A Beginner’s Guide to Video Poker

videopokVideo poker is a fairly recent game which appeared with the arrival of video slots and electronic casino games. Video poker didn’t really have a counterpart before casino games were digitised.

A lot of new players get confused by the name, thinking that video poker is just an electronic version of regular poker, similar to how online roulette matches the usual table game. While you can play poker online, the term video poker actually refers to a kind of poker themed subset of slot gaming.

While traditional poker is played with rounds of betting and bluffing, video poker dispenses with those, since you play by yourself instead of against opponents. Instead of trying to beat other players or even a dealer, in video poker you simply play to build a strong hand, which is where the similarity to slot machines comes in.

With each bet, you will be dealt a hand of five cards. All the prizes you can win are based on the combinations you can make with those five cards, just like the hands in poker. Compare this to playing a slot machine, where you need the five reels to give you a winning combination of symbols.

The same principal is at work, but with a poker theme. Cards take the place of symbols and hands take the place of the winning combinations on the pay table. You won’t need to bluff in video poker, as each bet is instant; you win or lose and then move on.

How To Win

Video poker therefore relies on a lot of phrases borrowed from regular poker. The cards all have the usual suits and values seen in poker- hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds and the numbers 2 to 10, the ace and the face cards. As mentioned earlier, your hand is the five cards you are dealt at random by the game.

Wins happen when your hand contains a winning set of cards, which are based on the hands in poker and ranked in the same way, but do note that not all games use the full set of winning hands. This is because video poker needs to have a slightly different structure. However, the standard winning hands are seen in most games, such as three of a kind and a full house.

A hand which would be considered better in regular poker, like a full house or straight flush, is worth a bigger prize in video poker. Depending on the game, there may be special prizes for certain hands, or other extra ways to get a win. Some video poker games offer progressive jackpots which grow to huge amounts, so they will usually be tied to the most elusive hand. This is usually the royal flush.

Variations Of Video Poker

playtech Deuces Wild Video PokerMany versions of video poker allow you to discard your hand, much like holding the reels in slot games. After placing a bet and receiving five cards from the dealer, you will get a chance to keep some of the cards and throw away the others, in the hope that the machine will give you a better set. This is valuable if you’re close to completing a certain hand but one card is missing.

This dynamic also introduces an element of skill or judgement, as you must decide when to keep your hand or risk it to get a better one. The decisions get more complex with variants of video poker, of which there are many and more are being developed all the time. For example, Deuces Wild is a common version where the number 2 cards can be substituted for any other card, making the 2 very valuable.

You would never want to discard a 2 in this case, so always check the rules for the version you’re playing! Many versions also use the Jacks or Better rule, meaning that the game only gives wins for a pair of Jacks or higher.

These variants are a great example of how the move to digital play gives players more options. With a few tweaks of code, developers can add more rules, twists, bonuses and better graphics to video poker games, with animations and sound effects too. Even traditional, offline casinos have video poker machines due to the popularity of the game, but it’s easy to play at home on your PC, laptop or mobile.

Video poker was one of the earlier games to make the leap to online casinos and it remains popular as a middle ground between slots and card games, offering the quick satisfaction of slots but the classic themes of poker. Like many slots, it’s also ideal for those who prefer to play alone, whenever and wherever they want.

May 19, 2016 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.