Video Poker is essentially five card draw poker, played out on a computer screen. Rather than playing against several different opponents, bettors are simply rewarded for the different hands that they make, according to a fixed odds payout table.
The late 1970s saw the first Video Poker machines start to appear in casinos, coinciding with the time that personal computers first emerged. Although they were primitive, the Video Poker machines quickly grew in popularity as they were not as intimidating as the casino’s table games, such as roulette or craps, where large and loud crowds could gather.
The exact rules vary by game. There are several different types of Video Poker machine, all with different pay tables, but the most common Video Poker variant is “Jacks Or Better”. The object of the game is to complete a five card poker hand and in order to collect any returns, that hand must contain a minimum of one pair of jacks.
Players are dealt five cards initially and then have the option to hold as many as they like, from zero to all five. The non-held cards are discarded and replaced, leaving the player with a final five card poker hand. If the player fails to make at least a pair of jacks, the credit is lost, but a hand of “Jacks Or Better” earns the player a return.
Common variations of the Video Poker theme include “Deuces Wild”, where any two acts as a wildcard. This makes the harder to draw hands appear more often and is reflected in the payout table. Another variation is the “Multi-Play”, where the bettor plays several poker hands at the same time.
Casinos don’t normally advertise the payout percentage of the Video Poker machine, but if you find the right machine, Video Poker can pay out at very close to 100%. If you were to play the perfect strategy without a single error, some “Jacks Or Better” Video Poker machines pay out 99.54%.
There are “Deuces Wild” Video Poker machines that actually payout at 100.77%, assuming they are played perfectly, making Video Poker a positive expectation casino game to a skilled player.
Basic Jacks Or Better strategy is to work out all the ways to play your initial poker hand and to opt for whichever appears highest on the following list. This will result in a payout of 99.46% if carried out without errors:
- Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush
- Four to a royal flush
- Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house
- Four to a straight flush
- Two pair
- High pair
- Three to a royal flush
- Four to a flush
- Low pair
- Four to an outside straight
- Two suited high cards
- Three to a straight flush
- Two unsuited high cards (if more than two, then pick the lowest two)
- Suited J-T, Q-T, or K-T
The Best Video Poker Sites
These casino sites are great places to play video poker: