How to Play Video Poker
Video poker is a fun and interactive game that combines the best parts of poker and slot machines, and one of the best things about it is that learning how to play takes no time at all. In this guide we’ll be walking you through how playing video poker online works, looking at some of the different variants, and showing you what makes a winning hand.
There are lots of different variants of video poker including Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and Double Bonus Poker, but they all work pretty much the same way. Let's walk through how the process will look when you try video poker yourself, just to make sure everything is crystal clear:
Select Your Bet Size
First you have to choose how much to bet. Video poker uses coins, which are also called credits, and you have to select how much each credit is worth. Next you have to select how many credits you want to bet on each hand.
There are special buttons that let you automatically bet one credit or bet max credits (five).
Displayed across the top of the game screen is the paytable. This tells you which hands win and how much each hand pays out depending on how many credits you bet.
First Cards Drawn
After you’ve chosen the bet size, hit the Deal button to receive your first five cards. On some games the cards are dealt one by one face down before all turning over at the same time. Other games will deal them face up.
Don’t worry if you haven’t made a great poker hand yet. Next we’ll explain how to draw new cards.
Hold Your Cards
Next you have to select which cards you want to hold on to. Use the Hold buttons under each card to select however many cards you want to keep.
The other ones will be exchanged for new cards in order to make the best possible poker hand.
Second Cards Drawn
After you’ve chosen which cards to hold, hit the Draw button and all the cards which you are not holding will disappear and be replaced with new ones.
The five cards you have now represent your final poker hand.
Outcome & Payout
Don’t worry if you have trouble figuring out your poker hand. The game will automatically tell you the best possible hand you can make with your five cards by highlighting it in the paytable at the top of the screen.
The bigger your poker hand, the more money you’ll win.
Once your winnings have been paid, the game starts again.
Objective of the Game
In online casino video poker, just as in a game of 5 Card Draw, players aim to get the strongest hand by choosing whether to draw different cards or hold onto the ones that they already have. The better the poker hand (more on that below), the more money you win. For example, a royal flush will earn you much more cash than three of a kind.
In a typical video poker variant, you’ll be presented with five cards with a big HOLD button underneath them. A deal/draw button in the right hand corner of the screen deals you a new hand or, if you’ve just chosen some cards to hold, draws replacements for those discarded.
Don’t worry too much about learning how all of the different hands pay out, as this varies from machine to machine and a paytable (which typically appears at the top of your screen when you play video poker) covers all of that information. That said, it’s a good idea to have some inkling of which hands pay the best as you’ll want to pursue them whenever possible.
Hands for Winning at Video Poker
A - K - Q - J - 10
A, K, Q, J, and 10 all of the same suit
Q - J - 10 - 9 - 8
Five cards in sequence and all of the same suit
J - J - J - J - 3
Four cards of the same rank
J - J - 5 - 5 - 5
Three of a kind, plus a pair
J - 10 - 4 - 6 - 3
Five cards of the same suit
6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10
Five cards in sequence (ace can be high or low)
7 - 7 - 7 - 9 - 3
Three cards of the same rank
K - K - 2 - 6 - 6
Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank
J - J - 2 - 7 - 4
A pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces
Our Top Five Tips
We've played more hands of online and mobile video poker than we can count, so we’re happy to offer up some of our top tips for beginners (and a refresher course for the rest of you).
- 1Know the ranking system for the variant you’re playing, otherwise you might end up chasing a hand that won’t even pay out!
- 2Use the maximum number of coins to get the full value for a royal flush, usually 800 for 1 vs. 250 for 1 with lower bets.
- 3Check paytables before playing as this might affect whether you, for example, throw away a second pair to chase a better hand or not.
- 4Play a variant that offers better odds, even if you need to practice it a bit first, as you should end up making less of a dent in your bankroll over time.
- 5Stay alert! If you play when you’re tired, or after one too many beers, you could end up making a critical mistake that costs you a royal flush.
What is the Difference Between Video Poker and Poker?
If you’re looking for differences between video poker and standard poker, there’s no shortage of them to be found. The first, and most obvious, is that video poker is played against the computer rather than a dealer or other players. This means that there’s no requirement to 'read' opponents or discern tells.
There’s also no need to worry about putting together a great hand only to have another player beat it with something even better. In video poker, unlike in games such as Texas hold ‘em or Three Card Poker, your hand is the only one that matters. A relief for any players who’ve encountered one too many bad beats!
There are those who would say that video poker is 'easier' than poker, but that’s not to say that learning the correct strategy for multiple video poker variants doesn’t require some skill. One thing we will say is that it’s a great way for new players to get used to building and identifying winning poker hands without needing a big bankroll.
We would also say that video poker is more accessible than playing poker in a brick and mortar gambling venue, or even standard online poker. There’s no need to find other players to pit your skills against and, because you’re on your own, you can play video poker hands as quickly or slowly as you choose.
Different Video Poker Variants
Depending on the casino you’re playing at, you could very well expect to find a large number of different video poker variants available. Some casinos have tens of different types of video poker on offer, all based around the same core gameplay.
Generally, the differences between variants tend to be minor. While you'll no doubt end up finding a favorite in due course, be aware that some variations have much better payout percentages than others!
Jacks or Better
Probably the most common variant, and great for newbies, this pays out on any hand that has a pair of jacks or better. Has a payout percentage of 99.5%.
As the name suggests, all 2s that appear are wild. This means, however, that the lowest paying hand is three of a kind. The full-pay version has a payout percentage of 100.8%.
Double Bonus Poker
This variation of Jacks or Better offers a bonus payout for four aces. Other than that it’s virtually identical, except for its payout percentage of 100.2%.
Aces and Eights
This is another variant that’s very similar to Jacks or Better, but has high payouts on four 7s, aces or 8s. It has a payout percentage of 99.78% on the full-pay version.
Are You Ready to Play?
Now you've brushed up on the rules and have a thorough understanding of the game, it's time to start playing for real! Keep an eye on which card combinations are worth the most, and you'll be winning your first round in no time. For more information on video poker online, be sure to check out our other guides as well!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I win at video poker?
There’s no way to guarantee a win at video poker. By playing an online video poker strategy designed to help you get the best out of a variant, you can however improve your chances. Slow and methodical play is usually the best approach. We’d certainly recommend video poker over games like slots that have a much higher house edge.
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.