With expected returns on some games going over 100%, video poker is the most player friendly casino games going.
With royal flush payouts ranging from 250x your bet to over 4000x, the ubiquitous combination of skill and luck has never been more apparent, albeit the game is weighted towards the skilful player.
The object of the game is simple; to create the highest possible poker hand by holding and burning (discarding) the cards you are given. After you've had the opportunity to do this, the game pays out based on your hand.
The key to a good video poker game is the paytable; examine it carefully before you even think about playing. The information contained in it is critical to your play. To find out what to look for in a paytable, head to our video poker strategy section.
Some other points to consider include:
- There are lots of variations of video poker; Jacks or Better is generally accepted as the standard form.
- The paytable shows you all you need to know about what the best games are (9/6 games are preferable).
- Some casinos have over 55 different games. Multi-hand variations are popular and offer more excitement.
- Betting limits range greatly from 25p up to £5 and more. Be sure to check the default setting before you start in case it's a little out of your budget.
The Basic Rules of Video Poker
As there are so many different variations of video poker it would be impossible to list all the different rules here. That said, the game play narrative on most versions stays the same. We've whittled down the basic rules to the following:
- A standard 52 deck of playing cards is used. In games like Jokers Wild and Joker Poker, jokers are also used.
- The player makes a bet, then the game will deal five random cards from the 52 deck face up.
- The player then selects what cards, if any, they wish to hold.
- Cards that are not held are discarded.
- The game then deals a new set of cards from the same 52 deck to replace the cards that weren't held by the player.
- The five cards the player has are then referenced against the game's paytable and any matches are paid accordingly.
Online Video Poker
It is an unfortunate generalisation when playing video poker in an online casino that the game is nowhere near as advantageous for the player as it is in a real casino. However, there can be cases where the paytables are altered to favour the house.
Even though a version of the popular variation Jacks or Better may appear to offer full pay (that is 9/6 for the full house and flush), the paytable may be weaker than you think. If other premium hands such as four of a kind and straight flush have lower payouts, then this reduces the overall return significantly.
So significantly in fact, that even in some of the most popular versions of video poker, which offer pay-backs very close to one hundred per cent in most real casinos, online versions can dip into the low nineties if there's enough paytable manipulation.
That's why you have to be wary, even if an online casino advertises a game as 9/6 Jacks or Better. If you're serious about having a good chance of winning when playing video poker, we advise that you shop around very carefully when selecting a game to play. To find out more about selecting a video poker variation, head to our How to Play Video Poker page.
Video poker pointers
- Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker and Pick 'Em Poker are the classics and still the best in our option
- Understanding a video poker paytable is key, if you don't see one, don't play it
- There are hundreds of variations of video poker. Each is slightly different, so be sure to understand the differences before you play
- Played well, video poker is the most rewarding of all casino games bar none
- Unlike slots a clear head is required at all times to play the game well
Gain an Advantage over the Casino
It's a misconception that all casino games are weighted in the favour of the casino. When it comes to video poker, by playing the right game, taking advantage of bonuses or promotions and implementing optimal strategy you can actually create a theoretical return of more than 100%.
However, this is much easier than done. First off you have to select a game which has a generous paytable, which requires you to do your homework. Then you need to hunt down a video poker bonus or promotion which allows you to fulfil wagering requirements by playing this variation of video poker – believe us this is harder than it sounds.
Finally, there's the small matter of applying an optimal strategy that will take you over the top. There are optimal strategies for just about every single video poker variation and for some there are even two. While they can be a pain to follow, strategies such as the Full-Pay Deuces Wild optimal strategy give you a theoretical return of 100.80% making them well worth using.
To find out more about the different video poker strategies that can be used online, check out our Video Poker Strategy page.
God Technology we Trust
It took some time for technology to have an impact on casino gambling. But better late than never, in the 1970s along with the now popular video games came video poker.
It first appeared after Dale Electronics introduced the legendary Poker-Matic video poker game which was the first ever casino game to be controlled by electronic circuit boards. The rise of video poker was then further helped by the creation of the first video slot in 1975. Initially, trust was an issue as players thought the machines were rigged because they couldn't actually see what was going on. However, over time people's faith in machines has increased.
1979 saw the introduction of Draw Poker which became much more popular than previous video poker games. Draw Poker was made by SIRCOMA, now called IGT, and was the first video casino game which players trusted. There's no doubt that Draw Poker helped IGT to become one of the biggest casino game manufactures in the world.
The 1990s witnessed rapid improvements in the quality of video poker games as well as a huge increase in the number of games available. This was largely thanks to the emergence of the internet, chip and screen technology.
Not only did this make it easier for video poker players to access their favourite games but it also meant that graphics improved considerably. You may have even played an early 'arcade-style' version of video poker in your local pub.
Ever since online casinos began to offer video poker, the game has continued to flourish with new versions being created on a near monthly basis.