How to Play and Win at Online Video Poker

Video poker has been attracting thousands of players since the 1970s when it was first invented by a guy named Si Redd. Many factors make the game worth playing, not least of which is the fact that it's a one player game. Video poker comes in many variants, introducing variety and extra ways to win into what's already a simple but very appealing game. But how do you play video poker?

If you've ever seen a video poker machine, either offline or online, and wondered how you go about playing, you're in the right place to learn more! Not only will you find out how the game of video poker is played, you'll also learn a bit about the different variations of the game, as well as some great tips on how to improve your strategy to boost your chances of winning.

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How to Play Online Video Poker

Video poker is an easy game to learn. You start off by choosing your bet and placing it, after which you're dealt your first five cards. You then have the option to hold onto any of those five cards, from zero to all five, by clicking on the ones you want to keep. Once you've made your decision, you then click the Deal/Draw button and any cards that weren't held are replaced by new ones. This is one round. Your aim in the game is to get the best poker hand per round, in return for which you'll get a payout based on how much you're betting and the hand that you won with.

That might seem a little complicated at first, especially if you don't know any poker hands, but don't worry, we're going to take you through all of the basics, so that by the end of this article you'll know the game inside out and you will be ready to play at the very best on line casinos.

Let's start with the different parts of a typical video poker game layout.

How to Play Online Video Poker

The Cards

The video poker screen is generally made up of two different sections, with the cards at the bottom of the screen and the paytable at the top. The bottom of the screen is also where you'll find all of your buttons such as your Bet One, Bet Max and Deal buttons.

After you've chosen your bet and clicked the Deal button, you'll see five cards appearing in a row along the bottom of the screen. This is your hand and your job is then to decide which cards you want to keep and which you'd like to discard and have replaced, with the aim of getting a better hand than the one you've been dealt.

To hold cards you simply click on the card you want to hold. The word Held should then show above the card. Any cards you don't want to keep should be left. Then you can click on Draw to have the cards you didn't hold replaced. Your hand at the end of the draw is your final hand for that round and will determine if you have won or not, based on its poker hand value and the amount you bet.


At the top of the screen you'll see the paytable. On the left side of the paytable is the list of poker hands that pay out. These may vary slightly depending on the game you're playing, but usually include Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush, and Royal Flush. Other variants may also include Jacks or Better and Five of a Kind.

To the right of the column of poker hands is a list of payouts. There can be several or more of these payout columns depending on the game you're playing, but these all show how much you stand to win if you get the corresponding hand in a round. The payouts displayed are arranged according to the amount that is bet, with the smallest bet on the left, with increasing bet amount payouts as you move right. When you choose a new bet value, the corresponding payout column in the paytable will usually be highlighted so you can see at a glance which payouts are relevant to your game.

When you win a hand, the corresponding payout will be highlighted in the paytable before it's added to your balance.

Video Poker Variants

There are a few different versions of the game that you should be aware of. These differ very slightly in the rules and how they pay out. Let's take a closer look at a few of the most popular video poker variants:

  • Jacks or Better: In some video poker games, the smallest value hand is two pair, which is two pairs, but in Jacks or Better, the smallest value hand is a pair of Jacks or better (ie, Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces). This game also tends to have slightly better odds than other variants, making it a great place to start.
  • Joker Poker: A joker is added to the deck in this game, which serves as a wild card, substituting for any other card to help make up a winning poker hand. This game usually plays with Kings or Better rules.
  • Deuces Wild: In this variant, all the 2s are wild, which means they can stand in for any other card to help you make up a winning poker hand.
  • Bonus Poker: This variant of the game splits Four of a Kind into three different types: 4x 5s to Ks, 4x 2s, 3s and 4s, and 4x Aces, with each paying out more.
  • Double Bonus Poker: The same as Bonus Poker but Four of a Kind pays are even higher.
  • Double Double Bonus Poker: This game plays very similarly to Double Bonus Poker but here the kicker (or card outside of the hand) influences your Four of a Kind payout too.

How to Win Video Poker

In video poker, your aim is to get a poker hand for a payout. However, there are numerous poker hands that pay in the game of video poker, with a number of ways of landing one of them. In addition, each poker hand pays out a different amount based on its poker value.

In order to know how to win playing video poker, you need to know what the winning hands are and how your bet and the poker hand value affect how much your winning hand pays. This may sound simplistic, but since you're choosing which cards to hold after every deal, your chances of winning are greatly reduced if you don't know the poker hands, their values and how they relate to the payouts. Only by knowing these things will you have a better idea of which winning hands you should be aiming for with your draw, so you'll know which hands to hold and which to discard.

How to Win Video Poker

The Hands

It's important to know what the various video poker hands are, particularly in terms of how they relate to each other, as this will help you determine what makes a winning hand and what kind of payout you can expect.

Let's look at the main winning video poker hands in order of value, starting from the lowest:

  • Jacks or Better: A pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces
  • Kings or Better: A pair of Kings or Aces
  • Two Pair: Two pairs of cards, eg. 2x 4 and 2x 7
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same value, eg. 3x 10
  • Straight: Five cards of consecutive value, eg. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit, eg. 2h, 4h, 7h, Jh and Qh
  • Full House: Two cards of the same value with three cards of the same value, eg. 2x 3 and 3x 6
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same value, eg. 4x K
  • Straight Flush: Five cards of consecutive value and the same suit, eg. 2c, 3c, 4c, 5c and 6c
  • Five of a Kind: Five cards of the same value, eg. 5x 10. Only possible in wild variants such as Joker Poker or Deuces Wild, where the wild card substitutes for one of the cards.
  • Royal Flush: The five highest value consecutive and suited cards, ie. 10d, Jd, Qd, Kd and Ad (note that there is also a Royal Flush with wild hand that's valued between a Straight Flush and a Five of a Kind in variants such as Joker Poker and Deuces Wild)

The Payouts

How much you stand to win depends on the video poker hand you have and the payout value of that hand. The payouts, as shown on the game's paytablevary depending on your bet amount, but they are all based on the same payout odds. Let's take a look at each of the video poker hands again, but this time with their corresponding payout odds as you'll find them in the most popular Jacks or Better variant of the game:

  • Jacks or Better: The lowest paying hand, this one pays 1x your bet
  • Two Pair: This pays 2x your bet
  • Three of a Kind: Pays 3x your bet
  • Straight: Pays 4x your bet
  • Flush: Pays 5x your bet
  • Full House: Pays 9x your bet
  • Four of a Kind: Pays 25x your bet
  • Straight Flush: Pays 50x your bet
  • Royal Flush: Pays 800x your bet

Video Poker Strategies

While certain games like Roulette are entirely down to chance, video poker is a little different in that it involves some element of skill. This is what makes the game so appealing, with many players following certain strategies to try and improve their skill level and gain an edge. So what kind of strategies can you use to boost your chances of winning playing video poker? Here we'll take a closer look at a few approaches you can take.


One of the most fundamental things you can do to improve your chances of winning playing video poker is to learn the basics, then practise, practise, practise! The more you play, the more you'll become familiar with the game and how it works. It's a good idea to play in demo mode for a while until you feel comfortable with the rules.

Know Your Hands

It's crucial that you know the different poker hands and how they are valued against each other. But looking a bit deeper than that, you also need to think about the chances of certain cards coming up on the draw, which will help you decide which cards to hold and which to discard. For example, you've got a much better chance of completing a four hold straight hand than a three hold straight hand.

Try Different Variants

Some video poker variants are more attractive than others. Jacks or Better tends to be a popular variant due to the slightly higher payouts but also because of the payout for the smaller value hand of Jacks of Better. Deuces Wild is popular because of the four additional wild cards that are added, boosting your chances of getting winning hands. Try a few variants and see which one suits you best.

Check the Payouts

As mentioned above, different games offer different payouts for the various winning hands, which has an influence on the game's RTP (Return to Player) and house edge. Decide if you want better payout odds overall, such as with Jacks or Better, or a range of improved payouts for certain hands, such as with Bonus Poker, and go for the one that works for you.

Video Poker Strategies

Do You Want to Play Video Poker?

So now you have a good idea of how the game of video poker is played, as well as a few strategies for improving your chances of winning. Now all you need to do is put that knowledge into practice!

Simply open a new account at one of our thoroughly reviewed online casinos, make your first deposit, then open your video poker game of choice and start playing for real!


How to play video poker?

Much like regular poker, you will be given five cards. You'll want to achieve a winning hand with these cards, such as a royal flush. You can keep cards in your hand or exchange them for other cards while playing, in order to try and improve your hand.

How to beat video poker?   

You can win video poker by having a great hand. These can be something like a Royal Flush, High Pair, Two Pair, or other great hands. When you have one, you should hold, and then you have a pretty good chance of beating the other players.

How to win video poker?

Giuseppe Faraone
Giuseppe Faraone
279 Articles
Based in Valencia, Spain, Giuseppe gave up Milan for sunny shores. New licenses, new casinos, new bonuses, new games - there's always something to write about. Being so close to the action in the gambling industry, he's on top of any new developments the minute they come through the door. Aiming to deliver updates and comprehensive information to you, he does his best to thoroughly test out and rate what he reviews.
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