How We Choose The Best Video Poker Sites
Not all video poker sites were created equal, and it’s our job to help you find the very best of them. We choose the leading video poker sites based on a range of demand criteria.
- Selection of Games: This is a biggie – we only recommend sites that offer a range of video poker games and variations. There are no one-trick ponies here.
- Contribution to Bonus Wagering Requirements: Some casinos prevent video poker from contributing to their wagering requirements, which means you can’t use any free bonuses for video poker. The sites we recommend are chosen on the basis of offering a fair contribution to bonus wagering requirements, so you can still ultimately get your hands on your winnings.
- Mobile App Support: We know most of our players enjoy playing through mobile apps. Yet still, too many video poker games are excluded from mobile apps and mobile casinos. We’ve sourced those that offer video poker on mobile, as well as on desktop, for our recommendations.
- Licensing and Reputation: Even if a video poker site meets these criteria, we’ve still got to be impressed by its licensing, trustworthiness and general reputation. You can never be too careful, and by being discerning ourselves in our choice of sites to recommend, we help make it easier for you to find a great place to play.
The Quick Guide To Online Video Poker
Sitting somewhere between regular table poker and slot machines, video poker gives you the chance to compete head-to-head against the machine, for fixed payouts based on your hand. While the rules are broadly similar, in terms of hand rankings, the gameplay with video poker is much different. Nevertheless, it is great fun, and potentially very profitable if you play your cards right (with a healthy dose of luck, of course).
What Is Video Poker?
If you’re still scratching your head wondering how to play video poker, relax – it’s pretty straightforward, and a good starting point for beginners if you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge of the game. For those more experienced players, it’s also a good way to play fixed-odds poker on your own timescale, without the hassle of joining a live table game.
Essentially, with video poker you’re playing a single hand against yourself. You’re not playing with a table of others, or any common cards – it’s a simple case of making the best hand you can from the cards you are dealt, with the option to switch out or hold cards to improve your hand.
Hands are paid according to their corresponding hand value in the paytable, and while this depends on the game, you can expect somewhere in the region of 1-4,000x, depending on the hand you make and the number of coins you’re playing in any one game.
To start with, you choose how many coins you want to play per line, ranging from 1 to a maximum of 5. Different machines will have different values, so it’s up to you to find something that sits within your budget range (you can see our recommended video poker games to get a better feel for this yourself).
You are dealt five cards, which appear face up on the screen. These are generated by an RNG, or random number generator, so it’s effectively a simulation of what might happen if you were playing with a real deck of cards.
You can choose to HOLD any number of your cards, which you do by holding the cards on screen. Tap the cards on a physical machine, or click if you’re playing online to hold those cards. Then it’s time to DRAW your replacement cards. Once the dust settles, you’ll only get a payout for hands that correspond to the pay table – it’s that simple.
Of course, there are a number of different variations of video poker you might come across, such as Deuces Wild and Double Jacks or Better. These build in some slight rule variations, usually in the paytable, which can influence the house edge by bringing some alternative hands into play. But broadly, whichever version you’re playing, the gameplay is the same.
Here are some of the main video poker terms you’re likely to come across on your travels.
- Average Payback: The expected payback in percentage terms on a given hand. Synonymous with Expected Value, and used when deciding how to play a hand – i.e. play the hand with the highest average payback.
- Bet Max: The maximum bet per hand – 5 coins.
- Cash Out: Withdrawing your winnings from the game.
- Credits: Synonymous with coins, players choose how many credits to play for, up to 5 credits per hand. Credits are assigned a value based on the machine or game version you’re playing.
- Discard Cards: The cards that you choose to replace in your starting hand as the game progresses.
- Double Up: A side bet offered in some video poker versions that allows you to double up on the size of your bet, for double the winnings. Be wary of the impact of Doubling Up on house edge.
- Edge: Or House Edge – the percentage in favour of the house, this is the casino’s margin. The lowest house edge is available when playing with maximum coins, plus the perfect strategy.
- Expected Value: See average payback – the expected likelihood of any hand paying out.
- Hand: The collection of cards you are dealt, or the name for a single round of video poker.
- Hold: The cards you decide to keep, versus the discard cards.
- Maximum Coins: The maximum bet that can be placed on any hand – 5 coins.
- Pat Hand: A hand that is perfect when dealt, without the need for replacing any of the cards – e.g. a royal flush, straight or four of a kind.
- RNG: Random Number Generator, a software script used to mimic the random nature of playing cards.
- Winning Hand: Any hand that meets with a corresponding line on the paytable – any hand that pays out.
Top Tips For Video Poker Success
Firstly, for the minimum house edge (and therefore maximum chance of winning long term), you always want to play for the full 5 coins. A max coins bet gives you the chance to win proportionately more on a Royal Flush, as well as multiplying all of the winning combinations by the 5 coin stake. This means the house has less of an advantage when you play for maximum coins. Even if it takes playing a lower value machine, you should always look to play for maximum coins per hand to give yourself the edge.
There are also a range of free video poker trainers and free play demos out there, all designed to help you make better decisions. The quality of your decision making does have an influence on how well you perform at video poker, so taking steps to better understand the probabilities of when to hold and when to draw will stand you in good stead for profitable video poker play.
Video Poker Payouts – How Much Can You Win?
So we’ve already ready seen that the winnings on video poker can hit the giddy heights of 4,000x. But don’t expect to hit this every hand. In fact, you need a Royal Flush, playing at maximum coins on most machines to reach this kind of level of payout. And even then, different machines and their payouts will vary.
Payouts generally start from a Pair of Jacks or better, and this will net you a 5x return on a max coins stake on most machines. A full house is worth 45x, while four of a kind will net an impressive 125x your stake.