Welcome to our expert video poker guide. On this page, we have everything you need to learn how and where you should play this classic game online. We also offer free video poker games for you to practise with and provide you with all the information you need to start enjoying real money play.
How to Play Video Poker
Video poker is easy to play, but the rules and strategies of the game can be a bit daunting for new players. The object of the game is to make the best five-card poker hand possible. At the start of the game, you will receive a five-card hand; you can then discard any cards you want once and draw replacements.
You’ll need to make at least a minimum hand to win a prize. For instance, in Jacks or Better video poker, you must make at least a pair of jacks to win. The better the hand, the bigger the reward.
If this is your first time playing, you might not be sure how to get started. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to play video poker online for real money.
The Importance Of The Video Poker Paytable
When playing slots, consulting the paytable before staking any money is vital and the same is true in video poker, where payouts for the various hands can vary widely from game to game.
There are two main classifications of video poker games when it comes to payouts, ‘full pay’ and ‘short pay’, with full-pay machines boasting average RTP (return to player) percentages of over 99%.
Some video poker games will even publicise an RTP of more than 100%. However, it’s important to remember that these percentages are based on the player making the best mathematically possible decision for every hand.
Online video poker paytables should be easily accessible when playing and can usually be found in the specific game’s information or ‘i’ section. Below you’ll find an example paytable commonly found in full-pay ‘Jacks or Better’ video poker.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Playing Video Poker
- Join a video poker site. First, sign up with one of our top online video poker sites. Click through our links to register an account that will let you log into the casino and start playing.
- Make your first deposit. In order to play real money video poker, you’ll need to have money in your account. Head on over to the casino’s cashier section to see a wide range of deposit options, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, prepaid options, e-wallets and much more. Pick a banking method that works for you, submit the requested information, and your deposit should be processed in moments.
- Find your video poker game. Most casinos will have a dedicated tab or section for video poker. That area will feature a number of machines. For this example, we’ll pick Jacks or Better, a common popular machine that you’ll find at any of the best online video poker sites.
- Choose your stakes. Once you’ve picked your machine, you will see options on screen that allow you to choose the denomination of each coin you wish to play for. You can also typically choose between playing one and five coins on each hand.
- Deal the cards. Click the deal button to receive your first five cards. They will appear on the screen.
- Draw new cards. At this point, you may hold any of the five cards you wish to keep. In order to do so, click on a card. The word “hold” should appear. You may hold anywhere from zero to five cards. Once you’re happy with the cards you’ve chosen to hold, click the “deal” or “draw” button to discard the other cards and replace them from the deck.
- See your results. Your discarded cards will leave the screen, and their replacements will appear. The five cards on screen now made up your final hand. If you’ve made a pair of jacks or better, you’ll receive the payout listed on the pay table, which is usually at the top of the screen. When you’re ready to play your next hand, click the deal button again.
Video Poker Hands
There are several winning hands you can make in Jacks or Better video poker. Here’s a rundown of the different combinations that can earn you money on each hand, starting with the most valuable and moving down the list from there.
- Royal Flush. This hand is made up of an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten of the same suit. This is the highest paying hand in Jacks or Better video poker, and often pays at a higher rate if you’re playing for the maximum number of coins.
- Straight Flush. A straight flush is five cards of consecutive rank, all of which are in the same suit. Technically, a royal flush is the best straight flush possible – but in video poker, a royal flush pays more than any other straight flush.
- Straight. A straight is made up of five cards of consecutive ranks, such as eight-nine-ten-jack-queen.
- Three of a Kind. Any hand with three cards of the same rank, such as three aces, makes up a three of a kind.
- Two Pair. A two pair hand contains two cards of one rank, and two cards of another. For instance, a hand with two fives and two eights makes two pair.
- Jacks or Better. Any hand with two cards of the same rank of jack or higher qualifies in this category. In Jacks or Better video poker, this hand is enough to return your initial bet.
Video Poker Strategy Tips
Knowing some video poker strategy tips will get you playing your best possible game and help your skills and bankroll to go further online. Our experts have listed four essential tips that have made all the difference in their gameplay, and which could help you learn how to win the video poker jackpot.
1. Know Your Pay Tables
No two hands are the same in video poker, so it pays to know your pay tables. Luckily, if you’re playing online you don’t need to memorize the pay tables, as you’ll find them clearly displayed at the top of the screen.
2. Play Max Coins
Make the most of your potential winnings and hit the max bet button when you play online video poker. That way, if you get a Royal Flush, you’ll be rewarded with a massive prize.
3. Low Pairs Over a Single High Card
If you get a pair, hold them, even if they are low scoring. It’s always worth keeping hold of a scoring hand, rather than running the risk of winning nothing because you discarded a low pair to chase a potentially better scoring hand.
4. Know When to Break Up a Straight or Flush
If you have a chance of getting a Royal Flush, we’d recommend you break up a straight or flush and go for it. But if not, stick with what you’ve got.
Strategy Basics – Playing at the Right Casino
There’s a lot to get right with a decent game of video poker, and experienced gamblers like to ensure they get a good game by sticking to casinos that meet their set feature requirements. Below we go through some core elements you should check for, and explain why:
High Payout Percentages
This percentage tells you the amount on average a casino pays out. A 97% payout percentage simply means that $97 is paid out for every $100 wagered. Remember, this figure is for the casino overall, and you will not get 97% back on an individual bet you make. It’s still a good idea to look out for a casino that has a higher rate, however.
Weigh Up The Bonus Offers
Bonuses can be very enticing, but not all are created equal. If you are keen on accepting a bonus, make sure you do a little research on the offer itself, and the terms and conditions that apply. Not every video poker fan will be suited to a welcome bonus. Some should wait for promotions to be offered during game play.
How you can use your bonus will normally be dependent on time and playthrough requirements set by the casino. It’s always a good idea to go through the casino site’s bonus requirements before you join. If you don’t have the time to do this, you can count on us to point you in the right direction for those offers relevant to video poker.Tip: Look out for a casino bonus that offers a high figure alongside realistic wagering requirements for your gaming habits.
Don’t Forget About Your Safety
Your safety should be your number one priority. Before you play on any casino you should make sure it offers the best in digital security protocols. The games in the video poker lobby should be independently audited for fairness and random results. Any site lacking this should be immediately overlooked.
Further security methods like firewalls, safe payment options and frequent security checks are comforting complementary factors that can put your mind at ease. If you want to play at the safest video poker casinos, look no further than this page.
Other features you want to look for include a variety of payment methods, low or no transaction fees and fast withdrawals. Round the clock customer support, and proper jurisdiction documentation from recognized gambling bodies is also commendable.
Video Poker Glossary
Don’t get lost in the jargon. We’ve gathered all the terms used in video poker right here. If you’re keen to learn more about different gambling terms check out our extended gambling and casino glossary.
- Action – The total amount of money wagered.
- Bankroll – The total amount of money a player has available to be used for gambling, whether in the form of chips or sitting in your bank account.
- Cash Back – A monetary bonus awarded to a player, in return for playing with a given casino.
- Cycle – The average number of hands that pass between top-payout victories on any given video poker machine – typically through the use of the royal flush. The phrase may seem to imply that there is a predictable number of spins between each top payout, but this interpretation is misleading. Each hand is totally random, you could even win twice in a row.
- Drawing Hand – A poker hand which requires a specific card to improve in value.
- Face Card – A card category that includes Kings, Queens, and Jacks.
- Full Pay – The best, statistically speaking, version of any particular game. The 9/6 Jacks or Better game, for example, is the full pay version of Jacks or Better. Other variations give the house a larger advantage and should be avoided, though with some casinos, you might not have the option to play full pay games.
- House Edge – The house’s statistical advantage displayed as a percentage. For players, a lower house edge is a good thing. The casino, on the other hand, is looking for the highest edge possible.
- Inside Straight – A potential straight that requires you to draw one or more cards to fill a gap on the inside of the sequence. For example, a hand that contains 6, 7, 8, and 10 requires a nine, and only a nine, on the draw to become a straight.
- Kicker – A hand’s highest, non-paired card that could be used as a tiebreaker in traditional poker games. Do not hold kickers in video poker – they don’t serve the same function.
- Outside Straight – A potential straight that requires you to draw one of two cards to finish the five-in-a-row sequence of a straight. This is much easier to complete than an inside straight. For example, a hand that contains 9, 10, J, and Q, can be made into a straight by receiving either an 8 or a K on the draw.
- Pay Table – The diagram that tells you how much each hand is worth – payouts are displayed in terms of your bet size.
- Progressive Jackpot – A jackpot that grows larger as players fail to win it. Typically, many machines are linked together to feed the same progressive jackpot, and there is no limit to how large these video poker jackpots can grow. Once won, it will reset to its starting amount.
- RNG – Short for random number generator, this is the digital mechanism that allows for random events to take place fairly. In the case of video poker, the random number generator produces a random 5-card hand from a deck that does not actually exist.
- Short Pay – The counterpart to “full pay”. These are less than optimum slot machines because of their less generous pay tables. These should typically be avoided.
- Volatility – A measure of how much a player should expect a machine to deviate from its expected return. Higher volatility should result in bigger swings in your bankroll, both positive and negative. Although this point is often debated, many players believe that higher volatility leads to increased risked.
- Wild Card – A card in a specific video poker game that can act as any other card to create a more valuable hand.
Most Popular Types of Video Poker
While there are different types of video poker games, four variants in particular stand out as the most popular. Here’s a breakdown of these four versions of online video poker, which we think will help you find the game that’s right for you.
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is the most popular video poker game in the world, due in large part to its simple and straightforward gameplay. There are no wild cards to worry about, making strategy less complex than in some of the other variations we’ll mention. A full pay 9/6 Jacks or Better machine – that refers to the payouts for a full house and a flush – features a return to player (RTP) of 99.54%.
Jacks or Better is the most well-known variant of video poker. The rules of this game are slightly different, as you’ll only get a payout if your hand includes at least two jacks. Here are some other rules to be aware of when playing Jacks or Better:
- There are nine winning table poker hands in this game, and your hand needs to have at least a pair of jacks to get a score
- A predetermined pay scale denotes the amount players receive for certain winning hands. The top prize is a royal flush, which pays out 250x
- Players are only paid for their highest value hand
- Five of a kind and pairs lower than jacks do not receive a payout
Deuces Wild gets its name because twos are wild on this machine. That makes it easier to make big hands. However, you’ll need to make at least three of a kind to win. The full pay version of Deuces Wild features a 100.76% RTP with perfect play, though most of the best online video poker sites offer versions that return 99.96% or less.
Deuces Wild makes all deuce cards in the deck wild cards. Therefore you can substitute any deuce card for any card you’d like it to be to help make up your winning hand. Likewise, in Jokers Wild the joker cards can be used in the same way. The rules of these versions differ slightly from the original video poker:
- Payout scales are much lower in these games, as it’s easier to make up a winning hand
- Hand rankings are the same as those used in classic table poker
- You can discard as many cards as you like
- Online Deuces Wild and Jokers Wild games offer players the opportunity to double their winnings via bonus games
Double Bonus Poker
Double Bonus Poker is a variation of Jacks or Better in which you can earn very high payouts for making four of a kind. However, a two-pair hand will only pay back one coin for each one you bet, as opposed to two in standard Jacks or Better. A full pay 10/7 Double Bonus machine offers a 100.17% RTP with perfect play, with many other versions offering over a 99% return.
Loosely based on the basic rules of Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus or Double Double Bonus are well known variations of the game which you’ll find at many online casinos. The rules to know about include:
- There are more winning poker hands allowed in these games
- Different hands receive different bonus payouts
- Overall, the payout percentages on these variants is lower
- Bonus Poker pay tables pay out high sums for premium hands
Joker Poker adds a joker to the standard set of playing cards, meaning you’ll play with a 53-card deck. Like the other variants on Jacks or Better, this comes at a price. On most machines, you must make at least a pair of kings to win, and two pair also pays even money. On the most generous pay table, perfect strategy will result in a 100.64% RTP, and many other online pay tables return 98.5% or better.
- If you get three of a kind, keep those three.
- If you get higher than three of a kind, keep hold of those cards.
- If you get four cards of a high payout hand, hold those four.
- If you get three cards of a high payout hand and one joker, hold these four cards.
- Use the max bet, every time!
What the Top Video Poker Sites Offer
How did we choose our recommended video poker sites? Here are a few of the features we look for when picking the top places to play online video poker.
Different Video Poker Variations
Any good online casino should feature a number of different video poker games. We recommend sites that offer not only several variants, but other options for you to choose from, such as multi-hand games or unusual game types you can’t find anywhere else.
The best online video poker casinos offer a variety of lucrative casino bonuses to you, from matching welcome bonuses to promotions for existing and loyal players. In particular, we look for offers designed especially for video poker players to ensure you can play your favorite game while clearing your bonus.
Variety of Payment Methods
For you to play real money video poker, you’ll need to get money into your account. That’s why we look for casinos that offer several different deposit and withdrawal options. We put a special emphasis on finding sites that offer safe, anonymous payments methods that are ideal for players in Arabian countries.
Today, it’s easier than ever to play video poker on mobile phones. Our recommended sites offer their video poker machines and all of their other games in mobile-friendly formats that you can access from your smartphone or tablet. Mobile betting sites can be accessed from a downloadable app or mobile browser, depending on the casino.
Top Tips for Video Poker Strategy
Video poker strategy can be complex, but there are a few tips that can help get you started on the right tip. Here are our top tips for playing Jacks or Better video poker.
- Always seek out the best pay tables. The gold standard is a payout of 9 coins for a full house and 6 for a flush – the 9/6 pay table – though 8/6 and 9/5 tables often feature returns of over 98%.
- Always play for the maximum number of coins. While most payouts scale with the number of coins you play, royal flushes typically offer a premium if you play for the maximum, meaning your RTP will be lower if you play for fewer coins.
- You should aggressively try to make royal flushes, as they offer the biggest payouts by far. It is better to keep four cards to a royal flush than a made straight or flush, and you should keep three cards of a royal flush rather than hold on to a low pair (one lower than jacks) or keep a fourth flush card.
- If you want to play video poker seriously, it’s worth learning a comprehensive strategy for Jacks or Better or other machines. Even simple strategies can help you get very close to the optimal return.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which video poker game has the best odds?
We’d have to go with Deuces Wild, provided you’re willing to use the proper strategy on the full-pay version, as it actually gives players a very slight advantage over the house. Bear in mind, however, that this advantage may only materialize over an enormous number of hands.
Do you play video poker the same way you play real life poker?
They may share the same name, but the two games are actually quite different. Video poker is played solo, rather than against other players, and you could even say that it has more in common with slots than poker. Some knowledge of poker, such as what constitutes a good hand, is still beneficial though.
Can I play online video poker for free?
Yes! Virtually all online casino/video poker sites will let you play their games using practice money, so you don’t need to risk any of your bankroll until you’re familiar with the game. Some sites even offer free video poker games with commentary on whether or not, statistically speaking, you’re making the right move.
What is the best video poker game to play?
Beginners might prefer to start with Jacks or Better, as this is the most common variant, but for the reasons outlined above many players soon graduate to Deuces Wild. At the end of the day, it’s all down to personal taste and you might find a completely different variant that you like more than either of these options.
How can I win at video poker online?
Beyond using a video poker strategy designed to help you get the best out of a particular variant, there’s no way to guarantee a win at video poker. Slow and methodical play is usually the best approach, and we’d certainly recommend video poker over games like slots that have a much higher house edge.
How can I beat a video poker machine?
In terms of a sure-fire strategy, there isn’t any way you can make sure you’ll beat a video poker machine. It’s always about luck. However, the odds and payouts on video poker are better than a lot of other casino games. Our best advice is to follow a strategy and play methodically.
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