Beginner's Guide to Video Poker

Video poker machines offer some of the best odds available at both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. These favorable odds are the primary reason why online casinos tend to reduce or refuse contributions to wagering requirements from video poker machines. Video poker is also a nice alternative to slot machines. The jackpots usually aren’t as big, but you’re five times or more, on average, likely to hit them.

The Basics

A basic video poker machine is similar to a slot machine. It will have a coin range and allow multiple coins per line. A common setup is $0.25-10.00 and 1-5 coins. Pay tables are set up in tiers, based on the number of coins played, and the prizes are multipliers that are applied against the stake to determine the win amount. A common payout scale ranges from 1x at one coin to 4,000x at five coins.

How to Play

The first step is to set the coin size. Then select the number of coins. Typically, this is accomplished by cycling through the available options via the BET ONE button. Once set, press DRAW to start the game. Alternately, the BET MAX button will set the maximum stake and then start the game.

Once started, the game will deal you a five-card poker hand. Click the individual cards to mark them as HOLD. You can hold as many cards as you like, including none at all. When you’re ready, click the DRAW button again. The game will remove non-held cards and replace them with a new deal. The game will assess your hand for a winning combination, and if there is one, award you winnings based on the pay table.

Winning Hands

On basic video poker machine, the following poker hands pay out: Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush and Royal Flush. Many machines also support other combos. The very popular Jacks or Better machine also pays out on any pair, Jacks or better.

Multi-Line Machines

Multi-line is a very popular video poker format that lets you play 10, 25, 50 or even 100 hands at a time. The catch is that all the hands use the same seed hand. This allows you to select the hold cards just once. It doesn’t actually affect the odds, and it maximizes your time considerably. Keep in mind that since you are essential playing multiple games, all bets are multiplied by the number of lines in play.

Return to Player (RTP)

The RTP rate is the amount of money taken in that the machine gives back to the bettors. On a standard video machine, the house takes 3 percent on each bet and returns 97 percent to the players. The nice thing about video poker is that the RTP and odds are known. This information is freely available online, and you can assess the machine you’re playing on simply by comparing its pay table to the chart.

Optimal Strategy

Video poker is a game of chance, but there is also skill involved. Optimal hold strategy is a known commodity. Memorize it. If you’re playing online, use a chart or video poker calculator. The other most important step is to ensure that you are playing for a good return. Never play a machine with an RTP less than 97 percent, and know that there are machines available that pay out above 99 percent.

Progressive Jackpots

Video poker machines with progressive jackpots can be quite lucrative but also more difficult to assess. The odds change based on the size of the jackpot. In some cases, it is actually possible for the RTP to go above 100 percent. These machines are rare, never go above 101 percent, and are much more common in Las Vegas then they are online. If you know your machines and do not make mistakes in hold strategy, it is possible with the necessary capital to earn almost $6 per hour playing video poker.


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Author Kingsino Staff
Date August 20 2012
Tags Beginner Guide, Video Poker