Video poker is a simple five-card draw game played in casinos and bars on the same cabinets and consoles used for slot machines. When the machines were first introduced there were very few slot machines that also used a video display as most slots had actual spinning reels. Not so anymore.Video Poker Popularity
Because playing video poker is just playing hands of poker and there is some input by the player to improve the odds, the game has become very popular. The game plays just like a slot machines where you put in coins or bills and are given credits to use on each hand. With standard Jacks or Better poker you need at least a pair of jacks to win. Higher hands pay more. You are allowed to draw up to five new cards, one time, before your hand is over.
Playing video poker can be a lot of fun, but expensive fun if you don't know some simple rules to follow. Keep in mind that unlike a slot machine where you pull the handle and hope to win, video poker allows you to make a decision about whether to "hold" or "discard" any number of your first five cards each hand. The better your decisions, the less it costs you to play. Some games even allow a tiny edge to the gambler who plays perfectly!
Video poker has been popular since IGT brought the patent for the game to the casino market in 1980 with their "Players Edge" game. To play video poker, you simply put your coins or cash into a machine that looks just like a standard slot machine, and press the play button. You will be dealt five cards and can draw as many as five new cards to make your final hand. You are now playing poker on a video screen and need at least a pair of jacks or a higher standard poker hand to win.
That's the short story, of course. The long story starts with the fact that there are now over 100 variations and game types of video poker games from standard draw poker to deuces wild and joker poker. Each game has a specific pay table that corresponds to winning hands. Each pays the highest "jackpot" for a Royal Flush. Video Poker Royal Flush odds vary, but you will hit the big hand once in about 40,000 plays.Standard Jacks or Better
Video poker is played by computer chips, but the program uses a standard English deck of 52 cards and your chance of making every possible hand is "fair" as far as total hands in x-number of hands played. A 52-card deck can make a total of 2,598,960 different hands and the random number generator in a video poker machine is set to simulate the probabilities of drawing any one of those combinations. Which means the payoffs (like any slot machine) are designed to give the house an overall edge. The higher the pay table payoffs, the less expensive it is to feel the excitement of live casino gambling.
In standard Jacks or Better video poker, you must make at least a pair of jacks or a higher hand to win. After betting at least one credit you can press the "draw/deal" button and receive five cards. The machine automatically deals ten cards, two for each spot - one you can see and one behind it you only see if you "draw." You are allowed to discard and draw one time to improve your hand. If you don't make at least a pair of jacks you lose your bet. Pretty simple. However, like blackjack and basic strategy, you need to know when to draw to a straight or a flush, hold cards to the royal flush, and when to just hold high cards or a pair.
You should also know that video poker odds are based on playing five credits. If you play less, the payoff for a royal flush is significantly reduced and thus the casino's overall edge over the player is much higher. Don't forget to join the casinos' players club and get paid for your slot play. Earning comps is crucial to getting the most for your entertainment dollars.Video Poker Basic Strategy
Some hands are dealt "pat" or already completed, such as a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush and a straight. You will not draw any cards with these hands except when you have a straight of (K, Q, J, T, 9) and the (K, Q, J, T) are all one suit giving you four to a royal flush. In this case you discard the 9 and hope for the suited Ace to make the royal.
For all other starting hands you will be drawing cards. Look at the list below and find the best hand you hold, then follow the rules listed. High cards are (J, Q, K and Ace).
- Nothing - no pair, high cards or higher starting hand listed - draw five new cards
- One high card and nothing else - hold the high card and draw four new cards
- Two suited royal cards: T/J, T/Q, T/K - hold them and draw three new cards
- Two unsuited high cards - hold them and draw three new cards
- Three unsuited high cards - hold the lowest two and draw three new cards
- Three to a straight flush - hold them and draw two new cards
- Two suited high cards - hold them and draw three new cards
- Four to an open-ended straight - hold and draw one card
- Low pair (2 through Ten) - hold and draw three new cards
- Four to a flush - hold and draw one new card,/li>
- Three to a royal flush - hold and draw two new cards
- High pair (J through A) - hold and draw three new cards
- Two pair - hold and draw one new card
- Four to a straight flush - hold and draw one new card
The rules listed above form a simple, basic strategy for standard Jacks or Better video poker. If you follow these rules you will be playing a nearly perfect strategy - over 99% perfect. However, there are a lot of things that impact what kind of odds the casino has on the machine you are playing. Unlike most craps games or roulette, video poker odds are different for most every casino. The odds that you make each hand is the same, but the payoffs they offer are different.
If you see a sign that says 9/6 Video Poker, it means the machine pays 9X your bet on a full house and 6X your bet on a flush. This is a good game. If the sign says 9/5 Video Poker, they are paying 9X your bet on a full house but only 5X your bet on a flush. This is how the casino changes the odds - or the total payoffs. A great paying machine pays more on each winning hand, so find the bets payoffs and it will cost you less to play.Typical Jacks or Better Payoffs
- Royal Flush 80-1 (Significantly higher total of 4000 for a 5-credit bet)
- Straight Flush 50-1 (250 for a 5-credit bet)
- Four-of-a-Kind 25-1 (125 for a 5-credit bet)
- Full House 9 for 1 (45 for a 5-credit bet)
- Flush 6 for 1 (30 for a 5-credit bet)
- Straight 4 for 1 (20 for a 5-credit bet)
- Three-of-a-Kind 3 for 1 (15 for a 5-credit bet)
- Two Pair 2 for 1 (10 for a 5-credit bet)
- One Pair 1 for 1 - really a push, you get your money back (5 for a 5-credit bet)
When you move into a bonus machine, it usually pays the same for two pair as for one pair - your money back, so the bonuses can be paid. Each subsequent machine has different rules and payoffs: Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, Triple Play, Five Play, Ten Play etc.Stop! Don't Push that Max Credit or Draw Button Yet!
When paying video poker it is very important to make sure you know what limit you are playing, because some machines offer different denominations for each credit such as 5-cents, 10-cents and 25-cents. In addition, some machines offer a maximum bet of five, while others accept bets up to 100 credits. Don't push "MAX CREDITS" until you know how many coins you are betting. Don't forget that you might be playing Ten Play and if the max bet is 5, you will be betting 50 total credits - five for each of 10 hands.
And finally, make sure you know what game you are playing. Many new consoles offer multiple games - don't use draw poker strategy when you are playing Deuces Wild or the only thing wild will be your bankroll.