Video Poker is immensely popular among online gamblers as it offers some of the best odds among online casino games, and a wide variety to suit beginners as well as strategically minded poker sharks. Video Poker games first arrived at brick and mortar casinos in the mid 70´s, and gained popularity because you could play them alone, taking without added pressure from the other players at a traditional poker table.
In this article, we´ll go through the basics of this game and it´s different varieties, as well as supply you with valuable tips on how to win. All The Canadian online casinos we reviewed offer a varied catalogue of Video Poker games.
How to Play Video Poker
Video Poker is similar to slots, in the sense that you are playing against a computer rather than against other players or a dealer. And just like in slots, your winnings are paid out according to a pay table for the different winning poker hands (see below), since there is no poker pot to play for. Typically the lowest winning combination is pair of Jacks. You will find the pay table in the top of the game window, or by clicking on the pay table menu item.
You start playing by clicking the game that catches your fancy. The first step is then to place you bet. In most modern Video Poker games, you can adjust both the coin value and the amount of coins you wish to bet, which in practice means you can wager anything between a few cents and hundreds of dollars per poker hand.
Next you click “Draw” and are given 5 poker cards, at which time you need to choose which to keep and which to discard. Click on the card you wish to keep, or click on Hold beneath them. Then click on “Draw” again and the cards you didn’t mark as Hold are replaced by fresh cards from the pack. If the resulting poker hand is a winning combination, you are paid your winnings according to the pay table.
Video Poker Variations
All Video Poker variations are based on Five-Card Draw poker, meaning you only have one card replacement round and that´s it. One difference between regular Five-Card Draw poker and Video Poker is that Video Poker also only allows for one betting round. With that said there are many different variants of Video Poker, and below we have a look at the most popular.
- Jacks or Better: This game is named that way because pair of Jacks is the lowest winning combination, paying even money. This game uses a regular card deck of 52 cards and is the most popular and the easiest to learn to play.
- Tens or Better: Just like Jacks or better, this game is played with a standard deck, the difference being that the lowest winning poker hand according to the pay table is pair of Tens. However, seeing as this variety only pays out 6x your wager for Full House and 5x for Flush, the overall gambler´s odds are actually lower in Tens or Better than in Jacks or Better.
- All American: Another game closely resembling Jacks or Better. The main difference concerns the pay table, where payouts for Flush, Straight and Straight Flush are higher, while payouts for Full House and Two Pairs are lower.
Wild Card Varieties
- Joker Poker: Sometimes called Joker Wild, and is essentially the same as Jacks or Better, with the difference that you play with a 53 card deck where the joker works as a wild card that replaces any card in a winning combination. This complicates the strategy, and like all other wild card variants, it introduces new poker hands that doesn´t exist in regular poker, such as Five of a Kind.
- Deuces Wild: Played with a regular 52-card deck, but all twos work as wild cards. Jus like with Joker Poker it complicates your strategy, and introduces new poker hands, aside from Five of A Kind, the difference between Natural Hands (a hand with no wild card) and Wildcard Hands (a poker hand achieved with a two working as a wild). Natural hands have a higher payout.
- Deuces and Joker: Combines Joker Poker and Deuces Wild, and you play it with a 53 card deck where the Joker as well as all twos act as wild cards. This is a very complicated version, and not available in most casinos.
Choosing a Winning Strategy
If you want to dig deep into Video Poker strategy, there are books as well as websites you should look up, as the best strategy depends on the game you choose to play. Below however, we list a few general tips.
- Always choose to play Jacks or Better over Tens or Better or All American, as the overall player odds are better.
- Compare payout tables, as they can vary from different software providers and casinos.
- Never discard a winning combination in order to try to achieve a combination with higher payout.
- If you are playing with wild card variety, never discard the wild card.
- If you have the skill and know how, play the wild card games rather than the standard games, as they offer an edge over the casino.
Free Video Poker
Practice makes perfect and Video Poker is no exception. Whether you are a poker beginner trying to get your head around the basics, or a poker shark wanting you rehearse a strategy for Deuces Wild, the easiest way to do so is by playing Free Video Poker. All our reviewed Canadian casinos offer you to play Video Poker of different sorts for free. So don´t start playing for real money until you´ve mastered the rules and found your favorite game. Pick one of our casinos, register an account and start practicing!
Winning Video Poker Hands
Please find below the winning combinations in online Video Poker, from the lowest to the highest paying.
- Pair of Jacks or higher Two jacks in different suits, the lowest paying poker hands in Video Poker.
- Two Pairs: 2 pairs, each with the same numerical value.
- Three of a kind: 3 cards with the same numerical value in different suits.
- Straight: Five cards in numerical sequence, but not of the same suit
- Flush: 5 cards of the same suit.
- Full House: A Pair and Tree of a kind.
- Four of a kind: 4 cards with the same numerical value in different suits.
- Straight Flush: Five cards in numerical sequence of the same suit.
- Royal Flush: Five cards in numerical sequence of the same suit, where the highest card is an Ace.
Note: When playing Wild card versions of Video Poker, there is also a difference between poker hands achieved without the wild cards, so called Naturals, and those achieved with help of wilds. Naturals pay significantly better. You can also get Five of a Kind.