Video Poker Guide: Getting Started

Online Video Poker Guide: How to Get Started


If you like the solo style of video slots, but prefer strategic games, video poker is right up your alley. With plenty of strategy charts available online, you can become a video poker pro in no time. But before you look for a chart, you’ll have to learn the basics and decide which video poker game you want to play.

How to Play Video Poker

Played on a video screen, video poker is a simple game of draw poker where you try to create a winning poker hand. Most games require at least a pair, or 3 of a kind, to trigger a payout, and the stronger the hand, the better the payout. One round of video poker can be summed up in three steps:

Step 1

Choose your bet. This can range from 1 to 5 coins, with the following five coin denominations: $0.05, $0.25, $0.50, $1 and $5.

Step 2

Upon receiving a five-card hand face up, select the cards you want to keep. You can keep all five, zero, or anything in between.

Step 3

Your unwanted cards are replaced with new cards, at which point, your hand is assessed to determine whether or not it’s a winner.

If it’s a winner, you get a chance to double your payout through a Double or Nothing round, which involves selecting one of four cards placed face down on the screen; the Dealer’s card is placed face up. In order to win, you need to pick a higher card than the Dealer. You can play more Double or Nothing rounds with every win.


Understanding Video Poker Paytables

Understanding Video Poker Paytables

Each version of video poker has its own paytable that shows all the winning hands and their corresponding payouts. Within each hand, there are 1 to 5 payouts, one payout for each number of coins bet. The payouts on the paytable are expressed in coins—not money. To determine how much money you’d win, simply convert the coins into the coin denomination you selected at the start of the round. For example, a 100-coin payout would get you $25 when betting $0.25 coins, and $50 when betting $0.50 coins.

One thing to keep in mind when reviewing a video poker paytable is to check the incentive for betting the max number of coins—some games have an incentive, and some don’t. To figure out if one does, look at the payouts for the highest hand, and examine how it increases with each additional coin wagered. If it increases incrementally, the number of coins bet doesn’t matter. Here’s an example of an incremental coin increase:


Poker Hand 1 Coins 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 800 1600 2400 3200 4000


As you can see, with each additional coin bet, the payout increases by exactly 800 coins.

What you want to look for is a payout for the top hand on a 5-coin wager that’s exponentially higher than the payout offered for the 4-coin wager. That difference means there’s incentive to bet 5 coins. Here’s an example of an exponential coin increase:


Poker Hand 1 Coins 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000


As you can see, with every additional coin bet, the payout increases by 250 coins; however, the payout for the 5-coin bet increases by far more than that: 3000 coins to be exact. That’s an incentive to bet max.

In order to bet max while staying on budget, you can decrease the coin denomination by using the yellow arrows. There are five coin denominations to choose from, so choose strategically. For example, if your budget accommodates twenty-five-cent rounds, you can bet five $0.05-coins instead of betting one $0.25 coin. The cost is the same, but the former approach makes you eligible to win the 4000-coin jackpot.

If you’ve played poker before, the majority of the hands on the paytable will be familiar to you. That being said, some of the more complex video poker games include extra hands that aren’t used in standard poker. We’ll take a look at the paytable for Bonus Deuces Wild to further explain.


Poker Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 800 1600 2400 3200 4000
4 Deuces w/A 400 800 1200 1600 2000
4 Deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild Royal 25 150 75 100 125
5 Aces 80 60 240 320 400
5,3,4, or 5 40 80 120 160 200
5 6-K 20 40 60 80 100
Straight Flush 9 18 27 36 45
4 of a Kind 4 8 12 16 20
Full House 4 8 12 16 20
Flush 3 6 9 12 15
Straight  1 2 3 4 5
3 of a Kind 1 2 3 4 5


This game is unique because deuces are wild, which means they can substitute for any other card. With this bonus feature, you can make 5 of a kind hands. We’ll go through each hand in the paytable to make sure you know all 13 ways to win.

Royal Flush: Five cards all the same suit, must be Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Ten.

4 Deuces w/A: Four Twos and one Ace.

4 Deuces: Four Twos.

Wild Royal: A Royal flush that contains a wild card (Deuce).

5 Aces: Four Aces and one Two.

5 3,4 or 5: Four Threes, Fours, or Fives plus one wild card (Deuce).

5 6-K: Four Sixes to Kings plus one wild card (Deuce).

Straight Flush: Five cards of consecutive rank that are suited.

4 of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank.

Full House: Three of a kind and a pair.

Flush: Five cards suited.

Straight: Five cards of consecutive rank.

3 of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.


Video Poker Bankroll Management

Video Poker Bankroll Management

Anytime you see a payout for the top hand exponentially higher on a 5-coin wager, it’s in your best interest to bet max, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard your bankroll budget. Any time you need to bet more coins, simply scale back the value of the coins. For instance, if your budget allows you to wager $5 a round, you can bet five $1 coins instead of one $5 coin; that would make you eligible for the bonus payout listed on the paytable.

Staying within your budget means you’ll be able to continue playing video poker far into the future. To determine your budget, simply decide how much money you want to dedicate to a round of video poker. Consider this entertainment money—that way there’s no pressure on your play.

Once you’ve determined how much money you can dedicate to a session of video poker, divide that amount into the number of rounds you want to play, or the amount of money you want to bet per round. Once you reach your limit, it’s time to close up shop and call it a day. There will be plenty more opportunities to play video poker—especially if you manage your bankroll well.


Understanding Video Poker Payback

In order for a casino to operate, games have a house edge built-in. That’s how the casino turns a profit. If you deduct the house edge from 100%, you get the payback, which is the theoretical expected return to player in the long term on any given casino game.

Payback varies game to game, and generally, the simpler the game is, the lower the payback. That means the payback for slot machines is often lower than the payback for blackjack—when it’s played according to basic strategy.

Video poker also has a high payback for players who follow proper strategy, but even within the realm of video poker, there’s variance from one game to another. In order to determine the difference in paybacks, you’ll need to punch in the payouts for each hand into a Game Return Calculator, which can be found online.


Video Poker Guide: Getting Started

Choose from Eleven Video Poker Games

Now that you’ve got the basics down pat, it’s time to choose the video poker that’s right for you. Do you like the idea of a wild card? It’ll be easier to make winning hands, but that advantage is reflected in the payouts. Games with wild cards include Joker Poker, Deuces Wild, Bonus Deuces Wild, and Loose Deuces.

The other games offer payout variations, and as a general rule, the more “bonuses” you see in the title, the more payout tiers you’ll find for the 4 of a kind hand. For example, Double Double Jackpot Poker has unique payouts for five 4 of a kind variations, whereas Bonus Poker has a single payout for all 4 of a kind hands.

Single-Hand and Multi-Hand Video Poker

Some video poker games, including Jacks or Better and Joker Poker, let you play up to 52 hands at a time. Just like with regular poker, as you get more comfortable with video poker, you may want to accelerate the action by increasing the number of hands you play per round.

With multi-hand video poker, there’s a primary hand and several secondary hands. Five cards will be dealt face up to your primary hand, and you choose which cards you want to keep. The cards you hold are going to appear in all your secondary hands. As for the new cards that are drawn, they’re unique in each hand. It may sound a little complicated, so it’s best to start with one hand. But after a few rounds of Practice Play, you should be playing video poker like a pro.