In the early 1970s, when video poker was introduced and was still struggling for acceptance, the machines were usually referred to as “poker slots.” And video poker has a lot in common with slot machines. They are easy to use, requiring no interaction with a dealer or with other players. Card combinations, like slot reels, are governed by a random-number generator. Video Poker is a very simple but highly entertaining casino game. Unlike other games like blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, with video poker, your chances of winning are much higher. Usually, the house edge is lower while the percentage that’s supposed to go to the player is much higher. Below, we will explain how to play video poker.
Video poker adds something slot machines don’t have — an element of skill. Players have decisions to make that affect the outcome. And because cards are required to be dealt from a randomly shuffled 52-card deck — or 53 cards, in the case of Joker’s Wild machines — the possible combinations are known, the frequency of the combinations can be calculated, and an optimal playing strategy can be devised. In fact, when Missouri riverboats opened under a law that forbade games of chance, casinos were allowed to offer video poker, as a game of skill, even though slots, as games of chance, had to wait until voters changed the law.
Before learning how to play video poker, we have to share a few words about the history of the game. It was back in the 1970’s when this game first appeared. Fortune Bell Company were the first to create it; however, its rise began in 1979. At that time, they were physical machines just like slots but a lot has changed since then. Just like with most gambling games, they moved to the world of internet.
Game developers have been creating online video poker games ever since and their success has been immense. One of the reasons credited to the popularity of video poker was how easy it was to learn how to play them. Nevertheless, the real rise began in the 1990’s because it was at that moment that a lot different, interesting versions of the game started appearing. Today, just about anyone can have a couple of spins at a poker machine. There are even free versions available online, that can help players learn the game better.
How to Play Video Poker? – Guidelines
Almost all video poker machines in use today are variations on five-card draw poker. Attempts have been made to introduce machines based on seven-card stud, and a few machines based on five-card stud are in use. But five-card draw is the basic game, and Jacks or Better is the game by which most varieties are based. There is no dealer’s hand or no other player’s hand to beat; payoffs are strictly according to a pay table posted on the machine. The lowest winning hand is a pair of jacks or better (a pair of queens, kings, or aces).
Each machine features a video screen on which the images of cards are dealt. Winnings are usually compiled as credits, which the player may cash out at any time, and the credits are also displayed on a meter on the video screen. On some machines the pay table will also be on the screen; on others, the pay table is painted on the machine’s glass. Below the screen is a console that includes a bill validator. Players slide in currency, and credits then appear on the screen. Usually, on the left are buttons marked “Cash Out” and “Bet One Credit”; in the center are five buttons, one corresponding to each card dealt, marked “Hold/Cancel”; to the right is one button marked “Deal/Draw” and one marked “Bet Max.”
Play begins when the player pushes the buttons to bet and deal. Most machines accept up to five coins or credits at a time. If the player hits Bet Max, the machine will deduct five credits and deal the hand. Once you’ve made your bet, five cards are dealt faceup on the screen. You have the option of holding or discarding any or all of the cards. To hold, push the Hold/Cancel button corresponding to the card you’ve chosen. You may hit the same button again to cancel the hold decision.
After you make all your hold decisions, you push the Deal/Draw button. All cards not held will then be discarded, and new cards will be turned up to take their places. These five cards are the final hand. The machine compares that hand to the pay table, and if the hand is a winner, the corresponding number of credits are added to the meter. Until recently, some video poker machines called for the player to push a button to discard a card rather than to hold it. That caused some confusion for players moving from one type of machine to the other. Today, “HOLD” buttons are standard, though a few older machines of the “DISCARD” type remain in use.
Possible Poker Hands
- Royal flush: Ace-king-queen-jack-10 all of the same suit (hearts, clubs, spades, or diamonds).
- Straight flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit; for example, 2-3-4-5-6, all of clubs.
- Four of a kind: Four cards of the same rank; for example, ace of hearts, ace of spades, ace of clubs, ace of diamonds.
- Full house: Three cards of one rank, two cards of another rank; for example, 3 of diamonds, 3 of hearts, 3 of spades, 6 of hearts, 6 of spades.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit; for example, ace, 10, 7, 4, 3, all of diamonds.
- Straight: Five consecutive cards of mixed suits; for example, 2 of diamonds, 3 of hearts, 4 of diamonds, 5 of clubs, 6 of spades.
- Three of a kind: Three cards of the same rank; for example, 6 of hearts, 6 of clubs, 6 of diamonds.
- Two pair: Two cards of one rank, two cards of another rank; for example, ace of spades, ace of hearts, 7 of clubs, 7 of diamonds.
- Pair of jacks or better: Two jacks, queens, kings, or aces.
How to Play Video Poker? – Different Poker Games
There are dozens of different video poker games; however, most of them have a similar gameplay. All those games are loosely based on the two versions we will mention below.
Deuces Wild is a video poker game that has a classic 52 card deck. Nevertheless, all the deuces can be used to substitute any other card. This means that its more likely to get a big hand in this poker. Thanks to that, the payouts in this one start at three of a kind and build all the way up to the royal flush, which is worth up to 4.000 coins. If you make the royal flush with substitute deuces, you will be paid only 1,000 coins.
The bet range goes from 0.01 to 0.20, however there is also an option to change the coin size. Players can set it from 1 to 5 coins with the last one being the max bet. If you look at the screen of Deuces Wild, you will notice several buttons. The usual hold buttons that all similar casino games have are, of course, there. On top of that, there is the “Bet One” button that sets the coin size, “Max Bet”, and “Deal”. Additionally, players can set the game speed as well.
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better Online is a video poker game that has a standard 52 card deck. As the name suggests, you need two Jacks to score the lowest win on this poker. This is different to most video pokers where you would need at least two pairs. The payouts build up all the way up to the royal flush, which is worth up to 4.000 coins.
The bet range goes from 0.01 to 0.20, however there is also an option to change the coin size. Players can set it from 1 to 5 coins with the last one being the max bet. If you look at the screen of Jacks or Better Online, you will notice several buttons. The usual hold buttons that all similar casino games have are, of course, there. On top of that, there is the “Bet One” button that sets the coin size, “Max Bet”, and “Deal”. Additionally, players can set the game speed as well, in the top right corner.
All in all, Video Poker is just as popular as slots or any of the other table games. There are thousands of different variations; however, the gameplay is pretty much the same with all of them. The game is great for all types of players with experienced ones best equipped to score huge wins. However, now that you know the basics of how to play video poker, it’s important to learn how to win through this game.
For that to happen, a good strategy is required. Check our article, on Video Poker Strategies to learn how to play video poker as a professional and earn massive winnings on the way.