Online video poker often gets overlooked by players and casino sites themselves, while online slots often overshadow video poker games. The graphics aren’t as bold, and the payouts aren’t as big. Despite that fact, video poker is one of the best games in any casino online. Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and other versions of the game have some of the best odds in the casino.
Read our guide to real money online video poker to see why you should play this game. Learn how to play a typical hand, then read about the many versions of the game. Consider the pros and cons of playing real money or free video poker, and read the answers to a few frequently asked questions.
How to Play a Hand of Video Poker
While video poker has many versions, a typical hand of video poker plays the same no matter which variations you play. Most versions are based on 5-card draw poker, the game many of us learned to play first as a child. In fact, some old timers refer to video poker by the name “draw poker”.
- Receive a 5-Card Hand: The player hits “Start” and the software deals five cards to the player.
- Hit or Stand: The player has the choice of standing pat or asking for 1 to 5 cards. Click on the cards you wish to hold. Those not held are dumped in the redraw. Basic strategy suggests holding onto aces and high cards, some flush draws, and some straight draws.
- Use a Strategy Chart: New players should use a strategy chart to give them advice. Some online video poker programs give the player advice when prompted. Use the tools that help you make good decisions.
- The Re-Draw: If you ask the game for more cards, you receive replacement cards in place of the ones you dumped. The remaining five cards now represent your hand.
- The Pay Table: Next, compare your final hand with the pay table. If your hand matches one of the hands on the pay table, you win money. If you don’t, then you lost the bet.
- Jacks or Better: The basic video poker game is Jacks or Better. In this case, the pay table starts with a pair of jacks. If you receive a pair of Jacks or better, then you will win cash. If not, you lost.
Variants of Online Video Poker
Players will encounter a wide selection of online video poker games. While the list below is not complete, it describes the most common versions of the game. These also happen to be the most popular, because they offer either a low house edge or a large payout.
- Jacks or Better: This is the most common and basic variant of video poker. The objective is to form a hand containing at least a pair of Jacks or a higher-ranking hand. Jacks or Better has one of the highest return-to-player (RTP) percentages, so it remains a popular choice all these years later.
- Deuces Wild: In this variant, all the twos (deuces) act as wild cards, which substitute for any other card to form a winning hand. This increases the chances of getting stronger hands, but the minimum qualifying hand is usually higher, such as three of a kind.
- Jokers Wild: Similar to Deuces Wild, this variant includes the use of a joker as a wild card. The joker can substitute for any other card, increasing the likelihood of hitting winning hands. Often called Joker Poker, this version is popular because it has a low house edge.
- All American: This variant offers increased payouts for certain hands like straight flushes, flushes, and straights. It often has a reduced payout for a full house or two pairs compared to Jacks or Better.
- Aces & Eights: A variation of Jacks or Better, Aces & Eights offers enhanced payouts for four-of-a-kind hands consisting of Aces or Eights. Other payouts may be adjusted accordingly.
- Bonus Poker: This variant provides higher payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands, such as four Aces. Other payouts might be slightly adjusted, making it different from Jacks or Better.
- Double Bonus Poker: Like Bonus Poker, this variant offers even higher payouts for specific four-of-a-kind hands. It often provides increased payouts for four Aces with a specific kicker card.
- Tens or Better: This variant modifies the qualifying hand to a pair of Tens instead of Jacks. As a result, the payout structure is adjusted accordingly, typically resulting in lower payouts for certain hands compared to Jacks or Better.
- Loose Deuces: In this variant, all twos (deuces) are wild cards, like Deuces Wild. However, Loose Deuces usually have different payouts, including higher payouts for certain hands like four deuces.
- Pyramid Poker: This variant combines video poker with elements of pyramid-style solitaire games. Players must form multiple hands from a pyramid-shaped layout of cards, aiming to create the best poker hands and earn payouts.
- Progressive Video Poker: A version that has a progressive side bet. While this gives you a chance to win a huge jackpot while playing video poker, the usual low house edge does not exist in this version of the game.
- Multi-Hand Video Poker: This is not a specific variant but rather a feature that allows players to play multiple hands simultaneously. It is available in various video poker variants, including Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and others. Players place bets on each hand and are dealt separate sets of cards for each hand, giving them more opportunities to win.
Real Money Online Video Poker: Pros and Cons
The two main options for online video poker are free video poker demo games and real money video poker. Both are available at real money online casino sites, though (in most cases) only one offers a chance to win cash. Here is a comparison of the two ways to play.
|Real Money Online Video Poker||
Free Video Poker
|Receive massive winnings when you win.||Don’t risk your bankroll.|
|Claim big bonuses and earn rewards points.||No signup process is required.|
|Experience thrilling games with money on the line.||Practice strategies without risking cash.|
|Enter video poker tournaments on some sites.||Demo games have the same graphics and gameplay.|
|Play for minimum stakes at small deposit casinos.||No winnings, no bonuses, no rewards.|
It is great to play free casino games, but many players do not feel the level of excitement when they don’t have money on the line. Even if you are a penny player, having a small wager at stake provides a player with a thrill when they play.
Online Video Poker FAQ
Why should I play video poker, since the payouts are not high?
Like blackjack, video poker offers a low house edge. If you find the full-pay version of a game, the house edge can be as low as 0.50% or lower. To receive those odds, you will need to learn the strategy and play optimally, again like blackjack. Video poker is both a game of chance and a game of skill, so it appeals to players who like to learn skills and affect the outcome of the game.
How do you play free video poker online?
Players have several options. You can play at social gaming sites like Big Fish Gaming or Zynga. You can play on social networks like Facebook. You can find video poker tutorials that offer a demo game. Or you can play online video poker for free at online casinos.
Playing video poker at an online casino is the best option. You play using the same software, game controls, graphics, and gameplay as real money online video poker. Casino sites let players test the game and see if they live it before playing for real money. It is the online gambling equivalent of test-driving a car.
How do you improve online video poker?
Study and practice. Study the video poker strategy charts for the game you prefer. For instance, study Jacks or Better strategy charts if that is your game. Once you do, play Jacks or Better while honing in on the tips and tricks of the game. Repetition should bring skill.
Why would I use max coins on a video poker game?
Max coins often unlock the best jackpot in the game. We will use a classic example to illustrate. Imagine a Jacks or Better game with a 200-coin payout for a royal flush when making the 1-coin bet. One would expect a 400-coin payout for 2 coins, a 600-coin payout for 3 coins, an 800-coin payout for 4 coins, and a 1000-coin payout for 5 coins.
Often, the 5-coin payout jumps up. In this case, you would likely see a 1200-coin jackpot or even a 1500-coin jackpot. In the case of progressive video poker, you might even see a progressive jackpot in place of the expected 1000-coin jackpot. For that reason, it is almost always a better idea to bet the max coins. If you do not feel comfortable with max bets, drop down to the next lowest coin denomination.
Why is Jacks or Better so popular and widespread?
Jacks or Better was the first video poker game. Beyond that, it has some of the best odds among the video poker variants. Also, players are most familiar with Jacks or Better, so more players can read the pay table and find the best version of the game.
Which is better: Deuces Wild or Loose Deuces video poker?
That depends on the pay table you use. As the name Loose Deuces implies, it is a looser version of the game that has better odds — but only if you play using the full-pay version. Online casino operators — just like land-based casinos — often use different pay tables. Learn how to read paytables before playing video poker.