Playing Video Poker

Playing video poker at online casinos

Playing Video Poker Jack and BetterVideo poker is one of the oldest forms of online poker. It is based on the 1970s and 80s casino machines. Funnily enough, video poker is one of the online casino games that has remained virtually unchanged since it first appeared on the internet. Most use primitive enough graphics, but that gives them a kind of charm and authenticity. As long as you know the ranking of the hands in standard poker, video poker should pose no problems to any player.

Rules of video poker

In case you don’t know the hands of poker though, it is a good thing to learn them. The hands accepted in video poker may vary from time to time, though most follow a pretty common format.

In most video poker games a pair of Jacks is the lowest scoring and ranking hand. Some video pokers will lower this to a pair of tens, though very few offer pay-outs for less than that. A player has a Pair if they have any two cards of the same value in their five card hand. The aforementioned pair of Jacks for instance, would warrant a pay-out in most video poker games.

Some video poker games will insist that a Two Pair is the lowest hand in the game. In order for a player to have a two pair, they must have one pair of the same value and another pair of the same denomination cards. For example, two 7s and two 8s. This hand is better by a Three of a Kind. In order to have this hand, a player must have three cards of the same denomination in their five card hand, such as three 5s.

A Straight beats a three of a kind. If a player has all of their five cards in numerical order or sequenced, they will have a straight. A good example of a straight is 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Players do not have to have their cards in the same suit for a straight. A Flush trumps that hand. In order to have a flush, players will need to have all of their cards in the same suit. It doesn’t matter what numbers or faces are on the cards for a flush to be obtained.

These hands are bettered by a Full House. A player is said to have a full house when they use all five of the cards. The hand must consist of a three of a kind and a pair. Such an example would include having three 4s and a pair of Jacks. A Four of a Kind beats a full house, and as you may imagine, a player will need to have four cards of the same denomination to have this hand.

The Straight Flush is the second highest ranking hand in video poker. If you have all of your cards in sequence and in the same suit, you are said to have a straight flush. This hand is only bettered by the Royal Flush, which is the same as the straight flush in principle (in that you need to have all of your cards in the same suit), although they must be the 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace.

A number of video poker variants have introduced new hands into the mix. A Five of a Kind is possible with the use of wild cards, which are joker cards that can substitute themselves for any other card needed. Sometimes the wild cards can be 2s, and sometimes other cards. Four Deuces is another “unofficial” poker hand sometimes used in video poker variants. You may also notice that some games offer “natural” and “unnatural” hands. A Natural Royal Flush for instance, is a real royal flush. An unnatural royal flush is one where wilds can be used to create the hand. An unnatural hand never outranks a natural one.


No players should have difficulty playing video poker. There is no competition for starters. Video poker is never played against a dealer. The goal of video poker is to simply build the best hand that you possibly can.

To start with, the player must place their bet. Generally, video poker is really cheap to play. Once you have placed your stake, you are dealt five cards. After seeing your cards, you can choose to hold or trade up to five cards. If you choose to trade, the cards that you have opted to keep are locked into place, and new cards replace the ones you wish to switch. You may only do this once per hand.

After you have traded, or if you have decided to hold all your cards, your hand is complete. The hand is then measured against the list of ranking poker hands (known as the pay-table). If the player has a qualifying hand, they will be paid out according to the on-screen pay-table and the stake they have chosen to wager. If they do not have a qualifying hand, they lose their bet.


There are a massive amount of video poker game variants in the online casino world. Some of the most popular games include those which offer wild cards. These wild card games often allow additional hands to be obtained, which aren’t part of the normal poker game. However, these wild cards often come at a cost. One such cost is the removal of the lower-ranking hands. For instance, if you play a video poker game which uses wild cards, the pair and often even the two pair hands will pay nothing if you land them. In this case, the three of a kind becomes the lowest paying hand.

It is also possible the play multi-hand video poker variants. Multi-hand video poker is essentially the same game, only you are wagering on several hands at once. Sometimes, a player can wager on up to 100 hands at any one time. The game starts the same as any other video poker title, in that players place a bet (multiplied by the number of hands they wish to play with). The first five cards appear in all the hands you are playing with. Once you have decided which cards to keep, new cards are distributed to all the hands you are playing with. Although the cards that you have chosen to hold appear in every hand, the second set of cards (the switched cards) are different in every single hand. This allows players to amass potentially huge winnings. Your best shot of a huge win is to land a super hand, right from the start.

House Edge

The house edges and pay-outs for video poker games vary from title to title. Obviously, if you are playing a specific variant, you can expect some abnormalities. The best way to look at video poker pay-outs though, is to take the most commonly offered format of the game, which is Jacks or Better.

If a player lands a hand containing Jacks or Better, they are generally paid-out at a 1:1 rate. A two pair, three of a kind or straight will offer pay-outs of 2:1, 3:1 and 4:1. A flush, full house or four of a kind is worth a pay-out of 6:1, 9:1 and 25:1, respectively. The straight flush often has a 50:1 pay-out in video poker, with the royal flush being worth a 250:1 pay-out.

These pay-out are based on one coin bet games, though. In many video poker games it is possible to wager 2, 3, 4 or even 5 coins per game. If you were to win with a three of a kind on a 5 coin bet, you would therefore win five times the normal pay-out, so 15:1. This rule applies to all hands, with the exception of the “jackpot hand”, which is the royal flush on the maximum bet. This usually pays considerably more than you may expect.