Poker is and always has been a gambling favourite. The original 5-card draw has evolved into many newer game types over the years, including 3-Card poker, and Holdem poker, which has been apart of the biggest craze over the past decade and a half.
Pokies of video slots are probably the most played games in the world, their video game-like presentation draws the crowds in from all over. It should be no surprise then that Video Poker is received so well. It combines the gameplay of 5-card poker with the convenience and ease of pokie play.
What is Video Poker?
Known previously as poker slots, video poker is a virtual machine-based version of 5-card poker. It comes in a variety of game types, but the premise remains the same throughout all variations – land a classic poker hand and win!
Unlike table poker games, where a slight facial expression might give away your hand, video poker is played like a computer game. In fact, it is not even played against a virtual opponent. It relies on the dealings of the machines Random Number Generator. Any valid poker hand wins a prize of some sort, so there is no stressing about an opponent one-upping you.
These unique and exciting game machines were introduced to the casino floors in the ‘70s and have become such a great success that online casinos all over the world include them in their vast game libraries.
Odds of Winning
Unlike traditional slots/pokies, video poker is a skill-based game. Yes, the cards are dealt randomly, but your success is determined by a good measure of decision making. To be moderately successful at the game, you will need to know a little about poker and the types of hand combos that can be created.
Once you know what you are doing, the odds of winning are much better than most casino games on the market. Where pokies carry a Return to Player rating of around 96% on average, video poker is around 99% to 99.5%. That leaves the casino with a tiny house edge. That is why video poker does not count very well towards the wagering requirements on casino bonuses at online casinos.
While wins are forthcoming, they are rarely lifechanging, unless you manage to find a progressive video poker game, where the jackpot for winning the Royal Flush is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead, this is the game you go to for a few hundred dollars in wins. When a bigger prize comes up, take it as a bonus.
Popular Game Types
There are a few versions of video poker available to play at online casinos. Though there are a few newer options, the 3 main types remain the mainstays across the market. These include:
- Jacks or Better: This is the most common variation of the game, where hands that equal or better a pair of Jacks will pay. That means that two 10’s just misses the reward bracket. At some casinos, you might even find a sub-variant of the game, called 10’s or Better.
- Joker Poker: Also called Jokers Wild, this game variant is played with a 53-card deck, the 53rd card being a solitary joker. The joker operates as a Wild card and will substitute for all other cards to help create winning hands.
- Deuces Wild: In this game variant, all 4 deuces (2s) are the Wild Cards in the game. They will substitute for all other cards to produce winning hands.
Common Poker Hands
The basics of video poker involve knowing the common poker hands. While you can keep an eye on the paytable of the machine to help you along, its always best to memorise these, as you will want to leave the thinking for your strategy instead.
The hand combinations from lowest to highest include.
- 1 Pair: This is when you land two of the same type of card. (2x Kings, or 2x Aces, etc).
- 2 Pairs: This is when you have two sets of pairs in one hand.
- 3 of a Kind: This is a hand that has 3 matching card values in it (3x 9s, etc).
- A Straight: All 5-cards in your hand run in consecutive order of value (2,3,4,5,6, etc). They need not be of the same suit: 6♣-5♠-4♦-3♣-2♥
- A Flush: When all 5-cards in your hand are from the same suit. They need not run in consecutive order (all hearts, or all spades, etc): A♣-10♣-8♣-4♣-2♣
- Full House: This is when you have ‘one pair’ and a ’3 of a Kind’ together in your hand.
- 4 of a Kind: A hand where four of the same card value is in the hand (4x 5’s, etc).
- 5 of a Kind: When all cards in your hand are the same value (joker poker only)
- Straight Flush: this combines the principles of the Straight and the Flush. All five cards in your hand are of the same suit and run in consecutive order: 8♣-7♣-6♣-5♣-4♣
- Royal Flush: This is the same as a Straight flush, but it combines the 5 highest value cards: A♥-K♥-Q♥-J♥-10♥
How to Play
Once you have the poker hand combos down, you are most of the way there. Playing is simple:
- First things first – place a wager of between 1 to 5 coins.
- The house will then deal you a 5-card hand.
- You must evaluate the hand to see if any poker combinations are present. If not, ask yourself if there are any that are nearly complete.
- Hold the cards of interest by clicking on the ‘Hold’ tab under each card of interest. This will keep the cards in your hand, while the rest will be discarded.
- Click on ‘’Draw’’ or ‘’Deal’’ and replacement cards will be dealt for the discarded ones.
- The computer will evaluate your new 5-card hand for any valid poker combinations and will pay you in accordance with the paytable for any win present.
- The lowest value win is one pair, which will normally pay odds of 1:1. Do not scoff at these wins, as they will pay for your next hand.
Always hold cards that create a combination on the initial draw. If there is a pair in play, keep it, as the odds of landing a 3 of a kind are higher than if you stuck with a high card or pushed for a straight. High-risk moves should only be attempted when you are a card away from a Royal Flush, or until you have grown in experience playing the game.
Video Poker is a great place to start if your end goal is playing other forms of table poker. It is one of the quickest ways to learn the combinations and will teach you some of the basics about holding and discarding.