Video poker is hugely popular in Canada for a number of reasons. One of the biggest attractions to this game is how easy it is. Another reason for its popularity is that unlike a slots game you have a bit more control in the fact that you can choose which cards to keep and which to exchange, where as a slot machine all you do is hit a button and wait for the result. If this sounds like the sort of online casino game that may interest you, read on.
How to Play
Let’s take a look at how to play video poker. In virtually all variations, the basic gameplay is the same and revolves around a basic five card poker hand. However, each game variation has subtle differences in the rules which can increase or decrease the difficulty of the game.
Video poker games consist of two rounds.
- The opening round begins with you being dealt 5 cards. Using your mouse, you can select which cards to keep and which to return for new cards. The round ends when you hit the deal button to change your selected cards. If you have no cards you wish to keep all 5 can be returned for a new hand.
- In the second round your selected cards are replaced and a winning or losing hand is revealed.
Typically, winning combinations are based on traditional table poker winning hands which can include:
- A Pair
- Three of a kind
- Two pair
- Full house
- Four of a kind
- Royal flush
- Straight flush
Video Poker Variations
As the game has developed over the years, more variations on the basic video poker concept have been developed. Consequently, one can find a wide variety to enjoy.
Popular game variations include:
Jacks or Better: Also referred to as Draw Poker. The most common of all video poker variations. Lowest winning hand = a pair of jacks.
All American Video Poker: Based on Jacks or Better but with higher payout for:
- Straight flushes
And reduced payouts for:
- Full house
- Two pairs
Tens or Better: Variation of 6/5 Jacks or Better. Minimum winning hand = a pair of tens.
Joker’s Wild: Adds a Wild Joker to the game. The Wild Joker can be used to substitute other card to make easier winning hands including 5 of a kind.
Deuces Wild: Similar to Jokers Wild except here all twos are wild.
Bonus Poker: Based on Jacks or Better but with a higher payout for a 4 of a kind hand.
Double Bonus: Based on Jacks or Better and offers a bonus payout for a 4 aces hand.
Double Double Bonus: Based on Jacks or Better and offers bonus payouts for different 4 of a kind hand combinations.
Basic video poker strategy borrows heavily from traditional table poker strategy, which makes sense since the game is based on traditional table poker. The game is popular with new players because it offers the excitement and basic strategy of table poker, but reduces it down to two five card rounds.
- Consulting the Paytable: When using a basic strategy, ensure that you firstly consult the paytable to check for different winning combinations and jackpot values. You will need to see what the particular video poker game offers in terms of winning hand card combinations. The pay table will list all of these possibilities, ranked from lowest payout for a simple two card winning combination, all the way up to the highest possible payout for a full five card winning combination.
- Basic Strategy – Which Cards to Keep: Once you are completely familiar with the paytable of the video poker game, you will have a better understanding of which cards hold value and which cards do not. In its most simple form, basic video poker strategy is all about holding value cards and, hopefully, adding more value cards to the existing combination. Of course, you will need to adjust your strategy based on every single hand that you play. While the strategy may not be set in stone, it naturally always pays to aim for the best combination possible.
Basic Video Poker Strategy
A key component of the game is strategy, and this is also one of the game’s most attractive features. Knowing which cards to hold and which to discard can make all the difference to the outcome of your game. This strategy begins with the first of two rounds, keeping valuable cards and discarding the rest for new cards in the second round.
While our example guide to a basic strategy uses Jacks or Better, you can apply it to any video poker game including all of the variations mentioned in this article.
- 5 low value cards: Get rid of all 5 cards and click ‘Deal’ again
- 1 high value card only: if your initial hand holds an Ace, King, Queen or Jack, keep it and discard the rest
- 2 high cards (unsuited): Keep the 2 high cards and discard the other 3 cards
- 1 high card + a 10: Keep both these cards for a possible royal flush
- K, Q, J (unsuited): Keep all 3 – discard the other 2 cards
- 3 card Straight Flush: Keep the 3 card straight flush, discard the other 2 cards
- 4 card Straight: Keep the 4 card straight, discard the other card
- 2 consecutive suited high cards: Keep them and discard the others
- K, Q, J, A (unsuited): Keep all 4 and discard the remaining card
- 3 card Straight Flush + 2 high cards: Keep the 3 card straight flush only
- Q, J, 10 (unsuited): Keep all 3 and discard the other 2 cards
- Q, J, 9 (unsuited): Keep all 3 and discard the other 2 cards
- Q, J, 10, 9 (unsuited): Keep all 4, discard the other card
- J, 10, 9, 8 (unsuited): Keep all 4, discard the other card
- Any Low Pair 10 or under: Keep the pair, discard the other 3 cards
- K, Q, J, 10 (unsuited): Keep all 4, discard the other card
- 4 card Flush: Keep and discard remaining card
- 3 card Royal Flush: Keep and discard remaining 2 cards
- High Pair/Jacks or Better: Keep and discard remaining 3 cards
- 2 Pairs: Keep both pairs and discard the remaining card
- 4 card Straight Flush: Keep and discard the other card
- Straight: Keep the full hand
- 3 of a Kind: Keep and discard the other 2 cards
- Flush: Keep the full hand
- Full House: Keep the full hand
- 4 card Royal Flush: Keep and discard the other card
- 4 of a Kind: Keep and discard the other card
- Straight Flush: Keep the full hand
- Royal Flush: Keep the full hand
Free Video Poker
Most top online casinos will offer their video poker games in both a real money option as well as a free to play option. The idea behind this is to allow players to try different variations to see which one they enjoy or which one they would like to try next.
However, it is also possible to use this to your advantage. By playing video poker online for free, you can practice various video poker strategies, experiment with different winning hand combinations, and try out different versions. The best part is that you won’t have to worry about risking any of your own money in the process. Switching over to a real money is also very easy to do. Just make sure that you have a good bankroll, ready to go in your online casino account.