Guide to Online Video Poker

When video poker was initially introduced in the early 1970s, it completely transformed the traditional poker playing experience. People would flock to casinos to try their luck on 'poker slots' (so-called because the machines resembled slot machines) and video poker eventually became immensely popularso much so that it's been regarded as the number one casino game.

The popularity of video poker comes largely from the fact that it's simpler to play and requires no physical interaction with other players or dealers. Video poker can be played on your own and by people from any demographic. The game is simple: a random generator gives players a 'hand' of five cards, and they can choose to swap out one or more cards from their hand for other cards in the deck. Once they've made their decision, the computer reveals the 'hands' of the other players in the game, thereby establishing which player (be it you) had the winning combinations. 


Online Casinos with Video Poker

The World of Video Poker Online

tabVideo poker retains the thrill of in-person poker, and factors in other ways for players to demonstrate their skill. For example, seasonal players have optimized their win ratio by making calculated assumptions based on records. It might sound complicated right now, but video poker strategies can be learned, dealt, and won with.

From the early 1970s to today, video poker has come a long way. It's no longer referred to by its likeness with slot machines (if not the opposite in today's times) but has been repurposed into online games and mobile applications as well.


HOW TO PLAY VIDEO POKER ONLINE

The objective of online video poker is a straightforward one: acquire a hand that has a winning combination to receive a payout from the paytable. It's the same as in-person poker and land-based video poker. Howevervideo poker online offers another advantage—time. Players can take time to devise a strategy, weigh their options, and think about their moves without feeling rushed into making a decision that might lead them to lose. 

Here’s how you play it:

  • Finding a website: find a website that hosts video poker online or is exclusively designed for playing online video poker. Make sure the website is verified and authorized by a regulating authoritative body for casino games (in the United Kingdom, this body is the National Lottery).
  • Familiarize yourself with the rules: whether you are in a land-based casino or playing online, certain hosts have certain rules. While the game's overall dynamics might be similar, there may be rules on things such as payouts, winning combinations, draws, etc. Before starting any game and putting down money for it, players should go over the rules and adjust their strategy accordingly. Most websites follow generic video poker rules.
  • Place a bet: before the game begins, players have to place a bet or select a coin size. This corresponds to the payout from the paytable should they win. Understandably, larger bets have larger payouts, and smaller bets have smaller payouts. Once players have selected their wagers and placed their bets, they click on 'Deal'.

One of the best things about video poker is the fact that it's the only casino game where players are shown their expected wins in the form of a paytable beforehand. The paytable is a calculated table displaying various outcomes for different wagers should the player win.

  • Deal and dealing: once you've placed your bet and clicked on 'Deal', you'll be given five random cards from a standard deck of fifty-two cards. These cards comprise a player's 'hand' and are selected through a random generator. Thus far, the game is solely based on chance, but this is where optimization and strategies come into play.


FURTHER STEPS TO PLAY VIDEO POKER

Players can now select which card or cards from their hand they want to keep, and which ones they'd like to be replaced. Again, the replaced cards will be selected at complete random and will also be the final hand, after which no modifications can be made.

Seasonal and experienced video poker players take their time and assess which cards are most likely parts of winning combinations, and which ones carry the lowest risk for being replaced.

For example, you've just been dealt a hand with two five's (one of spade and the other of hearts), a king of spades, a two of hearts, and a three of spades. What's your next move? Do you replace the king of spades and hope for a four? Do you replace the three in hopes of another 5? Do you replace the spades for hearts? Do you replace the hearts for spades?

Online video poker takes the traditional poker experience and transforms it into an equally thrilling yet slightly less anxiety-driven one. Players can take their time and make calculated assumptions over what their next move should be.

  • After you press draw—once you're done dealing your cards, you might be left with one of your original cards, all five of them or anywhere in between. This is when the player clicks on 'Draw'. The cards that the player withdrew are replaced with new cards from the deck, and this five-carded hand is now the final hand. A player's strategies are no longer applicable, and the computer compares the final hand with winning combinations and deduces earnings (if any) from the winning table.

Winning combinations include:

  • Royal Flush: When a player has an ace, a king, a queen, a jack, and a ten, all of the same suit (diamonds, spades, hearts, or clubs).
  • Straight FlushA hand has five cards in consecutive order (ascending/descending). For example: 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards out of five have the same rank but different suits. For example: a three of spades, a three of hearts, a three of diamonds and a three of clubs.
  • Full House: A player has three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank. Alternatively, a player has a hand with three of a kind and two of a kind. For example: two of hearts, two of spades, and two of clubs, with a three of diamonds and a three of hearts.
  • Flush: Five cards (a full hand), and all of them have the same suit. For example: all diamonds, all spades, all clubs or all hearts.
  • Straight: A hand with five cards of different suits, but in a linear (ascending/descending) order. For example: a two of diamonds, a three of clubs, a four of clubs, a five of hearts and a six of spades.
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards out of five of the same rank. Alternatively, three cards with different suits, but of the same number. For example: a four of hearts, a four of diamonds and a four of spades.
  • Two Pair: A hand containing two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. For example: ace of spades, ace of hearts, seven of diamonds, seven of clubs.
  • Jacks or Better: Two jacks, aces, kings, or queens.


BEST TYPES OF VIDEO POKER

Different video poker machines in either land-based casinos or best casinos online offer different types of video poker games. There are many variations of the game whereby paytables, hands, winning combinations, and wagers change. Each variation has its own specific rules.

Some video poker games might feature wild cards (cards that can be substituted for other cards at the player's discretion), some might offer different bonuses, some might have jackpots for multiplying winnings, and some might be multi-play where the same player is given several hands at once.

Before players take their chances at playing any of these variations, it is important to read through the game rules and assess how the payouts can be made. With online versions, players can create a strategy for themselves based on how other players are doing and calculating win to loss ratios.


JACKS OR BETTER

Jacks or Better was the very first video poker game that was introduced alongside the video poker machine itself in the 1970s. It was originally called Draw Poker. The game is based on the typical five-card poker with an RTP of 96.54% and a payout of up to 4,000 coins if the starting bet is 5 coins x 800. The higher the bet you place, the greater your payout will be. The individual payouts for Full House and Flush are 45 coins and 30 coins, respectively.

Players draw five cards from a deck of fifty-two at the start of the game, these cards can be replaced with other randomly assigned cards at the player's discretion. The game's objective is to get a winning combination of either Jack or Better, a Full House, a Flush, or (best of all) a Royal Flush.


JACKS OR BETTER STRATEGY

Strategizing in Jacks or Better starts when you're placing a bet—bet the maximum. Why? Because Jacks or Better video poker machines or online games (usually) offer a higher payout, possibly the highest, if the player has a Royal Flush—the jackpot. For example, if a player was to bet five coins per hand (the maximum possible), they stand a chance to get a bonus if they're dealt a Royal Flush. Betting to the max is one way, and might be the only way to hit the jackpot. However, if a player is uncomfortable with placing such a high bet (which stands a probability to lose), they can play for lower bets, just without the jackpot.

Next, you'll have to find the best paytable out of the possibly hundreds that Jacks or Better video poker games offer. The best one is typically considered to be one that offers a 9/6 (or more) house edge play chart. Such a game offers full house payouts on nine coins and flush payouts on six coins. If you opt for other paytables, you stand a chance to increase the house's edge and minimize wins (if any).

Don't ignore the bonuses offered in video poker, and don't be afraid to use a casino's live chat feature to inquire if there's something specific for you. By targeting the right promotions, you stand a much bigger chance to beat video poker machines since you're basically getting free money to play more games.

  • For low pairs: Keep your low pairs in your hand if you have four cards to a Straight (one card not in chronological order), three to a Straight Flush (two cards of different suits), and two cards leading up to a Royal Flush.
    Discard your low pairs in your hand if you have three to a Royal Flush (two cards of one suit, and three cards of another) or four to a Flush.
  • For high pairs: Keep your high pairs in your hand if you have four to a Flush (keep the high pair, draw the other cards), four to a Straight, three to a Royal Flush, and three to a Straight Flush. It is only advisable to break a high pair when your hand is four away to a Royal Flush.

Other strategies include:

  1. Hold all four cards and draw only one card if you’re four cards to a Straight or a Flush.
  2. Draw two cards when you have three cards to a Royal Flush.
  3. Draw two cards and hold three if you’re two away from a Straight Flush.
  4. Draw three additional cards and hold two if they form a pair. You might get lucky.
  5. Hold the card that is higher than or equal to a jack and draw four other cards.
  6. When all else fails, draw five cards.


DEUCES WILD

Deuces Wild is the simplest variation of poker and is, therefore, one of the most popular variants of video poker—also because the payout percentage is the highest at 100.8%. As the name implies, all twos in the deck are treated as wild cards. Meaning, if you're dealt a hand with three sevens and two twos, you can easily substitute them as sevens for a Full House.

Paytables begin with Three of a Kind and go all the way up to a Royal Flush, but Jack or Better is disregarded. The Royal Flush in Deuces Wild is referred to as a Deuces Royal Flush. Occasionally, four twos (or four deuces) rank second in the paytable, directly after the Royal Flush. This is one of the most loved games of UK casino players.


DEUCES WILD STRATEGY

Winning hand combinations in Deuces Wild are:

  • Straight.
  • Flush.
  • Three of a kind.
  • Full House.
  • Four of a kind.
  • Five of a kind.
  • Straight Flush.
  • Deuces Royal Flush.
  • Natural Royal Flush.
  • Four Deuces.


DEALT HAND

NO. CARDS TO KEEP

NO. CARDS TO DRAW

Four to a Royal Flush

4

1

Four of a kind

4

1

Three of a kind

3

2

Four to a Straight Flush

4

1

Three to a Royal Flush

4

1

One pair

2

3

Four to a Flush

4

1

Four to a Straight

4

1

Three to a Straight Flush

3

2

Two to a Royal Flush

2

3

Nothing

0

5


DOUBLE BONUS

As the name implies, a Double Bonus game of video poker offers a higher payout than other variants. Double Bonus itself is a variant of the bonus version of video poker, which in turn is a variant of Jacks or Better. Double Bonus offers a higher payout when there are four of a kind in a player's hand. However, this comes at the trade-off of reducing the payoff percentage for two pairs. Double Bonus Poker can offer smart players an edge over the house.


DOUBLE BONUS STRATEGY

  • Keep high pairs for a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a kind, Four to a Royal Flush, Three Aces, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three Similar Cards (ranks and suits), four cards to a Straight Flush, two pairs, four to a Flush.
  • Keep low pairs for Three to a Royal Flush, four to an Outside Straight Draw, three cards to a Straight Flush, four cards to a straight with three High Cards, three cards to a flush with two high cards, and any two high cards.
  • Better to start over for: A K, Q and J of different suits, three cards to a Flush and one High Card, one ace, four cards to a Straight with no High Cards, and three cards to a Flush with no High Cards.


DOUBLE DOUBLE BONUS

Double Double Bonus (DDB) is the most popular video poker game. The stakes are higher, the payouts are greater, and the excitement is through the roof. Players are given bonus payoffs for four aces, twos, threes, or fours. Also, DDB was the first video poker game that implemented 'kickers.' A kicker is a specific fifth card that is in the same hand as the four of a kind.

  • 2000 coins per 5 coins: four aces with two, three, or four kickers.
  • 800 coins per 5 coins: four twos, threes, fours, two, three, or four kickers.

DDB has a payoff percentage of 98.98%, making it one of the most volatile video poker variants. This also means that players who go in without a proper strategy stand to lose more games. In the US online casinos, this game is pretty popular.


DOUBLE DOUBLE BONUS STRATEGY

  • Differentiating DDB from DB: the playing strategy for DDB is pretty different than that for DB. First of all, the Flush payoff in DDB is 9/6 compared to 7 coins for DB. The playing strategy for DDB is closer to 9/6 Jacks or Better because the flushes in the latter game pay 6 coins times your bet.
  • How to play your cards right: if you have a Full House that contains three aces, break the cards in the Full House and hold onto the aces. Similarly, if you have two pairs, one of which is a pair of aces, hold onto the aces.


CLASSICVIDEO POKER

Classic video poker is played the same way as in-person poker: a hand of five cards is randomly drawn, the player decides which cards are worth keeping and which cards can be replaced, after which the computer assigns new cards based on the number of cards that the player withdrew, and if the new cards form winning combinations, the player wins big. If not, the player loses his initial wager. Classic video poker has traditional winning combinations (Straight, Two Pairs, Three of A Kind, Four of A Kind, Royal Flush, Flush, etc.) and no special cards or variable payoffs. The highest payoffs are for Royal Flush and Straight Flush.


CLASSIC VIDEO POKER STRATEGY

The best way to optimize your winnings in classic video poker is to aim for a Straight Flush. Video poker is considered much less a game of chance and more so as a game of skill. This can be verified with the time a ban was implemented on games of chance, but video poker was allowed to keep running (along with blackjack) because they're considered games of skill. Players have to calculate based on previous records of the game how the random generator acts. While there is a random sequence, there are certain hot cards and cold cards that can be deduced by making smart guesses.


OTHER KINDS OF ONLINE VIDEO POKER

  • Tens or Better: another variant of Jacks or Better is Tens or Better, where the lowest winning hand is a pair of tens. The payoffs for Flush and Full House are distributed six and five times the bets, respectively. In other words, it's a 6/5 game. While the winning odds may be higher, the payouts are lower (a trade-off seen in most video poker games).
  • Aces and Eights: Aces and Eights is an easy game to get novice video poker players started on. It's another variant of Jacks or Better, but a lot more simplified. The lowest payout a player can get is for Four of a Kind of either aces or eights. However, these two hands—four aces or four eights—payout 400 coins if you play with a bet of 5 coins, compared to winnings of only 125 coins in Jacks or Better. Occasionally, four sevens will earn you twice as much as a regular Four of a Kind hand. 
    There's a Double or Nothing bonus round in Aces and Eights where players try their luck to double their winnings. Players are given five cards face down, one of them is exposed and the player has to choose between the other four cards to try their luck in selecting a card of higher value. If they win, their winnings are doubled. If they lose, however, they walk away with nothing.


DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VIDEO POKER AND LIVE DEALER POKER

  1. Video poker was popularized because it felt less rushed and anxiety-driven than live dealer poker. Video poker can be played by one player on their own in a corner, whereas live dealer poker is played with many people sitting together.
  2. Video poker offers many variants of the game in the form of Jacks or Better, Aces and Eights, Deuces Wild, and so on. These games follow the same format as live dealer poker, but are more fun and sometimes have higher stakes.
  3. The payoff for video poker is less than that for live dealer poker. This is because multiple people playing live dealer poker pool in their money for a collective wager whereas video poker is played between only a player and the machine.
  4. In video poker, a player can either win or lose—there is no in-between. However, in live person poker, players who come second can also earn a significant portion of winnings.


DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONLINE VIDEO POKER AND IN-PERSON VIDEO POKER

  1. Online poker takes comfort up to a whole other level with players placing bets and strategizing from the comfort of their own homes rather than dressed up at a casino.
  2. Online video poker allows players to strategize a lot more efficiently, and often seek outside help to do so. In-person video poker very rarely has two people helping each other out.
  3. The variants of video poker found in casinos might not be as diverse as those found in online video poker.


BIGGEST POKER WINS

Before jotting down the highest wins in poker history, there are two terms that players need to familiarize themselves with: House Edge and Return to Player.

  • House Edge: Every casino (land-based or online) has a statistical advantage over players known as house edge. This is the amount of money that is guaranteed to go to the casino each time you pay for a game. Even though the player isn't guaranteed a win, what separates video poker and online video poker from other casino games is the fact that the house edge is lower in them. To put it simply, the odds of winning are in your favor.
  • Return to Player (RTP): The RTP is the payback percentage for players per game. This can be easily determined by the paytables which specify the payback percentages. However, it is important to understand that the relatively higher payback percentages mentioned in the paytables do not correspond to your game (not necessarily, at least). For example, if the payback percentage is said to be 95%, you will eventually get 95% of your investment in the game after a set number of games determined by the casino or the machine. The percentage is guaranteed; however, players aren't aware of just when they'll get their payouts.

Typically, the house edge in video poker games varies from 5% to 0.50% (or less), but in most full-pay variations, it is 0.46% (where the payback is 99.54%). Full pay Jacks or Better offers an impressive payback of 99.54%, while a few Deuces Wild games have a return of 100.08%. Such a payback rate can be achieved with a perfect strategy.

Biggest poker wins:

  1. Back in 2012, Antonio Esfandiari beat 48 other players at a WSOP event to take home an $18.35 million jackpot.
  2. Justin Bonomo became the highest-grossing gambler on the All-Time Money List in 2018 when he beat Fedor Holz at a WSOP event to take home $10 million.
  3. In 2014, Dan Colman took home $15.3 million in winnings after beating Daniel Negreanu (who won nearly $8 million himself).
  4. At what's recalled as the "Largest tournament in poker history", Jamie Gold was declared as the winner after beating Paul Wasicka at the 2006 main event. The cash he won was nearly $12 million.
  5. Back in 2014, Swedish poker player Martin Jacobson won a $10 million grand prize at the WSOP main event.


BIGGEST POKER TOURNAMENTS

  1. The 2006 WSOP Main Event ($82,512,162).
  2. The 2019 WSOP Main Event ($80,548,600).
  3. The 2018 WSOP Main Event ($74,015,600).
  4. The 2010 WSOP Main Event ($68,799,095).
  5. The 2017 WSOP Main Event 9$67,877,400).


VIDEO POKER BONUSES

A video poker bonus can be unlocked in online games or in-person casinos after a specific threshold of a payoff is made. This amount equates to the payoff percentage specified in the paytable. The machine or game then offers players the option to multiply their winnings by a specified amount should they win the bonus round. The bonus round doesn't necessarily have to follow the same dynamic as video poker (where a strategy can be implemented). It is usually a game purely based on chance (such as picking a particular suit, card, or number). Check out our free cash bonuses to play this game on CasinoTopsOnline.

Is video poker fair?

If played at an authorized land-based casino or a verified online one, then video poker is completely fair. The cards are chosen by a random generator and therefore the probabilities of different combinations increases. The house usually announces its edge in the paytable and the player can decide his or her bets accordingly.

Can I play video poker on my mobile?

Yes, you can play as much as you want on mobile phone-based applications mimicking video poker graphics and gameplay. Some of these games are purely recreational, while some might require you to log into your mobile phone browser and play on gambling sites.

Can I use bonuses on video poker?

Yes, you can use Double Bonus or Double Double Bonus on video poker. Some websites hosting online poker might also offer bonuses to multiply your winnings (jackpots). Whether or not you use a bonus is up to you. Just be clear of the fact that if you stand to lose the jackpot, you lose all of your winnings altogether.

This page was written in 2013 and is now maintained by Daniel Hardman. Should you have any questions or see any discrepancies on this page, feel free to reach out to him. The casino list at the beginning of the page is revised each month, to ensure we only offer the best casino sites with roulette to our readers. Let's have a look at some handpicked references you may find interesting.


REFERENCES


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