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Guide to Playing Online Video Poker

Author: Preston Davis | Updated: May 29, 2023

Guide to Playing Online Video Poker

Video poker is popular at land-based and online casinos in the UK. It is a hybrid game, combining slots and online poker, and is played on a gambling machine. In this game, the player chooses to keep or discard their cards in the hope of receiving to receive a strong hand. Match a winning combination and you’ll receive a payout!

In this guide, we teach you how to play video poker and run through the different online video poker games. We also give tips on playing smarter so you can take home real money.

What is Online Video Poker?

Video poker machines first made their way into land-based casinos in the 1970s. When online casinos opened, electronic versions of these games soon entered the market.

You always play video poker on gambling machines similar to online slots. For both of these games, you input money into the machine in the hope to score winning combinations. Yet, they are NOT slot machines thanks to three main differences:

  1. A video poker game is played with a standard 52 deck of cards rather than symbols. When you play video poker, the aim is to score the highest hand. These are ranked the same as traditional poker hands. Pairs are the lowest-scoring up to royal flushes as the best.
  2. Video poker symbols have the same probability of occurring as actual playing cards. These are then used to calculate the house edge and payout amounts.
  3. Video poker allows you to choose which cards you keep and which cards you discard. This means you can use strategy when playing video poker. Make the right decisions and you’re more likely to win.

All online video poker games start by loading money into the machine. Players then click the “Deal” button and receive five playing cards. You can choose to either keep or discard each of these cards. Those that you choose to discard will be replaced with new cards.

Your final five-card hand will then correspond to a paytable. This determines how much your hand is worth. You can play free video poker games online. But if playing for real money, the value of your hand determines whether you receive a payout. If you do win, the money will show in your online casino account balance.

Top Video Poker Games

The traditional game of online video poker is Jacks and Better. But, as with many classic casino games, multiple variants are now available to play at video poker casinos. Here is a look at some of the most popular video poker games found at UK casinos. Each has different rules and payouts. Have a browse through the casino games library and choose one that best suits you.

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better (sometimes called “Draw Poker”) is the classic video poker game. This is one of the most popular casino games, so you’ll find it at nearly all casino sites.

As the name suggests, the payoffs begin at a pair of jacks or better. Payouts then improve for increasingly better hands. For example, two pairs would be the next best hand. This is then followed by three of a kind, a straight, a flush, a full house, and four of a kind. A royal flush will give the maximum payout for the machine.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is the most popular spinoff from Jacks or Better video poker. The rules are nearly identical to the traditional game with one exception: all 2s are wild (hence the name Deuces Wild). This means they can substitute any other card to give you a winning hand.

For this reason, the probability of hitting winnings hands is increased. To counteract this, the lowest-paying hand for Deuces Wild is three of a kind. Still, it has an incredible payback percentage of 99.73%.

Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker is another spinoff from the traditional Jack or Better game. The rules are nearly identical, but payoffs are increased a four of a kind. The bonus on the four-of-a-kind hand is determined by the cards that make up that hand. For example, four-of-a-kind Aces is the big bonus hand. This pays out at 80:1. Four 2s, 3s, and 4s all payout at 40:1, whereas other hands payout at 25:1. These ratios will vary slightly between Bonus Poker games.

Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is a twist on Bonus Poker. In this game, all the four-of-a-kind hands have increased payouts. In fact, each is double what it is in standard Bonus Poker!

These boosted payouts make it one of the best video poker games. In land-based casinos, its payout percentage is a huge 100.17%! This is not available at online casinos, but it still offers some of the best payouts around. For example, the All Aces version of Double Bonus Poker by Microgaming pays out at 99.92%.

Other Video Poker Game Variants

The four variants above are by far the most popular types of online video poker. Yet, you’ll find many other titles in the games lobby at online casinos.

Examples include 10s or Better, Aces and Faces, or Joker Poker. You can even find multi-hand video poker games or progressive jackpot titles. In the latter, the winning hands don’t pay a fixed amount. Instead, payouts continue to rise until one lucky player takes home the jackpot prize.

Online Video Poker Pay Tables

Before you play video poker, you need to understand the video poker pay tables. This is what shows you the value of your hand. Understanding pay tables means you know how much your bet will payout. This helps you to choose a suitable video poker game and make informed decisions as you play.

A video poker paytable looks like a grid. Down the left is a list of all possible winning hands from best to worst. Along the top is the number of coins you have bet, ranging from 1 to 5. Simply cross-reference your hand and the coins you have played to find your winnings. Note that all of the winnings are based on the probability of you getting the corresponding hand. But not all pay tables for the same game will be identical. This impacts the house edge, so choose higher payback odds where possible.

Moreover, we always recommend playing with five coins. Why? Look at the top right-hand corner of the paytable and you’ll see! A royal flush played with five coins often pays out at a rate of 800:1. At all other coin amounts, the payout rate is at 250:1. This is a huge difference and can boost your winnings dramatically! If you cannot afford to play the maximum number of coins, you need to choose a game with lower stakes so that you can.

How to Win at Video Poker

All video poker players are in it to win it. If playing for real money, you'll have more money in the banker every time you win. Even if you're playing free games, winning is a must. There is nothing that beats the satisfaction of hitting a winning combination again and again!

Unlike online slot machines, online video poker does partially rely on a video poker strategy. You need to make informed decisions to keep or lose cards to get winning combinations. Here are our top tips for when you play video poker. Try these out to maximise your winnings.

Find the Best Games

There are many different video poker variants at UK online casinos. Each has differences in their payouts or wild cards. In turn, this alters the payback percentage for the game. For example, All Aces by Microgaming has a payout of 99.92%, whereas Jacks or Better has a payout percentage of 99.54%.

This difference might seem small, but it does make a difference over time. Play video poker titles with the highest payouts as these give the best chances of winning.

Find the Best Pay Tables

Once you have found a variant to play, always look at the pay tables. Even the same titles can pay out different amounts to players for the same hands.

For example, Jacks or Better is available in 9/6, 9/5, 8/6, and 8/5 variants. The first number refers to the payout for a full house, and the second the payout for a flush. This one-coin difference might not seem like much, but it affects the house edge a lot. For instance, 9/6 Jacks or Better has a 99.54% payback compared to 98.45% for 9/5.

Always Bet the Maximum Number of Coins

We have already touched on this, but you want to bet the maximum number of coins when you play video poker. This is because of the disproportionate jump in the payout for royal flush for four and five coins. You will gain 3000 coins more simply by betting an extra coin to start.

The chance of you getting a royal flush is slim (1 in 40,000 hands) so many players assume this doesn’t matter. Yet, it has a considerable impact on the house edge. Thus, playing with five coins helps to minimise your losses.

Avoid Chasing Straights & Flushes

Something that can help you master video poker is knowing which cards to keep and which to discard. One mistake that many beginners make is to chase straights and flushes. These high-paying hands are appealing and players want to win big! But you should never keep onto three cards in the hope you’ll hit one of these hands.

The only time this is advisable is when going after a straight flush. Put simply, never risk a winning hand to go for something bigger. It’ll only result in losses.

Never Keep Your Kicker

In traditional poker, the “kicker” is a side card that is not involved in the ranking hand. But it can be used to decide who the winner is where players have otherwise equal hands. When you play video poker, the kicker is irrelevant.

For example, having an Ace on the side of your main hand will not make any difference to your payout. So, always ditch your kicker. If it isn’t bringing any value to your hand, discard it for a chance to improve your current cards.

Employ a Stop-Loss Strategy

If playing free casino games, this point is irrelevant. But for anyone playing real money games, it is crucial! Having good management of your bankroll can ensure your losses don’t spiral out of control.

Establish a casino spending budget and stick to it. Playing long stretches without any significant wins can run through your money quickly. If you feel your money is disappearing too fast, then you need to either move to lower-stakes games or try free online video poker until you've got more money to play with.

Preston Davis is a gambling writer based in London. He's always on the lookout for new Online casinos, bonuses, and games to write about - so you can be sure he's on top of any news as soon as it breaks. Preston takes his work seriously but likes to have fun too - which is why he thoroughly tests everything he reviews before giving his final verdict. Preston enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children when he's not writing or playing games.