Somewhat between table games and slot machines, video poker machines have been seducing an increasingly large audience in recent years. If you too are one of those who are interested in these highly entertaining casino games with high payout potential, this is THE guide for you! You will find everything there is to know about video poker: their history, rules, variations, but also the best strategies to put all the odds on your side. So, are you ready to win some big jackpots?
Video Poker History
The history of video poker is inseparable from that of slot machines. The two types of games have a common ancestor, which explains why they are so similar. To better understand all this, we have to go back to the end of the 19th century, in Brooklyn, USA. At the time, poker was the most popular card game in the American gambling halls. The saloon owners were looking for ways to automate the game. Created in 1893, the Sittman & Pitt machine somehow meets this need by offering a mechanism that makes poker hands appear after a lever is operated.
This kind of card machine was then modified in 1901, by Charles Fey. The famous engineer in San Francisco, who was based in San Francisco, included an additional playing phase in the basic mechanism. During this phase, the player could modify their initial draw by changing one or more cards, in order to obtain a final hand with a better payout. This lever machine is, in a way, the first prototype of a video poker machine in history.
However, it wasn’t until the early 1970s that what is known today as the very first true video poker machine was created. Designed by William Redd aka Si Redd, it was a modernized version of the Fey and Sittman & Pitt models, with a video screen and, instead of the lever, buttons to start games and change cards.
Redd quickly acquired a patent for its creation, under the official name of “video poker”. In 1975, he founded SIRCOMA, a company dedicated to the production of these machines, which a few years later became IGT (International Game Technology), one of the largest suppliers to the casino gaming industry. Over the years, Redd’s first video poker machines have of course greatly evolved and today offer a wide range of experience, with high quality graphics, varied themes and scenarios, but also even more interesting winning possibilities.
Online video poker games have emerged somewhat at the same time as online slot machines and table games. Several variants are now offered by various publishers.
The rules of video poker
One of the main reasons why video poker games are so popular today is the simplicity of their rules. No matter what variant or variation you play, the principle is the same. The player has to operate the machine to make a hand that matches one of the winning combinations in 5-card poker. The stronger the combination, the higher the corresponding payout. The strongest combination in the game’s pay-table will win the machine jackpot.
In order to make a winning combination, the player is given the opportunity to exchange the number of cards he wishes in his initial hand in an intermediate step.
In order to play well and clearly understand what is going on during a video poker game, you need to know the different poker combinations that can make you win. As we said before, these are the winning hands in 5-card poker. If you are a regular player of this game, this will clearly make things easier for you. If not, don’t worry, they are pretty easy to remember.
Here are the 10 winning combinations in video poker, in ascending order of strength:
- pair: A pair is a hand with two cards of the same value, regardless of suit. However, not all pairs are eligible for a Video Poker payout. As a general rule, only pairs with 10 or more Jacks (depending on the variant) or more are considered to be winning. In other words, you will not get a payout for a pair of 5s or 9s, for example.
- double Pair: This is a hand with two separate pairs. For example, it could be a pair of jacks plus a pair of kings in a single 5-card hand. The same principle applies to the minimum pairs required to make a payout;
- three of a kind: if you have three cards of the same value, then you have a three of a kind and the corresponding payment is due to you;
- straight: In poker, a straight is a hand made up of cards with consecutive values. Here is an example: 9-10-Queen-King Jacks
- the Flush or suit: we talk about Flush or suit, when the 5 cards of the hand are all of the same suit. Here, by suit, we mean each of the following 4 signs: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. So if you have 5 spades or 5 hearts, for example, then you have a flush;
- the Full House: The Full House is actually a combination of a pair and a treble. A hand consisting of two Queens and three Jacks is an example of a full house;
- the square: here we are talking about four cards of the same value;
- the Straight Flush: to have a straight, you must associate a straight and a colour. This means that you must have a 5-card hand with consecutive values that are all of the same rank. Example: You have a hand with an 8-9-10-Queen Jack, all of hearts or another suit.
- royal Straight Flush: This is a straight flush consisting of the strongest possible straight flush. In other words, it is a hand consisting of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of the same sign. This is the strongest combination in Video Poker.
Normally, you shouldn’t have any trouble remembering these different winning combinations. But it’s not a must. Indeed, they are clearly marked on the screen of video poker games. So you can always have them in front of you while you play in order to make the right choices.
Video poker bets
As with most casino games, video poker games start with the bets. Before you start the machine, you must first set how much you want to bet on the next round. This is done quite easily with the setting buttons that allow you to increase and decrease the amount you bet, within the limits of the machine’s betting limits, of course. Please note that on a video poker machine, your winnings are normally proportional to the amount you bet on each round.
How is a video poker game played?
After the betting stage, you can start the game by pressing/clicking the “Deal” button. The machine will then award you an initial hand of 5 cards, all face up. You will then have to decide whether or not you wish to change any cards from this initial hand.
If it suits you as it is, then you can simply keep it until the end of the game and receive the corresponding winnings. Alternatively, you can change as many cards in your starting hand as you wish, so you can either replace your entire hand or just a portion of it, as you wish.
To replace cards, click on the cards you wish to keep and click “Deal” again to start the distribution of replacement cards. This implies that if you wish to replace all the cards in your original hand, you must click the “Deal” button directly, without selecting any cards first.
If your final hand includes one of the winning combinations detailed above, then you have won the game. But before paying you the winnings for that combination, you will automatically be offered to put that win back into play in a “double or quits” game. As is the case with many slot machines, a second screen is activated, where you must either choose a card that is stronger than the one randomly drawn by the software, or guess which color is a hidden card.
If you participate in this side game and win, you will cash out 2 or 4 times the amount of your original winnings. However, if you lose in this secondary game, you will also lose the initial winnings that were put back into play. Please note that you are not obliged to agree to participate in this Double or Quits. You are free to simply decline the offer.
Strategies to win at video poker
As you would have understood, in video poker, unlike slot machines, you have to make decisions that can impact the outcome of the games. This implies that if you follow the right decision patterns, you can significantly increase your chances of winning. It is on this principle that the various strategies that have been developed and are applied by professional players today are based on.
They are usually presented in a table that lists the decisions to be made based on the initial hand you get. Here we detail the main elements so that you can fully understand the mechanism and easily apply it in your next gambling sessions. It should be noted, however, that this strategy map is designed to help you get the most out of Jacks or Better, the most popular form of video poker. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to do:
- if you receive a strong card (an Ace or a Trick) and a pair of weak cards (from 2 to 10): keep your strong card and replace the other four. You will have a good chance of getting a strong pair (two tricks or two Aces) in your final hand after the replacement;
- if you receive two strong cards that are not a pair and three separate cards: keep your two strong cards and change the other three. The probability that you will end up with a strong pair is indeed high;
- if you receive three separate strong cards and two other cards of various kinds: keep two of the strong cards and replace the other three to hope for a strong pair in the end;
- If you receive a pair of Aces and three cards of the same suit as one of the two Aces: you can keep your pair of Aces and replace the other three cards, or replace the Ace of a different suit and hope to make a Flush.
Now that you understand the principle, you can more easily decipher the strategy tables of video poker and apply them intelligently. However, if you’re unclear about certain games, or if you’re not sure about a particular scenario, don’t hesitate to bring your strategy board with you. If you play online, you will be able to do so completely incognito.
Top 5 tips for winning in video poker
If you’ve been with us so far, you must have understood that video poker games require, in addition to luck, the ability to make decisions and a certain sense of situational analysis. But as regular players will tell you, all your strategies may be insufficient if you don’t put into practice the following 5 tips:
Choosing the right variant
The variants of video poker available on online casinos are very numerous, as you can discover by reading the dedicated paragraph below. But before you do, you should keep in mind that due to the specifications of each of these variants, the strategies applied to one may not be valid for the other. Moreover, if the pay combinations are globally the same on all games, the payouts offered can differ a lot from one game to another. So never start playing without first checking the pay-table to see what you can expect.
Apply a strategy and stick to it
If you choose to apply a strategy to improve your chances, the least you can do is stick to it. Don’t be tempted by the occasional “crazy move”. You could lose money for nothing. In addition, following the strategy well is essential to be able to evaluate its effectiveness and refine it.
Do not destroy a suit that has already been put together
It is better to simply keep any combination that pays, no matter how small, than to break it in the hope of getting one that offers a more attractive payment. This is a completely unnecessary risk, and one that should not be taken on Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild machines.
Don’t abuse the double or quits
When you hit a winning combination on most video poker machines, you are offered a double or quits game. This secondary game can be very rewarding if you are lucky, but it can also ruin you systematically. So don’t abuse it and avoid making it part of your strategy.
Managing your budget
This is a golden rule common to all online casino games. In video poker, it consists in particular in gradually increasing the stakes, starting with small bets. Of course, you must also set limits from the start that you must absolutely respect to avoid big losses, but also to cash in your winnings at the right time.
Variants of video poker
Video poker games come in a multitude of variations that differ primarily in their pay combinations, pay-table, and the presence or absence of a joker. Here we present the most popular ones:
The best video poker software
If in land-based casinos, the video poker machines of the historical manufacturer IGT are considered as essential references in this field, online, other specialized publishers are a little better known. These include the big names in the slot machine segment such as :
Advantages of playing video poker online
Like table games and slot machines, video poker games are present in almost every online casino today. The goal is to provide easy access for everyone to these games, which are only offered physically in some land-based casinos. For example, few gambling establishments offer them.
In addition to their very high accessibility, online video poker games offer the possibility of winning jackpots that are generally higher than those offered in hardcore casinos. With progressive jackpots video poker machines, offered by various publishers, this is even more the case.
The other major advantage of playing online is the diversity of the offer. Indeed, virtual casinos have the freedom to integrate as many games and variants as they wish. And thanks to the many publishers currently on the market, this makes things even easier. Thus, while playing online, you can access many more games than in a hard-copy casino.
Finally, online casinos remain the only places where you can play video poker for free or enjoy interesting bonuses.
Play free online video poker machines
Since online video poker games are based on random number generators (RNGs), they are also offered among the online casino games that can be played for free in a demo mode. The principle is the same as for other free casino games: you log in to the platform, launch the game and you can start playing with virtual chips. The playing conditions are the same as in real mode, the difference being that here you don’t actually win or lose any money.
The interests of this mode of play are multiple. For starters, it is probably the best way to make sure that you have understood the rules and how these games work, without taking the risk of losing money. You can start and restart the games at will and take the time to fully understand everything that has been said above.
Also, once you have fully understood the rules of the game, you can take advantage of the Demo mode to test your different techniques and game strategies and make sure that all the little secrets we share with you are really effective. Once again, all this is done without any risk of losing money since your bankroll is not affected.
But the free mode is also and above all for all those who wish to play video poker just for fun. If this is your case, you’ll have plenty to entertain you, until the moment you feel ready to bet your first euros and try your luck in real mode.
It should be noted that you can play video poker for free and without registering at many online casinos. On most modern platforms, you also won’t need to download any software before you start enjoying yourself.
Are there any bonuses available for playing video poker?
It is quite rare to find bonuses exclusively dedicated to video poker. However, most of the common bonuses can be used on these games, with however, special conditions often imposed on the bets. Before using these bonuses to play your favorite games, please make sure to check the wagering and usage conditions imposed by the casino.
Play from your mobile phone
In video poker, the games usually last only a few seconds, and you can play them at your own pace and according to your will. Since you don’t have a direct opponent, you can start a game and continue it much later. These features make it a category of games especially suitable for mobile players.
And that’s something the software developers quickly figured out. With the rise of “mobile gaming”, they all made their creations “responsive”. This means that you can play directly from your mobile device (smartphone or tablet), regardless of the operating system. The game interfaces are optimized for small screens and many features are integrated to allow the use of touch and other specifications of mobile devices.
Is there a live version of video poker?
Just like slot machines, video poker is an automated game. There is no live version, since even in hardcore casinos, no human intervention is required. However, the development of hybrid live games in the future that could be based on or involve the principles of video poker is not excluded.
Our conclusion on video poker games
Now that you really know everything about video poker, how about getting out there and beating the online casinos with big jackpots? As you may have understood, this is quite possible, with a bit of rigor and discipline. Don’t skip the steps, go step by step and keep an eye on this guide in case you hesitate. The big advantage of video poker is that it is one of the games where probability and strategy have the most impact. So play rationally and you will surely come out a winner. And if you dream of winning even more interesting online jackpots, while enjoying a varied gambling experience, then feel free to read our little bible about online slot games as well. It could definitely change your life!
The GambleMojo.com team has prepared the best online casino game guides for you:
FAQ video poker
✅ How to play video poker?
The first thing to do to play video poker well is to learn the rules. In this article, we’ll look at the rules and how to play video poker games.
✅ How to win at video poker?
If you want to win at video poker, start by learning the rules of the game, then apply the strategies and tips you can find here.
✅ Is the double or quits option interesting?
In video poker, the double or quits option can allow you to double or even quadruple your initial winnings. However, as we explain in our video poker tips, you shouldn’t abuse this option because it has its risks.
✅ What are the bonuses available for online video poker?
100% video poker bonuses are very rare. However you can use most of the welcome bonuses and other deposit bonuses from casinos to play the various online video poker games.