE VIDEO POKER PAYTABLE LAYOUT
In a paytable, the number of coins played is proportional to the payoff. In the case of Jacks or Better, this means that three maximum coins are returned with one coin played on a three-of-a-kind winning hand. This is followed by six coins for two, nine coins for three, followed by 12 coins for four and 15 for up to five coins.
The major exception when playing Jacks or Better comes with the payout for a royal flush. The royal flush has a healthy payout of 250 coins for every one coin, 500 for two, 750 for three and 1,000 for four, with five coins landing a return of 4,000 coins!
RTP AND HOUSE EDGE IN ONLINE VIDEO POKER
When it comes to playing video poker, it is possible to find the expected return on the machine before you start to play.
Unlike a number of new slots on the online market, video poker is the only game that’ll show you the expected return on your money. So, were a player to play maximum coins in a video poker game, the paytable will reveal the expected return on that.
Therefore, it is crucial that the right amount of research is done so that the players identify the best video poker machines with the best payables available to ensure they get good value for money. Ultimately, finding the right video poker machine is all down to just that: it’s the paytable — at least when it comes to your profit, that is.
Casinos may average a profit of about 3% with every play on any given video poker game. It is this profit that one refers to as the house edge in a game. Arithmetically speaking, this leaves a return of 97% for the player’s earnings. This, however, varies depending on the machine and paytable in question, which is players need to check out various machines to find video poker games with the best returns.
If a video poker game’s paytable offers a 99.54% return, it is therefore offering better returns to players than a video poker machine with a 97.29% return. This means that the 99.54% machine retains a house edge of just 0.47%; the 97.29%, on the other hand, keeps a bigger share of 2.71% in house edge.
Therefore, one can clearly see that the better option for players is the 99.54% machine. In this case, a machine such as this one is called a full-pay machine. The 97.29% return on the other machine means a player would lose money at a rate of almost six times quicker than on the 99.54% video poker game.
CHECK OUT THE BEST ONLINE VIDEO POKER STRATEGIES
Using a video poker strategy begins from the very first wager you place. Needless to say, it is always important, especially in poker, to go in with strategy. Neglecting this may cause you to risk losing your bankroll in one fell swoop of the dealer’s cards. There is still hope; play your hands right and you might just be able to win!
By simply discarding or holding the first five cards, your chances of winning are improved in a few ways:
- Always hold a full house, four-of-a-kind, straight flush, and royal flush.
- Discard the last two cards to make room for a four-of-a-kind or full house, in the event you earn a three-of-a-kind.
- For a chance to earn a full house, discard the fifth card should you receive a two-pair.
- Unless you have four cards that could make a royal flush, don’t break up a flush or straight flush.
- For a potential path to a straight flush, break a jacks or better hand.
- Hold on to your low-pair instead of a lone high card.
The type of video poker game that you play determines which strategy you should use. Nevertheless, keeping a strategy chart with you to discern which hands to keep or discard, is highly recommended.
The fate of your hand can often be influenced in video poker. This is because there is only one deck of 52 cards randomly shuffled. And, one deck can only produce so many card combinations.
What does this all mean? It means your potential outcomes are knowable, as is the outcomes’ frequency if duly calculated. All in all, enough skill can lay the groundwork for a video poker strategy practically unassailable.
For more about the video poker strategies to help coast through the cards, check out our post, The Best Video Poker Strategy, on the LV BET Casino Blog!
CHOOSE THE RIGHT VIDEO POKER ONLINE VARIANT FOR YOU
There are many video poker tips we can give you, but perhaps our most helpful one would be to check out video poker paytables before you begin playing. This way, you can see which video poker game is more profitable by looking at the expected return of the game. Poker slots all have their own payout percentage and house edge; you just need to identify the best one.
Video poker has many variations, and each has its own set of payouts. In addition to well-known hands like straight flush and royal flush, it also has its own hand rankings, such as jacks or better (a hand of two jacks, or better). Some may also include the joker as a Wild card, usually two per deck. Whenever the Wild is drawn, it can be held in place to substitute for any card of the player’s choosing.
This valuable card can swing the odds in the player’s favour, variations. For example, in the Deuces Wild iteration of video poker, all two cards act as Wild cards that substitute for any other card in the deck. It’s no surprise, then, that players rush to play video poker slots like Deuces Wild.
Although not as widespread as Jacks or Better poker and Deuces Wild, Joker Wild still sports a decent RTP (Return To Player) percentage. Aside from these three popular video poker games, players can also enjoy Bonus Deuces Wild, Double Double Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker and Jacks or Better Double Up.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to classic poker with all the conveniences of playing video poker, check out first-person poker games like Casino Stud Poker.
MULTI-HAND ONLINE VIDEO POKER MACHINES PROS AND CONS
Multi-hand video poker is a poker game that is played with more than one hand at a time. Bets are placed on each hand, and the decisions you take for each hand form one single deal.
- Winning hands are much easier to make up because of the low payout percentages in video poker online.
- Poker hands in online poker slots are the same poker hands found in a basic game of poker.
- You can discard as many cards as you wish.
- Some poker slots offer a big payout through bonus poker games which can double payouts from winning hands.
- Skilled players may not find it an exciting game due to the simplistic gameplay.
- There is a high number of paytables for video poker players to look through.
- A common poker hand such as a jacks or better or a low pair will feature low or no payoff.
Regardless of the game you choose to play, every round of poker should be approached with a dedicated and well-researched basic strategy. You will encounter different payout percentages, hand rankings and rules, so your video poker strategy needs to be adjusted accordingly.
WHERE TO PLAY VIDEO POKER ONLINE?
Now that you know how to play video poker, all that’s left to do is put your skills to the test. But where to start?
Test out your strategies and play video poker at LV BET! Discover our bulging portfolio of video poker and live poker tables! Whether you prefer single-player gameplay or the authentic ambience of playing with a live dealer, we definitely have the perfect game for you.
CONCLUSION — VIDEO POKER OR LIVE POKER?
Understanding how to play video poker begins with distinguishing the differences between video and live poker and how the two compare to poker played at land-based casinos.
Video poker is a relatively simple alternative to live poker, and the game’s pace is all up to the player. The fact that video poker can be played online and does not require in-depth knowledge of the game makes it an excellent choice for new and experienced players alike.
Both video and live poker have an advantage over the classic game by offering a wider variety of games and greater flexibility. Most importantly, online poker’s security is better than traditional table poker since the game engine and user interface have to be licensed and regulated by reputable authorities; thus, there is no possibility of cheating and no need for bluffing, either.
It is always advised to set limits when you play video poker. Keep an eye on your bankroll, and make sure you employ a good strategy every time you play. Never gamble past your limits, and don’t forget to have fun!
✅ WHAT ARE MY ODDS IN VIDEO POKER GAMES?
Players must understand that the return when playing video poker is based on its poker paytable. Take the following example. If a casino has a house edge of 5%, implying that it makes a 5% profit on a video poker game, the game has an average return of 95%.
This number may vary according to the paytables for the machines; the higher the return, the better it is for the player.
For instance, if you pick a machine with a return of 98.97% (casino house edge of 1.03%), your odds will be much better than a machine with a payback percentage of 96.55% (casino house edge of 3.45%). There clearly is no argument as to which machine holds the better odds. Full-pay video poker machines, like Jacks or Better 9/6 or Deuces Wild, have an RTP of 99.54 and 100.76%, respectively.
✅ DOES A VIDEO POKER MACHINE USE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATORS (RNGS)?
Video poker also features a random number generator, as do online slots. Where an RNG is used to determine which symbols land in an online slot, it is used to shuffle the deck in video poker.
✅ HOW DO I ADD CREDITS TO THE VIDEO POKER MACHINE?
When playing online, players can wager once they’ve deposited cash into their account. Then, once they have sufficient cash funds in their online casino account, they can load the game and adjust the wager by using the buttons found on the user interface.
✅ WHAT DOES ‘RANDOM’ MEAN FOR VIDEO POKER?
When you play video poker online, random events take place via an RNG — Random Number Generator. This is a mechanism which is also found in casino games, like slots, to ensure that video poker remains fair. In the case of video poker, the final hand is produced from a randomly-shuffled virtual deck.
✅ WHERE CAN I PLAY ONLINE VIDEO POKER?
Playing Jacks or Better online is great fun, but the one thing that could take your experience to the next level is if you had to play at an impeccable online casino — and luckily, you just so happened to stumble upon one!
At LV BET, you can enjoy the best of what the industry has to offer while also snatching up sweet casino deals, competing in online tournaments, travelling to uncharted territories and getting in on some sports betting action.
✅ WHAT VIDEO POKER GAMES ARE THERE AT ONLINE CASINOS?
Take a crack at games like Five-Card Draw Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, Joker Wild and Double Double Bonus Poker. Play at LV BET for a chance to win big!