How to Play Video Poker

A popular form of casino games both online and at land-based casinos is video poker. This is in many ways a form of a slot machine, just without the spinning wheels and pay lines. Here it’s a simplified form of poker that is played, and some are more like real poker than others. In fact, Nowadays there are so many different types of these games that some don’t resemble poker at all anymore, as it’s more or less just a card game played on a machine. In this casino guide, we’ll be going through some of the most common games, and of course also the basic rules for playing video poker at a casino.

Simplified versions of poker

The real card game poker is something most of us have tried, or at least heard about and know the basic rules of – which is getting the best hand possible. In addition to actually beating the other players in terms of the best poker hand, of course, bluffing is a big part of it, not to mention being able to read the other players to steal a pot or a blind even with a bad hand. This part of poker is however not used in video poker, as you don’t play against other players or even a dealer, due to the machine being your only opponent. And, unfortunately, bluffing your way to a win isn’t possible when playing against a machine.

Since there are now so many different versions of card games playable on machines we can more or less divide the games into two – the games that use “real” poker rules, and those that don’t. The only thing that is always the same is that the “symbols” in these games as real cards and aces and face cards are the best.

“Real” Video Poker Games

In some versions of video poker, the goal is to get a “real” poker hand, and that means the biggest payout will be a Royal Flush. When using the “real” poker hands as payout tables this is for the most part based on the rules for Five Card Poker, and the standard rules that apply. In addition to a Royal Flush, the other good hands are Straight Flush and 4 of a kind (preferably with a high-value card). In short, it’s the general rules for poker hands that determine if you win or lose.

When playing “real” video poker the biggest difference between this and actual poker is that you play solely with the machine. It’s just the two of you, so bluffing is not possible. This also means that you just have to beat the machine, and the cards the machine gets delt. In some instances you don’t even play against the machine, but only against the paytable. This means you are not trying to beat anything at all, you are just looking to get a hand that will give you a win. How much you win will then be determined by the value of your hand, and low-value hands will not payout at all.

Whether you can actually swap out cards or not depends on the machine, and if you can, this turns into more of a real poker game. In these games, skill and knowledge will play a big part in your chances of winning, in contrast to games where you just get dealt cards which will be your hand no matter if you want them or not.

Machines with simple “poker”

Even though these games are still called video poker, they don’t have many aspects of poker left in them. Some games are as simple as you just betting on if you get a higher card than the machine drawn, or sometimes just getting the higher pair or combination of a two-card hand. These truly simple versions are only about luck, and the winning chances will be about the same as if you bet on all read fields on a roulette wheel. However, as with all of these types of games of chance, you can still improve your overall winning chances by using a progressive strategy.

Different kinds of video poker

As we’ve explained briefly already there are many kinds of video poker games available, and when playing at online casinos you will almost always find one of the following games. Sometimes the casino will have a separate category where all these games are collected, or you might find them under table games, if there is such a category other than the live casino games. If not, you’ll find them amongst the slots. Now, let’s have a closer look at some of the most popular versions:

Aces and Faces

One of the most popular online video poker games is called Aces and Faces. This game is played with one deck of cards and is a game which uses a lot of the real poker rules. You’ll get dealt five cards, and you can then choose which to keep and which to discard. The goal is, of course, to get as good of a hand as possible, but that’s not all. You will get a bonus for having Aces and Faces cards, so it could be beneficial to hold on to them when choosing which hand you want to go for.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is a hugely popular video poker game, as this is a game with a wild, and that seems to be something players love regardless of whether it is a video slot or poker game. The rules of this game are quite simple. You’ll get 5 cards dealt at the beginning of the game, and the goal is to build the best hand possible. However, it’s not the standard rules for poker hands that goes here, as three of a kind is the lowest payable combination you can have. On the other hand, even though this game is played with just one deck of 52 cards you can get five of a kind, thanks to the 2’s.

The 2’s, or deuces, are the wild cards, as the name of the game suggests. That means you can use them to build any kind of a winning hand, so these are the cards you’ll always want to hang on to and never discard.

Jacks or Better

The rules in Jacks or Better are pretty much the same standard rules you’d find in a “real” video poker slot. You’ll get five cards in your hand, and you’ll have to choose which ones to keep and which ones to discard to build the better hand. You don’t have to beat the dealer or anything like that, as it’s a simple paytable used to decide if you win, and how much you win for each poker hand.

There is however another rule, which makes the game a bit more exciting. Whenever you do get a win you’ll get the possibility to gamble for your winnings. The dealer, or the machine, will draw one card face up, and you will get dealt four cards face down. The goal is for you to pick a card that is higher than the dealer's card. If you can do that you’ll double your winnings. If you don’t you lose your winnings, and if it’s a tie you get your original winnings from the gamble feature back.

This feature is quite common in a lot of video poker games, but there’s also a twist in Jacks or Better that you won’t find in many other versions of video poker, and that’s the Half Double. This allows you to only bet half of your winnings in the gamble feature, and in that way ensure you get at least some winnings paid out. Just keep in mind; the gamble feature is optional and you can choose to play the game without using it at all.. Just click on payout or cash out, and your winnings from each game round are added to your balance.

Winning chances in video poker

Your long term winning chances when playing video poker varies from machine to machine. Even though all games have a certain aspect of luck, your skills in poker and strategy will play a big role in whether you win or lose, as it would in a real poker game played on a form of slot. In general, the RTP (Return To Player) will be in the high 90s, but you can get close to 100% with a “perfect” game. However, for really skilled poker players, playing video poker will never pay off in the long run, as their chances will be better against other players. This is because the house will always take their cut no matter who wins at real poker, while on a machine, the house always needs to win in the long run, therefore offering less than 100% RTP.

For simpler video poker it works a little differently, as no matter what poker skills you have, you can only use them when drawing a card or two before the result is given. This means you are entirely in the hands of the RTP during the game. However, if you are playing only to get the highest card, your winning chances will be almost 50% (as there’s always extra rules or a paytable giving the house a slight edge), and that means you could use a progressive strategy, for instance, the Martingale theory.

Play with fixed bets

When playing video poker there is one major strategic difference from normal poker, and that is the way you place bets. Even though you can find games where this is allowed, most video poker games will not allow you to increase your bet as you go, meaning you can’t raise the bet when you see your winning chances are good. This makes it quite similar to a normal slot, as playing with the same bet for every round will be is the normal thing to do.

However, the amount you want to bet is completely up to you. Most of the video slots online start quite low, and it’s even possible to play for only a couple of cents. But, video poker is also a game for high rollers, and the bets can be as high as several hundred per hand. For a casino, there’s no risk offering high bets in these games, as you can’t increase the bet as you go in the same round.

Play with a progressive strategy

By adjusting your bet according to the result of the previous round you might just end up beating the machine, unless you run out of funds or hit the bet limit. These two factors are the only way of losing with the Martingale theory, as many players have experienced, especially in roulette where this strategy is widely used. Many players only use this strategy for roulette, but it works the same way for all games where the winning chances are just below 50% per game round, and that’s why it also works for other types of video poker.

In the Martingale theory the whole strategy is to have a base bet, which can be any amount, but keeping it low is preferable unless you have a huge bankroll. If you win you use the same bet again, but if you lose you double the bet. If you lose again you double, and you keep going like that until you win, when you lower your bet to the base bet. This way you’ll always win back the bets you lost, and also get a win for the amount of the base bet. Just keep in mind; the max bet limit in a table game is set to protect the casino against the use of these kinds of strategies, so if you don’t run out of funds you might just hit the bet ceiling, and then all can be lost quicker than you think.

There are other progressive strategies some of which have a higher risk while others keep the risk at a minimum. The only thing that remains is that there’s no such thing as a perfect strategy.

Audrey Molly Photo Audrey Molly

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