How to Play Video Poker – Rules and Tips

Video Poker is one of the most popular casino games around. It is also one of the most addictive games as well, so let this be your warning. Don’t steal money out of your mother’s underwear drawer to feed your habit.

Video Poker Rules

Video Poker is a version of draw poker and is played with a 52 card deck. A player is first dealt 5 cards from the deck. The player then decides on how many cards to keep. This is done by hitting the hold buttons below the cards or by touching the cards on the screen.

Once the number of held cards is determined, the player hits the deal button and the cards not held are replaced. The replacement cards are drawn from the 47 remaining cards in the deck (52 cards less the original 5 cards received). Once the cards are replaced the a final 5 card hand is formed.

In the most popular form of Video Poker, ‘Jacks or Better’, a player must have, at worst, a pair of jacks  in order to receive a payout. Payouts are based on the final hand value, from 1 pair all the way up to a royal flush.

Video Poker Payouts and Odds

Payout tables vary widely based on the type of Video Poker game played. Even the same Video Poker game payouts vary based on location. Below is a “9-6” Jacks or Better payout table with a 99.5% payout.

Standard 9-6 Jacks or Better Video Poker
Totals   100% 99.544%
Hand Payout Probability ROI
Royal Flush 800 0.002% 1.981%
Straight Flush 50 0.011% 0.547%
4 of a Kind 25 0.236% 5.906%
Full House 9 1.151% 10.361%
Flush 6 1.101% 6.609%
Straight 4 1.123% 4.492%
3 of a Kind 3 7.445% 22.335%
2 Pair 2 12.928% 25.856%
Jacks or Better 1 21.459% 21.459%
Losing Hands 0 54.543% 0.000%

Jacks or Better Video Poker is generally distinguished by a 2 number system. The first number is the payout for a full house and the second number is the payout for a flush. A 9-6 Jacks or Better machine pays out $9 on a $1 bet when a full house is hit and $6 on a $1 bet when a flush is made.

Video Poker Strategy – Turning the Odds on the House

Following is basic strategy for what cards you should keep. If you have multiple options, keep the one highest on the list.

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • 4 of a Kind
  • 4 to a Royal Flush
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • 3 of a Kind
  • 4 to a Straight Flush
  • Two Pair
  • High Pair (Jacks or better)
  • 3 to a Royal Flush
  • 4 to a Flush
  • Low Pair (2s to 10s)
  • Open Ended Straight
  • 2 Suited High Cards (J,Q,K,A)
  • 3 to a Straight Flush
  • 2 Unsuited High Cards (J,Q,K,A) (If more, pick 2 lowest)
  • Suited 10-J, 10-Q or 10-K
  • One High Card (J,Q,K,A)
  • If None of the Above, Discard All

The difference between basic and advanced strategy is only 0.08%. Since the basic strategy is easy to remember, Video Poker experts highly recommend its use over more complicated strategies for novice players.

Video Poker Tips

Keep in mind these tips when selecting a Video Poker machine.

  • Play Higher Denominations – The higher denomination game you play, the higher percentage return you will receive. If you have 2 Jacks or Better machines, a $0.01 and $1, the $0.01 machine may pay out a 90% return while the $1 machine may pay out a 96% return.
  • Bet the Max – Most video poker machines let you bet multiple coins on a single hand. When you play the maximum number of coins allowed, they payouts can increase exponentially. For example, a single coin bet pays out 100 credits when a royal flush is hit, but when 5 coins are played, the royal flush pays out 1,000 credits, or double the return of a 1 coin bet (100/1 vs 1,000/5 or 200/1).  Sometimes machines will even have progressive jackpots for a royal flush, and in some cases can actually have a positive expectation!  So be on the lookout for these games, pick the one with the highest jackpot, and don’t forget to play cax credits.

Video Poker Variations

There are literally hundreds of different variations of Video Poker.  Below is a sample of some of the more popular Video Poker variations available.

  • Deuces Wild – All 2’s in the deck act as wild cards. On a Deuces Wild machine, the lowest payout is 3 of a Kind.
  • Double Double Bonus – Bonus payouts are paid for hands like 4 aces and a royal flush.
  • Hundred Play Draw Poker – You are dealt 1 hand and once the held cards are chosen, they are held for all 100 hands.

History of Video Poker

Video Poker was introduced into casinos in the 1970s by SIRCOMA, which evolved into International Game Technology, or IGT. The game quickly caught fire and has been one of the more popular games offered in casinos along with slot machines and Blackjack ever since.

Video Poker in Pop Culture

Video Poker has been featured in several movies and television shows. One of the more popular examples was from the television comedy Family Guy when Lois Griffin started playing Video Poker at an Indian casino. She lost the family vehicle in less than 5 minutes.