Not everyone can treat themselves with the classic casino poker experience. Luckily, video poker is a compelling alternative available to anyone, anywhere.

Video poker machines appeared in the early 1970s and weren’t immediately accepted as the casino staple. Now, video poker games can be found online and, similarly to slots, they are very easy to use and highly enjoyable.

Many players switch from slots to video poker because they are attracted by the challenge and the possibility of playing a casino game that requires a bit of skill. Here’s how to approach video poker.

Learn Video Poker Basics

Learn Video Poker Basics

Before you can load a game of video poker, it is recommendable that you get to know the game’s basic rules and proceedings. If you have already played poker, you will pick up on the rules quickly, and if you haven’t you will learn them just as easily as these are not complicated.

Video poker machines are based on draw poker and instead of making you play against other participants, you will play against the software. It’s all about forming the best poker hand with the cards you have been dealt and/or have drawn. The two most important concepts for a beginner are basic hand rankings and drawing rules.

You need to know how hands are formed and what they are worth. Also, you are expected to know when to draw and when to stop drawing (asking for additional cards to form a better hand). The rounds are finalized by the software, so you don’t need to worry about that.

Different Versions of the Game

Different Versions of the Game

Playing video poker is easy and fun, but one should be aware that there are many different variations of the game, each featuring unique paytables and relevant elements that influence the gameplay.

As new players are often overwhelmed by the variety of choices, they are recommended to stick with Jacks or Better, the best introductory version of video poker, and then possibly move along to Deuces Wild, Double Bonus and Joker Poker.

Some of the variations use Wilds cards and there are also some video poker machines with progressive jackpots. Some of the most prominent software providers to offer online video poker are Microgaming, Betsoft and Play’n GO. More popular variations include Aces and Eights, Aces and Faces, Loose Deuces, All American, Tens or Better and Super Aces.

Make Sure You Know the Poker Hand Rankings

Make Sure You Know the Poker Hand Rankings

The use of traditional poker hands in video poker is essential – this is how wins are determined. The same poker hands are used across all video poker games, but the payouts can be different depending on which game you’re playing.

The payoffs are based on the following five-card poker hands, ranked from highest to lowest:

  • Royal Flush (same suit A-K-Q-J-10)
  • Straight Flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit)
  • Four of a kind (four cards of the same rank)
  • Full House (three cards of one rank, two cards of another rank)
  • Flush (five cards of the same suit)
  • Straight (five consecutive cards of mixed suits)
  • Three of a Kind (three cards of the same rank)
  • Two pair (two cards of one rank, two cards of another rank)
  • Jacks or Better (two Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces)
Play for Free/Practice

Play for Free/Practice

Knowing there are popular video poker games out there at your disposal without the need to risk any money generates the perfect opportunity for practice. Choose any game you want and play it in demo mode in order to confirm your understanding of the rules and how the game play works.

You can experience the formation of the hands and get to know the pay tables before you stake some of your personal funds into a real money video poker machine. You can try out different strategies and make notes on your results so that you can be confident about your decisions moving on to real bets.

Join a Casino and Choose a Poker Game

Join a Casino and Choose a Poker Game

When all the preparation is complete, it is time to select a reliable online casino and register an account. Choose a highly-rated casino site with a valid license and a good variety of games. Make sure it has video poker and also check out its customer service quality as well as bonus frequency.

If everything checks out and the feedback is positive, fill in the registration form and verify your account to be able to deposit and start playing. As for selecting the right video poker game, we’ve already mentioned that Jacks or Better is a perfect fit for a beginner.

This is the original video poker game many derivations are based on and it is also widely available, not to mention that its playing strategy is one of the easiest to learn. Jacks or Better has the lowest variance and therefore is a good place to start.

Bankroll Management

Bankroll Management

Money can go fast in a video poker game. The rounds are fast-paced and dynamic, full of thrill rides that threaten to burn through your bankroll if you’re not careful. As a precautionary measure, you need to set your budget for the session and control your pacing.

A clever way to prevent excessive losses is to set a winning target. Once you reach your desired level of winnings, leave the game. You have been graced with luck and you wouldn’t want to have to give that money back to the casino right away. If you chase down another winning streak this is likely to happen.

Video Poker Round Brief

Video Poker Round Brief

Alright, let’s see how a round of video poker plays out. The standard game is played with a regular deck of 52 cards (two Jokers are added in Joker Poker). There are 2,598,960 hands that can be produced with a regular deck. Instead of a dealer, the cards are dealt by the RNG software. At the start of a round, you will be dealt five cards, shown on the screen.

Beforehand, you need to set the stake. Then, you will have the possibility to draw up to 5 new cards. Depending on the hand you have, you may or may not want to draw any cards. The Hold button serves to mark the cards that you want to keep. Once you have done selecting, hit Deal again and the cards you have decided to discard will be replaced with new ones from the deck. 

Whether you win or lose is decided based on your final hand, and payouts are issued according to the game’s paytable. Your goal is to make the best possible poker hand.

Get Into Strategies

Get Into Strategies

Any specific video poker game comes with a strategy chart. To improve your video poker skills, it is not enough to just know the payback of the machine you are playing. Playing a game using a set mathematical strategy will give you the ability to achieve the maximum return.

A strategy chart is a set of guidelines which propose the best action – it allows you to memorise the correct decisions for every different kind of hand you might be dealt.

If you start applying the strategy for your chosen video poker variation, do it correctly, as that is the only way to benefit from it. In this aspect, video poker is similar to blackjack because a solid strategy makes a massive difference in regards to the results.

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