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A Complete Video Poker Guide 2023

Video poker is a pretty straightforward casino game, even beginners can win big. Besides, the game has a low house edge, which lets you win good money, whether in regular betting or jackpots.

It is a computerized five-card poker game in which your opponent is solely the computer. In order to be able to play video poker, you will need basic poker skills, including knowledge of all poker combinations. Most of the video poker variants use the same poker hands.

While in ordinary poker gamers play against each other, in video poker the gameplay is played against a computer or a machine. But even here, you need to have a strategy, know the rules, and understand the combinations in order to become a winner.

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What Is Video Poker?

Video poker is a sought-after casino game played on a video poker machine. Its popularity is due to ease of play and is less intimidating.

Additionally, video poker comes with a high anonymity level, which most gamblers actually need, i.e., you can play alone. So there is no psychological pressure, unlike in a poker game. You won’t be dealing with dealers, pit bosses, or even fellow players.

It’s you and the poker machines – you are playing against a machine.  With video poker, you influence the outcome. Look, the video poker machine randomly gives you 5 cards. You’re required to discard some cards, and then the machine replaces them. The final cards determine your win – they should match the winning hands on the paytable. If you win, you get a payout.

There are 100+ video poker variations, but only a handful are famous.

video poker

Video Poker History

The first video poker game dates back to the mid-1970s. The poker machines were ideally a combination of a monitor and a solid-state CPU.

In 1979, SIRCOMA (later, International Game Technology) introduced Draw Poker to popularize video poker. Right to it, the eighties were dominated by poker because it was less intimidating.  

Today, video poker is still prevalent in casinos – online and offline. Better, mobile apps make it possible to play on the go.

How to Play Video Poker

Playing video poker depends on the type of game. But all of the games follow a similar pattern – a classic 5-card draw.

Another essential thing to know is that you’ll be –playing alone, not against other players.

Now how do you play video poker?

Begin by selecting the type of game from the video poker machine’s screen. For most games, you have a 52-deck card, except for Joker Poker that has 53 cards.

Make a bet (by choosing the number of coins you want to bet – 1 to 5 coin), and then press DEAL. The video poker machine deals you 5 random cards.

Based on your judgment, decide which cards to drop and which ones to retain. However, you can discard all the cards.

Press HOLD, for the cards to keep, and press DRAW for the cards you want to discard. The machine replaces the discarded cards immediately.

The cards you have at the end (a type of hand), determines if you win or lose. Actually, the machine pays out if you have hand(s) matching the winning combination on the paytable on the video poker machine.

Hands that bring you wins vary depending on the type of game. For instance, if you end up with Royal flush and Four-of-a-kind hands in Jack or Better game, you win.

Play Video Poker

Video Poker Rules

The basic rules include:

  • Selecting a denomination of a game you want to play. Denomination simply refers to the size of the coin or value of the card.
  • Place a bet (with specific money amount), and the machine deals you 5 cards.
  • Players can discard the cards – one or more, in exchange for others from the machine. Or, players may decide to hold on to the cards. The final combination of cards results in a hand, which, if it matches the winning combination, the machine pays out the player.
  • It’s the paytable that allocates payouts for hands, i.e., each paytable has a winning combination. The combination depends on the rarity, decision of the player, and game variation.
  • Pay hands vary with games – some games have an additional paid hand, such as four deuces. However, some games like Deuces Wild may not pay for a pair and, in some cases, even two pair.

Video Poker Hand Rankings

Below are video poker hands and explanation:

  • Royal Flush It’s straight from a 10 to an ace. All five cards are of a similar suit; therefore, they ranked equally.
  • Straight Flush They are 5 consecutive cards of a similar suit
  • Four of a kind They are four cards of an equivalent rank
  • Flush – Five cards having a similar suit but not consecutive. The highest card determines the Flush’s rank.
  • Straight Five consecutive cards of different/mixed suits.
  • Three of a kind – Any three cards having the same rank.
  • Full house Three cards having a similar rank alongside two cards of a different rank
  • Two Pair Any two cards of an identical rank alongside two cards of another equivalent rank
  • One Pair These are two cards of a similar rank. It can be two jacks, queens, kings, or aces.

Video Poker Glossary 

Here are the essential terminologies and slangs:

  • Bust – It is a VP hand showing no improvement after drawing extra cards.
  • Cash-out – This is taking out your money from the machine
  • Comps – High rollers and frequent players get freebies called comps to assure continued patronage.
  • Cycle/royal flush cycle – It is the amount of hands, which a VP machine needs to deliver jackpot payouts. It occurs at an average rate of about 40,000 hands, though the real figure isn’t definite.
  • Deuce – It is a card you can substitute for another card to create a perfect hand or cards displaying the number two only.
  • Drawing hand – When the initial hand of a player needs improvement
  • Full pay – It is a VP machine that’s using the best paytable for a specific kind of game. 
  • Hand Pay – When a player receives money from a casino member directly (winning payouts) – at land-based casinos.
  • High card – It is a poker hand with the least value. It contains no pairs, flushes, or straights.
  • Expected Return – It is the money a player expects to get from a VP machine but over a long term.
  • Jackpot – The topmost payout that a video poker machine offers – it differs depending on the rule.
  • Payout – The amount for a specific poker hand
  • Bankroll – The money a player sets aside for gambling. Smart gamblers always stop gambling when a bankroll is depleted. 
  • Discard – This is when a player gets rid of one or more cards after the machine deals the cards. The player simply presses the DISCARD button. Once done, the machine replaces the cards to enable the determination of the final hand.
  • Full Pay – It’s a video poker machine using the best paytable for a particular game. 
  • House Edge – It’s the advantage that a house holds over a player (casino’s profit) – expressed as a percentage.
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Video Poker Variations   

Video Poker is a very popular game and of course you can come across on many variations of this game, bellow are the most popular ones:

Jacks or Better

With Jack or Better, you intend to build the best poker hand you can make by creating a hand having at least one pair of jacks. Just create the highest hand matching your cards.

In case you get 9 Clubs, 8 Clubs, 4 Diamonds, 5 Spades, and Queen Hearts, you simply have one high card – the queen of hearts. So you hold it.

However, in case it is Queen Spades, 8 Hearts, Jack Diamonds, 5 Clubs, and 2 Clubs, you have 2 high cards, i.e., Queen of Spades and the Jack of Diamonds. Hold both of them because you can win big. If you are luckier, you can get a Full House.

Other strategies to win include:

  • If you lack combinations, Jacks or higher, draw five new cards.
  • If you lack matching cards, retain a card with higher or equal of value to Jacks.
  • Got a pair of cards? hold all and draw three new cards.
  • Got three cards to a Royal Flush?  keep them, and Draw two new cards.

Again, it vital to hold all low pairs –  four to a Straight, three to a Straight Flush or a low, and 2 cards resulting in a Royal Flush.

Discard low pains in cases of three to a Royal Flush or four to a Flush.

A high pair is a guarantee of a win in jack or better, but you can also break a high pair for a more significant win.

The payoff can be Full house, 9 x, and flush 6 x the bet. Other payoffs include 9/5, 8/, 8/5, 7/5, and 6/5.

Joker Poker

It requires 53 cards to play, so there is an extra card- joker. The extra card acts as a wild card, and it aims to help form a better winning combination easily.

Notice that Joker Poker is typically a Kings or Better-style game. Here, you need at least a pair of kings in hand to win the bet back.

It isn’t a big win; you have not lost anything either. This keeps you in the game longer, which increases your chances of winning something big.

For example, having 2, 3, 8, K, means that your best hand two kings. On the other hand, having 2, 2, 2, 7, Joker, means having have four of a kind.

Now, if you like a surprise factor, i.e., the Joker emerging occasionally, Joker Poker in your game.

You need to assemble the highest-scoring hands based on the game’s paytable. Find full-pay tables because they offer a greater chance of winning.

NB: choose a maximum bet – “Bet Max,” i.e., royal flush (payout = 4000 coins or 80x your bet). Going lower will be against you in the long run.

Bonus – Double Bonus – Double Double Bonus

Need a more profitable video poker game? Try this one. Typically, the game offers extra-high payouts for the 4 of a kind hand.

It does so by reducing the payoff for 2 pairs, i.e., from two to one to even money. If you get the right paytable, this type of video poker offers a smart player a little edge over the house.

Playing a bonus, double bonus, or double double bonus video poker game means beginning at the top, i.e., from Royal flush to Straight flush,… and 4 to a flush draws.

While playing, compare your hands to the list – soon as you get to the hand you are having, stop. Keep the cards, and discard the rest.

Here, the highest hand is the Pat Royal Flush.

If you are a starter, stick with the beginner’s chart – it is much simpler, and it will help make decisions more quickly.

joker poker

Play from Your Mobile        

Your smartphone or tablet supports video poker. Just download and install a video poker app on your Android or iOS. And you can play real money games.

Apps give you the flexibility to play on-the-go. Therefore, you can enjoy games from any location. Apps come with groundbreaking features games variation, which guarantee you flawless play.

However, you can access most of these casinos directly on their website using your phone. And the play is equally flawless.

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Real money gaming vs. Free to play       

Casinos come with much flexibility – you can play both free and real money games. But first, you need to create an account.

Choosing a free to play online casino comes with advantages like:

  • Free entertainment
  • Polishing your skills
  • Testing various video poker variants without risking your money

You will receive rewards and, thus excitement when playing for real money. But first, you have to deposit money into your account. You’ll use this money to place bets.

The exciting part with this option is that if your bets are successful, you win real money, which is deposited in your account. Besides, you can win lots of bonuses, including a registration bonus. And if you participate in jackpots, there is good money too.

Tips and Strategies to Win Games

Try the tips below:

  • Choose the right games – games have different return rates; some have higher returns, e.g., 9/6 Jacks or Better with 99.54%.
  • Don’t use guesswork – know details about strategies behind the Game.
  • Limit yourself to one or two game types – the games should fit your goals and play style.
  • Use a strategy list – cheat sheets as it lists ways to win a poker game, and it ranks it from the best to worst.
  • Play with your budget – Learn to stop playing if you reach your limit or lower bet.
  • Understand the probability of winning – hitting a royal flush has about 1 in 40,000 chance.
  • Begin with small bets
  • Choose the right pay table – research to identify the best video poker machines that offer good pay tables.

How to choose where to play Video Poker     

It’s not easy to choose the best online casino to play Video Poker or any other casino game. Consider things like How the casino treats its members. Does it pay members? Is it safe? What is the range of games? There are a lot of factors to consider when making a decision, some of them include:

Licensed Different countries have different laws governing the operations of video poker. To avoid trouble and losses, choose a video poker provider that complies with laws.

Safe online casino A safe casino is the one that has put in place safety measures. Such measures include having proper licensing, quality software, customer information protection, no spam emails, and no illegal marketing styles.

Bonuses The number of casino bonus offers and welcome rewards varies from one casino to another. Choose the highest. Besides, casinos offer a rebate on losses at 5-25%.

Games made by trustworthy developers Such games are reliable, and therefore, it offers value for the money.

Video Poker vs. Slot Machines – What are the differences?

The differences include:

  • Video Poker has more Strategy than Slots – each decision you make in video poker determines what you earn. 
  • The progressive jackpots are bigger on slots than poker.
  • Video poker has a higher payback than slots.
  • Video poker is easier to figure out than slots, but slots are much more relaxing to play.
  • On video poker, players’ knowledge is fundamental because unlike slots in video poker, players choose how the game will develop, i.e., players influence the game’s outcome, unlike in slot machine, where the machine is the sole determinant.


Video poker is an exciting gambling casino game. Besides being easy to play, the game comes with a low house edge (casino’s profit) and has higher odds of winning than a similar casino game.

The only thing you need to know is to learn how to read paytables because pay tables determine the payout. Again, not all pay tables offer a low house edge. However, even the tightest tables offer better payouts than a slot machine.


Playing video poker is slightly different from real-life poker. For instance, there are several betting rounds and decisions in real-life poker. By contrast, video poker has only a single decision. You make your choice once – make a draw, and the game is over.

In most cases the answer would be yes, first of all, Video Poker has a higher RTP than average slot game and another advantage is that it's not completely random and it's up to your decisions to gather a winning combination.

Yes. You can play free video poker, which comes with many advantages, including offering you great practice without spending money. Besides, it is entertaining, and you can share the fun with a friend. You can find free poker video websites, online casinos, and free trainers; you can play without restrictions.

We can easily say that Video Poker is a combination of both, like the most games, if learn to play this game well, you will notice a significant increase in wins.

If you know the game, a video poker is a casino name that gives you an edge over the house. But you need to find games where you'll consistently have the advantage to make a living off video poker. Simply put, it is possible to have a reliable income, but it is gambling and there are no guarantees. 

The answer is yes, you can enjoy playing video poker for free or real money from your mobile device.

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