Video poker is a casino game based on five-card draw poker that offers a fast-paced experience whereby rounds can be completed in a matter of a few seconds. Here is a straightforward guide on how to play Video poker, how you win at the game and the different variants available.
Video poker rules
The objective of Video poker is to get the best possible hand from the five cards you are dealt. You will be dealt an initial hand of five cards and then asked which (if any) you want to hold. Any cards you do not hold will then be replaced and the outcome of the round determined.
Video poker cards and hands
Cards are ranked from highest to lowest as follows; Ace, King, Queen, Jack, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two. While Ace is high, it can serve as high or low when at the start or end of a Straight or Straight Flush, meaning the ranks involved can be comprised of ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace or Ace, two, three, four, five.
The most popular variation of Video poker is known as Jacks or Better, which has the following usual list of hands that reward payouts:
- Royal Flush: The Ace, King, Queen, Jack and ten of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: Five cards in rank order of the same suit, for instance the four, five, six, seven and eight of diamonds.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, for instance the three of hearts, three of diamonds, three of spades and three of clubs.
- Full House: Three cards of one rank and a pair of another, for instance the five of clubs, five of diamonds, five of hearts, Jack of clubs and Jack of spades.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit, for instance the three, six, eight, Jack and King of diamonds.
- Straight: Five cards in rank order of mixed suits, for instance the six of clubs, seven of spades, eight of spades, nine of diamonds and ten of hearts.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank, for instance the Queen of hearts, Queen of clubs and Queen of spades.
- Two Pair: Two pairs of two different ranks, for instance the two of spades and two of clubs and the King of hearts and King of diamonds.
- Jacks or Better: A pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces.
Video poker pay table
An important component of Video poker is what is known as the pay table. This lists the rewards you will receive based on the hand you get and how much you bet. On Video poker machines at casinos, this will often be displayed on screen as you are playing. When playing a Video poker game either at a casino or online, it is important to check the pay table before you begin.
At the start of the game, you will be asked to decide the value of a credit that you want to play with (for instance €0.05, €0.10, €0.25, €0.50, €1, €2 or €5). You will then be asked how many credits you want to play with in each round from one to five.
This means that if your credit value is €0.50 and you are betting three credits each round, then you are betting €1.50 per round. If you select the €5 credit value and you are betting the maximum five credits each round, then you are betting €25 per round.
Here is a typical pay table for a Jacks or Better Video poker game. The values listed are the number of credits you will receive if you get the specified hand having bet the listed number of credits (note these values may differ from game to game):
Video poker pay table example
As you can see in the table above, for the majority of hands the number of credits you win proportionally increases in relation to the number of credits you bet. The exception is if you get a Royal Flush having bet the maximum five credits, for which a bonus or ‘jackpot’ payout will normally be rewarded.
Video poker hand examples
Based on the pay table above, here are examples of how two Video poker rounds can play out:
- The player has a credit value of €1 and is betting three credits per round for an overall bet of €3.
- The player is initially dealt the six of hearts, King of clubs, six of clubs, six of diamonds and four of hearts. They hold the three six cards.
- The two unheld cards are replaced with the eight of hearts and eight of diamonds.
- By virtue of having three cards of one rank and a pair of another, the player has achieved a Full House and wins €27 (27 €1 credits) as according to the pay table.
- The player has a credit value of €2 and is betting five credits per round for an overall bet of €10.
- The player is initially dealt the three of spades, six of spades, four of spades, five of spades and four of diamonds. They hold all but the four of diamonds.
- The four of diamonds is replaced with the two of spades.
- By virtue of having five cards in rank order of the same suit, the player has achieved a Straight Flush and wins €500 (250 €2 credits) as according to the pay table.
Video poker pay table variants
Jacks or Better pay tables are classified according to the number of credits won per credit bet for a Full House and the number of credits won per credit bet for a Flush. For instance, the example pay table outlined above is referred to as a 9/6 pay table, as it rewards nine credits per credit bet for a Full House and six credits per credit bet for a Flush.
Common variants of Jacks or Better pay tables are 10/6, 9/7, 9/5, 8/6, 8/5, 7/5 and 6/5. All of these will offer marginally different house edges and expected returns for the player, generally increasing the former and reducing the latter as the two numbers get lower.
In certain Video poker variants, the payouts for numerous winning hands may also differ, meaning the house edges will also vary.
Video poker variants
Beyond Jacks or Better there are several common variants of Video poker that feature slightly different rules:
Tens or Better
This version uses a 6/5 Jacks or Better pay table, with the difference that the player also receives a payout if their hand contains a minimum of a pair of tens.
This is a version of Jacks or Better with different payouts for a Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind and Two Pair, changing from nine, six, four, three and two credits won per credit bet to eight, eight, eight, three and one respectively.
This is a version where after a specified number of Flushes have been won (either in one game or across multiple at a Video poker machine), the payout for the next Flush won on the maximum five credits bet is increased from the usual 30 credits to 100 or 125.
This version rewards different payouts for a Four of a Kind depending on the rank of card it is achieved with.
Traditionally, this will offer the regular Four of a Kind payout (often 25 credits per credit bet) if it is achieved with fives to Kings, a slightly higher payout (often 40 credits per credit bet) if it is achieved with twos to fours and a considerably higher payout (often 80 credits per credit bet) if it is achieved with four Aces.
Some Video poker games offer Double Bonus Poker, whereby these values are doubled to 50, 80 and 160 credits per credit bet respectively.
Certain Video poker games offer Double Double Bonus Poker, which rewards further payouts if a winning Four of a Kind hand contains Four Aces with a two, three or four (often 400 credits per credit bet) and four twos, threes or fours with an Ace, two, three or four (often 160 credits per credit bet).
Another version is Triple Double Bonus Poker, which often rewards another ‘jackpot’ of 4,000 credits for four Aces with a two, three or four achieved on a five credit bet, and raises the payout for four twos, threes or fours with an Ace, two, three or four to 400 credits per credit bet.
This is a version with a Joker in play, which can be used to represent any rank. As a result, this offers two more winning hands:
- Five of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank plus a Joker.
- Joker Royal Flush: A Royal Flush with one of the cards substituted for a Joker.
In Joker’s Wild, the minimum winning hand is often changed from Jacks or Better to Kings or Better.
This is a version in which twos can be used to represent any rank. As a result, this offers three more winning hands:
- Four Deuces: A hand containing four twos, often paid at 200 credits per credit bet.
- Wild Royal Flush: A Royal Flush with one of the cards substituted for a two of the same suit, often paid at 25 credits per credit bet.
- Five of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank plus a two, often paid at 15 credits per credit bet.
In Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better and Two Pair often do not reward a payout and the minimum winning hand is Three of a Kind.
Video poker odds and strategy
If you want to learn more about the odds and probabilities involved in Video poker and therefore how strategy can be applied to it, read our guide to Video poker odds and strategy.