Basics: What Is Video Poker & How to Play
Invented in 1979, video poker is a single-player card game based on five card draw poker. It’s played on a video console similar to modern slot machines.
In the basic form of the game you first set how much you bet. Then you are dealt five cards and you get to choose which cards you want to keep and which to discard. After drawing replacement cards the hand is over. You either win or lose based on how good of a poker hand you have. All the winning hands and how much they pay out are listed on the game’s paytable.
There are endless variations of this basic form of video poker. Some variations add wild cards (jokers) to the deck and some alter the game in a more drastic way, like dealing fewer or more cards than five or allowing you to discard more than once. However, all the most popular video poker games like Jacks or Better, All American and others follow the basic “draw fiver cards, discard, get new cards” outline.
Full Rules of Video Poker
A game of video poker starts with you choosing how much you want to bet. When playing online you choose your bet by doing two things: choosing how many coins to bet (1-5) and what’s the value of each coin. For example, if you choose to bet five coins and $0.20 coin value, you are betting 5 * $0.20 = $1 per hand.
After you have placed your bet you’ll usually receive five cards. You can now choose which cards to keep and which ones to discard. After discarding, the cards are replaced with new ones. The game is now over, and you win or lose based on your hand.
The best poker hand you can form with your cards is compared to the game’s pay table. If you have a winning hand, you’ll win the amount stated. If you don’t, you’ll lose your bet. If you win, you get the option to “gamble” or “double up”, which means that by guessing correctly you can multiply your winnings.
Video poker game’s paytable shows which hands win and how much they win. Most video poker games are exactly alike apart from having different paytables. For example, Jacks or Better, All American, Louisiana Double are all basic 52-card poker games (no wild cards) with just different payouts for different hands.
Specifics of each pay table depend on the variant of video poker you’re playing, which company manufactured the game, if are you’re playing online or offline (online pay tables tend to be more generous than offline), and so on. There might also be jackpots in video poker games.
This example is Louisiana Double. Its paytable is as follows (Using the maximum bet level of 5 coins):
- Royal flush: 2500
- Straight flush: 375
- Four of a kind: 175
- Full house: 45
- Flush: 30
- Straight: 20
- Three of a kind: 10
- Two pairs: 10
- Jacks or better: 5
The number on the pay table tells you how many coins you win with your bet. To get Canadian dollars multiply this number with the value of the coins you bet. For example, if you bet $0.20 coins and got a three of a kind, you’d win $0.20 * 10 = $2.
Gambling & Double Up
Gambling (or doubling up, as it is often called) gives you a chance to multiply your winnings. It’s a feature unique to video poker games and, maybe surprisingly, offers the best odds of winning out of all casino games!
So here’s how doubling up works:
After you’ve had a winning hand on a video poker game, the game will offer you the opportunity to gamble. You can either be satisfied with your winnings and cash out, or you can gamble to try to double (or quadruple) your winnings.
Depending on the game gambling works in one of two ways:
- One card is dealt face up, and five cards face down. You’ll choose one of the face-down cards. If you picked a card that’s higher in value than the one dealt face up, you double your winnings. If your chosen card is lower in value, you lose. If it’s a draw, you keep your winnings and can either quit or gamble again.
- One card is dealt face down. You need to guess if it’s red or black. A correct guess doubles your winnings, while a wrong one loses them.
What makes all this interesting is that doubling up in video poker has no house edge. It’s a true 50/50 chance of winning. There are no other casino games that offer a similarly good bet option.
Whenever you win, you can either quit or gamble again. Online casinos especially have sky-high limits for gambling, so it’s possible to multiply a meager winning into thousands. This chance is very real, player’s have won hundreds of thousands by doubling up.
Note that latest online video poker games also offer the chance to quadruple your winnings. In this case, you need to try to guess the suit of a card, and if you guess right, your winnings are multiplied by four.
Video Poker Questions & Answers
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What are the most common video poker games?
There is an endless number of video poker variants, but the most common ones are:
- Jacks or Better | No jokers. A pair of jacks is the lowest winning hand. The simplest video poker game, easy to play with an optimum strategy.
- Deuces Wild | All deuces are jokers. A very complex game with a low house edge.
- Joker Wild – One joker in the deck. Somewhere between Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild on the complexity scale.
- All American | Essentially a Jacks or Better game with a different paytable. Rizk Casino offers two variations of American classic video pokers.
- Tens or better | Yet another game like Jacks or Better but with a different paytable.
- Supajax | Jacks or Better with a special Supajax-card, which is needed for a hand that wins a progressive jackpot. The game can be found at Jackpot City online casino.
What are multi-hand video poker games?
Multi-hand games enable to play 5, 10, 50 or even 100 hands with one go. When you play a multi-hand game, at the start of the game you get your initial fiver cards as always. The cards you choose to keep are copied to different hands (to 100 different hands in a 100 hand game, for example) and finally each hand receives the missing cards from different decks.
Important note about betting:
When playing a multi-hand game be careful with how much you’re betting per deal. Your bet is calculated per hand, so if you choose to bet $1 on a 100 hand game, you’re actually betting $1 * 100 = $100 for one deal.
What does “wild” mean in video poker?
Wild means that some card(s) in the game are wild. When checking how much you won, wild card (“joker”) is considered to be the card that gives you the biggest win.
For example, if you have 3, 3, 3, 8 and a wild card, the wild would be a 3 so you’d get a four-of-a-kind.
Wilds can either be a certain cards already in the deck or additional cards:
- Deuces Wild: All deuces (number 2 cards) are wild
- Joker Wild: Additional Joker card in the deck
Is it true I should always bet maximum coins?
Yes it is. Video poker games have disproportionally large payouts for the best hands when playing maximum coins.
For example, here’s a typical payout for a royal flush:
- 1 coin: 400
- 2 coins: 800
- 3 coins: 1200
- 4 coins: 1600
- 5 coins: 4000
Notice the difference between betting 1 or 5 coins? Let’s say you wager $1 and hit a natural royal flush
- Play 1 coin of $1. You’ll win 400 * $1 = $400
- Play 5 coins of $0.20$. You’ll win 4000 * $0.20 = $800
So bet smart and the same amount of money wagered can win you twice as much.
What difference does betting maximum coins really make? It’s so rare to get a royal flush that it seems a little pointless to worry over how much it pays.
Mathematically, the difference between betting 1 coin and betting 5 coins is about 1% on your bottom line in the long run. That may not seem like a lot, but if you could somehow improve your Baccarat results by 1% for example, you’d win all the time.
Are there strategy differences between single and multi-hand games?
The strategy of playing both is the same. However, multi-hand games have a lower variance (fluctuation of results) than one-hand games. This lower variance is why professional gamblers prefer multi-hand poker machines.
Is it a good tactic to always double up?
When you win, you shouldn’t hesitate to double up. Doubling up offers the best odds of winning of any game you can play at a casino, so you should hit this feature hard.
Doubling up you have a 50% chance of winning, and if you do, you double your winnings. This means the gambling function of poker machines has no house edge at all. The only other bet as good as this is “taking the odds” at Craps.
One strategy to take advantage of these good odds is to play with small stakes and then double up as long as you can. If you play online, doubling up is either not limited or the limits are so high you’ll never reach them before choosing to cash out your winnings.
Q&A: Fun Facts
How much have people won doubling up?
There is a recorded case of a (Scandinavian) player doubling up a $125 win to $128,000. Winning this much requires doubling up eleven times in a row successfully, so the player definitely had nerves of steel! Apparently the whole office of the online casino in question stopped working and stared at the monitor whenever this particular gambler was at the site…
Just in case you’re curious, the game in question was Netent’s Jacks or Better which you can play at Rizk Casino.
Can you win at video poker?
The house edge of video poker games is very small. Depending on the game it’s usually less than 1%, for example most common Jacks or Better paytable has a house edge of 0.5%. Low house edges like these mean that you can win, but luck is still required.
There are also some games, mostly Deuces Wild variations found at Las Vegas, where there’s no house edge at all. These so called “full pay” Deuces Wild games pay out a theoretical 100.76%. With these full pay machines it’s possible to win at least in theory. Before booking a trip to Las Vegas it should be noted that Deuces Wild is an extremely complicated game to play correctly, so almost nobody does.
Are video poker games really random?
Yes they are. There’s actually no incentive for a casino NOT to have a random game. Since video poker games have a house edge, or they need to be played with such a good strategy that almost nobody manages it, it wouldn’t make sense for a casino (online or in real life) to not have random games.
The games randomness is provided by a RNG (random number generator). Online casinos have their RNGs tested as a part of getting their operating license.
Is it possible to play video poker professionally?
It actually is, although it’s neither easy nor fun. You can play video poker profitably and professionally if you find generous poker machines and good casino promotions (“comps”) from the same place. In practice, this is not possible online or in Canada. It can only be done in Las Vegas or Macao, and even there it’s not easy to pull off successfully.
The idea is to play video poker because if you can play it well, you can bet a lot and lose very little. Many casinos hand out gift cards and other comps to players based on how much they bet. A professional video poker player bets as much as he needs to get a gift card then sells that gift card, and that’s his profit.
Some casinos also arrange prize draws. Sometimes the odds of winning are tied to how much you bet at the casino during a certain period. If the prize is something valuable, like a new car, a video poker professional may bet up to $500,000 (yes, that’s half a million dollars) per day to maximize his chances of winning. Most of the time the pro doesn’t win, but the times he does make all this worthwhile.
How about those full pay machines that have 100%+ return? They return so little you’d make more working at McDonalds so that’s not something a real gamblig pro can count on.
As you can see from the examples, being a gambling professional isn’t always a glamorous life. In this case it’s more about grinding out a hand after hand without getting distracted and making mistakes.
Q&A: Playing Online
Can I play real-money video poker on my mobile device?
Yes you can. All our recommended casinos can be played at with all popular mobile devices (phones and tablets) featuring either Android, Apple or Windows mobile operating systems.
To play video poker you don’t need to download any apps. Simply go to the casino and start gambling. You can transfer money in and out with quick Interac or eCheck transfers.
Out of the casinos we recommend here at Casinogames.ca I think Leo Vegas is the best for mobile gambling.
Can I play with no bonus?
You can refuse any bonuses by contacting your casino’s customer support. Declining welcome offers is common, so your customer support rep will sort this out in less than a minute. You actually should never play with a bonus if you’re only going to play video poker. The bonus clearing rules are so difficult for video poker games that it’s very difficult to clear them without playing slots on the side.
What happens if I play online and I lose my internet connection in the middle of a hand?
This is a very common question. It’s also a good one, as lost internet connections happen every once in a while.
The standard practice among online casino software providers is that the deal is finished according to a pre-determined strategy (the optimum strategy). Any winnings or losses are credited to your account. This is a fair practice, as you don’t lose out on anything, except the option to try to double up your winnings.
What is the best casino to play Video Poker online?
There are a lot of casinos with video poker games online. You can find the best selection of games at Bodog and Party Casino. We’d recommend the latter, due to their loyalty bonuses and VIP scheme. Party Casino is a very Canada-friendly casino in general too, so you get to enjoy instant deposits and quick cashouts.
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