How to Play Video Poker 101: Rules, Types, And More



Video poker is one of the easiest kinds of poker to play. That’s great news for casual players who just want to sit down at the tables and get involved in a few hands.

Video poker is a casino game that is also widely available online. This article will tell you how to play and introduce you to some of the variations out there.

What is video poker?

Video poker is played against the house. It is effectively a one-player game that is a combination of poker and slots. It is based on the popular card game 5-card draw. The rules of the game are the same whether you are playing video poker online or at a casino – they’re quite straightforward, which is what makes it an attractive option for casual casino players. It is mostly a game of chance based on what cards you are dealt, but there are elements of skill in choosing which cards to discard.

Essentially, in video poker, players are dealt five cards and then must decide which cards to discard. They will then be given replacement cards, which make up the final five card poker hand.

Ranking and Payouts

Before you get started, you need to know the hand rankings. Thankfully, they are the same as in other games of poker. The hand rankings are as follows:

  • Royal flush
  • Straight flush
  • Four of a kind
  • Full house
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a kind
  • Two pairs
  • One pair

Now that you know the hand rankings, it’s time to understand payouts. Every video slot game has a payout table that players can see. This will show you the payouts for each hand that you make compared to the bet that you make.

In the most popular type of video poker, jacks or better, you’ll need at least a pair of jacks to qualify for a win. This will return your bet. Two pairs pays twice your initial bet, while the best hand, the royal flush, usually pays 250 times your initial bet.

When it comes to payouts, there are two types of video poker machine. Full pay machines offer a higher return to player compared to short pay games.

Basic gameplay of video poker

A game of video poker starts with the player making a deposit into the machine or their online account. They can then take their seat at the table and choose their bet size.

Here’s a step by step guide to how a video poker hand unfolds:

  1. The player chooses their stakes and then places an amount to bet on the hand. This is the only opportunity to make a bet.
  2. The cards are dealt. The player receives five cards from a standard virtual deck. As a player, you will then look and see if you have made a hand that pays out, or have cards that could potentially make a valuable hand.
  3. You can then decide which cards to hold and which cards to discard, based on trying to make a payable hand. You can discard no cards, or any number up to the full five.
  4. Once you have chosen which cards to discard, they are replaced by fresh ones from the same deck. So, if you discarded two cards, you’ll get two new ones. You’re hoping that the new cards improve your finished hand.
  5. You now have your final poker hand. You will be automatically paid out for any hands that you make, according to the payout table on the machine or online game.

That’s all there is to it. Once any payouts have been made, you can place your bets and start a new hand.

The strategy of video poker comes from knowing the mathematics of which hands to hold and fold in any given circumstance. Learning this makes the game more complicated, but also brings the house edge down to around 99 percent RTP.

Types of video poker

Most video poker games are based on 5-card stud, meaning they are very similar. If you know how to play one type of video poker then you’ll easily be able to grasp the others.

The main differences between different types of video poker are the bonus payouts and wild cards available. Let’s take a look at a few different games.

Jacks or better – This is the main type of video poker that will be available in casinos and online casinos. It is the original video poker and the one that the others are based on. As the name implies, players have to make a pair of jacks or better to qualify for a win.

Deuces wild – In deuces wild, the two cards are wild cards. This means they can be used to complete any combination of cards to make your five card poker hand. There are other forms of video poker that have wilds.

Joker poker – This is another video poker game with wilds. This time, it’s the joker card that can be used as a substitute for any others.

Double bonus poker – Other types of video poker offer bonuses for particular card combinations. The most popular of these is double bonus poker, which pays out a bonus for four of a kind.

That’s it! You’re now ready to hit the tables and try out video poker for yourself.

Tyler Darby

Tyler Darby