Poker has long been one of the most widespread card games in the world, and in 1970 a company named Dale Electronics invented the first video poker machine, which was the predecessor of modern-day video poker games.

Video poker games combine the worlds of slots and card games, allowing you to play simple poker variations against the computer, with fixed payouts offered for different types of poker hands.

Unlike many other gambling games you will find in casinos, video poker is a game of both luck and skill, as a good understanding of video poker strategy can help you decrease the house edge and win more often.

In this video poker guide, we will teach you how to play video poker, how to pick the right video poker machine, and what video poker strategies you should apply for optimal results.

What is Video Poker?

Video poker is a casino game blending poker strategy with slot machine elements. Players aim to create winning poker hands from dealt cards, with payouts based on the hand’s strength. Unlike traditional poker, video poker is played against a computer and doesn’t involve opponents. It’s a popular choice in both online and land-based casinos.

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What Is the House Edge in Video Poker?

Unlike poker games like Texas Hold’em or Pot-Limit Omaha, in which players play among themselves, video poker games are played against the computer and come with fixed odds and payouts for all possible hand combinations.

One important thing to note is that video poker is a name shared by a whole group of games, as there are many different variants of video poker, such as Jacks or Better, Aces and Faces, Deuces Wild, and many others.

Each video poker variant comes with a different set of rules, a different payout, and a different video poker house edge.

Compared to most other gambling games, video poker machines come with a very low house edge, often going well under 1%, assuming you play the best possible strategy.

For example, a classic game of Jacks or Better comes with a house edge of just 0.46% and a return rate (RTP) of 99.54%, which is even more generous than games like baccarat or blackjack.

In some cases, video poker machines like Deuces Wild and Double Bonus offer a positive return rate, giving back more than 100% of all bets made to players who play optimal strategy.

On the other hand, depending on the paytable of each particular game, video poker can also have a house edge of over 5%, and playing a sub-optimal video poker strategy can lead to the house edge increasing even further.

While there is no definitive answer to the question of house edge in video poker, you should be able to find games with a house edge under 1% in most live and online casinos out there.

Which Video Poker Game Has the Highest RTP?

Each variation of video poker comes with its own house edge and return-to-player (RTP) percentages. These are the top seven video poker games with the lowest house edge and highest RTP attainable.

Game RTP
_Loose Deuces _up to 101.6%
Jacks or Better up to 100.8%
Deuces Wild up to 100.76%
All American Poker up to 100.72%
Joker Poker up to 100.65%
_Double Bonus Poker up to 100.17%
Double Joker Poker 99.97%

Basic Rules of Video Poker

While there are many video poker variants you can pick from, they all mimic the classic game of Five Card Draw in one way or the other, and all share the same gameplay style and similar rules.

Before you can start playing video poker, you should learn some basic rules and mechanics, which are shared by the vast majority of all video poker games.

Goal of the Game

The main goal of video poker is to make a five-card poker hand of a certain value. The stronger your hand, according to the premade poker hand values, the higher the payout will be.

Video poker is played according to draw poker rules, which means you are dealt five cards and given the option to replace these cards with new cards only one time.

You may choose to keep any of the initial five cards or throw them away and receive new cards in their stead a single time.

After the draw, you will be left with five cards, and these cards will form a poker hand. If the hand is strong enough, you will get paid.

Place Your Bets

When learning how to play video poker, you must first know how to size up your wagers and initiate the deal.

Before any cards are dealt, the game will ask you to choose your coin value and the number of coins you wish to bet per hand.

Coin values can go from as low as $0.01 to as high as $10 or more, while most video poker games will allow you to bet between 1 and 5 coins per hand.

Once you have selected your coin bet, simply push the draw button to get the first hand started. If you have selected a $0.50 coin, for example, and 5 coins per hand, you will be charged $2.50 from your balance to deal the first five cards.

A very important thing to remember is that most video poker games offer an extra jackpot for royal flushes if you choose to bet a maximum of 5 coins per hand, which means you should always try to bet at least 5 coins of the lowest denomination.

Initial Draw

Once you have chosen your bet size and pushed draw, you will be dealt five cards, all face-up, and these cards will be your initial hand.

If the five cards already contain a hand that is good enough for a payout, the game will suggest that you keep these cards and only discard others.

For instance, if you are dealt three sevens, a nine, and a king, your video poker game will recommend you throw away the nine and the king while leaving the three sevens in hand.

You are, of course, allowed to discard any cards you choose to, but breaking up made hands will usually cost you more than any potential reward that might come from it.

Second Draw

Once you have decided which cards you wish to throw away, push the draw button again, and the game will deal you new cards instead.

Now that you have received new cards, you are out of draws and out of options. The game will compare your hand to the paytable and pay you accordingly.

Remember that you only have one draw at your disposal, and make sure to discard the cards that don’t fit the hand you were initially dealt.

The Paytable

The paytable is your most important tool in video poker. Understanding the paytable in full is essential to playing video poker well, as all strategy is based on the payouts that are offered for different poker hands.

Keep in mind that each video poker game comes with a different paytable, and games like Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild may have different paytables in different locations.

In order to diminish the house edge and maximize your winnings, you will want to play video poker machines that offer the maximum possible payouts for each poker hand.

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Video Poker Hand Rankings

Poker hand rankings have long been standardized for games like Texas Hold’em Poker, but they can differ from one game to the next when it comes to video poker.

With some video poker games, including jokers and other wild cards, poker hand rankings can change, with hands like flushes and full houses inverted and hands like five of a kind becoming possible.

Still, the following Jacks or Better video poker hand rankings are the most standard and common, and they are applied in most video poker variants:

  • Royal Flush: T, J, Q, K, and A of the same suit
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank
  • Full House: Three of a kind + one pair
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of various suits
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank + two unpaired cards
  • Two Pair: Two pairs of cards of the same ranks + one unpaired card
  • One Pair: Two cards of the same rank + three unpaired cards
  • High Card: Five unpaired and disjointed cards of various suits

Each video poker game comes with a different paytable, but it is worth noting that only hands that contain a pair of Jacks or better offer a payout in Jacks or Better, while some other video poker variants require you to hold at least two pairs to get your money back.

Video Poker Variations — Pick the Best Video Poker Game

The term video poker encompasses many different gambling games, all of which are derived from the game of Five Card Draw poker and all of which are virtual games.

Video poker can be played in live casinos on video poker machines or online casinos by picking one of the available video poker titles.

In both cases, you will need to choose which video poker game to play, and your choice could make all the difference in the long run.

So, let’s take a look at some of the most popular video poker variations and try to find the best video poker game for you to play.

  • Jacks or Better: Jacks or Better is the world’s most popular video poker game. The game does not include any wild cards and offers simple gameplay, with a pair of Jacks being the minimum payout hand. Jacks or Better features an RTP rate of up to 100.8% (9/7 paytable).
  • Deuces Wild: The most popular video poker variation with wild cards, Deuces Wild makes every Deuce in the deck a wild card, allowing for hand combos like five-of-a-kind and wild card royal flush. Deuces Wild can feature an RTP of up to 100.76%.
  • All American Poker: With slightly increased payouts for hands like straights and flushes and a lower payout for full houses, All American Poker is similar to Jacks or Better, but with higher overall returns. All American Poker features an RTP of up to 100.72%.
  • Double Joker Poker: With two jokes in the deck, Double Joker Poker can feature an RTP of 99.97%, making it basically a break-even game. The game is super fun to play and offers wins for all two-pair hands or better.
  • Joker Poker: With just a single joker in the deck but payouts starting at a pair of Kings, Joker Poker can be a positive yield game, with RTP reaching 100.65%. However, make sure you are playing on a machine that pays for a pair of Kings and does not require two pairs for a payout.
  • Double Bonus Poker: Double Bonus Poker is a fairly simple video poker game with no wild cards but extra payouts for certain four-of-a-kind hands. Play this game and reach an RTP of up to 100.17% when played with optimal payouts.
  • Loose Deuces: One of the best video poker games in the world, but one that’s rarely found anymore, is Loose Deuces. Win up to 500 coins for four Deuces, get paid for any three of a kind, and enjoy a game with plenty of wild cards and payouts of up to 101.6%.

Video Poker Strategy: Can Video Poker Be Beat?

Now that you know how to play video poker and what different variations are available, it is time to consider video poker strategy.

Ever since the first video poker machines were invented, people have been wondering if video poker is a game that can be beaten.

The truth is that, in most cases, video poker cannot be beaten, and the house will retain a mathematical edge over you in the long run.

However, by playing the best possible video poker strategy, you will be able to minimize the video poker house edge and, in some rare cases, even create a positive expected value for yourself.

The correct strategy depends on many things but is based on the probabilities of making different hands and the value of those hands according to the game’s paytable.

The more generous the game’s paytable, the more likely you are to come close to breaking even in the game, as long as you know what to keep and what to throw away.

Learn Optimal Strategy

Video poker is based solely on complete information, which means you will know exactly what cards are left in the deck at every moment and what your likelihood is of making each hand.

Based on these probabilities, there is always only one perfect solution to playing your initial five cards in a hand of video poker, and these can be learned by heart.

Once you have found the right video poker machine for yourself, you will need to find the strategy sheet for that exact variant and learn it to perfection.

Remember that once you have mastered the video poker strategy, there will be no reason to deviate from it or develop any new plays. Simply repeat the steps, and you will come out with the best results possible.

Choose the Right Video Poker Machine

Whether you are playing in a live or an online casino, you will want to find the video poker game with the highest returns to play.

Most casinos offer many different video poker versions, but many of them have a much higher house edge than others, making this the most important choice you can make.

Before you start playing any video poker game, check out its paytable, determine the exact mathematical edge the house has, and find the right strategy charts for the variant.

You will always want to play a video poker game that has an RTP of over 99.5%, as anything else is not worth your time and investment.

Make Use of Promotions

With video poker games offering such a high return rate, many players can reach the break-even mark or even create a slightly profitable situation by using various promotional offers.

Whether we are talking about the accumulation of comp points in live casino venues or earning cashback and bonuses via online casino rewards programs, these are all opportunities to further decrease the casino edge and increase your winnings.

If you plan on playing video poker more than once in a while, you should make sure to stay alert for any and all promotions going on and figure out the best way to capitalize on them by playing your favorite video poker game.

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Is Video Poker the Right Game for Me?

Video poker is a game that’s been somewhat forgotten by a big part of the gambling community in recent years, as the emergence of modern-day video slots has overshadowed this classic game.

And yet, video poker remains one of the most rewarding casino games, with incredibly high RTP, low house edge, and an opportunity to make your own destiny.

The strategic element in video poker is quite extensive, making it the perfect game for players who like to be in charge of what’s happening and try to outsmart the casino.

The one drawback of video poker is that it can become mundane at times, as the lack of flashy graphics and exciting gameplay features can make gameplay repetitive and uneventful.

Regardless, we highly recommend trying to learn video poker and play at least a few sessions of the game when you get a chance to experience the game and make up your own mind if video poker is the right game for you.

Playing Video Poker at US Online Casinos

While video poker, in its many variations, might be one of the oldest casino games, it has kept a lot of its charm over the decades and continues attracting players even today.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that almost all US online casinos offer video poker. Some sites are better than others in terms of variety, but pretty much every single casino will offer at least a few of the most popular variations.

At some sites, you will even find video poker games with progressive jackpots, adding a bit of excitement to the mix.

These games may not be as fun to play as modern-day slots, but they do have a fair few advantages, such as a low house edge and the ability to earn reward points quickly, allowing you to progress through different loyalty tiers.

The Best Video Poker US Online Casinos

BetMGM BetRivers Borgata DraftKings PokerStars
Jacks or Better ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Deuces Wild ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Joker Poker ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Bonus Poker ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Double Double Bonus Poker ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Regal Poker ✔️
Jester Poker ✔️
Tens or Better ✔️
All American ✔️
Aces and Faces ✔️

Using Casino Bonuses to Play Video Poker

Video poker is one of the most player-friendly games out there in terms of RTP. This is especially true for certain variations that often come close to a 100% return.

Naturally, this makes video poker a perfect candidate for playing through bonuses and beating wagering. However, because of the high RTP percentage, many casinos don’t allow players to use bonuses at video poker games, and those that do have terms in place that only a fraction of each bet is counted towards wagering.

If you want to wager a bonus playing video poker, it will usually take much longer than doing the same thing on slots. Additionally, since video poker games do include a certain degree of skill, you’ll need to learn the proper strategy for whatever variation you go with. Otherwise, you could end up with a lower RTP than most slots and table games, which completely defeats the original purpose.

Casino Bonus Video Poker Allowed? Live Games? Wagering Percentage
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BetMGM Casino Yes N/A 20%
Borgata Casino Yes N/A 20%
DraftKings Casino Yes N/A 100%
BetRivers Casino Yes N/A 100%

Video Poker at Sweepstakes Online Casinos

Although it enjoys a fair bit of popularity, video poker isn’t readily available at most sweepstakes casinos. If this is your game of choice, your options will be quite limited.

At this time, Stake.us Social Casino is the only sweepstakes site offering a limited selection of video poker options, so we recommend checking them out.

Video Poker FAQ

What is the house edge in video poker?

The house edge in video poker can vary quite a bit from one version to another. The best video poker games offer a house edge of less than 0.5%, but you will need to learn how to play the optimal video poker strategy to achieve such a low house edge.

What is the best video poker game?

There are many video poker variations out there, and they all have their positive and negative sides. The best video poker machines are the ones with the lowest house edge, such as Loose Deuces, All American Poker, Deuces Wild, and Double Bonus Poker when they feature optimal paytables.

What is the best strategy for video poker?

Each video poker game requires a different strategy. You will need to learn which cards to hold and which to draw in each game separately and memorize each possible scenario if you want to get the best possible results.

Are there wild cards in video poker?

Yes! Some video poker games include wild cards, such as Deuces Wild or Joker Poker. Other video poker variants like Jacks or Better and Double Bonus Poker do not have any wild cards in play.

Is video poker a game of skill or luck?

Video poker is a gambling game that relies heavily on luck. However, by playing in a skillful way, you can give yourself the best possible odds and reduce the long-term house edge, allowing yourself to lose less and have a higher chance of winning in any individual session.

What is the best hand in video poker?

The best hand in most video poker variations is a royal flush. Video poker variants that include wild cards will also make it possible to hold five of a kind, which may be more valuable than a royal flush, as well as a royal flush with a wild card, which is usually less valuable.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the Virginia Council on Problem Gambling (VACPG) helpline at 1-888-532-3500