Video poker is among the most exciting online casino games today. It combines the fun elements of slots with the skill element of 5-card poker to give you the best of both worlds. Its popularity is based on 2 major reasons:
- The high RTP associated with it: some variants offer RTPs higher than 100%.
- The ability to choose your move, which means you are not solely dependent on Lady Luck.
Every major software provider offers video poker games to its clients. You find a range of variants from these providers. The variants are many and include both single hand and multi-hand games. Popular video poker variants include Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, Joker Wild, Deuces Wild, and more.
Our List of Top Video Poker Casinos
One of the things to know before playing video poker online: not all casinos allow you to use the bonuses available to play this game, possibly because of the low house edge associated with it. There are of course a few casinos that allow you to use the bonuses available to play video poker, but there could be restrictions in these as well, in terms of:
- The bonus for video poker games being smaller than the one for slots.
- The bonus not covering all the video poker variants available.
- Low contribution of the game towards fulfilling of wagering requirements. Unlike slots which contribute 100% towards fulfilment of wagering requirements, video poker contributes way less, as low as 10% in some game variants.
We have compiled for you a list of casinos to play video poker. All these casinos have been vetted by our team of experts for fair play and a range of other parameters. Along with the games available we also list for you the percentage of bets that contribute to the fulfilment of wagering requirements.
Video Poker: A Brief History
The seeds for the emergence of video poker as a casino game were sown back in the 19th century with the invention of the first primitive slot-like machine by Sittmann and Pitt. The next logical step forward of note was the invention of the first actual slot machine by Charley Fey – the Liberty Bell – in 1899. The first Skill Draw poker machine came out in 1901, also created by Charles Fey; the game gave players the ability to re-spin and take a shot at bettering their existing hand.
The earliest video poker machines came in 1970. Credit for the development of Poker-Matic goes to Dale Electronics. This game became a rage and could soon be seen in every Vegas casino. Si Redd, a Bally gaming distributor actually took his idea for a video poker machine to Bally Gaming executives. The idea was rejected, and that was a decision Bally probably rued later.
Si took the patent himself and then started mass production of the video poker game. He did this by collaborating with the Fortune Coin Company to form SIRCOMA – short for Si Redd’s Coin Machines. The rest, as they say, is history. The game was among the most popular games at Vegas casinos by 1981.
How the Early Video Poker Games Worked
The early versions of the game were of course different from the games of today. They looked like TV sets from that time and were definitely primitive. You needed 2 pairs for a winning hand, which seemed like a big letdown at that time. The course correction for this was to make a pair of Jacks the lowest winning hand. The success of SIRCOMA over the years and Si finally rebranded it to what is today known as International Game Technology (IGT).
At that time, the game’s popularity was for multiple reasons:
- It was a game of skill, not just luck.
- It was easier to play than the table games of that time as it mixed the fun elements of slots with the skill side of poker.
- The original slots players welcomed this game because it was for them the perfect bridge between the classic slots and the video slots, which they were not too comfortable playing.
1994 was a landmark year for the casino industry as the online casino made its debut. That was the trigger for an explosive surge in the popularity of video poker, as now anyone with access to a computer and an Internet connection could play it for real money, and that too right from home!
Video Poker: The Rules of the Game
Video poker is easy to play and a whole lot of fun. The rules of the game are simple.
You are dealt a hand of 5 cards. The highest ranked card is the Ace, followed by the King, Queen, Jack, 10, and then the numbers 9 down to 2. The Ace can also be used as a 1, depending on the hand you are trying to make. This brings us to the next element in the game – the hands. We list and rank the hands for you in ascending order below.
- High card: This is a hand of 5 cards that do not have any relation between them and are from different suits.
- One Pair: This is a hand with a pair of cards of the same value. The payout for a winning hand that is a pair is usually 5 credits.
- Two Pair: This is a hand with two pairs of cards of different values, e.g. a pair of 2s and a pair of 10s. The payout for a winning hand of 2 pairs is 10 credits normally.
- Three of a Kind: This is a hand with 3 cards of the same value, e.g. a hand with 3 Kings. The payout for a winning hand of Three of a Kind is 15 credits.
- Straight: This is a hand of 5 cards of consecutive values from different suits, e.g. a hand of 2-3-4-5-6, all from different suits. The payout for such a winning hand is 20 credits.
- Flush: A hand of 5 cards of the same suit, but of non-consecutive values, e.g. a hand of 3-6-7-10-J of hearts. The payout for a winning hand that is a Flush is 25 credits.
- Full House: This is a hand that has 3 cards of one rank and 2 of another, usually a 3 of a kind and a pair. The payout for such a hand – 6-6-6-K-K – is 40 credits.
- Four of a Kind: This is a hand that has 4 cards of the same value, e.g. A-A-A-A-4. The payout for such a hand is 125 credits.
- Straight Flush: This is a hand of 5 cards in a sequence, all from the same suit, e.g. 6-7-8-9-10 of Clubs. The payout for such a hand is 250 credits.
- Royal Flush: This is the mother of all video poker hands and consists of A-K-Q-J-10 from the same suit. The hand is just a straight flush involving the cards with the highest values. The payout from this hand is also the highest of all hands, at 4000 credits.
While these are the hands seen overall in video poker, the value of the lowest winning hand varies depending on the game you are playing. For instance, the lowest winning hand in Jacks or Better is a pair of Jacks, not just any other pair.
How to Play Video Poker
Playing video poker at an online casino is very easy and can be done by following the steps listed below:
- Sign in to the casino of your choice. If you are a new player ensure you sign up and make a deposit into your casino account.
- Head to the Games tab and click on the video poker variant you want to play. Go through the paytable provided to familiarize yourself with the different hands and what they pay.
- Place the wager for the game. The maximum bet you can place is usually 5 credits; this is the Max Bet and you can place it manually or by simply clicking the Max Bet button.
- After you have placed your bets you are dealt 5 cards face up.
- Click on the cards you want to retain and then click the Draw button. The cards that are not held are dropped and new cards are dealt in their place.
- The new cards together with the held cards form your final video poker hand. Based on the hand you now hold and the payout listed in the paytable you get paid.
A number of video poker variants come with the Double Up feature. This feature allows you to double your winnings from that hand. All you have to do is click the Double Up button. When you do this you get 5 cards dealt face down and a dealer’s card that is face up. You need to flip one of the face down cards; if the value is higher than the dealer’s open card your winnings get doubled else you lose what you won on that hand.
The Importance of the Payout Table and How to Read It
One of the important elements of the video poker game screen – or the machine if you are at a land-based casino – is the paytable. The paytable allows you to check the winnings for each hand to figure out how much you can win for that hand. This is important because knowing how much you can win for the different hands will influence your decision regarding holding and drawing cards.
Knowing the payout table also allows you to zero in on the full pay games and also determine short pay games. So in a game of Jacks or Better, where the payout is 9/6 at a full pay machine, you would get a healthy 9:1 payout for a hand that is a full house compared to a 6:1 payout for a Flush. Knowing this beforehand allows you to decide on the cards to hold and draw.
The following example explains this better. Assume you are playing video poker with a standard 52-card deck. There are no wild cards or jokers in play. For such a hand the number of possible 5-card combinations that can result in a 5-card hand are 2,598,960. Those are some odds to beat!
So how does the RNG calculate the probability of a particular hand or various hands being dealt? It does this by simulating the playing conditions that are in place in real time. That way, the house edge remains unchanged and the data remains unaltered. As a result, the RNG is able to provide an accurate reading based on which you can calculate the potential payouts. In effect, by reading a paytable you can check the odds you are getting for a given video poker game.
Video Poker Variants Available
The following table lists out the most popular video poker variants with basic rules and features for each. We are creating the table with the video poker games from Microgaming as the basis.
|Video Poker Game Type||Min. Winning Hand||No. of Cards in Deck||Extra Winning Hands in Paytable||Payout for Max Bet|
|Jacks or Better||Jacks or Better||52||Standard paytable||Regular: 2000; Full pay: 4000|
|Jokers Wild||Kings or Better||53 (52+1 joker)||3 Royal Flush hands: Royal Flush with joker, Natural Royal Flush and Sequential Royal Flush (top hand that gives you max reward of 20000 coins)||20000 coins|
|Tens or Better||Pair of 10s||52||Regular paytable. Game is available in both single-hand and multi-hand options. Multi-hand option gives max 100 hands||2000 coins|
|Double Joker Poker||Two Pairs||54 (52 + 2 jokers)||5 of a Kind; 2 Royal Flush hands: Natural Royal Flush and Joker-aided Royal Flush||4000 coins|
|Deuces and Joker Poker||3 of a Kind||53 (52 + 1 joker)||4 Deuces and Joker; Four Deuces; Wild Royal Flush; Five of a Kind; Two Royal Flush hands: Natural Royal Flush and Wild Royal Flush||10000 coins|
|Triple Double Bonus Poker||Jacks or Better||52||4 of a Kind: Aces + 2, 3, or 4; Four of a Kind (Aces); Four of a Kind (2, 3, or 4); Four of a Kind (Other cards)||4000|
|Aces and Faces||Jacks or Better||52||Four of a Kind (Aces through to 2s)||2000|
|Aces and Eights||Jacks or Better||52||Different payouts for the 4 of a Kind hands: Four of a Kind 7s - 50:1; Four of a Kind 8s or Aces - 80:1; Four of a Kind any other hand - 25:1||4000 for full pay games|
|Loose Deuces||3 of a Kind||52||5 of a Kind and 4 Deuces; 2 Royal Flush hands: Wild Royal Flush with Deuce(s) and Natural Royal Flush||4000 for full pay games.|
|Louisiana Double Poker||Jacks or Better||53 (52+1 joker)||Regular Jacks or Better paytable; Winnings doubled if you have Double Poker card in winning hand; Double Poker card is not wild.||2500|
|Deuces Wild||3 of a Kind||52||Four deuces and Five of a Kind; Two Royal Flush hands: Natural and Wild. Wild Royal Flush hand pops up when you have a deuce as wild card. Different payments for the two hands||4000 for full pay games|
Getting the Best Possible Odds for Your Video Poker Game: Full Pay Video Poker
We had mentioned in passing about full pay video poker games and short pay games. Let us take a brief look at these games now. They are NOT games where you get 100%+ payouts; if that were to happen players would play only those games leading to disastrous consequences for the casino and its operator. They are games that give you the best odds for winning. For instance, a full pay game of Jacks or Better would give you top odds of 9/6.
It isn’t all that difficult to figure out if a video poker game is full pay or short pay. The casinos usually advertise full pay games. And if you want to check them out yourself all you have to do is look at the paytable for the game; the indications of whether a game is full pay or not are right there.
How to Check Out Full Pay Video Poker Games on the Paytable
There are different ways you can use to check out full pay games on the paytable. These include:
- Checking the payouts for Full House and Flush on the paytable.
- A full pay game offers a 9:1 payout for a Full House and 6:1 for a Flush.
- Checking the payouts for the 2 Pairs hand. A full pay machine will give a payout of at least 2:1.
- Checking the Royal Flush payout. For a full pay game the payout on a 5-coin Max Bet is 4000.
So what if the machine you are checking out doesn’t reflect the above numbers? Then it is a short pay machine. The odds could be as low as 6/5 on a short-pay machine.
Multi-Line Video Poker
You can group video poker variants based on the number hands available. There are games that allow you to play either a single line or multiple lines per turn – they are the multi-line video poker games and a number of top software providers have them in their game list.
One common myth about multi-line video poker games is that they come with better payouts as compared to single hand/single-line video poker games. At the core of the myth is the ability to play multiple lines or hands simultaneously.
In reality, the number of lines or hands does not impact the payout. Of course there are good sides as well as bad sides to it: on the good side you can play faster, on the bad side you stand to make more errors as the number of lines increases.
Progressive Video Poker Games
Video poker games also come with progressive jackpots. Each time a player plays the game a portion of his wager is added to the jackpot pool, enabling it to grow. Of course, the jackpot is not as high as what you see in some of the slots-based jackpots.
You will find a sizeable number of progressive video poker games. The standard ones are variants of Jacks or Better and also Double Double Bonus Poker. The standard trigger for the progressive jackpot is the Royal Flush hand. Other triggers include:
- Particular suit’s Royal Flush
- Four of a Kind hand that comes with special options to trigger the payout
Some FAQs Related to Video Poker
The minimum age limit for real money video poker is usually 18 years. The age limit mainly depends on the laws of the country you are playing from.
All established online and mobile casinos use random number generators (RNGs) that are tested and audited by independent agencies for fair play and randomness in terms of the outcome of a game. So yes, video poker games at online casinos are all fair.
There are a large number of video poker games to choose from at online casinos. There are single-hand games, multi-hand games, games with jokers and wilds, and more. The number of games available at an online casino depends on the software powering the casino. And if you are playing at a multi-platform casino you are in for a really good time because the range of video poker games would be much larger.
How difficult would it be to have an upper hand over the house using the bonuses on offer to play video poker games instead of the other games available?
What you are saying is definitely possible, but quite hard to achieve. All casinos formulate their policies only after thoroughly examining all scenarios; the wagering requirements and a game’s contributions towards fulfilment of wagering requirements are classic examples of the mechanisms casinos have in place to ensure they do not suffer losses because of the bonuses they offer.
It is indeed possible to make a living playing video poker. But there is a big gap between possible and feasible. You would have to constantly search for games that offer the lowest house edge. Another problem would be the bankroll: you must have sufficient funds to tide over the lean periods.
A simple statistic tells you the story – the probability of landing a Royal Flush, which is that one hand that can give you a really big win – is 1 in 40,000. It would be easier to look for something else to make a living and play video poker for the joy of playing and winning.