Video Poker

Video Poker

Video Poker is among the most popular online casino games available. Some players prefer it over slots because the game requires more skill and strategies can be applied. Not to mention that the odds are vastly better than those of video slots. Learn all about Video Poker right here.

About Video Poker

Video Poker was first really developed in the 1970s. The earliest versions were simply video monitors hooked up to in integrated circuits which held the programs for the very simple games. These early version were considered a fad and no one expected them to last.

But then, early in the 1980s, SIRCOMA – the company that would eventually become IGT – decided to focus on the game and make it better. It was the company’s first great success. Indeed, players uncomfortable with playing against others at a large table were now able to simply sit in front of a monitor and play against the computer – the faceless opponent. And they were still able to win as long as they knew the rules.

Video Poker may not be the main game in Vegas or at most online casinos, but you will rarely find a casino (online or offline) that doesn’t at least have a few Video Poker games available.

Interestingly, although online casino games get more and more sophisticated in graphics and gameplay (especially slots), Video Poker games tend to maintain a classic appearance. Players seem to prefer that simplicity.

How to play

The basics of Video Poker are really not that difficult at all. The game (regardless which version you’re playing), is based on five card draw poker. That means you get dealt five cards in the beginning and after choosing which card or cards you wish to hold, the remaining cards are re-drawn, hopefully giving you a batter hand.

That really is the gist of it, but you are sitting at the computer, so things look a little different here. Most Video Poker games look very similar. You get a simple layout that shows you the paytable applicable to the chosen game and you get to look at the back of five cards.

You may have a number of buttons to change the settings of the game and you will always see the “Deal”, “Draw” and “Bet” buttons. You hit the “Deal” button when you start each round and the cards are handed out. You’ll be looking at the faces of five cards now and choose which ones you may wish to hold and which ones will consequently be discarded. Some games will do so automatically, but you can always change that around, especially if you wish to discard the entire hand.

Once you’ve made your choice which cards to hold, you then hit the “Draw” button and the remaining cards that you didn’t want to keep will be re-drawn. With any luck a more advantageous set of cards will appear and you’ll get to collect the winnings.

With some games you may have to do so manually, because they may offer an option to “Double” your winnings. In such a case a single card will be shown to you and you have to click on one of the four other cards with their faces down, usually hoping to pick a higher card than the one you just looked at. If that happens, your winnings will be doubled.

video poker

Winning hands

Special versions of the game aside, the standard winnings hands in Video Poker are the same you would find in most Poker versions, including 5 card draw Poker. Thus you can generally walk away a winner with the following hands:

  • Jacks or Better (sometimes 10s or Better) – a single pair of Jacks
  • Two Pair – two sets of cards with the same value
  • Three of a Kind – three cards of the same value
  • Straight – requires five consecutive cards, suits can be mixed
  • Flush – five non-consecutive cards of the same suit
  • Full House – a pair plus three of a kind
  • Four of a Kind – four cards of the same value
  • Straight Flush – five consecutive cards of the same suit
  • Royal Flush – 10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace of the same suit

Video Poker Games

There are a number of different versions for Video Poker. Depending on the version you play the rules will change, but usually only ever so slightly.

The main varieties, four usually, are these:

  • Jacks or Better – This is the most talked or written about version of Video Poker and generally considered the main version of the game. In order to win here, you will need a hand of at least 1 pair of Jacks – or anything better in value than that. Lesser hands will lose. And payouts begin at 1x and can go up as high as 800x.
  • All American – This is a version fairly similar to Jacks or Better, but the payout rate tends to be better. Interestingly you’ll win more for flushes, straights or straight flushes, but less for full houses and two pairs.
  • Deuces Wild – A slightly quirky version of the game, because the lowest winning hand here is a set, but the deuces (twos) are ‘wild’ as the name of the game would suggest. With this version you get additional winning hands that you won’t find elsewhere such as: Five of a Kind, Wild Royal Flush or Four Deuces.
  • Joker Poker – This version is played with a deck of 53 cards which includes a Joker. That can then be used as any card from the draw. The lowest possible winning hand here is actually a pair of Kings. Here you will also find Five of a Kind and Wild Royal Flush as winnings hands. When played perfectly, players have an edge of 0.64% over the house.

Less common varieties of Video Poker are:

  • Aces and Faces
  • All Aces (or Bonus Poker)
  • Bonus Flush
  • Deuces and Joker
  • Double Bonus
  • Double Double Bonus
  • Double Joker
  • Pick’em Poker
  • Tens or Better

Strategies

As with any other casino game, there are strategies you can employ when playing Video Poker. They depend somewhat on the version you’re playing and how far you want to go. There’s something called a ‘perfect strategy’, which you can follow to the letter. But winning is never guaranteed, even with a perfect strategy. We will include Video Poker strategy articles into our “Strategies” section as well. Here we shall stick to the basics:

  • Draw for a Flush over a Straight – if you already have four cards for a Flush, which are also four cards to a Straight, give preference to the Flush as the probability to get another card of the same suit is higher than drawing another consecutive card.
  • Don’t discard a low pair – this holds especially true if you have three random high cards.
  • Play maximum coins – if you do so the total payout increases the better your hand is.
  • Drop the kicker – a ‘kicker’ is a high value card that you may wish to hold in addition to a low pair. For instance, don’t hold onto an Ace if you also hold a low pair of 3s.

Playing Video Poker mobile

Of course, many online casino players nowadays also like to gamble on the go. Mobile play is still the fastest growing market and it is certainly not exclusive to slots. Table games and live games are available for mobile play as is Poker.

Indeed, Video Poker can be played mobile as well. The only snag you may hit is the fact that many Video Poker games have been around for a while and are usually flash based. Finding a HTML5 Video Poker game is not that easy and thus you may end up with only two different versions in a mobile casino. That’s hardly ideal and given the popularity of the game, we would hope that developers would update the classics to accommodate mobile players as well.

Thankfully there are some newer versions of the game, but they may not be available at every casino. Worst case scenario? You have to go chasing for a decent mobile version.

The best Video Poker online casinos

Naturally we also check all our reviewed online casinos for the availability of Video Poker. We’ll mention if it is available and whether you find a decent number of games or perhaps just a handful. Two or three may always be available, though we have found that Video Poker doesn’t always get its own category or at the very least a filter. That makes these games a little more difficult to find. Often you will get at least a version of Jacks or Better, though.

Other casinos feature their own section for Video Poker, however, and some casinos focus especially on Poker games, including Casino Poker and, of course, Poker networks. Those casinos tend to have a great Video Poker offering as well.

Check out the review for the casino you’re interested in and we’ll tell you whether or not Video Poker can be played there.

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