Video Poker – Game Variants

Video Poker, unlike live poker variants, is not played against real opponents but against ‘the house’ (with fixed odds layed by the casino) on machines similar to that of slots. The rules of video poker are based on that of five card draw, where players receive five cards and are allowed to redraw at least once.

To play video poker, the player must insert some money into the machine and then select the amount to bet and press or select ‘deal’. The player will receive five digital cards and will have the opportunity to redraw one or more of them to improve the strength of his or her poker hand.

To get payed out and win in video poker, your five card combination must match the minimum hand requirements given by machine (and displayed on it’s pay table). In most common forms of video poker called ‘Jacks or Better‘ the pay out starts with a pair of jacks or better and gets higher the more you improve the strength of your hand. To receive the highest payout possible, you need to make a royal flush (the highest 5 card combination in poker).

Video poker machines first saw the light of day back in the seventies when the first pc’s were invented and it finally became economically viable to produce computers with screens able to display all the cards and options needed for video poker (although those machines are very basic compared to the ones used today).

When in 1979 SIRCOMA (Si Redd’s Coin Machines later known as International Game Technology) introduced the draw poker slot machine, video poker saw a massive boom in the casino’s of the 1980’s. People seemed to be a lot less intimidated to sit behind a video poker slot machine than joining a real live poker table.

Nowadays, video poker slot machines can be found in many casino’s across the world and offer hundreds of different versions. Some of the most popular poker slot machines are:

  • All American: It’s very similar to the Jacks or Better game, but has an increased payout for flushes, straights and straight flushes and a reduced payout for full houses and two pairs.
  • Deuces Wild: In this version of video poker all the two’s are wild and can represent any card out of the deck (which hasn’t been dealt yet). This makes it much easier to make a high five card combination (four of a kinds appear on average once every 15 hands) and therefore reduces the payouts when compared with Jacks or Better.
  • Progressive Jackpot: Usually multiple progressive jackpot machines are linked with each other and generate money for the jackpot from every single hand played by anyone (on any of the linked machines). Over time this can create huge jackpots that lure many players to the machines in hopes of hitting the big one. Sometimes a jackpot can become high enough that in the long run it becomes profitable to play (although the variance would be very big).

If you were looking to play some video poker on PokerStars, you’re going to be out of luck, as it’s an online card room and not a casino. There are however some video poker apps you can play on your phone or iDevice. A quick google search for video poker app should do the trick.

Here’s an example of what video poker looks like:

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