Use Both Skill and Luck
Video poker offers the perfect mix for any gambler, in that it contains elements of both skill and luck, whilst at the same time offering a low-house edge. Even better, it offers the possibility of scoring some big wins, though the odds are fixed. You'll find many platforms and variances to the game, though the one factor you should keep in mind is choosing the best pay table.
How Video Poker Works
The game of video poker is a battle between the player and the machine. You can look upon the machine as being the dealer. It's not really your mechanical rival, but more of a game facilitator. Unlike regular poker, you don't have to worry about any other player’s hands. Obviously, as you're playing against a machine, there's no need for any bluffing!
To get started you need to insert money. Or if you're playing online, set your coin size and the number of coins you wish to bet. Then press the “Deal” button in order to draw a hand. Once the cards are laid out in front of you, you'll have the opportunity to discard unwanted cards and draw new ones.
Don’t Just Play With Emotion
Providing your hand matches the winning hand combinations in the pay schedule, then you'll receive a payout. Thanks to ease of play that's similar to slot machines, many players play without thinking. They rely on their emotions or intuition. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to play. Especially if you're interested in growing your bankroll, as opposed to depleting it.
Many players failed to recognise that you can increase your winning odds with video poker by utilising proven mathematical rules. Therefore, even though practice is helpful, it’s equally important that you understand the maths before receiving the cards or making any choices during the gameplay.
Rules & Payout Table
No matter which version of video poker you are playing, the rules are simple. You place your bet, you are dealt five cards, you choose which to replace, and you are then paid according to the strength of your hand. The minimum hand required to win a payout is often hinted at in the game’s name. For example, when playing Jacks or Better, you need at least a pair of jacks to win.
This is true in most games (although there is also 10s or Better). At the other end of the scale is the Royal Flush which is an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 in the same suit. Mind you, the odds of a Royal Flush are a tiny 0.00015 percent or 1 chance in 649,740!
Video Poker Hand Ranking
Below we've listed the different hand ranks and their definitions. This will give you a better understanding of the cards you should keep and those you should discard. Starting with the strongest hand, the rankings are as follows:
- Royal Flush: The Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: Five cards in rank order of the same suit.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank.
- Full House: Three cards of one rank and a pair of another.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit.
- Straight: Five cards in rank order of mixed suits.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
- Two Pair: Two pairs of two different ranks.
- Jacks or Better: A pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces.
In some games, that feature jokers or wild cards, it‘s possible to obtain 5 of a kind. However, you will still find that the payout is bigger for a natural royal flush.
Video Poker Payouts
The pay table is a fixed scale that informs you of the possible payouts depending on your hand and bets. These are shown on the video poker pay table. Just like their brethren, the trusty slot machine, video poker machines can take a variety of denominations. The most popular being 25 cents and $1. If you feel the need to chase progressive payouts or search for Royal Flushes, then you're going to need a bigger bankroll. You'll also find that there are a variety of video poker games available with the most common versions being Jacks or Better, Joker Wild, and Deuces Wild.
Video Poker Pay Table
In the 9/6 pay table below you can see the possible payouts for the different number of coins bet in a typical game of Jacks or Better.
Four of a Kind
Three of a Kind
Jacks or Better
The trick to being a successful video poker player is having a thorough knowledge of the hand rankings and being able to spot the potential in the cards that you have been dealt. By understanding the rules, odds, pay table, and hand ranking, not only will you improve your chances of winning, but you'll also have a more enjoyable video poker experience.
The good news is that, much as with blackjack, you can look up video poker strategy charts online. These will teach you have to play each hand in the mathematically optimal way, which in turn maximises the RTP and minimises the house edge.
The rules of video poker are not going to take anyone long to learn, but mastering the optimal strategy takes time, effort and patience. However, it is certainly worth the effort. While you can never completely overcome the house edge, you can reduce it significantly, which means that you will be able to play for longer, have more fun, and give yourself more opportunities to hit that elusive 1 in 649,740 royal flush.