How to Play Video Poker

Understanding the basic concept of video poker is pretty simple - all you are doing is trying to create the best five card poker hand possible.

As the game play is so strictly governed, there aren't many other rules as such to follow. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you can dive straight in and start playing like a pro.

Different payouts, multi-hand versions, gamble features and even jackpots mean that there is some homework to be done when choosing the right video poker game.

Basics of playing video poker

  • The basic aim of the game is to create the best poker hand possible
  • Standard poker hand rankings determine payouts
  • Each version of video poker varies and it is advisable to look at the paytable before playing a new version, the paytable details what monetary payout you can expect for each hand
  • In some games after a win, you're given the opportunity to double your wins by choosing one of four cards to beat the dealer's

Step by Step Guide on Game Play

  1. Select your bet and remember that if you're playing a multi-hand game this bet will be multiplied by the number of hands.
  2. Click deal and you will be presented with your first set of five cards.
  3. Hold or leave as many of them as you like in order to create what you think could be a winning hand.
  4. Click deal and the held cards will remain while those that weren't held will be replaced by new ones.
  5. Payouts will be handed out automatically.
  6. If you have won, many video poker games offer you a gamble feature such as high or low (2:1) or select a suit (4:1).

Selecting a Video Poker Game

Video poker comes in many forms with many different names (some more imaginative than others). Below we've listed the most common forms of video poker but here are a few more things to look out for:

  • 10 Play, 50 Line, 100 Play etcetera refers to the number of hands you can play.
  • Figures like 9/6, 8/5, 6/5 refer to the payouts for a full house and a flush. Obviously higher figures are better with 9/6 paying out at around 99.5%.
  • When 'joker' or 'deuces' is in the title it usually means that the cards referred to are wild in that game.
  • When 'or better' is in the title that means that you receive a payout for a pair of those cards and any better hand.
  • While multi-hand games may look like they provide more wins, they have lower expected returns.
Video Poker Paytable An example of a 9/6 paytable for a Double Bonus game.

Most Popular Video Poker Games

  • Jacks or Better
    • Just a pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces is enough to win a payout.
    • The most common form of video poker with expected returns around 99.5%.
    • Similar versions are 10s or Better where a pair of 10s also provides a payout.
  • Joker Poker
    • Same as a standard game of video poker with the addition of a joker card that is wild to create extra wins.
    • Expected returns are around 98.6%.
    • Deuces Wild and Aces Wild are similar but corresponding cards are wild.
    • Double Joker versions have two joker cards and lower expected returns of 98.1%.
  • Bonus Poker
    • Similar to a standard game with extra wins given for revealing specific hands which are detailed in the paytable.
    • Expected returns are just above 99%.
    • Double bonus versions double your bonus or give you more bonus opportunities.
    • Microgaming's Bonus Poker Deluxe is an example that provides a high payout for 4 of a kind.

A Basic Video Poker Game

The generic game is based on ordinary draw poker where the player receives 5 cards and selects to hold any number of them and re-draw the rest. The aim is to achieve the best possible poker hand.

The key to understanding how each version works is to scrutinise the payout table before taking the plunge. Each version of video poker demands a different strategy and prospective players would be well advised to play for fun/for free before trying a new variation.

The option to play multiple hands multiplies the base bet for any particular game, so the amount you bet per hand will only be a fraction of your total bet. For example, if a player has selected to play a 50p video poker game with five different hands, the total bet for that particular game would be £2.50

Knowing how much you'll receive for certain hands is a crucial factor of video poker and more often than not the paytable should be on view on the game's main screen. Just for your general knowledge below is a table showing the typical ranking system for poker hands.