Video Poker Rules - How To Play Video Poker

Video poker games first emerged in the mid-1970s but they were rudimentary at best. It wasn’t until the early 80s that gaming entrepreneur William ‘Si’ Redd took video poker technology to a new level through his firm Sircoma, which later became International Game Technology (IGT), renowned land and online gambling giant.

Initially rolled out in Las Vegas, it wasn’t long before these popular poker-based gaming terminals spread to land casinos across the world, and decades later to online casinos and later still mobile casinos. Today video poker is played by millions of players because it’s easy, fun and lucrative, and has so many dynamic variants.

Because video poker machines somewhat resemble slot machines in land casinos, some people think they are similar games, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Where slots are 100% luck-based, video poker requires players to make a series of decisions that can affect the outcome of each hand. Plus, they have some of the best odds.

Unlike most casino gambling games, video poker is one of the few games where it’s possible to enjoy a slight advantage over the house at land casinos. This is possible by taking advantage of various comps, cash back, free play and other incentives.

The big appeal of video poker is that it encapsulates the popular card game of poker and all of its hand values in a personal machine for one. Also, unlike regular table poker where hands can take a long time to play, hands are processed very fast in video poker, so there’s no waiting around. Read on for the rules of video poker.

Video Poker Basics and the Aim of the Game

Your aim in any video poker game is to make the highest ranked five-card poker hand possible in order to win the biggest payout. Like regular table poker, video poker uses a standard 52-card deck which is shuffled after every hand.

In the case of Joker Poker, however, one or more jokers (wild card) will be added to a standard 52-card deck.

Once you’ve selected a video poker variant to play, select a coin size that best suits your budget, and the number of coins you want to play per hand. Always remember that in video poker the bigger your bet, the bigger your potential winnings.

Take, for example, a video poker game with a coin size ranging from 10p up to £5, where you can play 1 to 5 coins per hand. In this case your minimum possible bet per hand is 10p (10p x 1 coin) while your maximum possible bet is £25 (£5 x 5 coins).

In the above instance, if you hit a Royal Flush – the best hand in video poker – on a minimum bet you’d only win £25, while on a maximum bet you’d win a whopping £20,000. This is why it’s extremely important to choose the right bet size for you.

Some video poker games let you play up to 100 lines (100x your hand after you’ve kept / discarded cards). As you increase the number of lines, so the coin size drops automatically. This means even if you play 100 lines, your total bet won’t exceed the maximum bet you can play on 1 line, which per the above example is £25 per hand.

Live Blackjack
Microgaming’s Power Poker games – play up to 100 hands at the same time.

Once you’ve chosen your coin size, number of coins and, if applicable, number of lines to play, you’re ready to hit the ‘Deal’ button. At this point you’ll be dealt five cards face-up. Any cards that make a winning combination are automatically held.

To make things easy, every land and online casino video poker game has a pay table in full view at all times to show you what the winning hands are and what they pay according to the amount of coins or credits you’ve chosen to play per hand.

Unlike in table poker, in video poker the lowest paying hands vary by game type. For instance, in the case of Jacks or Better, you only get paid if you make a pair of Jacks or stronger, while in Deuces Wild you need to make a 3 of a kind or better to win.

In hands where there are no automatically winning hands, you’re given the option to hold one or more cards (or none if you choose). Any of your 5 dealt cards you did not hold are discarded and replaced with new ones when you click the ‘Draw’ button.

Any winning combinations will be highlighted, along with their respective payout.

At this point you’ll be given three choices; Collect (to bank your winnings), Double (to gamble your winnings in the form of a 50/50 double or nothing bet), and (where applicable) Double Half (where you can choose to gamble half your winnings).

If you decide to collect your winnings, click the Collect button and the game will reset ready for the next deal. Click the Double or Double Half button, and you’ll see a face up card which you must beat in value by selecting one of the four face down cards. Pick a higher card and you double up. Pick a lower card and you lose it all.

Video Poker Hands

Winning hands in video poker are identical to winning hands in regular table games, except for the omission of one. Unlike in regular poker, in video poker there is no such hand as a ‘high card.’

The minimum winning hand in video poker can vary from a pair (10s in the case of 10s or Better, and Jacks in the case of Jacks or Better) or 3 of a kind (in the case of Deuces Wild).

Below you’ll find the winning hands and their respective per coin payouts in Jacks or Better, one of the most popular and highly played video poker variants in the world:

Jacks or Better Video Poker

Hand Description Payoffs per coins played
(may vary from casino to casino)
    1 2 3 4 5
Royal Flush
Top hand in video poker. Any suited sequence from the 10 to the A 250:1 500:1 750:1 1000:1 4000:1
Straight Flush
Four suited cards in sequence 50:1 100:1 150:1 200:1 250:1
Four of a kind
Four cards of the same value 20:1 40:1 60:1 80:1 100:1
Full House
Three cards of the same value and two of another 7:1 14:1 21:1 28:1 35:1
Five cards of the same suit 5:1 10:1 15:1 20:1 25:1
Five cards in sequence 4:1 8:1 12:1 16:1 20:1
Three of a Kind
One pair of Js, Qs, Ks or As 1:1 2:1 3:1 4:1 5:1
Two pairs
Two cards share one value with another two sharing another value 2:1 4:1 5:1 8:1 10:1
Jacks or Better
Two cards share one value with another two sharing another value 2:1 4:1 5:1 8:1 10:1

Video Poker Variants

Countless variants of video poker have been developed for land casinos and online casinos, and in some cases, both. While it would be impossible to list every video poker variant, here is a list from some of the best online casino software firms today:

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