What Is Video Poker?
Video poker is one of the newer inventions to enter the casino games scene. In the 1970s, slot machines and the classic game of poker were combined to form video poker. While video poker shares many characteristics of regular table poker and slot machines alike, these games are often referred to as “poker slots” due to their uncanny resemblance to typical slot games. This is because video poker is a fixed-odds poker game based on five-card draw poker, and can be played either at online casinos or on terminals in physical casinos.
Like slot games, video poker is very easy to use and does not require any interaction with a croupier or other players. And, video poker features a random number generator to help shuffle the cards just as slots use RNG to determine the symbols on every spin.
Unlike slot machines, video poker lets you make your own choices which implies that you do have some control over the outcome of your poker hands. Video poker also has a much smaller house edge and, if you play your cards right, you could turn that edge in your favour.
So, video poker’s key difference from a slot machine and regular poker is that, with enough skill, you might be able to beat video poker! This, of course, depends on whether you know your hand rankings and can play each hand in the most optimal way.
In this article, we will pick apart every detail of video poker games so that you can have a better understanding of the game and ultimately become a better poker player. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Why Play Video Poker?
Video poker has become a top choice for seasoned online poker players since the genre made its debut in the 70s — and we’re here to tell you why.
Video poker is one of the few online table games that offers some of the best odds in casino gambling. On top of that, gamblers may also have the chance to influence the outcome of the game. This all depends on the level of your skill and mastery of the game. To top it all off, many online gamblers love video poker due to the low house edge it brings into the mix.
If played skillfully, video poker games like Jacks or Better may return a payout percentage of 99.5%. With an optimal poker strategy, other variations of video poker may return over 100%.
Apart from all these already appealing reasons as to why players have made the switch, video poker gives you some sort of anonymity in the sense that you can play solo. This may be especially appealing to new players who can’t yet handle the pressure of being in a live poker game.
If you think that a slot machine will give the same satisfaction as video poker, then you’d be mistaken! Video poker has something that slot games do not — the element of skill. As we’ve mentioned previously, video poker players have the power to influence their hand outcome. This is because video poker is played with a randomly shuffled 52-card deck (or 53 cards in the case of Joker’s Wild) and so, the possible card combinations are known and the frequency of these combinations can be calculated. This implies that a near full-proof video poker strategy can be devised.
Online Video Poker
Playing this game online is quite straightforward, compared to the regular online table game, so you should have no trouble navigating your way around. First thing’s first, make sure you have a sufficient amount of funds in your bankroll before you begin playing. It is important you understand the credits and coin system to know exactly how much you’re betting.
Your video poker strategy begins at the moment you place your first wager — wagering incorrectly might hurt your final payout. Online video poker games allow you to adjust your bet through a ‘Bet’ or ‘Coin buttons; land-based video poker machines work using coins (casino tokens).
The gameplay of this game closely resembles that of five-card draw poker, where five cards are dealt and players must decide which cards to keep and which to discard. On land-based video poker machines, players can discard or keep cards through the Deal/Draw button and Hold/Cancel button. When playing online, cards are discarded and replaced with one click. Since you play this game solo, you would not need to worry about bluffing, but instead focus your play on creating the best card combination possible.
Poker Hand Rankings
In order to play this game skilfully, you must understand the hand rankings above all else. Having a solid grasp on what beats what in poker is one of the very first things you must learn in order to become a better video poker player and devise an optimal video poker strategy. Let’s rank them in order from most valuable to least:
- Royal Flush: If you manage to hit a royal flush, you basically have a win in the bag. The royal flush is the most valuable card combination you can earn, built with an ace, king, queen, jack and 10 all of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: A straight flush is a series of five consecutive cards of the same suit. The straight flush is the second-best hand you can earn and can only be beaten by the royal flush.
- Four of a Kind: A four of a kind consists of four cards of the same rank.
- Full House: The full house is a combination of three cards of one rank, and two cards of another rank. The full house is often referred to as the combination of the three of a kind and two pair.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit.
- Straight: A series of five consecutive cards of different suits.
- Three of a Kind: A three of a kind consists of three cards of the same rank.
- Two Pair: Two cards of one rank, and another two of another rank.
- One Pair of Jacks or Better: Either two jacks, queens, kings or aces. In poker, jacks or better is the lowest winning hand you can earn.
While there are main great things about playing video poker, one of its main benefits is that players would know their expected return before the game even begins. This contrasts many new slot games. For this reason, it would be advisable to check out the game’s pay table before you go ahead and play, as some may be more profitable than others.
Choosing the best poker machine requires you to understand that the return on a video poker machine is based on its poker pay table. For example, if a casino has a house edge of 3% (which implies that the casino makes a 3% profit on a video poker game), the player would earn a return of 97% — this may vary depending on the video poker machine’s pay table. So, the higher the return, the better your profit might be — if you pick a video poker machine that offers a 99.54% return, your odds will be much better than if you picked a video poker game with a 97.29% return. This is because the machine will have a house edge of 0.47% as opposed to 2.71%. The 99.54% payback percentage is obviously the better choice, as it offers almost full pay. No doubt, a machine that offers almost full pay trumps other video poker machines any day.
The layout of these video poker paytables is always the same. Each payout will be listed according to the hand rankings. So, the royal flush will be listed at the top of the list, followed by lower-valued card combinations in descending order. Each card combination comes with a description on the left column of the paytable, in case you ever need to brush up on your hand rankings. The payout for each combination of cards varies according to how many credits are in play.
Video Poker Games
Now that we’ve gone through the basics, the question remains as to what kind of games are out there? There are actually quite a few variants of video poker online. Here are a few:
Jacks or Better Video Poker
This game variation of online video poker is one of the most common versions you’ll find at online casino. Jacks or Better video poker gets its name from the fact that a pair of jacks or better is the minimum winning hand you can earn.
In this video poker variation, twos are Wild cards which may appear in any hand and can substitute for any other card. Deuces Wild puts a fun twist on the classic game, allowing gamblers another chance to create better winning hands.
Bonus Poker is similar to the Jacks or Better game except in the fact that Bonus poker awards a bonus upon earning a four of a kind.
Double Bonus Poker
Double Bonus Poker also closely resembles the Jacks or Better game except in the fact that Double Bonus Poker awards a bonus payout upon earning four aces.
Video poker is a unique game that offers an unparalleled gambling experience. And with so many variations to choose from, playing video poker will never get tiresome. Check out awesome video poker titles such as Double Bonus Poker or Double Double Bonus Poker, at EnergyCasino!