Video poker is one of the most popular and analyzed casino games of them all thanks to its low house advantage, many variations and room for strategic play. Where most casino games are so structured that strategy is rendered almost useless, video poker is open to all kinds of strategic considerations. Play your cards right when you play video poker online and you’ll reduce the house advantage to almost nothing.
The best video poker casino sites can be ranked according to several factors. As always, safety of the site is something to consider when looking for a place to play any game. For video poker in particular, you can compare the game variations and pay tables to ensure you find the site with the highest payout percentages and lowest house edge.
Choose the right place to play and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts. Not only will you get a safe game, but you’ll also be exposed to less house advantage and be more likely to end the day a winner. Online video poker moves extremely quickly, so even minor differences in payouts have a drastic impact on how well you do over time.
I ranked the sites on this page according to their reputations, pay tables and number of video poker variations available. High marks in all three areas make it easier for you to have a good time without burning through the bankroll. Combining a high-paying casino site with smart play is the key to having a positive video poker experience.
You can visit any of the above video poker sites to sign up for an account and start playing today. You can fund your gambling account via credit card, debit card, cash transfer, bank transfer and other deposit methods depending on where you play. Deposits are credited the same day in most cases.
Getting started is rarely a problem. After all, the entire online gambling business model depends on getting people to make real money deposits. What you really need to consider is how you’ll get paid when you’re done. Only the best video poker sites actually make it as easy to withdraw as it is to deposit. If you think about it, the incentive is always stronger to capture your money than it is to help you cash out and possibly take your business elsewhere.
That’s why trust plays such a vital role in the industry. Smart, long-term thinking casino sites know that if they always honor withdrawals, they build long term reputations and create a long-lasting business model. The biggest names in the industry got to be so big not by promising the biggest bonuses or best games, but by always standing by their word.
About Those Bonuses…
One thing you’ll notice when looking at different video poker websites is promises of big bonuses. Don’t let bonuses distract you. The vast majority of deposit bonuses cannot be cleared by playing video poker. This game has such a low house advantage that almost nobody is willing to give you even more money in return for playing.
It’s best to forget about bonuses entirely when you play real money video poker online. Once in a blue moon, a casino site may offer a small bonus just for video poker players, but it doesn’t happen often enough to make it worth going out of your way to hunt for video poker bonuses. Instead, make your focus be on finding a safe place to play with high payout rates.
The way I like to look at it is to never get my hopes up but if a video poker bonus does come along, it’s an early Christmas present. Just make sure you read the terms and check for any strings attached to getting the bonus money. It’s always hit-or-miss with video poker.
How to Play Online Video Poker
There are many variations of video poker (discussed below) but they all tend to follow a very basic pattern of play. First you choose your coin denomination and then select anywhere from 1 to 5 coins to wager per hand.
You are then dealt five cards. From there, you select which cards you wish to keep and which to discard. Hit the “draw” button and any cards that you didn’t hold are discarded. The discards are replaced with new cards drawn at random from the deck. This creates your final five card poker hand. If your hand ranks high enough to warrant a payout, you are paid according to that machine’s pay table.
Video poker strategy derives from selecting which cards to keep and which to discard. This can get complicated because you constantly find yourself torn between trying to improve to a better, higher-paying hand and keeping what you already have. You make these decisions over and over again, and your long term return is based on how skilled you are at making the right decision in every situation.
The pay table determines how much you are paid for various hands. If you take a look at the pay table below, you can see that payouts increase as you wager more coins. Risk one coin at a time and the highest possible payout is 250 coins. If you risk two coins at a time, the highest payout is 500 coins. The more you risk, the higher the payouts.
In most video poker variations, the house advantage doesn’t change when you choose between wagering 1, 2, 3 or 4 coins. This is because the payouts increase in line with the increase in risk. However, the house advantage decreases when you bet the max (5 coins). Look at that screenshot again and notice how the Royal Flush payouts move up in set increments of 250 coins per additional coin risked. Then when you bump it up to five coins, the payout takes a sudden jump from 1,000 coins to 4,000 coins.
So, the first little piece of strategy advice in video poker is to bet the max every chance you get. Remember, you can always decrease the coin denomination to make the max bet more affordable. If the most you’re comfortable wagering per hand is $1.25, it is better to wager 5 coins at $0.25 per coin than to wager one coin per hand at a denomination of $1.00 per coin.
Double or Nothing
Most video poker games give you the opportunity to “double or nothing” whenever you achieve a paying hand. If you choose to double or nothing, the machine will draw a card at random from the deck and then give you four face down cards. Your goal is to draw a higher card than what the machine picked at random.
For example, the machine might draw a 7 of spades at random. You will now choose one of the face down cards to hold. If you’re lucky enough to choose a card higher than 7, you receive double the payout for your previous winning hand. If your chosen card is ranked lower, you lose the original payout. If you choose a card that ties, the machine draws another card at random and you play again.
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Sometimes you get lucky and the video poker machine draws a low card at random. Other times you’re unlucky and the machine chooses a high card. In the end, double or nothing is a breakeven proposition. It neither increases nor decreases the house advantage. Play it if you want or skip it. It doesn’t make a difference over the long run. All it does is increase the variance.
Video Poker Variations
One of the distinguishing characteristics of video poker is the sheer number of game variations. Expect to see a lot of options when you visit any well-known video poker casino. They’ve got everything from basic “Jacks or Better” to “Bonus Deuces Wild.”
The basic rules of video poker remain in effect, but different variations offer different payouts. Some variations offer huge jackpots for powerful hands but pay less for smaller hands. Other variations offer bigger payouts for small hands but pay less for rare hands. Some variations introduce wild cards that can be used to complete powerful hands, as is the case in Deuces Wild variants.
There are dozens of online video poker variations out there, each with its own unique payouts and minor tweaks to the rules. I’ll explain a couple of my favorite variations below just to give you an idea of how different types of video poker games may vary.
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is a mainstay in video poker. This game is simple and acts as a great starting point for new players. In Jacks or Better, payouts are awarded to any hand that consists of a pair of jacks or better.
The payouts for 5 coins in Jacks or Better look like this:
- Royal Flush: 4,000 coin payout
- Straight Flush: 250 coins
- 4 of a Kind: 125 coins
- Full House: 45 coins
- Flush: 30 coins
- Straight: 20 coins
- 3 of a Kind: 15 coins
- 2 Pair: 10 coins
- Pair of Jacks, Queens or Kings: 5 coins
Twos are considered wild cards in Deuces Wild and can be used to complete any hand. The addition of wild cards makes it easier to end up with made hands, so the payouts begin with 3 of a Kind or better. Also, there are special payouts for hands you can’t achieve in other video poker variations such as five-of-a-kind.
Here’s a look at a typical pay table for Deuces Wild when risking 5 coins:
- Natural Royal Flush: 4,000 coin payout
- 4 Deuces: 1,000 coins
- Royal Flush Made with the use of a wild card: 125 coins
- 5 of a Kind: 75 coins
- Straight Flush: 45 coins
- 4 of a Kind: 20 coins
- Full House: 20 coins
- Flush: 15 coins
- Straight: 10 coins
- 3 of a Kind: 5 coins
Is there anything else I need to know?
By now, you should have a good-enough handle of the game to go and play without losing too much money. The main thing to keep in mind is that online video poker sites move extremely quickly. This game is designed that way because it has a low house advantage. Make sure you set a loss limit and start with the smallest stakes you can handle. You can always increase your bets as you become more familiar with the ins and outs of video poker.
It will also do you well to study up on video poker strategy. Every decision you make has an impact on the return you see over the long term. With the speed at which video poker is played, even small errors add up quickly. If you want to make your money last and maximize the odds of hitting those rare Royal Flushes, do your homework.
There’s a whole world of video poker strategies out there. Every variation of the game requires a different approach based on pay tables, wild cards and other considerations. I’d love to cover the whole of video poker strategy right here, but you could write an entire book on the subject. In fact, books are a great place to begin. Visit Amazon or your local bookstore to learn what the true experts do to minimize the house advantage.
Other than that, there’s not a whole lot else to worry about. Video poker looks simple from the outside but it’s a lot of fun to arrange your hands, try different variations and hit the occasional high-paying jackpot. Now get out there and go have some fun.