Video Poker 101

Although “video poker” sounds a lot like “poker,” the two games are only loosely related. Both use a 52 card deck, and both use standard poker hand rankings, but besides that there is little in common. This article will introduce you to video poker, explain how to play, and provide a few strategy tips to get you started.

What is Video Poker?

Video poker is a US online casino game that pits the player against the casino. This is different from normal poker which pits players against other players. Since you’re playing against the casino there is of course a house edge on the game, usually between 0.5%-5% depending on the specific game and pay table.

Video poker most resembles five card draw, as you’re initially dealt five cards then have the option of drawing new ones if you wish. If your hand qualifies for a payout after the draw then you win.

How to Play Video Poker

Video poker is actually a very simple game to play. Every game starts with you inserting your money into the machine, whether you’re playing online or offline. Then, you select how many coins you’d like to bet per hand. Coins are just a multiple of the machine’s bet. If you’re at a $5 machine playing four coins per hand, you’re actually betting $20 per hand. Coins are slightly confusing, but know that you should always play five coins (the maximum) because there are big bonuses for making royal flushes while betting five coins. The royal flush bonus accounts for a large percentage of the expected return.

After you’ve inserted your money and selected your coins per hand, click “Deal” to start the game. You’ll receive five cards (unless you’re playing a seven card variant). You now need to analyze your hand and select what cards you’d like to keep, and what cards you’d like to return for new ones. To keep a card, click “Hold” underneath the individual card. Once you’ve selected which cards you’ll be holding, click “Draw” to receive your new cards.

If your final hand qualifies for a payout, you’ll win the number of credits specified by the pay table for the machine.

Video Poker Pay Tables

The next thing you need to know is that pay tables differ for each video poker game, and even vary between different machines that offer the same game. For example, there are a few different pay tables for Jacks or Better video poker. There is the full pay table that offers the best payouts and odds, then there is also a handful of low pay versions that cut a few payouts and reduce players’ odds drastically.

When you’re selecting a video poker game you should analyze the pay table and make sure it is a full pay version. If you can’t find a full pay game, try to find something that is as close as possible. Keep in mind that if a game pays less for the more common hands like three of a kind or a straight it has much worse odds than a normal full pay game. If a game only cuts the higher payouts it won’t be quite as bad.

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