Video Poker Guide

Video Poker Guide

Video Poker

Video poker is probably the best thing that ever happened to poker players. A lot of players find sitting at a poker table intimidating. Furthermore, playing table poker is nowhere near as convenient as video poker is. It all begun back in the 1970s, when the first video poker machines appeared in bricks and mortar casinos. They became an instant hit due to several reasons. Today, video poker is the most popular casino game with a hands on approach. Although video poker machines look very similar to slot machines, the software they use works differently.

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Why Is Video Poker So Popular?

The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. It’s a skill-based game that is challenging and it offers the highest Return to Player (or short RTP) out of all other casino games. Certain variations of video poker offer as much as 100.8% in returns if played perfectly. We’ll take a look at this topic a little later in this guide. As we said earlier, video poker offers the player anonymity. Players can play whenever they like, how much they like and however they like. Nobody will judge them if they make a wrong decision.

Most of the people you can see playing video poker are usually experienced poker players. Unlike slot players who are just playing the games for fun, video poker players tend to take the game seriously. They’re playing the game to have fun and to make a profit. You can play the game purely out of fun, but there are other games that are way more entertaining than video poker.

In essence, video poker is the game where experienced casino players duel the house and test their overall understanding of the game.

How Does Video Poker Work?

Before you start playing you should adjust the bet size according your play style. Usually video poker machines allow players to place between 1 and 5 coins. Certain video poker variations pay more if you play with 5 coins for instance. However, they pay more only for a given set of combinations such as a royal flush.

5 cards are dealt to the player. The player should keep the cards that are of some value. The rest of the cards can be returned. Players can return all cards, they can keep all, basically return any number of cards if they deem this is the right play to make.

If you decide to keep 2 cards and return 3, you will be given 3 cards in return. Depending on the outcome, or in other words, depending on your hand, a predetermined prize will be awarded, that’s if you’ve won. Besides a different rule set, video poker variations have their own unique pay tables. This is one of the main criteria by which players choose what poker variation they play. Video poker players who prefer to play more aggressively, out of the guidelines laid out in some of the strategies available below, tend to play with 5 coins and strive for that glorious straight flush win which pays more. However, if you wish to play more with proper bet and money management, we recommend you to follow the strategy you can find below.

Video Lottery Terminals (VLT) – Quasi Video Poker

Before we move into greater detail, we must point out that there are quasi video poker machines that can be found at land based casinos. They look like regular video poker machines, but they function like slot machines do. That said, the outcome of the round is predetermined. Even if the player makes the wrong decision a bonus is given and the player wins. On the other hand, if the player made the right decision he was supposed to win, he will receive a card that will not form a winning hand.

If you truly want to experience the thrill of playing video poker and apply skill and knowledge to win you should stay away from these machines. There’s a sign that says VLT on these machines, but it’s not displayed in the most visible place. 

Variations and Types of Video Poker

There are two main types of video poker, one a common video poker game with a standard pay table. The other type comes with a progressive jackpot. The latter is rather rare. Once the jackpot reaches an attractive amount the casino will advertise it in an attempt to attract new players. Furthermore, we can dissect video poker variations into Video Poker with Wilds and Multihand or Multi-play video poker games.

However, games that do not have a progressive jackpot tied to them are still the games that see the most play. The fundamental rules of these variations do not change. The only differences are in the pay table and in the winning conditions. Therefore, all of them are considered as video poker variations, not as standalone games. Here are the most popular video poker variations:

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is among the most popular video poker variations. Players associate Jacks or Better as the standard video poker variation. As the name says a pair of Jacks is the lowest paying winning hand. We will compare the rest of the variations to the pay table Jacks or Better has.

Tens or Better

Besides the difference in the win condition with the 10s becoming the lowest paying hand Tens or Better is pretty much exactly the same as Jacks or Better. Tens or Better just has different full house and flush payouts. Tens or Better has a higher win rate than Jacks or Better due to extra winning conditions, but the RTP is insifignicantly different. Tens or Better is also known as 6/5 Jacks or Better since it pays 6 times the bet for full house and 5 times for flushes.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild also sees a lot of play. All twos have the role of wild. Wilds substitute for any other card to form the highest possible winning poker hand. Video poker variations with wilds or jokers, including Deuces Wild, introduce a new winning combination, five of a kind.

Joker Poker

Instead of having twos as wilds, the deck is extended and includes 2 additional cards that come in the form of Jokers. The jokers substitute for any other hard to form a better winning poker hand.

Bonus Poker

This game is based entirely on Jacks or Better. However, it does pay more for four of a kind hands. The RTP of Bonus Poker is exactly 99.3%. In essence the only difference we can note is the bonus payouts, ergo the name bonus poker.

All American

All American also known as Bally’s All American video poker is also based on jacks or better. It offers higher payouts for straights, straight flushes and flushes. However, you will win less for full houses and two pairs. It used to be very popular few decades ago.

Multi Hand Video Poker (Joker/Wild, Double and Standard)

All versions of multi hand video poker tend to attract a lot of attention. What makes them different? Before the 5 cards are dealt the player selects a number of lines that will be in play. The player is then dealt 5 cards from which he can keep as many as he likes. The cards that are kept are then placed on all lines that are in play. Now, each line or each hand is dealt additional cards. For instance, if the player has kept 3 cards, 2 cards are dealt for each hand.

The player is paid for each winning hand. Multi Hand video poker can be compared with video slots since they have 10, 15, 20 or more pay lines.

What Video Poker Variations Have the Highest RTP?

Since there are different winning conditions, certain video poker variations have different number of cards in their decks, the pay tables are different, it’s reasonable to expect that the RTP will differ.

Let’s take Jacks or Better as a benchmark. It has an RTP of 99.54%. The variation that comes with a higher RTP than the standard Jacks or Better and that’s the most popular among video poker players is Deuces Wild. If played optimally you can expect and RTP of 100.8% when played with 5 credits. The Double Bonus Video Poker stands behind Deuces Wild with an RTP of 100.2%.

We recommend you to play Deuces Wild since you have higher chances of winning due to the presence of wilds.

Standard Video Poker Strategy

If we were to cover each variation separately it’ll take you days to go through all the numbers and the statistic. That’s why we’ve compiled a short list of tips and advice that can be applied in a particular situation. We’re not going to dwell into numbers and percentages that will only confuse you further. It’s rather plain and simple. Hopefully, this will help you to extend your play sessions and end them with a profit.

Depending on the first 5 cards you receive there are several choices you can make. Here are your options.

·       If you don’t have a winning combination whatsoever, nor a high card return all cards

·       If you have a high card in your hand keep it, return the rest

·       If you have two high cards regardless of their suit and value keep them, return the rest

·       If you have two cards that are part of a royal flush keep them, return the rest

·       If you have three cards to a straight flush, keep them, return the rest

·       If you have four cards to a straight, keep them, return the remaining card

·       If you have a low pair, keep it, return the rest

·       If you have four cards to a flush, keep them, return the rest

·       If you have three cards to a royal flush, take the risk, keep them and return the rest

·       Always keep a high pair and return the rest

·       Always keep two pairs and return the remaining card for a potential full house

·       If you have four cards to a straight flush, keep them and return the remaining card

·       A straight in your starting hand, keep them all

·       If you have three of a kind, don’t forget to return the remaining two cards

·       Always keep a flush, a full house, a straight flush, and of course a royal flush

What’s a Low Pair/ High Pair/ High Card

A low pair is a pair of cards that have a value of 9 or lower, whereas a high pair consists of a pair of cards with a value of 10s and above. A High Card includes the Jack, the Queen, the Kind and an Ace.