Video Poker, sometimes also referred to as Poker Slots, is a fixed-odds poker game based on five-card draw and can be played either in online casinos or on terminals similar to slot machines in land-based casinos. It has a lot in common with slot machines. It is easy to use, requires no interaction with a dealer or other players and card combinations, like slot reels, are governed by a random-number generator. However, Video Poker differs in one key factor. Unlike slots, it adds an element of skill to the game. Meaning, players have to make decisions and play the hand they are dealt, which directly affects the outcome.
Not only does Video Poker have the smallest house edges in the casino, but since the frequency of all combinations can be calculated, an optimal playing strategy can be developed to give yourself the edge. Due to it’s high play-out and its simplicity this game is quite popular. However, though it is very easy to learn and play, it is very difficult to master strategies that help you to take full advantage. To increase your chances of winning, you need to understand the different winning combinations and use a good strategy.
Poker Hand Ranking
Before starting to play, you should familiarize yourself with the hand rankings. All payoffs are based on the following five-card poker hands:
How to play Video Poker
Video Poker has many variants, but all are based on one of poker’s simplest varieties, five-card draw. Basically, the game works as follows:
- You are dealt five starting cards.
- You can then decide which cards to hold and which to discard. You can choose to hold or discard any or all of your cards.
- All cards you chose to be discarded will be replaced in a single random draw to make up your final hand.
- If your hand now matches any of the qualifying poker hands shown above, you win the corresponding prize. If not, the game starts from the beginning by dealing you five starting cards.
The Pay Table
Before starting to play, it is important to look at the pay table offered for that particular game. This is very important, as the payouts can vary widely from game to game. Moreover, they also vary on how much you choose to bet. In this post, we will look at a typical pay table from one of the most common Video Poker games - Jacks or Better:
Types of Video Poker
As mentioned above there are several different types of Video Poker. The four most popular variations are:
- Jacks or Better – Jacks of Better is probably the most commonly found version. As the name suggests, you must have at least a pair of Jacks to get payed. Any hand of inferior value is worthless while any hand of superior value pays out based on the defined pay table.
- Bonus Poker – Bonus Poker is based on Jacks or Better but offers a bonus for specific hands like Four of a Kind. It pays bigger amounts for premium hands but your overall payout percentage is slightly lower.
- Double Bonus – Double Bonus is another type based on Jacks or Better, but offers extra payouts for hitting different Four of a Kind hands like A-A-A-A.
- Deuces Wild – In this version of Video Poker all twos are wild. This means that when they appear in a hand, they can act as a substitute for any other card. As this makes it a lot easier to get big hands, the payout scales are greatly reduced.
If you want to learn more about how to play poker, the table game, respectively its most known variant Texas Hold'em Poker, check out Texas Hold'em Poker - Beginners Guide.