Video Poker is a mixture of Stud Poker and a slot machine with a few wild cards thrown in. It’s fast, almost like playing Stud, and you’ve got a huge range of options. You can choose Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, All American, Joker Poker or a number of other variations. Each game has its own personality and rewards a particular kind of play.
Also, the machines let you play anything from 1 through 5 coins, with the payoffs improving at the high end of the scale. So if you know your Poker hands and take the time to learn your game, Video Poker can be fast, fun, and rewarding.
Old Poker salts should keep in mind that each game has its own strategy. All American, for example, pays better than the others on straights and flushes, so that will effect your approach to card selection. When I first started playing Video Poker, I thought it would be a lonely hearts version of the real thing. Not so. The games do indeed have their own individual winning strategies, and taking the time to learn your game means better payoffs.
As with all forms of Poker, the player aims to get the best hand possible. The payoffs are marked right on the face of the Video Poker machine so it’s a fast lesson in what the hand ranks are. All Video Poker variations rank hands the same, though a given variation may add an extra rank or two.
As you would expect from a slots version of Poker, betting is pretty straightforward in Video Poker. On any given machine you can typically choose $0.25, $0.50, $1, or $5 games. And the bets are 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x (Max Bet) whichever game you’re playing. So if you’re playing a $1 game, you can place bets of $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5.
The first thing to note is that the game face shows you the payoff for each betting level. Invariably playing Max Bet pays off better, overall, than any of the lower multiples. Smart players pick the betting level they are comfortable with and choose their game accordingly.
In other words, if you’re comfortable with a $5 bet, then pick a $1 machine and play at Max Bet for $5. If $25 bets are more your speed, pick a $5 game because Max Bet (5x) puts you at the $25 level. In either case, you’re getting the best payoff odds you can for that game. This is similar to Slots strategy.
Also of key importance is the fact that the payoff ratios vary from game to game. Where Jacks or Better may pay 25:1 for Four Of A Kind, All American typically pays 30:1 and Joker Poker only pays 20:1. These ratios do not necessarily reflect the true odds, so again, knowing your game helps you play smarter.
Basic Poker Hands
Video Poker is a simplified poker game played on a machine. In order to understand the game, it is first necessary to understand basic poker hands.
A poker hand consists of 5 cards. The Ace is considered the highest card, followed by Kings, Queens, Jacks, etc. The lowest card is a two. The object of the game is to get the best hand possible. The various poker hands are described below from lowest to highest:
- No pair – The lowest hand, containing 5 separate cards that do not match up to create any of the hands below.
- One pair – If two of the five cards are of the same value, it is a one pair. Example: two jacks.
- Two pair – Two pairs in the same hand, such as two 8’s and two 5’s.
- Three of a kind – Three cards of the same value. Example: three aces.
- Straight – Five consecutive cards, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. They need not be of the same suit. An Ace can be used in two ways. It can be a “1” card in a A, 2, 3, 4, 5 hand, or it can also be placed above the King in an 10, J, Q, K, A sequence.
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit. They do not have to be in any order.
- Full House – 3 cards of the same value, along with a pair. Example: Three Kings and two Aces.
- Four of a Kind – Four cards with the same value, such as four jacks.
- Straight Flush – This is both a straight and a flush in one hand. Five cards must be in sequential order AND they must be of the same suit.
- Royal Flush – The best possible hand in poker. You’ll rarely ever see this hand. It is an A, K, Q, J, and 10, all in the same suit.
Basic Video Poker
The first thing you must remember about Video Poker is that you are NOT playing against other players, as in traditional poker. You are playing against the machine. This means that all you have to do is get a certain hand or better in order to get paid. You don’t need to outsmart anyone. But you have to play smart.
Video poker is basic draw poker. Here’s how it goes:
You wager a certain number of coins/credits, usually between 1 and 5. The machine then deals you five cards. You can keep or discard as many cards as you like. To keep a card, click the “hold” button underneath the card. When you have selected the cards you want to hold, click on “deal/draw.” The cards not being held are replaced with new cards. If your new set of cards contains a winning hand, you get paid.
Aces And Faces Rules
The video poker game ‘Aces & Faces’ is standard video poker with extra high payouts for “Four of a Kind” payouts made of Aces or Face cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks). The game has no wild card.
Deuces And Joker Rules
The name of the game “Deuces & Joker Poker” refers to the fact that the deuces in the pack (those cards with a face value of 2) can stand in for any other card of any suit and that there is a 53rd card which is a joker. It’s like having 5 jokers in one pack! Whenever you get a joker or one or more deuces in your final hand, the computer will automatically assign a suit and value to it to give you the highest possible payout in light of the other cards that you are holding. This ensures that it is a lot easier to create potentially winning hands.
Deuces Wild Rules
In the Deuces Wild version of Video Poker, all deuces are treated as wild cards. This means that whenever you get a 2, you can use that card as any card you like. You can therefore change it’s face value and/or suit to work with the hand you have. With Deuces Wild, you have a far better chance of getting good hands. The casino compensates for this by offering a tighter payout schedule. You only get paid with a three of a kind or better.
Below is a typical payout schedule for Deuces Wild:
- Royal Flush – varies
- Four Deuces – 200
- Royal Flush w/Deuces – 25
- Five of a Kind – 15
- Straight Flush – 9
- Four of a Kind – 5
- Full House – 3
- Flush – 2
- Straight – 2
- Three of a Kind – 1
Double Joker Rules
Double Joker Poker is played with a 54-card deck, instead of the normal 52 cards. The extra cards are Jokers and are wild cards. A Joker stands in for cards of any denomination and suit to complete a winning hand. Whenever you are dealt a Joker, it is automatically assigned a denomination and suit. This gives you the highest possible payout for the cards you are holding.
Joker Poker Rules
Double Joker Poker is played with a 53-card deck, instead of the normal 52 cards. The extra card is a Jokers and it’s wild cards. A Joker stands in for cards of any denomination and suit to complete a winning hand. Whenever you are dealt a Joker, it is automatically assigned a denomination and suit. This gives you the highest possible payout for the cards you are holding.
It’s a very similar game to Double Joker, except that Double Joker has 2 Jokers and Joker Poker only has 1 joker and the games payout tables are slightly different.
Jokers Wild Rules
Jokers Wild is five card draw poker with the addition of one joker. This means you are playing with a 53 card deck instead of 52. The joker is a wild card, and can be played as any card you want.
The existence of a wild card increases your chances of getting a good hand, so the payout schedule is adjusted accordingly. You need a two pair or better to get paid. Below is a table showing typical payouts in Las Vegas.
Louisiana Double Rules
Louisiana Double Poker plays exactly like any other Video Poker except that the deck of cards used contains a special 53rd card. This is the Double Card. If you are holding this card with other cards that form a winning combination the payout of your winning hand is doubled! The doubling is automatic and unconditional (so long as you win of cause.)
Please note that unlike other special cards the Double Card is not wild (i.e. it can not stand in for another card and does not complete a combination.)
Poker Pursuit Rules
Poker Pursuit is a game where you seek to maximize your winnings by wagering between one and three coins on a hand of five cards. To start you will be dealt three cards and you must then decide whether or not to wager another coin or merely call for another card without increasing your bet. The higher your wager the higher the payout you stand to win. The object of the game is to pursue the largest winnings while keeping your losses to a minimum.
Jack or Better Rules
Jack or Better is the most popular version of Video Poker. Basically, you need to get a pair of jacks or better in order to get paid(hence the name).
Let’s assume you bet five coins. If you get a pair of Jacks or better, you get five coins back. The machine might call you are “winner,” but don’t be fooled. You deposited five coins to begin with, and you just got your original five coins back, so you haven’t won anything at this point.
In order to really win, you must get a two pair or higher. The amount of coins you win depends on how high your hand is. A typical payout schedule is shown below:
- Royal Flush – 250 to 800, or *Progressive Jackpot
- Straight Flush – 50
- Four of a Kind – 25
- Full House – 6 to 9
- Flush – 5 to 6
- Straight – 4
- Three of a Kind – 3
- Two Pair – 2
- Pair of Jacks or Better – 1
*There are two types of machines. One will pay you a straight number of coins for the Royal Flush, and the other will pay you a Progressive Jackpot. A Progressive Jackpot simply means that a percentage of each coin dropped in the machine goes into a jackpot, which is paid out to the next recipient of a Royal Flush.
Tens Or Better Rules
Tens or Better video poker is almost the same game as Jacks or Better. The only difference is that the lowest hand in the payout table is a pair of Jacks in Jacks or Better, and a pair of Tens in Tens or Better video poker. So you have more chance of receiving a hand that pays out in Tens or Better. This doesn’t necessarily mean Tens or Better is a ‘better’ game than Jacks or Better in terms of average expected returns, because the payouts for a Full House have been decreased slightly. In fact the Tens or Better variant discussed here is a ‘better’ game than short pay Jacks or Better, but a ‘worse’ game than full pay Jacks or Better. It all depends on the payout tables used.