Video Poker Guide

video poker guide royal flushThe poker game has been a casino favourite for as long as casinos have existed. In the actual live game, poker players had to be very sharp and attentive, not just about the cards in their hand but about the cards with their opponents.

Video poker machines greatly reduce the tension associated with playing the players and help you focus on your own hand because you are playing against the machine. To play video poker, you must have a strong strategy and excellent video poker knowledge to maximize your returns and reduce losses.

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While your average slot machine depends on sheer luck, video poker machines in both online and land-based casinos, require considerable skill and knowledge of the game to win big. The poker machines are mainly easy-to-use and eliminate the whole process of relying on a dealer and dealing with the interaction with other players. The video poker community finds it an ideal way of using their knowledge of the game and cards to try to achieve a positive outcome.

To help you play video poker with knowledge of how to decide your moves, you must first learn about the winning hands in a poker game. You will be, as expected, dealt five cards at a time. You will have the opportunity to change your cards based on the type of poker game you have chosen to play.

Rank of Poker Hands

1. Royal Flush – this is a combination of Ace-King-Queen-Jack-10 from the same suit. The four suits are hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades.
2. Straight Flush – any 5 following cards belonging to the same suit.
3. Four-of-a-Kind – four cards with the same rank.
4. Full House – this is a combo of 3 cards of the same rank and 2 cards of another rank, regardless of suit. Let’s take for example a hand of 6 of hearts, 6 of clubs and 6 of diamonds along with 3 of diamonds and 3 of spades.
5. Flush – the Flush is a combination of five cards from the same suit but are not in any specific order.
6. Straight – these are five cards with consecutive ranks belonging to different suits. For example Jack of hearts, 10 of spades, 9 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, and 7 of hearts.
7. Three-of-a-Kind – those are three cards of different suits but of the same rank.
8. Two Pair – this is a hand containing two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, regardless of suit. For example, two 5s of hearts and spades along with two 8s of diamonds and clubs.
9. One Pair – a pair of cards of the same rank. Some video poker games like Jacks or Better accept winning hands of at least a pair of Jacks or more.

Now that you are aware of the winning hands in a video poker game let us take a look at the video poker machine and the pay table so that you can identify the machines which have a higher chance of a good payout and how to use the machine to carry out a bet.

The Video Poker Machine and Pay Tables

The Video Poker Machine & Pay TablesIn the land casinos, video poker machines, unsurprisingly, look similar to slot machines. They have a video screen which displays the cards dealt and has a number of buttons which allow you to carry out specific actions.

To begin any video poker game, you will either have to enter a ticket or cash into the poker machine. If you play Video Poker in online casinos, then money is automatically deducted from your account with the online casino.

Based on the amount of money you enter, you will notice a certain number of credits available for you to use. To proceed further, you must use the buttons on the machine to begin your poker game.

These video poker machine buttons usually are:

Bet One Credit – allows you to bet one credit to play the poker game. You can press this button multiple times to bet more credits up to a maximum number of credits allowed for the game.

Bet Max – this option will allow you to bet the maximum amount of credits accepted by the video poker machine to play the game. In most poker machines, the maximum number of credits allowed is usually limited to five, but some machines may have a higher limit like 10 or 20. Make sure you are aware of the maximum bet allowed on the machine before you use this button.

Deal/Draw – Once you have selected the number of credits for playing the game, you select this button for the poker machine to show your cards. If you choose Bet Max, then the cards will be automatically dealt and you will not have to the button. You cannot change your bet once the cards have been dealt. You will use this button for a second time if you choose to replace part or all of your cards. Select the cards to hold and press it for the video poker machine to replace the rest of the cards and show the final hand.

Hold/Cancel – You can hold a card and if you later decide not to hold it, then you can press the button again to cancel. There is one hold button under each card dealt out on the screen.

Cash Out – If you have finished your game and do not want to play further, then press the Cash Out button. New machines will dispense a cash ticket which can be exchanged for cash at the counter. Old machines may still dispense the money in the form of coins that drop to the tray. For online casinos, the winnings will be automatically credited to your account.

Understanding the Pay Table

Understanding the Pay TableIn this video poker guide, let us now look at the pay table and how it can affect your winnings. The payouts will be mentioned on the machine or on your screen. So you do not have to memorize it. The Return to Player (RTP) of a machine or a game is an indicator of how much of a chance you have to win a game. An RTP of 95% means that you are likely to make 95 bucks on every 100 bucks spent. The RTP is usually mentioned on machines.

This does not establish a hard and fast rule that you will definitely make this amount, but it helps you identify the average payout. Winning or losing will usually depend on individual games and poker players, as well as your video poker knowledge.

When you begin to play video poker, the two most popular games that you will come across are Jacks or Better and, of course, Deuces Wild. Both games are known to offer high RTP (as much as 99.5%). In this Video Poker guide, we will cover the strategies for both the games.

Playing Jacks or Better on a Video Poker Machine?

Playing Jacks or Better on a Video Poker MachineMost video poker players begin with jacks or better as their first poker game. It is probably because the game is very simple and the strategies used for this game are very pragmatic. With the right poker knowledge of which hands you need to win and practical decisions taken to win the game, a player can achieve better outcomes.

The game of Jacks or Better requires you to get any of the winning hands as mentioned above, with a pair of Jacks being the lowest payoff. You are paid 1-for-1 if you get a pair of Jacks or a pair of any of the higher ranks, which is a pair of kings, queens, or aces. Video poker machines do not differentiate between the ranks, so your payout will be the same, whether it is a pair of jacks or a pair of aces.

If you have a royal flush, then press the Deal/Draw button and wait for the payout. Do not play another hand or do anything else till you receive your payout. Video poker players playing on poker machines in a casino may notice an attendant walk up to the machine to verify the wins because a royal flush offers huge payouts.

Jacks or Better strategies to make the best possible decisions:

1. Always hold a winning hand. Discard only cards that are not a part of it.

2. Hold all five cards, naturally, on a straight flush or a full house.

3. If your cards have three of a kind, then hold the three and discard the other two. You may end up with a four of a kind or a full house.

4. When you have two pairs, you can discard the fifth card for a chance of getting a full house.

5. Consider breaking a flush or a straight in cases when you have four cards that make a royal flush in your hand. For example, if you have the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 6 of clubs, consider discarding the 6 for a chance to draw a 10 of clubs. The risk taken here is as high as the payout if you did get lucky. On the other hand, you still stand a chance to win with possibilities of a flush if you were dealt any other rank in hearts or a straight if you got a 10 that belongs to a different suit. Lastly, there is also the chance of a pair of Jacks or better with three face cards and an ace in your current hand.

6. If you have four cards to a royal flush and the current hand includes a pair of Jacks or better, then you must consider breaking the pair for the higher win. The same must be done if four out of five cards lead to a straight flush.

jacks or better strategies7. You will find it better to keep the low pair instead of keeping a single face card or an ace in your hand. Other scenarios when you would find it better to keep a low pair are when you have a low pair and the rest of the three cards make a straight flush or a royal flush. The probability of getting two right cards is very low while the probability of making three of a kind is higher.

8. On the other hand, low pairs must be discarded if you are only one card short of a flush. In some cases where you have an open-ended straight meaning that you have four cards in a sequence and need one card which can go on any end for a straight, then you must discard the low pair to take a chance at the straight.

9. If you have an inside straight, meaning your cards are missing one card in the middle to complete a sequence for a straight, then the possibilities of drawing a winning hand are very low. The only time it is feasible to draw to a four-card inside straight is if you have at least three high cards (jack, queen, king, or ace). The lowest inside straight that you should draw to is King-queen-jack-9 of mixed suits. If you have any other inside straight, which does not qualify for a winning hand, then discard all five cards and let the video poker machine draw five new cards.

10. Do not give up a winning hand where your chances of making money are certain in an attempt to win a bigger hand where the chances are uncertain.

11. Play the maximum bet to take advantage of the bonus payout if you get a royal flush.

12. A two-card royal where you have an ace and a 10 will not qualify for drawing a royal flush. It is ideal to discard all cards except the ace.

These video poker rules are followed by the players of the poker community to make informed decisions and improve their chances of winning. While machines offer a considerable payout, many video poker players usually depend on guesswork instead of following the poker rules and strategies to help them decide which cards should be held and which ones should be discarded.

How to Play Deuces Wild Video Poker Game?

Deuces Wild is very popular in the poker community because it packs in some extra thrill to the usual Jacks or Better. The main deuces wild rules are:

  • The deuce which is “2” is a wild card. You can replace it with any card to build a winning hand.
  • The smallest winning hand is three of a kind. Pair and two pairs will not get you any returns.
  • You have the opportunity to create an additional winning hand called ‘five of a kind’. This winning hand will have four cards of the same rank and different suits along with a deuce that makes up the fifth card.
  • A poker player who lands a ‘five of a kind’ enjoys a payout which is 12 times the original stake.
  • Lastly, if you get four deuces, then it is considered a special ‘four of a kind’. It is considered to be the second-highest payout of the game. Video poker players with a ‘special four of a kind’ enjoy a payout of 200 times the original stake.
  • A royal flush with a deuce pays only 25 times the original stake as compared to a royal flush without a deuce which pays 800 times the original stake.

With these deuces wild rules in mind, you would have a better understanding of how to play deuces wild.

Deuces Wild Strategies

Deuces Wild StrategiesMost of the Jacks or Better strategies will apply to the deuces wild game as well. Your video poker knowledge of Jacks or Better will help you crack Deuces Wild and improve your chances of winning in this game too.



Some additional strategies unique to this game are:

  • Even though pairs do not make a winning hand, it is ideal that you hold a pair for a chance at a three of a kind. If you have two pairs, then hold both the pairs and discard the fifth card for a chance at a full house.
  • If you are dealt an open-ended straight with low-rank cards like 4,5,6,7 along with a face card like a King then discard the King for a chance at a straight by drawing a 3, 8 or a deuce which can be used as a wild card.

Managing Your Money

The amount of money available with you for playing poker is known as bankroll in the poker community. Awareness of the amount of money you have at hand and the maximum amount that you can bet will help you make clear and pragmatic decisions when you play Video Poker.

There are times when you may end up losing 5 or even 10 consecutive video poker games. If you realize that you do not have the money to continuously play poker without any payout then you must stop playing instead of trying to ride out a losing streak.

Managing Your MoneyMake sure you do not go overboard with your bets and you are playing on a machine where you are comfortable with the maximum bets. If a machine requires you to bet more money than another machine then you must decide on picking a machine that is suitable for your bankroll.

Use this Video poker guide to help you improve your chances of winning, but remember that even the best poker players end up making poor returns on some days.