How to Play Video Poker

Video Poker is one of the most popular casino games in the world, and stands behind only blackjack, craps, roulette, and slots in player volume. This article is going to teach you how to play various forms of video poker, and will also educate you on how to spot profitable games. Unlike other casino games, video poker can actually be beaten in the right circumstances without any cheating or other nonsense. Read on to learn more about how to play video poker.

Objective of Video Poker

In video poker you are dealt five random cards. You get to choose which cards you'd like to keep, and which you'd like to discard in exchange for new cards. After you draw your new cards, your hand might receive a payout depending on how good it is and what video poker game you're playing. Then, you repeat the process as many times as you'd like.

Video Poker Structure

Video poker is much different from normal poker because you're playing against a machine, not against other players. You insert money into the machine and then choose how much you'd like to bet per hand. Also, you can choose how many coins you'll play per hand. So, if you choose $1 per hand, and five coins per hand, you're actually betting $5 per hand.

At the end of each hand your final five card poker hand is compared to the machine's pay table. If your hand qualifies for a payout, you will receive your winnings. Some machines then give you an option to double your money, but we'll discuss that later. Here is a screen shot of an average Jacks or Better game at Bovada Casino:

Video Poker Rules

After you insert your money and choose how much you want to bet per hand, you can then click Deal to start a hand. You'll receive five face-up cards. Then, you can choose which cards you'd like to hold and which cards you'd like to discard for new ones. After you choose which cards you'd like to hold, click Draw to receive your new ones. You'll then have your final five card poker hand.


To determine how much you've won (if anything), compare your final hand to the pay table on the machine. A standard pay table for Jacks or Better (the most common video poker game) looks like this:

Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a Kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two Pair 2 4 6 8 10
Pair (Jacks or Better) 1 2 3 4 5

To determine how much you've won, take your dollars bet per hand and multiply it by the credits listed in the table. For example, if you were playing a $1 machine for five credits per hand and made a Full House, you'd receive $45.

Make sure to note that Royal Flush hands pay out much more for five coin bets than any other bet. You'd expect it to pay out 1,250 credits, but the casino bumps it up to 4,000 credits to encourage players to bet five coins per hand. Also, note that only pairs of Jacks or higher pay out - a pair of Nines is worthless.

Bonus Rounds

Some video poker games like Double Bonus offer players the chance to double their prize after a winning hand. If you elect to try it out, the machine will deal out one face up card and four face down cards. You pick one of the face down cards, and if it is higher than the original face up card you double your money and have the option of taking it or doubling it again. If the card is lower than the original face up card then you lose your money.

Video Poker Strategy

Video Poker is one of the few casino games (unlike Roulette) where the payout percentage changes drastically based on the player's decisions. Strategy is very important, and a few websites offer tutorials and charts with video poker strategy. We'll leave that to them, because it really is a topic of its own.

Evaluating Pay Tables

Another crucial skill for a video poker player is the ability to evaluate pay tables on the fly. The video poker machines list the pay tables they're using, so you can take that information to calculate the maximum payout percentages. Full pay games are always the best, and pay near or above 100% if you're using perfect strategy. Here's a list of some pay tables for full pay games:

Game Full Pay Return Table Low Pay Return Tables
Jacks or Better 9/6 9/5, 8/6, 8/5, 7/5, 6/5
Deuces Wild 15/9/5 16/10/4, 15/9/4
Double Bonus 10/7 9/7, 9/6, 10/6
Joker Poker 20/7 18/7, 16/7
Double Double Bonus 10/6 9/6, 10/5, 8/6, 8/5

Play Video Poker Online

If you like what you are hearing, and would like to practice video poker online for free, check out the flash game below. This video poker game was provided by, who happens to be the best online casino out there.

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