Video Poker – Ultimate Guide

Combining the best elements of both poker and slot machines video poker is a highly popular and exciting game played all over the world. Casino enthusiasts who play at online and land-based casinos find that video poker has the most perfect blend of luck, strategy, and skill.

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While slots can be a relaxing and entertaining experience some players like to play the casino games where they can control the destiny of the outcome by playing with a degree of strategy. Unlike traditional poker, it doesn’t take long to learn the rules for video poker and as you aren’t competing with other people you can play at your own pace.

In this ultimate video poker guide, you’ll discover why it’s such a popular and outstanding game. You’ll learn how to play the game in just a few minutes and we disclose the best tips and strategies to use. If you’ve never signed up to an online casino before we have you covered with our list of the top-rated trusted sites that have the best games as well as the most generous bonuses on offer.

The Best Online Casinos to Play Video Poker

If you are going to play video poker online for real money you need to find a site that you can trust. In the past, there were many rogue online casinos that were designed for the purpose of stealing your hard-earned cash. These days not so many of these rogue casinos exist but you still need to be vigilant.

Luckily for our Arabian visitors, our team of online casino experts has researched hundreds, if not thousands of sites to find the best available. Each online site they visit has to offer a top-notch service to be included on our list of best casinos. Firstly they look at the security of the site and make sure that they have encryption technology in place to protect the safety of the player’s personal and financial data. The sites will also be required to be licensed and regulated by the relevant authorities.

Safety, of course, is paramount and without the above safeguards in place, they will not be included in the list but our dedicated team also looks at the casino to make sure it offers a great user experience. They ensure that there is a wide range of payment methods available and that winnings can be withdrawn with no issues. The casino should be easy to navigate and have plenty of classic and new video poker games available to play. We expect 24-7 customer service that is friendly and professional with staff that are knowledgeable enough to answer our questions. Last but not least we expect the top-rated casinos to offer great welcome bonuses and ongoing promotions for their real money players.

If all the above sounds like the sort of online casino you wish to play at then choose any of our recommendations to make certain you are playing at the best.

What is Video Poker?

Video poker is a simple arcade-style casino game that can be played both online and offline. It merges slots and 5-card draw poker to produce a unique and exciting game that appeals to those who prefer a degree of skill involved in their casino games. Rather than just pushing a button and waiting for fate players can test out strategies to narrow the odds in their favor.

Video poker games use a random number generator [RNG] to determine a fair outcome for each game. It simulates the shuffling and dealing of a deck of cards but basically it is an algorithm that is producing hundreds of random numbers per second. As soon as the player hits the deal button the outcome is predetermined. The RNG is designed to be both random and fair. To prevent any chances of an RNG being rigged casinos are regularly subjected to tests by independent auditors such as eCOGRA who will shut the casino down at the mere hint of any wrongdoing.

Why Play Video Poker?

Video poker offers just the right amount of challenge with its simple to grasp rules. You don’t have to take into consideration what other players are doing; it’s just you against the virtual game or RNG playing at the pace of your choice.

Video poker has some of the best odds in the casino with a payback percentage of 99.54% for the most popular game of Jacks or Better. So for every $100 that player bets they can expect to get back winnings of $99.54 on average if they are playing skillfully and with maximum bets. You should always check the pay tables of video poker games as different variants will have different payback percentages.

How To Play Video Poker

There are plenty of variants of video poker to play but the best one to start with is Jacks or Better. This is the most popular of the video poker games and will be found at all the best online casinos. It’s also straightforward and easy to learn for players new to the game. As we discussed earlier it also has great odds with a payback percentage of 99.54% giving a super low house advantage of just 0.46%.

How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better is played with a standard shuffled 52 card deck.

You will first of all need to make a wager. You will have the option of betting between 1 to 5 coins on your card hand. If you want to achieve the maximum payout on your qualifying hands you will need to click on the max bet button.

When you have selected your bet you click on the Deal button to be dealt a five-card hand. Depending on the cards you have in your hand you will decide which ones to hold and discard. We will discuss strategy and the card values shortly. You will then click the draw button for your final card hand. If you have a qualifying hand you will be paid out your winnings as matches the pay table.

That is how simple it is! The first 5 cards are all down to luck and you will have no strategic input in this initial deal. The strategy comes into play when you decide which cards to hold before the draw. The great part about playing online is that there is no rush to make a decision, so you can take your time considering your strategy regarding which cards to hold or not.

Jacks or Better Hand Rankings

These are the qualifying card hands from highest to lowest with Jacks or Better

Royal Flush – If you are dealt with the 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same card suit. Be aware If you play with 5 coins when playing Jacks or Better you will get 800:1 odds and if you bet 1-4 coins you get 250:1 so it’s always best to play max bets.

If you bet 1, 2, 3, or 4 coins, you get 250 for 1 on a royal flush.

But if you bet 5 coins, you get 800 for 1 with a royal flush.

Straight Flush – This hand ranking consists of 5 cards from the same suit in sequence.

Four of a Kind – four cards of the same rank such as four 7’s or four Kings.

Full House – 3 of a kind and a pair.

Flush – Any five cards from the same suit, they are not required to run consecutively

Straight – Five cards in sequence from any suit

Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank

Two Pair – Two pairs of two cards of the same rank, an example of a 5 card hand would be 3, 3, 5, 7, 7

Jacks or Better – This is, of course, the qualifying card hand the game is named from. This hand must consist of 2 Jacks or anything better namely Queens, Kings, or Aces.

Video Poker Strategy For Beginners

While it is very easy to let emotions rule your head when you are playing video poker if you stick with these strategies below you will be playing a game that is based on maths and probability that will narrow your odds.

Basic Strategies

Here are some of the basic strategies for beginners to apply when playing Jacks or Better for optimal play.

If you hold four cards of a Straight or Flush keep hold of them all and draw just one more card.

If you hold three cards of a Royal Flush, hold on to them and draw another two cards.

If you hold three cards of a Straight Flush click the hold button on all three and draw another two.

When no cards in your hand match up then hold any card that is Jack or better!

If no cards in your hand match and you don’t have Jacks or better then don’t hold any and draw a new five.

Playing Low and high Pairs

The strategies below will show you exactly what you need to do when your hand contains low pairs [2-10] and High Pairs [ J, Q, K, A].

When to keep the low pairs

As the lowest qualifying pair value is two Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces in Jacks or Better, we need to follow a strategy for low pairs [2-10].

If you are dealt four to a Straight and are dealt a low pair you should always keep the pair. For instance, if you were dealt 4-4-5-6-7 you should hold the two 4’s and discard the rest.

If you are dealt three to a Straight Flush that includes a low pair, you will keep the pair. An example would be if you were dealt with this video poker card hand 4, 5, 5, 6, 9 you would keep the two 5’s.

If you have two cards to a Royal flush and a low pair, once again keep hold of that pair!

When to discard the low pairs

If you have been dealt three to a Royal Flush and a low pair you’d be crazy to miss the opportunity to go for that big win. So discard the low pair and hold the other three. An example would be you have two 4’s and 8, 9, and Queen of Hearts you would discard the fours.

You’ll want to break the low pair if you have four to a flush. Such as if you had this video poker hand: 4 Clubs, 4 Spades, 6 Clubs, 7 Clubs, and King of Clubs. Get rid of that 4 of spades and hope for another Club.

When to hold the high pairs

If you hold a high pair and four to a flush, keep hold of the Jacks or better and draw three new cards.

When you have four to a straight and a high pair the optimum strategy is to hold the high pair.

The temptation will be there when you have three to a Royal Flush, but if you hold a high pair keep hold of them as the probability is just too slim to qualify for that Royal Flush.

When you have three to a Straight Flush and your hand also includes Jacks or better, holding on to the pair is the best strategy.

When to discard a high pair

There is only one time when you should discard your high pair and this is when you have four to a Royal Flush.

Video Poker Tips

Free Video Poker – Before you play real money video poker the best way to learn the game and test the strategies without having to worry about spending your bankroll is to take advantage of the free play games at online casinos. You can also try out the different variations of video poker to see which one you prefer. Once you have a good understanding of video poker you can try your hand at the real money games and make use of any bonuses or promotions that are offered by the casino to boost your winnings.

Max Bets – If you want to be in line for the biggest payouts when playing video poker then always play the max bets option this is usually 5 coins. If you can’t manage the max bet for one game there is sure to be another option at the online casino with lower limits where you can afford to play at.

Full Pay Video Poker Games – When playing video poker there are full pay and short pay games. The ones with the best returns are the full pay games. For instance, with 9/6 Jacks or Better the player is returned 9 to 1 for a Full House and 6 to 1 for a flush. If you see returns lower than this on the paytable then it will be a short pay game. You also need to understand that full-pay will be different if you are playing other variations of video poker.

Online vs Real Live Video Poker

Some casino games such as craps have a big social element to them so they might benefit from being played at a land-based casino. With video poker, you are playing solo just you against the machine so there is no real difference between playing on a computer or mobile device or at a real casino, for both the outcome will be determined by the RNG.

What online video poker offers is much more variety with dozens of video poker variations available to play. The biggest advantage is the convenience you can play video poker at any time of the day or night. As long as you have an Internet connection you’ll be able to play from home or when you are out and about. You’ll never have to wait for your turn to play when online there will always be video poker games available for you to play for free or real money.

Online casinos will also offer fantastic welcome bonuses when new players sign up to their sites and make a deposit. With this sign up bonus and other great promotions you will receive for being a loyal customer you can grow your bankroll and use it to play for real money winnings.

Types of Video Poker Games To Play

We have looked at Jacks or Better which is the most popular of the video poker games but there are many other great variations to enjoy. These are just a few of the diverse options available to play.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is an extremely popular video poker variation, second only to Jacks or Better. The gameplay is very similar using a 52 card deck but in this variant, the 2’s become wild cards. These wild cards can be used to stand in for any card you wish to form a winning hand. The lowest qualifying hand in Deuces Wild is Three of a Kind and the highest is still a Natural Royal Flush but you also can win with a Wild Royal Flush using you deuce cards though it obviously pays out a lot less.

Joker Poker

You might also see this video poker game called Joker Wilds, this is played with a 53 card deck, and as you have probably guessed the joker is the wild card and can be used as a substitute to make a winning hand. You’ll find that in most instances the lowest qualifying hand a player can make in Joker Poker is a pair of Kings.

Aces and Eights

This video poker game isn’t a great deal different from Jacks or Better the main difference being that if you have a Four of a Kind that contains either four Aces or four Eights you receive a higher payout.

Progressive Jackpot Video Poker

Some video poker games now offer progressive jackpots. When you play the game with a progressive jackpot a small amount of the player’s wager goes into a pot for the prize. The jackpot grows with each new player until someone gets the winning hand. Usually, you will have to play maximum credits to enter the progressive jackpot. Some of the progressive jackpots for video poker offer life-changing prizes which makes them extra exciting to play.

Other popular variants include; Loose Deuces, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, and Pick’em Poker.

Final Thoughts

Video poker will always be a much-loved game to play at the casino. If you are looking for a game that will challenge but not baffle you, has a low house edge, as well as providing you with plenty of excitement then video poker can offer you all that and more.