Today there are many different versions of video poker, but they are all based upon very similar ideas and it doesnt take long to master the differences. If you are a newcomer to video poker, then in this guide you will find all you need to know to start playing, and can soon start to have hours of fun. 

The Basics of Video Poker 

In the vast majority of games, and certainly all of the standard versions of video poker, the aim of the game is to build the best five-card poker hand possible. Furthermore, nearly all of the games are based upon 5 Card Draw. This means that players begin with five cards and then can then choose which to hold and which to discard. The discarded cards are replaced with new cards dealt from the pack, and players are then paid out according to the strength of their hands.  

Many games give players the choice of how many hands they want to play simultaneously, and this will be discussed in further detail later on. For instance, a game may offer the choice of 1, 5, 10, or 25 hands (it can also be far more, even 100). There are pros and cons to playing multiple hands; the most obvious of which is that it gives players more opportunities to win but it also increases the amount you have to bet.  

In most games, you will simply be asked to set how much you wish to bet per hand as well as your bet level (usually 1 to 5). You then just have to click or tap on the ‘Deal’ button to receive the first five cards. In many games, if you are dealt a winning hand to begin with, then those cards will be automatically held. Simply click or tap on the cards that you wish to hold and then click on the ‘Deal’ button once again. The remaining cards will be replaced, you are paid any winnings owed to you, and you can then begin the next round.  

As should be clear, video poker really is a very simple game, but there is a bit more to it than described above, and in the following sections you will find all of the details you need.  

Types of Poker Hand 

As stated, you win in video poker by forming a five-card poker hand. This of course means that you need to know the different types of poker hands. All versions of the game use the standard poker hands; however, the minimum hand required to win does vary from game to game. From weakest to strongest, the standard poker hands are as follows: 

  • Two/Three/Four of a Kind – A hand that contains either two, three or four matching cards. For example, two, three or four 5s.  
  • Two Pair – A hand containing two pairs, for example two 8s and two Ks. 
  • Full House – A hand containing a pair and a three of a kind, for example two 4s and three 9s. The suit of the cards is irrelevant.  
  • Flush – A hand in which all of the cards are from the same suit, for example, 3, 6, 8, J and A of Clubs. 
  • Straight – A hand with five sequential cards, for example 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. The cards’ suit is irrelevant and an Ace can be used at both the beginning and end of a sequence.  
  • Straight Flush – A hand that combines a straight with a flush. For example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of Spades.  
  • Royal Flush – A hand containing a straight flush composed of the highest cards, i.e. 10, J, Q, K, A.  It is the best possible hand in video poker and if you form it then you are sure to hit a big win.  

While those are the basic types of hands, there often small changes made in different versions of the game, and these will be explained below. There is also some terminology relating to hands that becomes important when discussing strategy: 

  • Outside Straight – A hand that can be made into a straight by adding a card on either end. For example, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 is an outside straight because either a 2 on the low end or a 7 on the high end will turn it into a straight. 
  • Inside Straight – A hand that can be made into a straight by adding a card in the middle. For example, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 is an inside straight and a 5 will make it into a proper straight.   

It is important to understand the difference between these two as some strategies will recommend betting on outside straights but not inside straights.  

Single Hand vs Multi Hand  

As mentioned above, many video poker games will allow you to play multiple hands simultaneously, particularly when playing online. Most games are single hand, but multi-hand games are growing in popularity and they are often referred to as “power” games.  

In a multi-hand game, a player starts with a regular five-card hand being dealt and will select which cards to hold and which to discard. The same cards will then be held across all of the hands being played. However, the draw is independent to each hand, so if you are playing 25 hands, then you will have 25 distinct hands after the draw. Furthermore, there will be one deck of cards used for each hand played, so the chance of forming a winning hand actually remains the same as when playing a single hand game.  

Therefore, it is entirely up to you which you play and it really becomes a matter of bankroll management. If you are betting on 25 or 50 hands, then you are betting 25 or 50 times as much per round. In other words, you will be getting through your bankroll at a much faster rate. However, if you have budgeted for this, then there is no reason not to enjoy multi-hand video poker.  

Full Pay vs Low Pay Video Poker 

Very often, you will hear video poker games referred to as either Full Pay or Low Pay. This can be quite confusing to beginners and it is to do with the games’ RTP and the payouts offered for certain types of hands. The most basic of video poker game is Jacks or Better. In the standard game, a Full House pays 9 times the bet and a Flush pays 6 times the bet. As such, a full pay game is referred to as a 9/6 game. Regardless of which version of the game you are playing, it is important to look at the payouts for those two hands. Sticking with Jacks or Better, it is also possible to find 10/6 games and 9/7 games.  

As the name suggests, the Low Pay games have a lower RTP, in other words, they offer slightly lower payouts for these hands. For instance, you may find a 6/5 Jacks or Better game (which pays 6 times the bet for a Full House and 5 times the bet for a Flush). Of course, it is better to play the Full Pay versions of the games. Unfortunately, casinos do not always advertise which version a game is, therefore, be sure to examine a game’s paytable carefully before you start playing.  

Video Poker Variants 

Over the years many different version of video poker have been created. As explained above, they are generally based upon five-card draw. However, some games feature wild cards while others may offer boosted payouts for specific hands and reduced payouts for others. Here is a quick guide to each of the most common versions of the game.  

Jacks or Better 

Jacks or Better, also known as Draw Poker, is the original form of the game. It takes its name from the minimum hand needed to win a payout, i.e. a pair of Jacks or better. A typical full pay Jacks or Better paytable looks like this:  

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 

250 

500 

750 

1000 

4000 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four of a Kind 

25 

50 

75 

100 

125 

Full House 

18 

27 

36 

45 

Flush 

12 

18 

24 

30 

Straight 

12 

16 

20 

Three of a Kind 

6  

12 

15 

Two Pair 

10 

Jacks or Better 

 

  

Deuces Wild 

As the name suggests, in Deuces Wild all of the 2s are wild cards. This means that they can substitute for all of the other cards to help form winning poker hands. In order to compensate for this, you need a hand containing at least Three of a Kind to win a payout. Furthermore, it is possible to form 5 of a Kind hands, and these offer boosted payouts. Here is a typical paytable: 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Natural Royal Flush 

250 

500 

750 

1000 

4000 

Four Deuces 

200 

400 

600 

800 

1000 

Wild Royal Flush 

25 

50 

75 

100 

125 

Five of a Kind 

15 

30 

45 

60 

75 

Straight Flush 

18 

27 

36 

45 

Four of a Kind 

12 

16 

20 

Full House 

12 

16 

20 

Flush 

12 

15 

Straight 

10 

Three of a Kind 

 

 

Joker Poker 

Joker Poker is played with a deck of 53 cards, the standard cards and one Joker. The joker is a wild card, so it can substitute for the other cards. As there is just one Joker, the minimum hand needed to win a payout is Kings or Better. A typical paytable looks like this: 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Natural Royal Flush 

750 

1500 

2250 

3000 

5000 

Five of a Kind 

200 

400 

600 

800 

1000 

Joker Royal Flush 

100 

200 

300 

400 

500 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four of a Kind 

17 

34 

51 

68 

85 

Full House 

14 

21 

28 

35 

Flush 

10 

15 

20 

25 

Straight 

12 

15 

Three of a Kind 

10 

Two Pairs 

Kings or Better 

 

 

Tens or Better 

As the name suggest, in this version, the minimum hand needed to win a payout is a pair of 10s. In all other ways, it is essentially the same as Jacks or Better. A typical paytable looks like this: 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 

800 

1600 

2400 

3200 

4000 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four of a Kind 

20 

40 

60 

80 

100 

Full House 

12 

18 

24 

30 

Flush 

10 

15 

20 

25 

Straight 

12 

16 

20 

Three of a Kind 

6  

12 

15 

Two Pair 

10 

Tens or Better 

 

 

Aces and Faces 

In this version of video poker, there are special boosted payouts for Four of a Kind hands containing Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks. A typical paytable looks like this: 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 

500 

1000 

2000 

3000 

4000 

Four Aces 

80 

160 

240 

320 

400 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four J, Q or K 

40 

80 

120 

160 

200 

Four 2s through 10s 

25 

50 

75 

100 

125 

Full House 

16 

24 

32 

40 

Flush 

10 

15 

20 

25 

Straight 

12 

16 

20 

Three of a Kind 

6  

12 

15 

Two Pair 

10 

Jacks or Better 

 

Bonus Poker 

This is a variation of Jacks or Better that offers bonus payouts for Four of a Kind. The bonus payout depends on what card value is in the hand. A typical paytable looks like this: 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 

200 

400 

600 

800 

4000 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four Aces 

80 

160 

240 

320 

400 

Four 2s, 3s or 4s 

40 

80 

120 

160 

200 

Four 5s or Higher 

25 

50 

75 

100 

125 

Full House 

16 

24 

32 

40 

Flush 

10 

15 

20 

25 

Straight 

12 

16 

20 

Three of a Kind 

6  

12 

15 

Two Pair 

10 

Jacks or Better 

 

 

Double Bonus Poker 

This is a variation of Jacks or Better that offers a bonus payout for four aces. What makes this game interesting, is that if you find a 10/7 Full Pay version, then it has a theoretical RTP of 100.2% when payed with perfect strategy, a 10/7 paytable may look like this: 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 

250 

500 

750 

1000 

4000 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four Aces 

160 

320 

480 

640 

800 

Four 2s, 3s or 4s 

80 

160 

240 

320 

400 

Four 5s or Higher 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Full House 

10 

20 

30 

40 

50 

Flush 

14 

21 

28 

35 

Straight 

10 

15 

20 

25 

Three of a Kind 

6  

12 

15 

Two Pair 

Jacks or Better 

 

 

Double Double Bonus Poker 

This version of the game offers bonus payouts for Four of a Kind hands with a “kicker”, a specific fifth card. When played with perfect strategy, this game can have a theoretical RTP of 100.1% 

Hand 

1st Bet Level 

2nd Bet Level 

3rd Bet Level 

4th Bet Level 

5th Bet Level 

Royal Flush 

250 

500 

750 

1000 

4000 

Straight Flush 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Four Aces with 2, 3 or 4 

400 

800 

1200 

1600 

2000 

Four 2s, 3s or 4s with A to 4 

160 

320 

480 

640 

800 

Four Aces 

160 

320 

480 

640 

800 

Four 2, 3 or 4 

80 

160 

240 

320 

400 

Four 5 or Higher 

50 

100 

150 

200 

250 

Full House 

10 

20 

30 

40 

50 

Flush 

12 

18 

24 

30 

Straight 

12 

16 

20 

Three of a Kind 

6  

12 

15 

Two Pair 

Jacks or Better 

 

 

Video Poker Strategies 

One of the great things about video poker is that it is possible to hugely improve your chances of winning through the use of proper strategies. The most basic thing to remember is to always play at the maximum bet level, the fifth. This is because, as you can see from the above paytables, most versions of the game offer a boosted payout for a natural Royal Flush at the fifth level. This means that by playing at the maximum bet level you give yourself the chance of much larger returns, even if you have to play with a smaller coin size. For example, if you have €1 to bet per hand, it is better to bet five coins of €0.20 than one coin of €1.  

When it comes to the actual strategy, there is a different one for each variant. The strategies are easy to find online and they are very easy to understand. Essentially, they all work in the same way. They present you with a list of hands, from best to worst, and you need to look down the list from top to bottom until you find the first one that is applicable to your hand. You then discard and hold the cards as advised by the strategy. It can take a little while to get used to playing with the strategies, but eventually you will find that it becomes instinctive and hopefully, you will greatly increase your winnings.  

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best video poker variant?

A lot of this will depend on your style of play. Some games are low variance and others are high variance, and this is something you should look into before playing. However, Double Double Bonus Poker is probably the most popular form of the game. This is because it offers some very attractive bonus payouts and when played with perfect strategy, it has a very low house edge.

Is it better to play single or multi-hand video poker?

Ultimately, it is a matter of preference. There is no difference in the likelihood of winning when playing a single or multi-hand game. This is because in a multi-hand game, each hand acts as a separate game with its own deck. However, multi-hand games also require you to bet on each hand individually, which means that you will be placing larger bets with each round. Therefore, when playing multi-hand video poker, it is important to carefully manage your bankroll so that you don’t burn through it too quickly.

Is video poker a game of skill?

Unlike many casino games, there is an element of skill in video poker. This is because there is a mathematically best strategy that players can adopt. Following the strategy requires some skill and it should increase the winnings. However, as with all casino games, there are no guarantees and it is still possible to lose vast sums of money while playing.

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