How to Play Video Poker

What Is Video Poker?

Video poker is a popular electronic card game that can be found in almost all casinos. The game replicates the play of five-card draw poker where the player has two rounds to make the best possible five-card hand according to standard poker rules. But rather than competing against other players at a table, the game pays the player according to a provided pay table which assigns a credit value to each hand.

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How Video Poker Works

The player uses an electronic console with a screen and the following buttons:

Bet to select the amount of the bet

Draw/Deal to activate the deal and draw new cards

Hold/Cancel to select which cards to hold.

How to Play Video Poker

How to Play Video Poker

The machine deals five cards to the player. He or she then must select which cards to hold. The player can hold between one and five cards. The machine discards the remaining “unheld” cards and replaces them to create the final hand. The game awards credits based on that final five-card hand according to the pay table. The machine pays only the amount listed in the payoff table, it does not return the original bet.

The player must press the Payout button to collect his or her winnings once game play is finished.

Popular Variants of Video Poker

Video poker is most often played as “Jacks of Better.” In this variety, the minimum hand for which a player receives credits is a pair of Jacks. Other game varieties include wild cards and bonus features that change the payout for each hand in the pay table. Determining the best strategy for each different variety depends on the amount of each payout.

Sample pay table for Jacks or Better Video Poker

Hand – Payout for 1 credit bet

Royal Flush – 250

Straight Flush – 50

Four of a kind – 25

Full House – 9

Flush – 6

Straight – 4

Three of a kind – 3

Two Pair – 2

Jacks or Better – 1

Many game varieties begin with the same rules as “Jacks or Better” with small changes that change the odds in significant way:

Deuces Wild – Every two in the deck serves as a wild card.

Jokers Wild – The electronic deck includes jokers which serve as wild cards.

Bonus Poker – Four of a kind pays a bonus.

Double Bonus Poker – Four Aces pay a second bonus.

Aces and Eights – Four Aces or four Eights pays a bonus.

All American – Uses a pay table with an increased payout for flushes, straights and straight flushes, but reduced payout for full houses and two pairs.

When played optimally, video poker provides odds that are far better for the player than most casino games. Be sure to select a machine with a pay table that does not provide a larger advantage to the casino. Video poker odds provide the opportunity to both play a long time on an initial investment and to hit large paydays with a big hand or a jackpot.


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