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VIDEO POKER – THE BASICS

Introduction

Playing video poker at online casinos is vastly different from gambling in land casinos — you can’t get up and change machines when the machine you’re playing isn’t paying, nor can you walk away with money in hand! And different online casinos place their emphasis on different games. So, after hundreds of hours spent going from casino to casino trying to find the good video poker games, I decided to create a central information site for other online video poker players that hopefully will be helpful.

Video poker is a combination of slot machines and the normal five-card draw poker game. The obvious differences are that video poker is played against a machine apposed to humans. The primary goals are still the same – to achieve the certain hands indicated on the payout table for the particular game you are playing. Each game may have unique rules and payoffs, but all are played in a comparable manner based on the original poker game.

Video Poker – What is it?

Video Poker is in essence a machine version of the popular table game of poker and it is about here any similarity ends. Video Poker has set paytables and you are playing a machine so there is no bluffing. Pairs are strong in almost every game type. It is the set paytables of the game that gives the knowledgeable player the advantage. More on that later. Playing the game is easy, playing well requires a little bit more.
The above table shows the winning hands for the grand daddy of the game Jacks or Better.

Video Poker – The House Advantage

Video Poker has very high returns, in many cases over 100%. How can this be? The house advantage in the game relies on player error. The more mistakes you make, the less chance you will have of reaching the expected payouts for a machine. It is as simple as that! We are not talking any system here just good old mathematical probability. If you play well over a period of time you will be well on your way. We won’t blind you with science as the focus of the game is to have fun and lots of it…but if you can win too…

Video Poker – Where to Start

My advice is to start with good old Jacks or Better as the strategy is straight forward with a great return. You can download and play any of the casino software for free on the Jacks or Better page. Play a couple of hundred hands and see how you go. You will soon get a feel for the game.

Video Poker – Game Types

There has been an explosion of game variations. Basically there are Jacks or Better and Bonus type games and the Wild Card type games like Deuces Wild and Jokers Wild. The Bonus games offer payouts for additional hand types displayed in the payout tables.

For example, Bonus Poker offers additional payouts for Four Aces, Four Two’s, Threes or Fours, all with any other fifth card as a kicker. A Kicker is any card of any value that will not affect the payout. eg. Any other card drawn as long as you have Four Aces, Two’s, Threes or Fours is still a winning bonus hand.

The Wild Card games such as the popular Deuces Wild have the Two’s as the Wild Card. Simply put, If I drew a pair of Seven’s and a Deuce, this would be counted as Three Of A Kind. There are also Jokers Wild Games, Seven’s Wild and other variations.

Increasingly popular are the multiplay games (triple play, power poker etc). These are standard game types that allow you to play multiple hands at once, up to 10 hands in some cases.

Some games also feature a Double Up option. This allows you to draw a single card against the machine on a winning hand to double your winnings. Highest card wins. You can double up as many times as you like, until you lose that is.

It is the different winning hand combinations and variations that create the different strategies you would use and determine from the paytable for any chosen game. It is also these different combinations that determine the probability and payout percentages for any given game.

Video poker and the house advantage

The paytable above is what you will see on a Jacks or Better 9/6 machine. The paytable is not just eye candy to show what could be won, it is in fact the key to determining how you would play any chosen game.

There are other Jacks or Better games offering different payouts and lower percentages than 9/6 (NINE coins for a FULL HOUSE and SIX coins for a FLUSH). We are looking at the 9/6 game as it is the most popular of the Jacks or Better and offers a return of 99.5%. There are 32 ways to hold any dealt hand and it is the probability of winning combinations that give us the return percentage for any given game.

Dont worry about getting your calculator out as we have presented all the payout percentages, strategies and analysis for various games. So, in the above paytable you could play $100 on a 5c machine at a 5 coin bet, giving you 400 hands of play. At 99.5% return you would expect at worst to lose 50c. At best you might pull a Royal Flush. You might now be starting to see the attraction of Video Poker to the enthusiast! Why bet 5 coins? This is a golden rule and it is the only way to reach the maximum payouts of a chosen game. The aim here is for perfect play, no errors, and is the goal of the budding video poker player.

Author: Julian
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