Video poker is one of those rare casino games where it is possible to turn a long-term profit. The return-to-player (RTP) can be as high as 99.96%, which, when combined with cashback and optimal strategy, can provide consistently positive returns. What’s more, a variant called Deuces Wild offers an RTP of 100.76%, assuming an ideal pay table. A reasonable degree of skill is required to achieve optimal returns, which is likely the reason video poker has not reached the same levels of popularity as slots.
Read on to learn how to get the best out of your online video poker experience. We cover the best online casinos to play video poker games for real money, in addition to tips and strategies for beating online video poker machines.
Gamblers looking for an online casino to play video poker should consider the following:
A trustworthy casino is one that:
For a list of reliable casinos with a solid history, see the recommendations on our website.
As far as regulation goes, what you’re looking for is a license from one of the multiple gambling commissions that regulate online gambling within their jurisdiction. Examples include the New Jersey and Delaware divisions of Gaming Enforcement, the Malta Gaming Authority, and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau in Macau.
Avoid new and unlicensed casinos, particularly those which offer better-than-average welcome bonuses. Chances are high they’ll happily accept your money deposit but be quite hesitant to process your cash-out request.
Most online casinos spread between five and seven video poker variants, although 10+ is not uncommon.
Pay close attention to the pay tables. In particular, look at how much a game pays for Full House and Flush combinations as this is where most of the differences in return-to-player (RTP) between video poker games comes from. For example, if you see a Jacks or Better machine with a 9/6 pay table, the game is paying 9 on a Full House and 6 on a Flush. An 8/6 game pays 8 and 6 on those same two hands, respectively.
A 9/6 Jacks or Better is called a “full pay” game and provides a return of 99.54%.
If a casino offers Deuces Wild, check if it has a 25/15/9/5/3/2 pay table. If it does, the game features an RTP of 100.76%, making it one of those rare beasts where players have a mathematical edge over the casino. Unfortunately, this pay table is very uncommon – you’re more likely to see 25/16/10/4/4/3, which still returns an extremely generous 99.74%.
Modern online casinos are hosted on platforms designed and coded by independent developers. Popular solutions include those from NetEnt, RTG, PlayTech, Evolution Gaming, and Dragonfish, to name a few. Playing video poker at a casino running on any of these platforms guarantees a bug-free, reliable performance.
The majority of casinos do not design their own video poker games. Rather, they source them from specialized developers such as Game King, Spin, and NYX. You should, therefore, expect to see a very similar lineup across casinos. Keep in mind that the same game can offer varying returns, depending on how the individual casinos set up their respective pay tables.
Online casinos offer generous cash bonuses to players who register a new account. These are three main types of bonuses:
Bonuses can significantly increase your bankroll’s play time and minimize your risk of short-term ruin.
When comparing bonus offers across casinos, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print. In particular:
Bonus wager requirements: players are not allowed to withdraw their bonus cash unless they meet minimum wager requirement, also called the playthrough or turnover.
This is expressed as a multiple of the combined value of the deposit and bonus, with 20x to 25x being most common online, except for New Jersey, where 5x – 10x is the norm. For example, if a casino offers a 100% first deposit bonus with a 25x playthrough requirement and you deposit $200, you must wager at least 25 * (200 + 200) = $10,000 before you’ll be allowed to withdraw any bonus funds or winnings.
Depending on your strategy and what you plan to do with your bonus, you might be better off choosing a casino with a smaller bonus and more lenient wagering requirements than to go for the largest bonus possible.
Game contribution: casino games vary in their contribution towards meeting bonus wagering requirements. For example, if you wager $1 on a game that contributes 50%, only 50 cents will count towards clearing your bonus. The better a game’s return-to-player, the smaller its contribution usually is.
Unfortunately, because many video poker games feature extremely high RTP, their contribution is often as low as 10-20%. To put this in perspective, here’s an example:
Therefore, the theoretical cost of clearing a $100 bonus in the scenario above is $460. As you can see, it is very difficult to clear a bonus through video poker and still turn a profit. Exceptions include casinos where the game contributes more than 20% and where playthrough requirements are better than industry standards. Overall, if your plan is to focus on video poker exclusively, you’re better off treating bonuses as just an extra cushion for your bankroll.
Video poker is a type of electronic video slot game, only instead of lining up symbols to create winning combinations, players draw cards and are paid based on the strength of their poker hand. Except for Joker Wild, all video poker games are played with a 52-card deck.
A hand begins with the player placing a wager, which typically ranges from $0.20 to $2 per credit. Most games allow up to five credits to be wagered per hand. The player is then dealt five cards, following which they can choose to either go to showdown or to have any of their cards replaced with new ones. Cards can be replaced only once.
The player receives a payout based on the strength of their poker hand and according to the pay table.
Payouts vary greatly from game to another. For example, Deuces Wild does not pay on anything lower than three of a kind, and Jacks or Better only pays if the player scores a pair of Jacks or higher.
Some video poker games feature side bets, wherein players are paid extra if they land particular card combinations. Although rare, these bets always come with a relatively horrible RTP – bankroll-minded players should stay clear of them.
Advantages of online video poker include easier game access, attractive welcome promotions to boost bankroll play time, and privacy.
Advantages of live play include instant gratification as a result of receiving payouts in real-time, larger game variety, and the opportunity to interact with like-minded gamblers.
There are no technical differences between internet and brick-and-mortar video poker.
As mentioned earlier, the return varies between games and casinos. To determine your expected return, always check the pay tables and pay particular attention to Royal Flush, five of a kind, Full House, and Flush payouts as these are where casinos are most likely to introduce changes that significantly alter a game’s RTP.
Paytable in hand, you can use a video poker analyzer to determine the expected returns of your chosen game, as well as the probability of making particular poker hands.
Here are the expected returns for the two most popular video poker variants:
Jacks or Better
Pay table (Full House / Flush payoff) – RTP
9/6 – 99.54%
9/5 – 98.45%
8/6 – 98.39%
8/5 – 97.3%
7/5 – 96.15%
6/5 – 95%
(Notice how going from 9/6 to 9/5, a seemingly tiny payoff reduction, drops the return from 99.54% to 98.45%. This effectively more than triples the house edge.)
Pay table – RTP
25/15/9/5/3/2 – 100.76%
25/15/11/4/4/3 – 99.96%
25/16/10/4/4/3 – 99.74%
25/15/9/4/4/3 – 98.91%
20/12/10/4/4/3 – 97.58%
20/12/9/4/4/3 – 97.06%
25/16/13/4/3/2 – 96.77%
20/1/8/4/4/3 – 95.96%
25/15/10/4/3/2 – 94.82%
Check the pay table by accessing the game in play-money mode or by contacting the casino support team.
There are dozens of video poker variants available online. However, the differences between them are mostly in payout structures and the availability of particular poker hands. There are no major gameplay differences – all games boil down to placing a single bet and then deciding which cards to swap if any.
Popular game types include:
As the name implies, this variant of video poker pays for a pair of Jacks or better, up to Royal Flush. Five of a kind is not part of the pay table. Return-to-player from 95% to 99.54%. Also known as Jacks or Higher.
In this variant, deuces are wild and can substitute for other cards to form winning poker hands. This increases the win frequency. Players must make three of a kind or better to get paid. Paytable includes five of a kind and four deuces. RTP ranges from 94.82% to 100.76% (a 0.76% player edge).
A type of Jacks or Better game with varying payouts on four of a kind. Available in multiple sub-varieties including Bonus Poker Deluxe, Double Bonus, Double Double Bonus, Triple Bonus, and Triple Double Bonus. Pays between 95.36% and 99.64%.
Played with a 53-card deck that includes a Jester/Joker. The Jester can substitute for any other card. For example, 2-3-Jester-5-6 makes a straight.
Similar to Bonus Poker – a type of Jacks or Better with varying payouts on 4 of a kind. Available in multiple versions including Regal, Double Regal, and Double Double Regal.
Contrary to its name, American Poker is mostly found at European casinos. The game allows players to make an additional bet after the deal if they choose to swap cards. Maximum bet sizes can be as high as $100. This variant is played with a 53-card deck that includes a wild Joker.
Another Jacks or Better spinoff but with a 6/5 pay table. The lowest paying poker hand is a pair of tens. Depending on whether it pays 20 or 25 on four of a kind the expected RTP is 97.95% and 99.13%, respectively.
Similar to progressive slots, a progressive video poker machine features a continuously-growing jackpot. Players win the jackpot by drawing a Royal Flush or by landing other rare combinations, such as four of a kind with an Ace kicker. These jackpots are typically worth up to a few thousand dollars and can turn an otherwise EV-negative game EV-positive.
Countless additional video poker titles can be found at bars and land-based casinos, many of which are unavailable online. Examples include Face Card Frenzy, Flush Fever, Going for Fours, Hot Roll Poker, Look Ahead, Lucky Suit, Dream Card, and many more.
All above-mentioned RTP values assume perfect video poker strategy.
Due to the very high RTP boasted by many video poker games, it is possible to turn a long-term profit from the game. However, in order to do so consistently, you must do the following:
The last requirement is most difficult to meet because the optimal strategy varies between different video poker games. Broadly speaking, proper strategy revolves around knowing when and which cards to swap, and when it’s better to stand on your original hand.
A complete strategy guide is beyond the scope of this article. It includes advanced strategies for the most dedicated players, as well as simplified approaches for those not willing to work quite as hard but who would like to get as close to maximum RTP as possible.
It’s worth noting that even the most dedicated video poker player will find turning an attractive profit difficult. This is largely due to the relatively small maximum bets allowed in most games. A dedicated, capable player can expect to make $15-$30 per hour, assuming they’re willing to stick to the highest-RTP games exclusively and to make optimal plays 100% of the time. These numbers also assume ideal cashback program selection.
Finally, it’s worth noting that video poker games with the best RTP can be difficult to find online. It’s typical for casinos to offer high-RTP games for a while as part of their marketing efforts, only to modify the pay tables and increase the house edge a few months later. There’s a lot of unpredictability involved, and as a result, we do not recommend attempting to make a living playing video poker unless you know what you’re doing and are prepared to frequent land-based casinos, in addition to online ones, in your search for the best-paying games.
To extract maximum fun and value from your time playing video poker, stick to games with an RTP of 99.1% or higher and take advantage of all bonuses offered by your casino. Even if you don’t end up making a long-term profit, sticking to these basic rules almost guarantees you’ll be able to spend countless hours playing before your bankroll runs out.
Note that casino bonuses are notoriously difficult to clear through video poker. This is a result of the game’s poor contribution towards meeting bonus wager requirements, as well as the relatively demanding playthrough requirements at most online casinos.
As mentioned in the “How to pick an online casino” section earlier, it’s extremely likely you’ll end up losing significantly more in the process of clearing your bonus than that bonus itself is worth. Spending $400 to clear $100 is not a deal any profit-minded gambler should be taking.
As long as you’re willing to accept bonuses for what they are – which is a way to enjoy more video poker play time rather than a profit-generating mechanism – you won’t be disappointed.
However, if you’re looking to extract as much value as possible from your bonus, follow this simple formula:
Expected losses = (RW * HE) / GC
Where RW stands for Required Wagers, HE is the house edge, and GC is game contribution percentage.
Example: suppose you are faced with the following situation:
In this case, RW = 10,000, HE = 0.0046, and GC = 0.20. Plugging into the formula above:
Expected losses = (10000 * 0.0046) / 0.20 = $230.
Therefore, the cost of clearing a $100 bonus in this particular case is $230.
You can use this formula to compare offers across casinos and to determine which bonus gives you the best chance of maximizing your video poker play time. The lower the expected losses while clearing a bonus, the higher your chances of a longer play time.
If you’re not meticulous about your game selection, cashback screening, and optimal strategy, your long-term return from video poker is guaranteed to be less than 100%. When this happens, the house edge slowly grinds away at your bankroll, ultimately eroding it to zero. This phenomenon is referred to as „the grind.”
Due to video poker’s relatively small house edge, the grind can be barely noticeable for some time, but it inevitably takes its toll. Of course, a short-term lucky streak can make it seem like your „crushing” the game, but if the house edge is higher than 0% and you play long enough, you will lose all your money.
To understand why consider for a moment what “house edge” means. When we say that a game comes with a 1% house edge, it means we expect to lose 1% of any wagers we place on that particular game. Again, this may not be evident in the short term, but it will definitely be in the long term.
Now, let’s say you have a $100 bankroll. You’re playing a game of video poker with a 0.5% house edge or, put another way, a 99.5% RTP. You’re betting $1 per hand, meaning after 100 hands you will have placed a total of $100 in wagers. That’s your entire bankroll.
However, due to the 0.5% house edge, you will no longer have $100 in your account at the end of that 100-hand cycle. Rather, you expect to be left with $99.5. If you were to wager that remaining $99.5 over the course of another one hundred hands, the house will theoretically claim another 0.5%, leaving you with a little over $99.
Repeat this cycle long enough and you’ll eventually be left with less than the minimum bet allowed at the game. This forces you to make another deposit to continue playing.
The only way to truly beat video poker is to follow the steps outlined in the „How to win at video poker” section. Doing so successfully will allow you to negate the house edge and to take your RTP past 100%, which is the only mathematically-viable way of profiting from any casino game.
Barring the above, there is no plausible way to make a profit from video poker. If after taking cashback, bonuses, and optimal strategy into account you are still left with a positive house edge, the grind is guaranteed to deplete your bankroll over time. Strategies such as varying your bet sizes according to the outcomes of previous hands have no impact on long-term profitability.
Because video poker is one of the few casino games where it’s possible to have a tiny edge over the house, the proper mindset depends on your goals:
If you’re looking to make a profit off of video poker, the proper mindset involves dedication and relentlessness. You must learn optimal strategy for your particular game and apply it rigorously. You must be prepared to compare bonus offers across casinos and choose ones that help minimize the house edge. You must be willing to stick to games with the best returns and to remain on top of the ever changing pay tables. Finally, you must play at casinos that offer the best video poker cashback.
If you’re not willing or able to do all the above, you should regard video poker as paid entertainment. In this case, the proper mindset includes never depositing more than you are prepared to lose, being prepared for the inevitable beating your bankroll will take from the grind, and understanding that no betting patterns can help overcome a positive house edge. You should also consider focusing on games with good RTP, such as 9/6 Jacks or Better, as this will allow you to enjoy the game for longer.
These include Jacks or Better with a 9/6 pay table (99.54%), Deuces Wild with a 25/15/9/5/3/2 table (100.76%) and 25/15/11/4/4/3 (99.96%) pay tables if you can find them, and 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe (99.64%).
To check a particular game’s RTP, copy the values from its paytable and plug them into a video poker analyzer.
If you happen to run into a game that offers side bets, avoid them. They carry much poorer odds than standard video poker bets. Placing them will significantly reduce your total returns.
Cashback can make a huge difference to your bottom line. Unfortunately, the majority of online casinos offer very poor video poker cashback – 0.01% is not unusual. Even elite high-roller members can rarely count on more than 0.05%.
However, there are exceptions. For instance, 888’s New Jersey casino offers 0.10% cashback on video poker wagers to all players, while Pala Poker offers between 0.16% and 0.39%, depending on player tier.
Consider a gambler playing Deuces Wild with a 25/15/11/4/4/3 pay structure (99.96% RTP). If that player could additionally receive 0.10% in cashback on all video poker wagers, this would take their total returns beyond 100%, making the game profitable for them.
Of course, casinos with the right combination of RTP and video poker cashback for the above to occur are rare in the online world and somewhat more likely in the real world.
Some games, notably 9/6 Jacks or Better, issue disproportionate Royal Flush payoffs to players who bet max (typically five) credits. This can have a noticeable impact on profitability over the course of tens of thousands of hands.
Make sure your bankroll size is well-suited to the game you’re playing and the bets you’re making. For instance, a $100 bankroll on a 9/6 Jacks or Higher 25-cent machine will last you, on average, 2600 hands, but only 66 hands on a $1 machine, and barely a dozen hands on a five-dollar machine, assuming max-credit bets.
Unless you’re a professional video poker player or are prepared to deposit thousands of dollars, we strongly recommend maximizing your play time by sticking to 25-cent machines. Avoid five-dollar bet machines unless your bankroll exceeds $5,000.
If your goal is to eke out a profit playing video poker, make memorizing the optimal strategy for your particular game a priority. Doing so can double the number of hands you play in an hour, from an average of 250 hands for inexperienced gamblers to more than 500 for experts. This has two advantages:
Yes, but it’s difficult. Video poker features very high RTP. In fact, some titles come with such a small house edge that by taking advantage of casino bonuses and cashback, players can reduce the edge to less than zero, or turn a small profit.
However, doing so requires discipline and, frankly, a substantial time investment. Professional video poker players must learn perfect strategy and employ it 100% of the time. They must also be willing to frequently switch between casinos and visit brick-and-mortar establishments to find games with the best returns.
It’s probably not a lifestyle most people would enjoy.
If your goal is to make a profit, you’re limited to titles with the best-of-the-best pay tables. This includes Deuces Wild with 25/15/9/5/3/2 and 25/15/11/4/4/3 pay tables with 100.76% and 99.96% RTP, respectively. It’s possible to make money on games with a lower RTP, such as 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe (99.64%) or even 9/6 Jacks or Better (99.54%), but for that to happen you’ll need to be particularly conscious of the right cashback and casino comps.
If you’re in it for fun, any game that maximizes your play time will do. This includes all games mentioned above, as well as anything with an RTP of 99% or higher.
This is a complicated question. The correct answer depends on the type of video poker being played and the cards that have been dealt. This strategy guide contains everything you need to make optimal decisions in multiple video poker variants, including 9/6 and 9/5 Jacks or Better, Full-pay Deuces Wild, Bonus Deuces, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus Poker.
The cards are determined by a random number generator (RNG). This piece of software is continuously cycling through millions of random numbers at dizzying speeds. When a player hits the „Deal” button, the RNG stops at whatever number it happened to be at during its cycle at that time and then runs that number through a sophisticated algorithm, which determines the cards to be dealt. This process is regularly audited by third parties, guaranteeing a fair gambling environment.
Here are the odds of making them on the draw:
Royal Flush – 1/40,000
Straight flush – 1/9,150
Four of a kind – 1/423
Three of a kind – 1/13
Four deuces – 1/4,909
Full house – 1/90
Flush – 1/85
Straight – 1/80
Two pairs – 1/8
JJ-AA pair – 1/4.5
Numbers above are close approximations.
Most games accept $0.20 as the minimum and $2 as the maximum credit size, with five maximum credits allowed per hand. This makes for between $1 and $10 in total wagers per hand.
Deposit methods vary by casino and country of residence. Most modern online casinos offer e-wallet deposits, such as Neteller and Skrill, and some offer PayPal. Wire transfers are also possible, as are country-specific instant banking payments. Cash deposits are available, too. For example, New Jersey casinos accept deposits at 7-Eleven convenience stores and at certain land-based casinos. Some European iGaming providers accept Ukash. Making a cash deposit typically involves presenting a valid government-issued ID.
Visa and Mastercard deposits are ubiquitous, but their popularity with gamblers varies by region. For example, many U.S. players prefer not to use credit or debit cards due to their exceptionally high rejection rates – an unfamiliar problem to most Europeans.
Finally, some online casinos offer their own prepaid Discover cards, which can be topped off using various payment methods.
Most casinos process withdrawals through e-wallets like Neteller and Skrill, assuming that same wallet was used to make a deposit in the past. Check-by-mail withdrawals are also an option – ideal for large cash-outs but can take over two weeks to process.
There are daily and weekly withdrawal limits to consider. These limits typically increase along with account age and wager volumes. You may be required to undergo extra verification before your first-ever cash-out is successfully processed.
As of mid-2018, the price volatility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies makes this a risky proposition for most online casinos. However, exceptions exist – both Bovada and Bodog accept Bitcoin transactions.
You’ll probably run into “crypto only” casinos at some point. These are casinos that only work with Bitcoin and/or Monero and won’t process transactions any other way. Unfortunately, many of these gambling venues are unlicensed and new to the market. We do not recommend them.
Video poker’s beginnings trace back to 1895, which is when San Francisco mechanic Charles Fey created the first mechanical slot machine, better known today as Liberty Bell. Fey would go on to introduce a „Draw” feature to his game, which made it possible to lock in certain reels on subsequent spins, adding an element of skill and sowing the seed of what would later become video poker.
The first commercially viable video poker machine appeared around 1974, which is when the game’s two prerequisites – relatively cheap computers and screens – became a reality. Its popularity increased when American businessman William Redd, known by his nickname Si Redd, developed and released the first Draw Poker machine in 1979. Video poker machines quickly spread across Las Vegas casinos. Redd’s company, known then as SIRCOMA, continued to prosper and eventually rebranded to International Game Technology, or IGT – one of the top casino software developers on the market.
Today, video poker is among any respectable online casino’s top four offerings, the other three being slots, Blackjack, and roulette.
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