Video poker is one of the simplest casino games to learn and one of the most entertaining games to play, providing the best chances of winning in terms of odds. There are hundreds of video poker machines available in land-based casinos and even more variations available online. In this guide, we will explain how to play video poker, and walk you through the different video poker hand rankings to ensure you have a proper understanding of the game before trying your luck for real money.
How To Play Video Poker?
Almost every video poker machine, online or land-based, are variations of five-card draw poker. Five-card draw is the most basic form of video poker, and most varieties of the game are based on Jacks or Better. There is no dealer’s hand or player hand to beat when playing video poker, and payouts are made according to a paytable available above the screen in land-based casinos or displayed above the cards when playing online.
Unlike slot machines, video poker offers an element of skill, allowing players to make decisions that would affect the overall outcome. Below is a screenshot of NetEnt’s Jacks or Better Double Up game. Because cards need to be dealt with from a randomly shuffled deck of 52 cards, players can devise the optimal strategy, calculate the frequency of combinations, and know the possible outcomes. If you can skillfully play the best video poker machines, your odds of winning will rival any table game.
The most basic video poker game, Jacks or Better, in its full-pay version, can return 99.5% along with optimal play over the long-term. Video poker also has the same rules as five-card draw poker. Simply deposit your funds to make a bet. You will then receive five cards on the screen, and the objective is to form the best possible poker hand. Since it’s a draw game, you will have one opportunity to improve your hand by discarding from one to five cards from your initial hand.
New cards will replace the discarded cards from the deck, and the final hand will be displayed. The machine will then payout according to the pay schedule posted in or on the device.
The Different Hands
It is crucial to learn the different video poker hands, especially if you are new to video poker. I will now walk you through each video poker hand from the strongest to the lowest paying hand in the game. The basic rules of blackjack also apply to the dealer. The dealer can pay out winning bets, but will not be able to take insurance. A dealer also can’t double down, surrender, or split their hand. They are also limited by how they stand or hit. A Dealer will always stand on 17 and hit on 16 in most casinos.
- Royal Flush: This is the most substantial hand you will get in video poker and consists of a five-card hand displaying 10-J-Q-K-A, all in the same suit. An example can be 10-J-Q-K-A of spades. This hand usually pays 250 times your total stake.
- Straight Flush: This hand consists of five sequential cards, all in the same suit. An example can be 6-7-8-9-10 of spades. This hand usually pays out 60 times your total stake.
- Four of a Kind: This hand consists of four cards of the same value. An example can be Q-Q-Q-Q-8. This hand usually pays 30 times your total stake.
- Full House: This hand consists of two cards of the same value and another three cards of the same amount. An example can be 7-7-7-6-6. This hand usually pays out nine times your total stake.
- Flush: This hand consists of five non-sequential cards of the same suit. An example can be 3-6-8-9-K of spades. This hand usually pays six times your total stake.
- Straight: This hand consists of five sequential cards in a variety of suits. An example can be 4-5-6-7-8, not suited. This hand usually pays four times your total stake.
- Three of a Kind: This hand consists of three cards of the same value. An example can be 7-7-7-Q-4. This hand usually pays out three times your total stake.
- Two Pair: This hand consists of two pairs. An example can be 7-7-4-4-A. This hand usually pays out two times your total stake.
- Pair: This hand consists of two cards with the same value. An example can be 7-7-4-3-2. This hand usually pays out 1x your total stake.