video poker rules

Video poker is a popular casino game that combines elements of traditional poker with the solitary play of slot machines.  The game is a 1-player gambling game  you – the player vs the machine!

The objective at video poker is to make the best possible five-card poker hand, with payouts based on the strength of the hand (strong hands like royals flushes and 4-of a kinds are rare- so they award the biggest bet multipliers as payouts).

The Royal Flush is the “Jackpot” hand in Video Poker 10 J Q K A

Here’s a primer on how to play video poker – either in land-based US casinos, online casinos or sweepstakes casinos:

How To Play Video Poker

  • A player inserts money (or a bar-coded ticket) into the machine (or if playing online, they click the stake button to select their bet amount, and click the “deal” button). and is then dealt a hand of five cards from a standard 52-card deck (note that some video-poker variants use a 53-card deck with a joker – so always refer to the rules before committing any of your own cash).
  • The player decides which of their 5 pre-flop cards to keep and which to discard, with the goal of forming the highest-ranking 5-card poker hand possible.
  • The machine / Random number generator replaces the discarded cards with new ones from the same deck, completing the hand.

Video Poker Payout Table

  • Each video poker machine has a pay table that lists the number of credits a player will receive for each winning hand.
  • Common hands include pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, and royal flush, with payouts increasing for more rare hands. Standard poker hand rankings apply.
  • The payout table is crucial as it determines the game’s payback percentage and expected value (EV).

Making +EV Decisions

  • Some video poker variants require the player to bet maximum stake (usually 5 coins) in order to make the maximum profit if they hit a royal flush or jackpot hand. In most games, you can bet between 1 and 5 coins per hand.  How much you get paid depends on your stake. betting at max stake is advisable to get maximum hand pay if you are lucky enough to hit a big hand like a royal flush, straight flush, 5 aces (with a wild card), or quads (4 of a kind) etc.
  • The Expected Value (EV) of a game or decision in video poker is a statistical measure of the average amount of money the player can expect to win (or lose) per bet.
  • To maximize EV, players should choose the game with the best paytable (i.e., the highest payback percentage) and make decisions that align with optimal strategy.
  • Optimal strategy varies depending on the specific variant and paytable of the game but generally involves choosing which cards to hold or discard in a way that maximizes the likelihood of forming higher-paying hands.
  • For instance, if a player has four cards to a royal flush and one card to a lower-paying hand, the optimal strategy might be to keep the four cards to the royal flush, even though it’s not a guaranteed win.

Learning and Applying Strategy

  • Video poker strategies can be complex and are often presented in strategy charts or tables that players can refer to while playing.
  • These charts rank the potential hands or draws in order of their expected value based on the specific game’s paytable.
  • By following these strategies, players can make decisions that statistically offer the best chance of winning over the long term.

Betting The Maximum at Video Poker

Here are some popular video poker games where betting the maximum is crucial for achieving maximum profit:

  1. Jacks or Better: This is one of the most common and straightforward video poker variants. The payback for a royal flush is disproportionately higher when playing the maximum coins. For instance, a player might win 250 coins for a royal flush with a one-coin bet, but 4,000 coins for a five-coin bet, rather than the proportional 1,250 coins.
  2. Deuces Wild: In this variant, all twos (deuces) are wild, offering more chances to create a winning hand. Similar to Jacks or Better, the payout for a natural royal flush (one without deuces) is significantly higher when betting the maximum coins.
  3. Bonus Poker: A variation of Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker offers higher payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands. The royal flush payout, like in other variants, jumps significantly with a max coin bet.
  4. Double Bonus Poker: This game offers increased payouts for four-of-a-kind hands, with even greater rewards for four aces. The royal flush payout at max bet is considerably higher than at lower coin bets.
  5. Double Double Bonus Poker: An extension of Double Bonus, this variant offers additional bonuses for specific four-of-a-kind hands. Betting the maximum coins is essential to capitalize on the game’s full payout potential, especially for the top hand.
  6. Joker Poker (Kings or Better): This variant includes a joker as a wild card. The payout for a natural royal flush (without the joker) is substantially higher when the maximum number of coins is bet.
  7. Progressive Video Poker Machines: These machines feature a progressive jackpot for a royal flush that increases with each bet made on the network of machines. To win the full progressive jackpot, a player usually must bet the maximum number of coins.

In each of these games, the enhanced payout for a royal flush at maximum bet is a key factor in the game’s overall payout percentage and expected value (EV). Players aiming for optimal play and seeking the highest possible returns should always consider betting the maximum number of coins in these variants. However, it’s important to balance this strategy with bankroll management, as betting the maximum can also lead to faster depletion of funds.

RNG and Fairness

  • Video poker machines use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure that each hand is dealt randomly and fairly.
  • This means that the game, like all casino games, has a built-in house edge, but skilled play can reduce this edge significantly.

Remember: video poker is a game of skill and chance, where understanding and applying the optimal strategy based on the game’s payout table can significantly impact a player’s chances of winning and achieving a positive expected value over time.