Online Video Poker

Play this new form of the oldest game in gambling. Based on the classic game of poker, video poker brings the best of the old world and the new.

History

Video Poker’s is a combination of the oldest and newest in gambling. It is based on the classic card game of poker which has its roots in old Europe, but its rise began just a few decades ago in the 70s when computerised casino games were just beginning to be developed.

In the mid-70s, a Bally Technologies employee named Si Redd pitched Video Poker to company execs. They rejected his proposal, but thankfully Redd’s entrepreneurial spirit burned strong enough that he persisted with his project. He eventually formed his own business, Sircoma, which we know today by the name International Game Technology (IGT).

It took a few years for Redd’s investment to pay off, but by the mid-1980s Video Poker had well and truly arrived. This was the beginning of MTV era, when people were really beginning to understand the potential of video technology, and Video Poker was well-positioned to capture the Vegas public’s imagination.

Video Poker was originally based on Draw Poker, where the lowest possible hand is a two-pair. However, the version that became most popular in the early years was Jacks or Better, in which the player must achieve a pair of Jacks or Better from their five cards in order to win. This version remains the most popular today.

As with other casino games, Video Poker received a boost in global popularity thanks to the coming of the Internet age. The game is now a regular fixture at most online casinos, alongside regular table poker, roulette and blackjack.

Terminology

Video Poker’s terminology is a mix of regular poker terms and newer terms, as you would expect of a game that combines the old and the new.

Action: Total amount wagered by the player in a particular game.

Bet Max: Maximum Bet on a particular game. This is usually five coins per hand.

Discard: Card(s) the player chooses to throw away following the first deal.

Flush: Five-card hand in which all cards are from the same suit.

Four of a Kind:  Hand in which four of the cards have the same value.

Full House: Hand containing three of a kind and a pair.

Hand: The five cards dealt to the player by the machine.

Hold: Card(s) that the player chooses to hold on to.

Jackpot: Maximum bonus possible, usually awarded for a royal flush.

Pair: Two cards of exact same value, i.e. two kings or two 4s.

Pay Back: Estimated payout percentage that game, based on data for millions of hands.

Payout: Amount paid out to player for one hand.

Pay Table: A list of payouts for each scenario, which is displayed on the screen.

Royal Flush: The best possible hand in Video Poker (or regular poker), consisting of an Ace-high flush of the same suit.

Straight: Five consecutive numbers, such as 4-8 or 8-King.

Straight Flush: A straight in which all five cards are from the same suit.

Winning Hand: Any hand that pays out a winning combination.

Rules

Video Poker rules are relatively straightforward in comparison to other forms of poker. All forms of Video Poker are played with a regular 52-card deck (except for Joker Wild, which includes jokers). To begin, make a wager and press “deal” to have five cards dealt to you. You may “hold” or “discard” as many of the five cards as you like. The machine then replaced your discarded cards with more random cards. The five cards you are left with are your final hand, and you will be paid out (or not paid out) accordingly.

Cards are ranked by the same order in all forms of video poker, although the value of payouts varies between the different games. This is the standard order: Royal Flush; Straight Flush; Four of a Kind; Full House; Flush; Straight; Three of a Kind; Two Pair; One Pair of Jacks or Better.

There is no defined House advantage in this game. Payout percentages can vary from 97% to as high as 99.5%, but one rule applies to all versions of Video Poker: it is the player v. the machine and you can only win or lose.

Strategy

As you would expect for a game with such simple rules, Video Poker only requires a fairly basic strategy. You only really have two choices after receiving your initial five-card hand – which cards to hold and which to discard. The following strategy applies to Jacks or Better, but you could easily adapt it to other forms of Video Poker.

Straight Flush: Hold all cards if this one comes out of the box. In fact, photograph the screen: this is rare, and in the case of a royal flush, you should get rich from the progressive jackpot.

For of a Kind: Hold all cards. Not only is this the second-best combo, but you can’t improve on it by discarding anything.

Full House: Hold all cards. Third-best combo, cannot be improved by discarding.

Flush: Hold all cards, can’t be improved.

Straight: Hold all cards, can’t be improved.

Three of a Kind: Keep the three of a kind and discard the other two cards.

Two Pairs: Keep the two pairs and discard the fifth card for a shot at a Full House.

Jacks or Better: Hold the pair and discard the other three cards.

Of course, you should discard all cards apart from Ace, King, Queen or Jacks if you don’t win anything off the initial hand.

Tips

Below are a few handy pieces of advice which should help you improve your Video Poker: 

  •  Play real poker before hitting Video Poker. Playing against the computer will come easier after playing against real opponents and understanding all the card combos.
  • Read the Pay Table before starting a new form of Video Poker. The Pay Table displays the payout for each card combination. A good paytable should have a payout percentage of as high as 99.5%.
  • Never discard all five cards if you strike a winning hand from your initial deal. Even if you have a pair of Jacks, this is still a guaranteed win; discard the other three to see if you can improve on it.
  • Remember to play the Max Bet (usually five coins) when there is a progressive jackpot for royal flush. If you don’t play the max bet, you can’t qualify for the jackpot.
  • Stay calm. Poker pros never play when they are tired, angry, drunk or emotional. The same rule applies to video poker. You may be playing against only a machine, but your decisions will be impacted by your state of mind. If you keep cool, you will make better decisions, have more fun and win more often.
  • Each hand is a new hand. You could win 10 hands in a row or lose 10 hands in a row. Regardless, the 11th hand is a new hand and the previous hands are now meaningless. 

 

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