Basic Video Poker Rules: Understanding the Fundamentals

Begin Your Video Poker Gameplay Journey

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Key Takeaways

  • Learn the basics of video poker to increase your chances of success, including coin betting and bankroll management.
  • Understand popular variants such as Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, plus bonus variations like Double Bonus Poker.
  • When playing online, research payout percentages and safety measures for a secure gaming experience.

Understanding Video Poker Basics

Video poker, first introduced in the 1970s, quickly gained popularity due to its ease of access and enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels. Rooted in five-card draw poker, video poker is often played on slot machines and boasts a low house edge, making it a favorite among casino enthusiasts. The objective of video poker is to obtain a high-paying hand, such as:

  • a royal flush
  • three-of-a-kind
  • a straight flush
  • a full house

By achieving these hands, players can reap the rewards of their successful gameplay.

The specifics of the game you’re playing – including rules, payouts and wild cards – vary from one video poker machine to another, so getting a grip on these specifics can be quite beneficial. With high winning odds and the ability to influence the game’s outcome, mastering video poker can give you an edge over the house, whether you’re playing at land-based or online gambling sites.

How Video Poker Works

In a video poker game, the gameplay is as follows:

  1. You’re initially dealt a five-card poker hand.
  2. You then have the option to retain the cards you wish to keep and discard those you don’t.
  3. You’ll receive new cards in return for the ones you discarded.
  4. This crucial decision can determine the difference between success and failure in a round, as your aim is to attain the most advantageous winning hand possible.

The fairness and unpredictability of each game is guaranteed by the use of random number generators (RNG) in video poker machines. This computer program produces a sequence of numbers that are entirely random and unpredictable, determining the outcome of each hand and the cards you’re dealt.

The Role of Random Number Generators

The independence and randomness of each hand in video poker is a result of the vital role played by random number generators, as previously discussed. This fairness is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the game and providing an enjoyable experience for players.

One popular video poker variant, Deuces Wild, takes advantage of this randomness by making all deuce cards in the deck wild. This means that any deuce can be substituted for any other card to form a winning hand, adding an extra layer of excitement and strategy to the game.

Popular Video Poker Variants

With numerous video poker variants available, there’s something to suit every player’s taste. Some of the most popular variants include:

  • Jacks or Better
  • Deuces Wild
  • Joker’s Wild Other well-known games, such as Tens or Better, Bonus Poker, and Double Bonus Poker, also offer unique twists and rules for added enjoyment.

In the end, personal preference plays a significant role in selecting a particular game in the video poker variant. Each game offers different rules, payouts, and strategies, so be sure to explore your options and find the best video poker game that suits your style and skill level.

Jacks or Better

As the most prevalent video poker game variation across all US casino sites and brick-and-mortar casinos, Jacks or Better is a classic choice for both beginners and seasoned players. In this game, the minimum winning hand is a pair of Jacks, hence the name “Jacks or Better.” The objective is to maximize payouts while minimizing risk for larger rewards.

Jacks or Better, with its pre-set payout scale, provides a straightforward, yet captivating experience ideal for those aiming to refine their video poker abilities. As you progress and develop your own strategy, you can increase your chances of success and potentially reap significant rewards.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild offers a thrilling twist on traditional video poker by making all twos in the deck wild cards. This means that any two can be substituted for any other card, adding an extra layer of strategy and excitement to the game. In Deuces Wild, the minimum winning hand is a Three of a Kind, and the most lucrative hand is a Natural Royal Flush.

The higher probability of achieving high-value hands in Deuces Wild leads to a significant reduction in payout scales compared to other video poker variants. However, the strategy for Deuces Wild is essentially the same as it is for Jacks or Better, with the added twist of twos being wild.

Bonus Poker Variations

Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker are all video poker games that are becoming more and more popular. These variations are based on the rules of Jacks or Better but offer enhanced payouts for specific hands. These games loosely follow the basic rules of Jacks or Better, with additional bonus payouts for different hands.

For example, in Bonus Poker, the full-pay version has a payout return of 99.2%, with impressive payouts for quads 2-4 and quad aces. In Double Double Bonus Poker, the most effective strategy involves holding the appropriate cards at the appropriate times to maximize the theoretical payout to over 100%.

Winning Hands and Payouts

In video poker, winning hands range from:

  • Two pairs
  • Straights
  • Flushes
  • The elusive royal flush

A Royal Flush, for example, is a set of five consecutive cards of the same suit, ranging from 10 to Ace. A pair of Jacks is the least winning hand in video poker. It’s also known as Jacks or Better.

Payout percentages and return-to-player (RTP) rates play a crucial role in determining the house edge and your potential winnings. For instance, a payback rate of 95% does not guarantee a win in 95% of the rounds, but it does indicate that you can expect to receive 95% of your investment back from the game over time.

Pay Tables and Their Importance

A pay table is a chart that illustrates the ranking of winning hands and their associated payouts in video poker. A good understanding of pay tables is integral for calculating possible payouts and choosing the most suitable video poker machine to play on.

Carefully examining the payoff of a specific game is of high importance. One should not just focus on Full House and Flush but also pay attention to lower paid hands such as Jacks or Better. This information can help you make informed decisions about which video poker machine offers the best odds and potential payouts for your skill level and budget.

Full Pay vs. Short Pay Machines

Full pay machines boast higher payout percentages and return-to-player rates than short pay machines, making them a more attractive option for video poker enthusiasts. Full pay in video poker is defined as the most statistically advantageous version of any given game.

Video poker has a house edge that generally falls somewhere between 0.50% and 5%. The best pay variations often have edges as low as 0.46%. By choosing full pay machines and employing optimal video poker strategies, you can increase your chances of success and potentially reap significant rewards.

Basic Video Poker Strategies

Enhancing gameplay and boosting winning chances in video poker involves mastering key strategies. These strategies include maximizing coin bets, holding and discarding cards based on their potential to form winning hands and managing your bankroll effectively during gameplay.

By employing these strategies and refining your own approach to video poker, you can significantly enhance your odds of success. Remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies and game variants to find the optimal play style that works best for you.

Maximizing Coin Bets

Wagering the maximum number of coins per hand in video poker is an effective way to increase your potential winnings and access bonus features. Most video poker machines reveal the bonus payout for a royal flush when a top hand is achieved with a five-coin wager, which reduces the house edge and maximizes your chances of obtaining a major win.

It’s not recommended to bet less than the maximum number of coins because it diminishes your expected returns. By always wagering the maximum coins, you’ll give yourself the best chance of hitting the jackpot and enjoying significant rewards.

Holding and Discarding Cards

A crucial aspect of video poker strategy is deciding which cards to hold and which to discard based on their potential to form winning hands. For example, if you’re dealt a straight, it’s generally advisable to retain the straight unless there’s an opportunity to acquire a Royal Flush.

Another example would be if you’re dealt three Aces and two Sevens. In this case, it’s not recommended to take the risk of a 45-coin payout for a 5-coin bet over the potential 125-coin payout for Four of Aces.

By carefully considering the potential of your cards and making informed decisions about which card to hold and discard, you can greatly improve your chances of success in video poker.

Managing Your Bankroll

Success in video poker heavily relies on effective bankroll management. Setting a budget for each gaming day and sticking to it can help prevent overspending and ensure that you’re playing within your means.

Additionally, it’s important to gamble with money that you can afford to lose, as this can help avoid any potential financial hardship that may arise from losses incurred during gameplay. By carefully managing your bankroll and making informed decisions about your betting limits, you can enjoy a more enjoyable and successful video poker experience.

Playing Video Poker Online vs. Live

The experience of playing video poker can vary greatly depending on whether you choose to play online or live in a casino. Online video poker offers benefits such as access to free games, bonuses, and a wider selection of variants. Meanwhile, playing video poker live in a casino provides the opportunity for social interaction, an authentic casino atmosphere, and the potential to use strategies to maximize your chances of success.

Ultimately, the choice between playing video poker online or live comes down to personal preference and what aspects of the game are most important to you. Whether you prefer the convenience of playing from home or the excitement of a live casino, there’s a video poker experience out there that’s perfect for you.

Advantages of Online Video Poker

Playing video poker online offers several advantages, such as access to free games, bonuses, and a wider variety of game variants. This provides players with more opportunities to practice their skills and try out different strategies without the risk of losing money when they play video poker.

Additionally, online video poker sites often offer welcome bonuses, reload bonuses, and loyalty bonuses, making it more appealing for players to choose this option over live casinos. With so many benefits to playing online, it’s no wonder that more and more players are opting for this convenient and enjoyable gaming experience.

Tips for Choosing an Online Casino

Choosing an online casino for video poker involves considering several factors like payout percentages, safety measures, and the quality of customer support. Be sure to review positive feedback from other players and consult online forums and review sites to assess the reputation of the casino.

Online gambling reviews from trusted sources will help you find licensed and regulated sites. Remember to join only the safest online gambling operators for hassle-free video poker gambling.


In conclusion, video poker is an exciting and rewarding casino game that offers something for players of all skill levels. By understanding the basics, exploring popular variants, and employing effective strategies, you can greatly increase your chances of success and enjoy a thrilling gaming experience.

Whether you choose to play online or live in a casino, there’s a video poker game out there that’s perfect for you. So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of video poker today and start winning big.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best hands to hold in video poker?

For video poker, the best hands to hold are those that have a guaranteed win, such as a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, or a pair of Jacks or better.

Which cards to hold in video poker?

When playing video poker, it is important to hold onto any face cards or high cards (such as aces, kings, queens, or jacks) as well as winning hands like Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, or a pair of Jacks or better.

Is it better to hold a high card or low pair in video poker?

It’s better to hold a low pair in video poker than a high card, as low pairs almost always have higher average payoffs and are more likely to win hands than high cards. Holding a low pair is a better strategy than holding a high card because it has a higher average payoff and is more likely to win hands. This makes it a more reliable option for players looking to maximize their winnings.

What is the main objective of video poker?

The main objective of video poker is to obtain a high-paying hand, such as a Royal flush or Three-of-a-kind, in order to win rewards.

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