With a tiny house edge and plenty of options for player interaction, Video Poker has become one of the most popular games both at physical and online casinos. Video Poker manages to combine the three best games. The game speed of Slots, the strategy of Poker and the thrill of Table Games.
If you are new to Video Poker or an old hat, here at Bonus Ninja we try our best to find new angles and give you all the information you would ever want to know about casinos.
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The History of Video Poker
The roots of Video Poker go back a long time, much longer than most people would assume. In 1891, the Sittman and Pitt Company of Brooklyn, New York released a special slot with five mechanical wheels. Each contained ten symbols representing playing cards. You would pull a lever to reveal your poker hand. The better the hand, the more you would win.
Several years later, in the mid-1970, computers were just starting to become part of our daily lives. Si Redd who worked for slot provider Bally wanted to embrace this trend and so he decided to create and patent a very special type of casino game… Video Poker. By the 1980s the game had become an incredibly popular addition to most physical casinos.
Si Redd actually started his own company just to further develop this game, originally known as Sircoma. It was later rebranded as IGT, which has grown to become one of the world’s casino game developer giants. To this day it’s very rare to find either a physical or online casino that doesn’t offer this unique game.
How do you play Video Poker
If you want to play Video Poker, you’re going to need to know at least a few basics. Unlike regular poker you don’t play against other players. There is also no interaction with the dealer. It’s just you versus the machine, as they say. Video Poker actually has a fair amount in common with slots. For example, a Random Number Generator (RNG) is also used to ensure that your cards are randomly dealt.
Video Poker does include one big difference to Slots… Skill. You can make decisions that can affect the outcome of the game.
Generally speaking, playing Video Poker will involve the following steps:
- Place your initial bet: decide on an amount that suits your budget
- Deal: Click on “deal” to receive your first five cards
- Pick your cards: Next you’ll need to choose which cards to hold and which to discard
- Draw: Click on draw to replace the cards you have discarded
- Claim your winnings: If your final hand qualifies, you will be paid out according to the payout table.
Video Poker Hands
The hands in Video Poker are ranked the same as in regular poker. Even if you are completely new to the game, you might have a good idea of the hands since Poker has featured heavily in movies and media over the years.
Possible hands run from Two Pair (paying out the least) to a Royal Flush (paying out the most).
- Pair: Two of the same rank. Generally speaking, only Jacks or better payout in Video Poker
- Two of a Kind: Two cards of one number and two of another
- Three of a Kind: Three of the same rank
- Straight: Five consecutive cards of varying suits
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit
- Full House: Three cards of one number or rank and two of another. For example, three twos and two kings.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank. For example, four Queens
- Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit
- Royal Flush: Ten to Ace of the same suit
Single Hand versus Multi-Hand Poker
In Multi-Hand Poker you are able to wager on more than one hand at a time. Usually you can play 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100 hands simultaneously. In many variants of Video Poker, you are able to try this option. Taking the low house edge into consideration leads many players to want to play more hands quicker.
It’s your choice if this version is for you. While it may give you a quicker opportunity of winning funds, if you don’t know what you are doing you may also lose money much quicker.
Video Poker has some of the most favourable House Edges of any casino game. In same versions of the game it can be as little as 0.5%. What this means is that if you were to wager $100 on the game you are likely to win back $99.50. This edge is worked out over thousands of games, so it is no guarantee. It does give you a better idea of the odds of winning over the long run in comparison to other casino games. There are even Video Poker games, for example Deuces Wild that actually offer no discernible House Edge to the casino.
Video Poker variants
Although the basic rules of Video Poker remain the same despite the type of poker you are playing, each variant has slightly different rules or game play. Jacks or better is the most common, but it is by no means the only variant you can play.
Some variants offer a much better House Edge to a player, so it is worthwhile understanding the distinction between the different types of Vide Poker.
Tens or Better
Perhaps not as well known as some other versions of Video Poker, Tens or Better allows for players to win with even lesser hands than most. Even getting a pair of tens will reward players with a reward.
Jacks or Better
This is the most common variant of Video Poker. Almost all other variants are built with Jacks or Better as a basis. You’ll be paid out for any hand of Jacks or better. This option is sometimes known as Draw Poker. It’s incredibly popular to play Jacks or Better as Multi-Hand – often up to 100 hands simultaneously. If you use basic strategy, the game should offer a Return to Player (RTP) of around 99.46%.
Aces and Faces
This variant of Video Poker has a special bonus payout for four of a kind of any face card (Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces). The payout in the game is also much better if you place the maximum bet. For example, the payout for a Royal Flush is 500 to 1 if you don’t place the maximum bet and 800 to 1 if you do.
Deuces Wild uses the standard deck of 52 cards. What sets this game apart is that the twos in the game (Deuces) are wild, meaning that the two can represent any card in the game. This results in Deuces Wild having no house edge for the casino. To make up for this casinos have made sure that the payout table is far more conservative than other versions of Video Poker.
This game is played with the standard deck of 52 cards plus two Jokers that act as wilds. It can substitute for any card giving you much more possibilities to win a high paying hand. You can also find special variants of this game, for example Double Joker Poker, where the number of jokers is doubled to four in total.
Games that include a wild card also provide one more exciting possibility. You can actually get a five of a kind, which usually pays out just short of a natural Royal Flush (one made without a wild).
Using 52 cards and the same card ranking as Jacks or Better. What differentiates it from other variants are the payouts. Four of a kind with higher ranked cards have much higher payouts than for lower ranked cards.
Progressive Jackpots in Video Poker really take the best from all casino games. Any of the above-mentioned variants might come with the option of winning a Progressive Jackpot.
With a Progressive Jackpot a tiny percentage of each bet placed on each hand played on the specific version of Video Poker is added to the jackpot. In other words, everyone who plays the game actually adds to the jackpot. So, the more players who play the game, the bigger the jackpot will be. To hit the jackpot, you’ll need to receive a Royal Flush.
Free Video Poker vs Real Video Poker
One of the biggest benefits of playing at an online casino as opposed to physical casino is that you can play most of the games for free. There are pros and cons to both these versions of Video Poker. Both are readily available at both new and old online casinos.
There are several reasons you may want to give Video Poker a go for free. For one thing, it is a great way to learn the rules of the game before you invest actual money in playing the game. There is absolutely no risk when you play Video Poker for free. Very often you won’t even need to sign up or make a deposit to try the game for free.
If you want to actually win real money in Video Poker, you are going to need to put your money where your mouth is. You’ll need to make a deposit and wager real money on Video Poker. But keep in mind that with its very low house edge you are much better off wagering on Video Poker than on most other casino games.
Video Poker strategy
Playing any game blind isn’t a good strategy. If you want to stand any chance of winning real money in Video Poker it’s a good idea use some sort of strategy. There is plenty written on the subject, but here are a few tips to get your started.
Understand the game
The first and most important strategy in Video Poker is to understand the game. Unlike slots you can actually affect the outcome based on your choices. You need to know the basics of the game and the ranking of the hands if you want to make educated choices.
As we’ve already mentioned it’s a good idea to try a free version of the variant of Video Poker you have chosen to better understand the game.
Choose the right game
Some Video Poker games offer a better Return to Player (RTP) than others, ideally you want to play games with a higher RTP (or lower House Edge). Generally speaking, in Video Poker these are games with wild cards.
Once you’ve chosen your game it’s important to match your strategy to the game.
- Pay the maximum bet. Many versions of Video Poker offer better paytables for higher bets, so it is worthwhile opting for the biggest bet.
- Play slow. There is no clock in Video Poker. Take your time to decide how to play your hand. If you are going to go for bigger bets, it makes sense to slow down.
- Go for the jackpot. Instead of a fixed jackpot, a progressive jackpot gives you the chance to reap truly massive rewards if you manage to hit that all elusive Royal Flush. It may seem like a pipe dream, but the odds are actually much more in your favour than hitting a jackpot in slots.
- Avoid the kicker. It doesn’t provide any sort of benefit. You aren’t playing against other players and it doesn’t affect your payout. It may be worthwhile hanging onto it in a physical game of poker, but it serves no purpose in Video Poker.
- Don’t chase the Flush or Straight. If you only have three cards for the straight or the flush your chances of landing the last two cards you need are minimal. It’s only worth it if you are going for a straight flush or royal flush because the massive payout makes it more feasible.
Video Poker providers
Video Poker is quite specialized, and since there are only a small amount of variations possible, there are less providers available than for games like slots, where the possibilities are endless. Because of this a few providers have emerged as the go to Video Providers.
It’s no surprise that IGT is still one of the biggest providers of Video Poker to online casinos in Canada. IGT actually had it’s start as the initial Video Poker provider, Sircoma. They started the game and they have been an important player in helping the game evolve over the years.
Playtech is a true giant when it comes to proving games to casinos. Their Video Poker offering includes Tens or Better, Joker Poker, Jacks or Better, Aces and Faces and Mega Jacks Poker. There is also a lot of variety in terms of games that can be played as single hand or multi hand games. You can play them all for free or choose one of the many casinos where you can play on of their variants of Video Poker for real money.
Microgaming have really focused their efforts on providing their Video Poker players with variety. They have all the typical variants of Video Poker including plenty of both single and multi-hand forms of the game. Microgaming’s special multi-hand game, Power Poker allows you to play up to 100 hands per game. You’ll also find a few games with a decent Progressive Jackpot where you could win a big payout if you manage to collect a Royal Flush.
How to choose a Video Poker casino
We’ve covered the games, we’ve covered the providers, but as a player where can you actually play. Most casinos offer at least a few variants of Video Poker. If you want to play for real money, you’ll need to sign up to a casino and make a deposit. But how do you choose a Video Poker casino?
One of the most important things to look into when joining a new casino is banking. You want to be sure that your money is safe and secure. It’s in a casinos best interest to protect your financial data. For this reason, they use SSL encryption, the same system used by financial institutions.
Next up you want to know that they accept your preferred payment method. Casinos offer a wide variety of payment methods including credit cards, pre-paid cards, eWallets and Cryptocurrencies.
Due to the very high Return to Player offered by most versions of Video Poker it is quite rare to find bonuses created specifically for Video Poker. You might also find that when wagering a bonus through a casino, Video Poker either doesn’t count, or only counts a tiny percentage.
You are probably better off claiming another bonus such as Free Spins and then using any winnings you might claim on Video Poker.
Obviously if your aim is to play Video Poker, you’ll want to find a casino that actually offers Video Poker as an option to play. Truth be told most casinos do offer at least a few variants, but you will occasionally find casinos that just focus on slots or table games.
Ideally you want to look for a casino that has a large variety of games from a number of different game providers.
Finally, it’s a good idea to look into what sort of customer support is offered by a casino. When something goes wrong you want to know you can reach out and get help. A good casino will offer a number of possible ways to contact their help desk. You might be able to reach them via email, live chat or phone. The more options available, the better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Video Poker is available in most online casinos, but not all. For example, you might find a casino that only offers Slots. But generally speaking, it’s a pretty easy game to find both at online and brick or mortar casinos.
A Random Number Generator (RNG) is a special piece of software that helps online casinos to mimic the randomness of physical casinos. RNGs use mathematically algorithms to generate random numbers or in the case of Video Poker, symbols. RNGs ensure fair play in casino games and should help to reassure you that the outcome of any hand is truly random.
Honestly, it’s a bit of a personal preference. Different Video Poker games offer different RTPs. One thing to keep in mind with Video Poker is that unlike slots which are completely random, the choices you make while playing matter. Although different variants offer different benefits, most experts tend to list Jacks or Better as the best variant. Why? Because it is straightforward. Being simple, makes it easier to make the right decisions.
The main difference between the two is the betting and payouts. In Video Poker you are paid out more for better hands. In live poker the money you win at the end of the round depends on the bets placed during the round by other players. In Video Poker you play against the computer, not other players. Live poker also usually features several more betting rounds. And finally, the human element means that live poker also includes bluffing, raising and calling bets.
Yes, you can. A few variants of Video Poker allow for a Progressive Jackpot. Similar to the Progressive Jackpot in slots, the jackpot isn’t fixed but depends on how many people are playing and how long it goes between jackpots being hit. Usually you’ll hit the jackpot if you receive a Royal Flush. Video Poker is one of the more recent additions to casinos. Games like Roulette, Roulette, Craps and even slots have been around for hundreds of years. But Video Poker has managed to become massively popular during its short life span. You’ll usually find at least a few versions of Video Poker games at most online casinos in Canada.
Video Poker is one of the more recent additions to casinos. Games like Roulette, Roulette, Craps and even slots have been around for hundreds of years. But Video Poker has managed to become massively popular during its short life span. You’ll usually find at least a few versions of Video Poker games at most online casinos in Canada.