Video Poker

Introduced in the 1970's, video poker is an increasingly popular form of gambling. Played fast while involving a combination of skill and luck, video poker attracts players by providing hours of stimulating entertainment.

A typical video poker machine holds a strong resemblance to a regular slot machine, and can be found in either a tabletop form or an upright desktop unit.

The machines come in denominations of nickels, quarters, dollars and sometimes five dollars. The majority of video poker games are based on five-card draw poker. In five-card draw, players are originally dealt five cards and can throw away any of them to try to improve their hand. New cards are dealt to replace the discarded ones, and the final five cards decide your fate.

Video Poker Game Play

To initiate play, you decide on the number of coins you are going to play and insert your money. Once you make your bet you push the deal button. As your five cards are dealt you decide which cards that you would like to keep by pushing the hold button associated with that card.

After making your selections, double check to ensure that every card you would like to keep has the word hold either above or below it. You then press the deal button and every card that you have chosen to discard (not hold) will be replaced with another card from the deck.

Instead of beating an opponent's hand, you win when you hold any of the five-card combinations listed in the hierarchy of winning hands. If your resulting hand holds a winning combination you will be credited according to the payout schedule on the face of the machine.

As with poker, video poker hands are valued based on their five-card ranking. These rankings are detailed below, 1 being the highest rank:

RankHand NameDescription of Hand
Royal FlushA, K, Q, J, 10 all of same suit
Straight FlushFive cards of the same suit in sequence
4 of a KindFour cards of the same rank
Full House3 of a Kind and a Pair
FlushFive cards of the same suit
StraightFive cards in sequence
3 of a KindThree cards of the same rank
2 PairTwo cards of one rank, plus two of another
1 PairTwo cards of the same rank

The minimum ranking hand that is required to win is different for every game. Jacks or better was the original video poker game, but now there are many more...

Types of Video Poker Machines

Jacks or Better
This is a game of draw poker where the dealer will deal you five original cards face up. At this point you should decide which cards to keep and which ones to discard. Once you have decided and chosen to deal again, the dealer will deal the replacement cards. Whether you win or lose is determined by the rank of cards in your poker hand. The minimum rank for a winning hand is one pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces, hence the name jacks or better.

Joker's Wild
This game is played with the standard 52-card deck, with a joker thrown in as a wild card. This wild card can be used as a substitute for any other card, or can be used to create a five of a kind. The machine will automatically compute the best hand when a joker is present, and it can be expected to show up about ten percent of the time. Because of the added bonus of the wild card, the minimum rank for a winning hand is two pair.

Deuces Wild
The standard 52-card deck is used, with all deuces designated as wild cards. Because of the added bonus of the four deuce wild cards, the minimum rank for a winning hand is three of a kind.

King of the Decks
In this game, five sets of the standard 52-card decks are used. If you get five kings of clubs you will win the progressive jackpot. Because of the added bonus of the increased number of potential pairs, the minimum rank for a winning hand is two pair.

Video Poker Strategy

While there are many different strategies involved with each machine, there are a few points that should be followed for all:

  • Don't hold four cards of an inside straight—an inside straight is one where the potential straight can be completed only one way. An outside straight is one that can be completed in two ways and so is twice as likely to be successful. The only exception to this rule is an ace-high straight.

  • Don't hold three cards of a straight except for K-Q-J

  • Don't hold three cards of a flush- do not hold three cards of the same suit unless it is also a potential straight flush.

  • Don't hold a kicker with any pair or with three of a kind- a kicker is a single high card (J,Q,K,A) that has the potential to turn into a winning pair. The pair or three of a kind should always be played and the kicker discarded.

Video Poker Hint

  • The only way to truly beat a video poker machine is to hit a high-paying royal flush
  • Always play the maximum number of coins as this is the only way to get a big payoff on a royal flush