How to Play Video Poker
To begin a video poker game, you simply need to press the DEAL button on the machine that you have decided to play. The screen will then deal you a hand of five playing cards, and you will be given the chance to discard as few or as many of those cards as you wish
while retaining the others. The cards that have been discarded will then be replaced with different cards, and the new hand of five cards will then be assessed to see whether or not it is a winner.
A full house in video poker on Jacks or Better by Netent
The aim in this game is to get the highest-ranked poker
hand that you can. While the hands that win prizes can and do vary slightly from game to game (as we will explain shortly), the majority of video poker games will award prizes for the following hands, which are presented here in the order of most valuable to least valuable:
- Royal Flush: 10, J, Q, K, A, all in the same suit, but in any order on the screen.
- Straight Flush: Any five consecutively ranked cards (such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) in the same suit, but in any order on the screen.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, such as 2, 2, 2, 2 or J, J, J, J.
- Full House:Three cards of one matching rank and two cards of another matching rank, such as A, A, A, K, K or 2, 2, 2, 6, 6.
- Flush: Any five cards in the same suit.
- Straight: Any five consecutively ranked cards, in any order on the screen.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
- Two Pair: Two cards of one matching rank, and two cards of another matching rank, such as A, A, K, K, 3 or 4, 4, K, 6, 6.
- Jacks or Better: Any hand containing a pair of jacks or better.
In standard video poker, cards are ranked 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, with the ace (A) being the most valuable card in the deck. That said, the ace can also count as a 1 to make a straight or straight flush; hence A, 2, 3, 4, 5 of hearts would be a winning straight flush.
The better the hand you make in a game of video poker, the bigger your prize will be, with the top prize being awarded for making a royal flush
Video Poker Variations
There are many different video poker variations, which can give you different odds of completing a winning hand
. For example, in a game called Deuces Wild, the four deuces in the deck all serve as ‘wild cards,’ which means that they can stand in as a substitute for any other card. Similarly, in a game of Joker’s Wild, the deck will also contain a joker card that serves as a wild.
Other common variations can make it easier for you to win a prize (for example, Tens or Better will pay you for one pair of 10’s or better) or award bonuses for making certain hands at the higher levels.
Why You Should Play
Video poker games are well worth playing for a couple of reasons. The first is that, unlike slots, they can be played strategically, bringing an element of skill into the game
. The more skilled a player is in knowing which cards to retain and which to discard after the initial deal, the more chance they will have of winning.
The second good reason to play video poker is related to the first, because the more skilled a player is, the lower the house edge against him will be. In many games, the theoretical Return to Player percentage can be 98%, 99% or even higher
if a player learns to play according to the best possible strategy.
Given the huge potential RTP percentages of video poker games, perhaps it isn’t surprising that casinos don’t promote them very much. After all, why promote a game that gives 99% of takings back to players when you have plenty of other games that only return 96% or even less?
Welcome Bonus Treatment
Because the RTP percentages are higher in video poker than in most other games, many casinos stipulate that any money bet on video poker will not count towards meeting their welcome bonus wagering requirements
. Even those venues that do allow video poker play to count towards wagering requirements tend to dramatically reduce the overall contribution that video poker can make towards those requirements. In short, don’t expect video poker to help you meet your wagering thresholds for
Video Poker Strategy
While it can be fun to play Video Poker in a very casual way, as you would a slot machine, it is much more engaging - and potentially more rewarding - to have some kind of strategy. This will help you make good decisions about which cards to discard and which to keep for every hand.
A Simple Strategy for Beginners
There are lots of Video Poker strategies out there, but if you are new to the game, you will want to adopt a fairly simple strategy that can help you to win more often while avoiding some common mistakes. Luckily, we have such a strategy, so commit the following rules to memory or write them down on a piece of paper so that you can use it as a handy ‘cheat sheet.’
- Whenever you have a winning hand of four or five cards (Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush or Straight), hold all of those cards and take the win.
- The only exception to the above rule is when you have a Flush or a Straight, which is only a 10 or an A away from being a Royal Flush. In that case, you can either take the Flush or Straight as it stands, or you can discard one card in the hope of getting the 10 or A needed to make a Royal Flush. In addition, if you were to miss the Royal Flush, you could still make a Flush or a Straight again.
- Whenever you have a Three of a Kind, discard the other two cards. This will guarantee you at least the Three of a Kind win while also making it possible for you to improve the hand to a Full House or Four of a Kind.
- Whenever you have a pair of Jacks or better, hold the Pair and discard the other three cards in the hope of improving it to Three of a Kind, a Full House or Four of a Kind.
- The only exception to the above rule is when you are just one card away from achieving a Royal Flush, Straight Flush or Flush, in which case you could consider sacrificing one Jack in the hope of achieving one of these more valuable hands.
Video Poker Bankroll Management
Simply throwing money into a Video Poker game and hoping to get lucky straight away is never as effective as having a sensible approach to bankroll management. The most serious Video Poker players tend to adjust their bankrolls according to the features of the specific game that they intend to play and the length of time that they want their sessions to last for, but such lengths aren’t necessary for those who are relatively new to the game.
A better rule of thumb for beginning Video Poker players is simply having a fixed bankroll for the session, which is 100 times the amount of money you want to bet on each hand
. This should give you around an hour or two of playing time, depending on how your luck fares along the way.
One of the Best Games Around
Given that casinos like to keep video poker quiet, and that they don’t often allow you to play it to unlock welcome bonuses, it’s safe to say that this is a great game for players. You’ll have to develop some skills in order to maximize your chances of winning, but if you are willing to do that, video poker can be just as rewarding as it is enjoyable to play.
You can play video poker games developed by Microgaming, Play'n Go and Netent and you can find them in most casino lobbies available in Canada.