Whether there’s no poker room at the nearby casino or you’d just rather play from your sofa, video poker offers some fun and a chance to win for anyone seeking to hit that flush, full house, or royal flush. Usually grouped with slots in online gambling sites, video poker is based on Five-Card Draw with numerous game options and bonuses available.
Before you grab your lucky rabbit’s foot and take a seat, check out our guide to video poker below so you know what to expect when playing the game.
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Video poker basics
Many people who don’t play slot machines do enjoy video poker — it can be less intimidating than table games and some simply prefer to have options outside of just spinning reels.
Players are dealt five cards and can choose which cards to keep and which to replace. Catch a few nice cards and rack up a nice payout; miss on your draw and the hand is a loser. The idea is to be the player with the strongest hand. A royal flush — a hand containing an ace, king, queen, jack, and 10 all of the same suit — is the best possible outcome. Other strong hands include:
Straight flush – A sequence of five cards of the same suit
Four of a kind – All four cards of the same rank (four queens, for example)
Full house – Three of a kind plus a matching pair
Flush – Five same-suit cards that aren’t in a sequence
Straight – Five cards in a sequence but not of the same suit
Winning payouts depend which version of the game you’re playing. Pay tables show how much players can win for each hand such as a full house, four of a kind, and a royal flush.
These are a few common video poker games:
• Deuces Wild – In this classic game, all 2s are wild and can be substituted for any card to complete a hand. Players can even earn some nice cash for four deuces.
• Jacks or Better – This is one of the most common video poker games, in which a player must draw a pair of jacks or higher to earn a payout. No wild cards can mean bigger payouts.
• Jokers Wild – Like the common dealer’s choice poker home game, there is one joker that is wild and can help secure a nice hand.
Along with deciding which cards to keep in hopes of hitting a jackpot, players must also decide how much to wager. There are usually five options with the maximum bet paying out the biggest jackpots. Video poker also offers a range of bet denominations such as a quarter and up to a dollar and higher.
Options & Strategy
Beyond the games played and bets, video poker players can choose “Bonus” and “Double Bonus” varieties, both of which can offer higher payouts for certain hands and pay out a larger percentage of money in the long run if a player can play perfect strategy.
A somewhat newer addition is the option to play multi-hand video poker. In this option a place can play several hands at the same time. A player will be dealt a hand and then after drawing the other hands will receive random cards allowing for even more paydays. Multi-play ranges from only a few hands to as many as 100.
Another thing to know about video poker is that unlike a slot machine, player choices make a real difference in how a session turns out in the long run. Like blackjack, it’s important that players know basic strategy formulated by gaming experts who’ve run calculations accounting for every draw possible in each game.
For example, Jacks or Better can offer some of the best odds in a casino for those who follow basic strategy. A key principle is to keep any winning hand and not discard an automatic winner in hopes of something bigger. An exception is when a player is dealt four cards with a royal flush draw. With a big payout, pitching in a pair is worth a small loss in hopes of a big reward.
There are numerous sources online to learn basic Strategy and give yourself a better chance to really win some money at video poker.
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Things to remember
Be sure to look for games in the casino and when gambling online that offer the best payouts. Some machines even within the same casino will have very different payout schemes. Be a smart player and look for the most advantageous opportunities.
Some games also offer progressive payouts and are worth playing when they’re an option. A jackpot on a progressive machine offers a chance at a huge jackpot if you do hit one of those top hands such as a royal flush.
When it comes to betting, most experts recommend playing the maximum amount whenever possible to maximize returns. A payout at the highest level of bet is much greater than at lower denominations, obviously, but also usually offers a bigger payout than an incremental increase and higher bonuses for bigger hands. For example, a machine may pay 250, 500, 750, and 1,000 units for the first four rows on the payscale for a player who lands a royal flush. However, that same hand will often pay 4,000 units when a player is wagering the highest amount.