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Video Poker Overview


Video poker, one of the “new kids on the block” in the gambling industry, is the perfect combination between two of most popular games around – slots and poker. The game is also popular because of its low house edge, the range of video poker variations around, and the possibility to win big prizes for relatively little outlay.

In addition, video poker involves just the right degree of skill, combined with the element of luck to bring players a game that is easy to understand and master within a short period of time. It is no wonder that video poker is among the strongest games at casinos and online sites and commands a multi-million dollar industry of its own.


To understand the history of video poker, one needs to first look at the history of slots and poker. Poker originated from medieval card pastimes but became the ‘All-American Game’ as the West was settled in the 1800’s. Today, poker stands at the forefront as one of the most sought-after skilled games in the world.
Slots, a purely American invention, were created by a German immigrant, Charles Fey in the late 1800s. The game slowly became a permanent fixture on casino floors through the decades that followed, and has transformed into the number one online gambling pastime in the industry.

Advancements in technology in the mid-1970s saw the introduction of electronic games, and the birth of video slot machines. The first video bell slot machine was launched in 1975 by the Fortune Coin Company. Draw Poker quickly followed suit in 1979 when the game was created by SIRCOMA (now IGT) and the game skyrocketed in popularity within a very short time.

Because of its computerized elements, video poker made a seamless transfer to the world of online gambling, and software companies quickly turned to developing variations of the game to keep their consumers happy. Online video poker tournaments are a popular form of entertainment and the game is enjoyed by millions throughout the world, thanks to the internet.


The objective of video poker is to achieve the highest five-card poker hand possible.


Flush: Five cards, all of the same suit.
Five of a Kind: Four cards of the same value plus a wild card.
Full House: Three cards of the same value and two of another same value.
Full Pay Machine: Video poker machine that allows the player to reach 100% returns, if played with the optimal strategy.
Hold Card: Cards that the player does not discard after the first round.
One Pair: One pair of cards of the same value.
Royal Flush: Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit.
Straight Flush: Five cards of consecutive value of the same suit.
Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same value.
Two Pair: A hand with two pairs of cards of the same value each.
Wild Card: A card that substitutes for other cards to form a winning combination.
Wild Royal Flush: A royal flush completed with a wild card.

How to Play/Game Rules

Video Poker Basics

Video poker is played against the house at a special terminal or online, and other players in the casino are of no importance to the game. Video poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards in most cases.

Card Rankings

One of the most important elements of video poker is the understanding of traditional poker rankings. Without a solid basis, it is difficult to make the decision about which cards to use in order to make the best possible five-card poker hand.
In video poker, the suit of the cards is not an important factor – what is more important is the number value of the cards.
Number cards keep their own value, while the King, Queen and Jack are higher, in descending order. The Ace is considered the highest ranking card in the deck.

Hand rankings are as followings (from best to worst):

 Five of a Kind (when with a wild card feature).
 Royal Flush
 Four of a Kind
 Full House
 Flush
 Straight
 Three of a Kind
 Two Pairs
 One Pair

Game Format

Since the creation of the first video slot game, many different variants have sprung up. However, the basic premise of the game is played as follows:

 Between one and five coins are inserted into the video poker machine by the player.
 The video poker machine deals five cards to the player.
 At this stage, the skill element kicks in. The player now needs to decide which of the five cards he wants to discard and which he wants to keep.
 There is no limit to the number of cards that can be kept or thrown. The player can decide to discard none, some or all of the cards that were dealt.
 Any discarded cards are replaced by new cards.
 The player creates the best poker hand possible from the cards that were dealt by the video poker machine.

Video Poker Variations

Online gambling has been responsible for the introduction of a wide variety of interesting video poker variants. Some of the more popular are outlined below:

 Jacks or Better: This is the most basic game in video poker and is highly recommended for beginners. In order to form a winning hand, players need to get a pair of Jacks or better in their final hand.
 Deuces Wild: The deuces (twos) in the game are considered wild cards and replace any other cards to form a winning combination in the final hand.
 Aces and Faces: While this game resembles the more popular Jacks or better, a major difference is the fact that queens and kings rank higher than a four of a kind with a lower rank and four aces rank higher than a straight flush and four jacks.
 Tens or Better: Similar to Jacks or Better, requiring a minimum of one pair of tens in the final hand.
 Progressive Video Poker: Video poker machines, irrespective of their variant, that are joined with other machines and share a communal jackpot. Each time the game is played, a portion of the money goes to the jackpot, until one lucky player hits the jackpot and takes home the pot.
 Multi Line Video Poker: Similar to regular video poker except that the player is dealt more than one hand of cards. Each line uses a different deck of cards and is dealt as a separate hand.

Here y ou can find information on over 80+ variations of video poker games.

Tips and Strategies

 The Importance of the Optimal Strategy: Video poker is a game that, using the right strategy, the player can shift the house edge significantly in his or her favor. Each variation of video poker has its own optimal strategy, which tells the player exactly what cards to hold and what to discard with each hand dealt. Players should learn the strategy well in order to bring the house edge down as much as possible.
 Knowledge is Power: Lean to understand the payout schedules that accompany each video poker game to make educated decisions.
 Don’t Overdo it: As tempting as it may be to try out all those exciting video poker variations, it is probably wise to stick to one or two games and learn their strategies perfectly, before moving on to the next.
 Play to the Maximum: If your bankroll allows it, play the maximum number of coins as often as you can. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to win the progressive jackpot, even smaller winnings will pay out better if you played the maximum number.
 Avoid Kickers: Kickers are unpaired high value cards in a hand and, as tempting as it may be to hold on to them – don’t! They will simply reduce your chances of getting a winning combination in the game.
 Practice Online: There is no better place to put that theory to practice than the free mode at an online casino. This is the perfect way to learn the ropes of video poker without putting pressure on your bankroll.


For players looking for a game that is simple to learn, and has enough of a skill element involved to allow them to turn the house edge around, video poker is definitely a good choice. Good returns, interesting variants and the promise of quiet, uninterrupted gambling entertainment makes this game the number one choice for millions of players.

If you are not yet ready to play for real money then check out this range of free video poker games.

See our Video Poker Resources page for further links to useful Video Poker sites and pages.







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