February 16, 2023
What is Video Poker and How Do You Play?
Video poker is a casino game where the aim is to make a winning five-card hand. The five cards you’re dealt are known as hole cards and, depending on the video poker variant you’re playing, you’ll be able to exchange them after the initial deal. This process of receiving and exchanging cards is done with…
Video poker is a casino game where the aim is to make a winning five-card hand. The five cards you’re dealt are known as hole cards and, depending on the video poker variant you’re playing, you’ll be able to exchange them after the initial deal.
This process of receiving and exchanging cards is done with the intention of making a ranked poker hand. The strength of your hand determines the size of your prize multiplier which, in turn, is used to determine your total payout.
Before we explain how to make a winning video poker hand, here are the rankings:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Full House
- Two Pair
- High Card
These rankings apply to poker in general. However, the variant you play may mean certain hands aren’t ranked. For example, video poker Jacks or Better contains a clue in its name: the lowest rank that counts as a winning hand is a pair of Jacks. Anything less than that, such as a high-card hand, doesn’t win a prize.
Learning how to play video poker takes more than an understanding of the game’s aim and hand rankings. You need to know how to make a ranked hand. As we’ve said, you’re dealt five cards as your starting hand and you can exchange some, none or all of them in order to improve what you’ve got.
Once you’ve decided which cards you’re going to keep and the ones you’re going to discard, the virtual video poker dealer assesses their strength. If the five cards you hold make one of the video poker hands listed above, you win a prize.
The hand rankings are based on their difficulty. For example, it’s easier to make a pair than a flush. Because of this, a flush is worth more than a pair. This dynamic is something you need to consider when you’re devising a video poker strategy and deciding which hands to shoot for.
Video Poker Hand Example
We can’t tell you which hands to play for because everyone is different, and every set of hole cards is different. For example, your starting hand might contain a pair and four clubs. The question you need to ask yourself here is, do I hold the pair and lock up a win? Or do I try to hit a flush?
The answers to these questions aren’t easy and we’ll leave the nuances of video poker strategy for a different article. For now, we’ll help you get your mind in the right place with an example of how a video poker hand plays out.
For this example, we’ll use video poker Jacks or Better rules:
- Starting Cards: 4s, 5s, 4c, Ad, Ks
- Your Move: You hold the 4s and 5s
- Your New Cards: 5c, 6s, Jh
- Your Final Hand: 4s, 5s, 5c, 6s, Jh
You could have made a variety of moves in this hand. You could hold the 4s and 4c. However, because this is Jacks or Better, a pair of fours isn’t a qualifying hand. Despite this, you could still hold the fours and hope to hit one or two more and make three/four-of-a-kind.
Alternatively, you could hold all the spades (4s, 5s, and Ks) and try to hit a flush. If not, you could hold the Ad and Ks and try to hit a straight. All of these moves are valid and we’re not trying to say one is better than the other. What we’re trying to show is how complex, engaging and interesting video poker can be.
Is Video Poker Different to Texas Hold’em?
You may have seen people playing different types of poker on TV. For example, if you’ve watched the World Series of Poker (WSOP), you’ll have seen people playing Texas Hold’em. This game is similar to video poker, but also quite different.
A Texas Hold’em poker video game is played between you and a computerised dealer. That means you have a series of fixed moves i.e. you can bet or fold. This also makes bluffing impossible.
When you play Texas Hold’em against other players, you aren’t as constrained. Because you’re playing against other people and not a dealer, you can bet, raise, fold, value bet and bluff.
Basically, you can do whatever it takes (within the rules) to win the pot. This is the main difference between Texas Hold’em poker and a Texas Hold’em poker video game.
Types of Online Video Poker
There are various types of video poker online. All of them require you to make a ranked five-card hand. In fact, the main difference between the following types of video poker are the minimum standards for a ranked hand.
Jacks or Better
This is a classic video poker variant where the aim is to make a hand that consists of at least a pair of Jacks.
10s or Better
This video poker variant is a twist on Jacks or Better. The aim is to make a hand that consists of at least a pair of tens.
The minimum qualifying hand in this video poker variant is three-of-a-kind. That’s a higher hand ranking than is required in a video poker Jacks or Better game. However, the benefit of playing this game is that all deuces are wild. A wild card in poker is like a wild symbol in slot games i.e. it can substitute for any other card.
Joker Poker is a wild card game. That means it’s similar to Deuces Wild. However, instead of deuces being wild, Jokers are wild in this variant.
All Aces Poker
The defining feature of this video poker variant is that Aces carry the most value. In simple terms, top-ranked hands that contain an Ace have enhanced payouts. You can see this when you look at the rankings because four Aces is the second-best hand ahead of other four-of-a-kind hands and straight flushes.
This variant is based on Jacks or Better. However, the difference is that payouts for flushes, straights and straight flushes are better. The counter to these enhanced payouts is that full house and two-pair hands are worth less than they would be in Jacks or Better.
Aces and Eights
A royal flush is the best hand in this game, but the rankings change from that point onwards because Aces, Eights and Sevens have more value. This means that four-of-a-kind with Aces, Eights, or Sevens are worth more than other four-of-a-kind hands.
Aces and Faces
Like Aces and Eights, this video poker variant mixes up the hand rankings so that four-of-a-kind featuring Aces or face cards (J, Q, K) are worth more than normal.
Video Poker FAQs
Is video poker online fair?
Yes. All video poker games, from Jacks or Better to a Texas Hold’em poker video game, are certified as fair by agencies such as iTech Labs.
Can I win real-money prizes playing online video poker?
Yes. We offer free demo games that allow you to have fun with a virtual bankroll. You can also make a deposit and play for cash prizes as a verified customer.
How much can I win playing video poker online?
The amount you win will depend on the hands you make and the amount you stake. Nothing is guaranteed, but wins worth 4,000X or more are possible. For other ways to boost your bankroll, check out our casino promotions.