Video Poker

Written by: Cliff Spiller, Online Casino and Game Expert

Video poker has one of the lowest house edges in the casino. Playing with the optimal strategy can increase your odds of winning and beating the machine. If you like to play draw poker and enjoy skill-based gaming, then this casino game is an excellent option for you.

This in-depth video poker guide will teach you how to play, the best game variants, and how to increase your chances of winning.

Video Poker Guide

Table of Contents

Video Poker Rules

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Video Poker Rules

draw poker

Video poker is based on 5-card Draw Poker. In this game, the player is dealt five cards. The player can choose to hit or stand. When you ask for a hit, a card is discarded and replaced with another drawn card. When you ask to stand, you keep the card you have.

Players can make a hit or stand decision on all cards separately. You can hit on 5, stand on 5, or choose any combination in-between. Once the redraw happens, your hand is compared against the paytable, and the results are determined. 

Hand Rankings

The hands in video poker are almost the same as in traditional poker, although there may be some differences, depending on the variant. In this casino game, the Royal Flush is the best poker hand, followed by a Straight Flush.

poker hands rankings
poker hands rankings

How to Play Video Poker

Are you a new video poker player? Check out this quick step-by-step guide to learn the ropes of the game and get started playing.

  1. Place Your Bet

    Start by adding funds to your account. Each video poker machine offers limits on the number of coins you can bet and the value of each coin. In Jacks or Better, you can bet as low as five cents and up to five dollars.
  2. Cards are Drawn

    Push or click on the deal button, and the machine will draw five cards.
  3. Stand or Hit

    You pick which cards to hold from that deal as you aim for the highest-ranking poker hand. If you don’t have any pairs or winning combinations, you can unselect the cards to discard them.
  4. Collect Winnings

    The video poker machine will replace the cards that you did not hold. From that final hand, you request a payout of your winnings according to how your hand ranks on the paytable.

Video Poker Game Layout

Video poker machines can be confusing to understand if you’re a new player. Although there are several different game variants, most layouts are essentially the same.

Video Poker Game Layout

Video Poker RTP – Full Pay vs. Short Pay

Players must look at the video poker paytables to know if they’re playing full pay or short pay. This gives you an indication as to how much each winning combination pays for each bet level.

Full Pay

A game with the highest payback percentage is known as full pay. In full pay Jacks or Better, this would be when it has a 9/6 paytable. In Deuces Wild, a full pay machine can pay back over 100% when the optimal strategy is used.

Here are some of the most popular full pay variants:

  • Deuces Wild (100.76%)
  • Loose Deuces (101.64%)
  • Joker Wild (100.65%)

Short Pay

Short pay is a term to describe games that have a lower payout percentage. An example would be 7/5 Jacks or Better, where the average payback percentage stands at only 96.15% if the optimal strategy is used.

Here are some of the most common low pay variants:

  • 9/5 Jacks or Better (98.45%)
  • Bonus Deuces Wild (99.45%)
  • Bonus Poker (98.17%)

Video Poker Paytables

One of the advantages of video poker is seeing the “price” or financial return you can expect when playing. This is why in many cases, it is a “beatable” game and why it always has the best value for your dollar.

Jacks or Better Paytable

Jacks or Better is the best introduction to video poker because it has a simple paytable to understand. In this game, you need at least a pair of Jacks to get paid. Here are the standard payouts for Jacks or Better.

Video Poker Jacks or Better Game Paytable

Deuces Wild Pay Table

When you play a round of Deuces Wild, all deuces in the deck are wild and can be substituted for any card’s rank and suit. This makes it easier to land big hands, which in turn reduces the payout scales.

Video Poker Deuces Wild Paytable

How to Win at Video Poker

Do you want to learn some tips that can give you an extra boost and lean the odds in your favor? Check out some of these recommendations when playing video poker.

  • Place the Max Bet

    Always aim for the max bet when playing video poker. This is also known as betting five coins. The royal flush, or equivalent major prize, will payout at a bonus rate if you hit it when betting max coins. This means that you’ll get a better return over time.
  • Find the Best Paytable

    Choosing the best paytable is essential to increase your odds of winning. Although each paytable offers a different house edge, you should always consider going for a 9/6 (or more) pay chart when playing video poker. This paytable has a fair return that offers full house pay on nine coins and flush pay on six coins.
  • Use Bankroll Management

    Select a game and denomination that better suits your bankroll. Don’t risk your bankroll on every hand, as this will most likely result in a loss. Since you will bet max coins in video poker, choose a denomination that gives you some wiggle room.

Do you want to improve your odds of winning? Check out our Video Poker Strategy Guide to learn the best tips from casino game experts!

Video Poker Games You Can Play Online

There are several video poker machine variants, with each game featuring its paytable. Most variants are based on Jacks or Better and make it easier to learn other versions. Below you can find a quick review of each of the top video poker casino games.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Logo

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better video poker is the basic game and still has some of the best odds. Its name derives from the fact the basic winning hand is a pair of jacks or better. A 9/6 Jacks or Better full pay has an RTP of 99.54%.

Loose Deuces Video Poker Logo

Loose Deuces

Loose Deuces video poker is a variant with excellent odds. The key payout in this game is the 5 of a kind. The full-pay version of this title is 101.64%, making it one of the best possible variants of video poker.

Online Video Poker Bonus Poker Logo

Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker offers an additional big bonus on one of the rare hands while having a lower payout on one or more of the common hands. 9/6 Bonus Poker is the full pay version and has an estimated 99.64% RTP.

Wild Casino Joker Poker Logo

Joker Poker

Joker Poker adds the 53rd card to the deck: the joker. It acts as a wild card, substituting for any other card in the deck, and the player needs a hand with two pairs or better to win. The full-pay has an RTP of 100.65%.

Video Poker Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild makes the two-card wild, which unlocks many winning possibilities not allowed in Jacks or Better. The full-pay version has an expected RTP of 100.76%, making it a positive expectation game.

Aces and Eights Video Poker Logo

Aces and Eights

Aces and Eights is a version of draw poker that pays bonus amounts for a four-of-a-kind hand with aces or eights. The full-pay version for this game has an RTP of 99.78%.

Multi-Hand Video Poker

Multi-hand games add excitement and decrease volatility because more hands are played at once. Below is a screenshot of 52-Hand Deuces Wild. Playing more hands means you’ll be gambling more money unless you adjust the bet size. Playing the max hands is recommended, but only if you play within your means.

52 hand Deuces Wild screenshot

Free Online Video Poker Game Demo

Do you want to test your skills before playing online video poker? Check out this free demo and play for fun!

Choosing Video Poker Games

When choosing a real money video poker game, the decision comes down to two choices: payouts or odds. If you plan to grind away on online games, you want to choose the option with the best house edge. In this case, playing Deuces Wild, Loose Deuces, or Bally’s All-American is your best option.

If you want quick sessions before you go to dinner, a Vegas show, or the poker room, then it pays to consider games with the biggest payouts. In either case, the idea is you don’t mind more losing sessions if you want a chance at a quick score. These best online video poker options for this purpose are the “bonus” games, such as Bonus Poker or Bonus Deuces Wild.

Video Poker History – Did You Know?

online video poker

Video poker had a humble beginning. The first “draw poker” machines were built in the mid-1970s, as the first personal computers were being designed.

The first video poker was Si Redd’s Coin Machines (SIRCOMA), but the first commercially successful draw poker machine was produced by International Game Technology (IGT) in 1979.

These games had a niche entertainment value in the 1980s, but most casino gamblers forgot them. As electronic gaming machines (EGMs) became more popular, gambling writers began to discover the value of video poker.

Make Your Bets & Play Video Poker!

Video poker is a popular casino game because it gives players a high chance to beat the house. New players should learn both the basics and strategy before trying to conquer the game.

If you wade through the information, this casino game is worth the gamble. This video poker guide is a primer for beginners and intermediate players, but this is a simple doorway into a larger world. Keep reading and practicing, and you’ll achieve near-optimal play.

Additional Video Poker Resources

Learn More About This Casino Game

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller Online Casino and Game Expert

Cliff Spiller is a global casino industry specialist who writes relatable content for beginners and experts. He's written gambling articles and online casino reviews at OUSC for over 15 years.

Learn More About Cliff