How to play online Video Poker

Video Poker screenshot

Video poker, also known as video pokies and online poker, is one of the most retro and popular casino games you will find on online gambling websites. It’s also popular at land-based casinos, although it’s less common due to the expensive nature of running the machines and the amount of floor space they take up. Video poker games are offered at almost all online casinos today. On this page, we will be showing you the basics of playing video poker. Before we begin, let’s look at the game’s history and origins.

History of Video Poker

The first video poker machine was introduced to the gambling market in 1970. It was created by a company called Dale Electronics. Back then, video poker was called Poker-Matic. From the moment it was released, it was an immediate hit. Within a year or two, all land-based casinos in Vegas had started to offer the game, and more players started playing video poker than almost any other casino game.

In the mid-1970s, Bally took the concept further and created video poker as we know it today. From this day forward, the game was known simply as video poker. Bally patented the game, although they licensed the games to several other game developers and software providers. One of these game developers was called Fortune Coin Company – and they significantly impacted the game’s development.

When the online gambling boom started, video poker soon became an iGaming sensation. Today, there are thousands of people playing video poker online every day. There’s a vast selection of different video poker machines to choose from, and this online poker game can be found at almost all online casinos.

Different Types of Video Poker Games

One of the things we have seen with many other casino table games is that game developers and software providers like to come up with as many variations as possible. The same can be said for video poker, and today, there are tons of different game variations available to play online. Double Bonus Poker, Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, or Double Bonus Poker – there is a considerable degree of choice when playing at online casinos.

In the following sections, we will look at some of the most common variations of video poker machines you will find on offer at online casinos. Please note that some land-based casinos will offer a lot less selection than what you will see displayed here.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Machine

Jacks or Better is undoubtedly the most well-known and popular type of video poker in the world. The game is offered at virtually every online casino in the world. It’s also one of the best-paying video poker variations, as the house edge is so low. Some Jacks or Better video poker machines average a payout as high as 99.95%! That means there is virtually zero house edge!

The game is quite simple to understand. During the gameplay, you will form a win if you manage to get a pair of jacks in your hand. Of course, if you get a better hand than this, that will also class as a win. Many Jacks or Better games allow you to play more than one hand simultaneously. This is known as multi-hand Jacks or Better. 

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is another popular type of video poker you will find when playing video poker online. The game is one of the best, in our opinion, and it’s quite a lot of fun. When you’re playing Deuces Wild, any time you land a “2” in view, that “2” will become wild. It substitutes for all other cards in the game. Let’s look at an example of this.

Imagine you are playing Deuces Wild, with four hearts on the board and one club – the two of clubs. That club would help you complete your flush, awarding you a payout.

However, one main change has been implemented to make the game profitable for online and land-based casinos. It doesn’t pay as well as conventional video poker games if you hit a royal flush. Instead, you will need to form a natural royal flush. That is a royal flush that consists of five cards, all of the same suit.

If you want to play free video poker games online, Deuces Wild is the most common variation of the game you will see, alongside Jacks or Better.

Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is one of the newest forms of video poker to hit the market. It’s also one of the most popular game variations among players, and it’s pretty similar to the original Jacks or Better game. However, there is one crucial difference; Double Bonus Poker features enhanced payouts for 4-of-a-kind wins. This increase can, a lot of the time, be significant – and it’s one of the reasons why so many players choose to play Double Bonus Poker over conventional variations of the game.

However, as you would expect, land-based and online casinos aren’t simply giving you free money! To compensate for this increased payout, land-based and online casinos will put other rules/modifications in place to balance things out. Each game developer does this differently; some say you need Queens or Better to form a win, while others state that you need a two-pair or better to form a win.

If you see Double Bonus Poker offered, read the game’s rules before playing. This will allow you to see exactly what the rules are so you know what to expect.

Tens or Better

Tens or Better, like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, is one of the world’s most common video poker games. If you find video poker offered in land-based casinos, it will undoubtedly be Tens or Better. Similarly, it’s widely available at online casinos, making up an integral part of many online gambling websites’ video poker offerings.

As the name suggests, Tens or Better is about forming a hand that includes a pair of tens or better. However, we should point out that 4-of-a-kind payouts are pretty poor in this game variation. For example, one game variation returns just 25 credits for a 4-of-a-kind hand! Another returns just 20 credits!

Unfortunately, this is just the nature of playing online poker. When things look too good to be true, they usually are; for example, when a particular video poker machine looks advantageous to the player, don’t forget that the casinos and game developers will have put some kind of downside to the player there. This is to be expected, and there’s not anything you can do about this other than look around and make sure that you choose the best games possible! 

Multi-Hand Video Poker Machines

Multi-Hand Video Poker is very common in today’s online gambling world. Even some land-based casinos have started to offer multi-hand poker. It simply means that you can play more than one-handed ones. Microgaming developed the first Multi-Hand Video Poker game, which is still available to play today.

When playing a multi-hand variation of a video poker game, you will be able to play between five and 100 hands simultaneously; please note that doing so increases the game’s volatility quite a lot, and this is because you are playing at a much higher stake. However, all hands are still settled individually.

Here’s how it works; you still draw five cards, and you, however, all of the other hands that you are playing brand-new display cards, and any payouts are then calculated independently.

Ultimate X Video Poker

Ultimate X Video Poker is one of the newer game variations. From what we can tell, it is still quite rare to see it offered at online casinos, and it’s virtually impossible to see it on offer in a land-based casino.

Despite its rareness, many players enjoy Ultimate X Video Poker – thanks to the extra win potential. To begin playing, you do need to place an additional side bet. This is known as the extra bet. Once you have placed this bet, you will activate what is known as the ultimate X feature. Each time you form a winning poker hand, the subsequent hand will come with a multiplier attached. This means you can end up winning a lot more money if you are lucky enough to get to winning hands back to back.

Dream Card Poker

Dream Card Poker is one of the most unusual variations of video poker we have seen. It is similar to Ultimate X Video Poker, in that you need to place an additional side bet – or extra bet – before you can begin playing.

Once you have done so, you will activate what is known as the dream card feature. An additional card is inserted into the deck – the dream card – this card makes its way into your hand at any time; it will automatically act as a joker, helping you win. For this reason, it is a lot more common to see royal flushes and four-of-a-kind hands in this game variation.

Video Poker Rules and Hand Rankings

One of the main reasons why video poker is so popular is because it’s so easy to play. You don’t need to know anything about poker rules to get started – although it can be beneficial to have a good grasp on the different hand rankings. 

The main objective of video poker is to make the best five-card hand possible. Most video poker machines use Texas Hold’em hand rankings. This is why we said it could be beneficial to know how these hand rankings work.

The lowest possible hand is known as a high card. This means you are playing a high card – in other words; you don’t have a hand better than a simple high card. Many video poker games today don’t even count a high card as a win. The next hand is one pair. This means you have one pair of cards in your hand—for example, a pair of sixes.

The next best hand is known as two pairs. This is when you have two sets of pairs in your hand—for example, one pair of sixes and one pair of sevens. The next hand is a 3-of-a-kind. This means that you have three cards of the same value in your hand. For example, three sixes.

Next up is a straight; a straight means you have five cards in consecutive order, although they cannot be of the same suit. For example, a straight could look like three, four, five, six, and seven. Next, we have the flush. The flush is made by forming a hand where all the cards are in the same suit. For example, you might have five cards that are all diamonds.

Next up, we have a full house. A full house is where you have a single pair in your hand and a 3-of-a-kind. For example, a full house could include a pair of sixes and three sevens.

The next hand is a four-of-a-kind. This hand is self-explanatory, and it is formed when you have four of the same card value in your hand – for example, four sevens. Next is the straight flush; this is formed when you have a straight, where all the cards are of the same suit—for example, three, four, five, six, seven, all diamonds.

The best possible hand-in video poker is the Royal flush. This is the crème de la crème of poker, and it is formed when you have a suited 10, Jack, Queen, King, and ace. Most video poker games pay incredibly well when you manage to form a Royal flush – although it is quite a rare occurrence.

How to Play Video Poker at Online Casinos

  • As mentioned earlier, video poker is straightforward to play. Firstly, you must select which video poker variation you want to play. Feel free to check out some of the names mentioned on this page, or, if you are feeling creative, browse the range available at an online casino and choose one that takes your fancy. Don’t forget to read through the game’s rules before playing, so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into.
  • Once you have chosen the video poker variation you want to play, you need to select how much you’d like to bet. A word of caution; you need to pay close attention to the total cost of the bet, not just the number of credits you’re playing. This is because some game manufacturers make things quite confusing in terms of credits and the total bet.
  • Once you have selected your desired bet size, you can begin playing by pressing the play – also seen as bet now – button. Once your five cards have been dealt, you can choose which cards you would like to hold. Thankfully, most video poker games today suggest the best cards for you to hold. This is based on the best strategy, which is the computer deciding for you.
  • Once you have confirmed which cards you would like to hold, wait for your new cars to be dealt with and see if you win. That is all there is to it. Once the hand is completed, any winnings will be credited to your online casino account.
  • You may also see an option called double up; this is a gamble feature that gives you the chance to try and double your winnings. Usually, you will simply be tasked with picking the color of a face-down playing card. If you guess correctly, you double your win naturally; if you guess incorrectly, you will lose any related winnings.

How to Play Video Poker: Optimal Strategies

While video poker is very straightforward to play, there are some strategies in terms of which cards hold and which you should throw away. Below, we will look at a few of the most popular game variations and discuss some key strategies to keep in mind.

Double Double Bonus Video Poker Strategy

When playing Double Bonus Poker, there are a few rules and strategies to keep in mind. For example, if you have aces full, you should always keep the aces and draw for potential quads. 

This may sound counterintuitive, but it is the best move to make mathematically. If you form a straight flush, you should always hold it instead of going for a Royal flush. However, you should always go for a Royal flush rather than standing on a standard flush.

You should also keep a two-pair rather than a single pair of aces. Please note that the Double Bonus Video Poker strategy differs from the Double Double Bonus Poker strategy. Don’t confuse the two as there are some crucial differences between them.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

When you are playing Jacks or Better video poker, your main objective is to win as much as possible and only take more risks when there is significant win potential. If you have a four to a straight or a flush, you should always hold all four cards and draw to it. If you have three to a Royal flush, you should hold the three cards and draw to it. Hold the pair and draw another three cards if you are dealt any pair.

If you have any three cards to a straight flush, you should hold these three cards and draw two more. If you do not have any of the hand mentioned above combinations, you should hold any card jack or higher. If you do not hold any of the above – including a jack-high – you should draw five brand-new cards.

Deuces Wild Video Poker Strategy

Deuces Wild has many strategic moves to memorize – although, if you’re playing online, you can just keep the basic strategy chart up. If you are dealt four deuces, you should hold all cards; it is physically impossible to improve this hand, although some players make a mistake and move further away.

If you are dealt three deuces, you should only hold all of the cards if you have a Royal flush or 5-of-a-kind. If you are dealt two deuces, you should keep any four of a kind or better. You should also hold any four-card to a Royal flush – otherwise, you should only hold the deuces.

If you are dealt just one deuce, you should keep all paying hands unless you have three or four cards to a straight flush or a Royal flush. If you have no deuces in your hand, you should keep all paying hands and four to a straight or flush. You should always hold three cards to a Royal flush, regardless of whether a deuce is included or not.

You should hold onto any pair if you do not have any of the above rankings. If you have two pairs, you should only hold the second pair if there is a full house that can pay the same as a four-of-a-kind. If you are not dealt cards that form at least a pair, you should hold onto any high cards – tens or better – provided they are the same suit. You should draw five brand-new cards if you do not hold those cards.

Joker’s Wild Video Poker Strategy

Joker’s Wild has one of the most straightforward strategies to follow. You simply need to follow the strategy we outlined in the Jacks or Better section. There are just two changes; you should always keep all 3-of-a-kind and higher cards, especially if a joker is involved. You should also keep all four cards to a big paying hand, or three cards if you hold a joker. As you can see, the Joker is a potent card in Joker’s Wild.


What’s the difference between playing online and offline?

In terms of the game itself, there are relatively few differences. When you play video poker at land-based casinos, however, you will be immersed in the live gaming experience when you play video poker at land-based casinos. For example, you will probably have drinks brought to you – and you’ll be playing alongside other players, celebrating each other’s wins, and mourning the losses. It’s got more of a community feel to it, which is why many players prefer heading to a land-based casino to play.

However, one significant benefit when you play video poker online; you will get to choose from a LOT more variations. Due to limited floor space, land-based casinos typically only offer the most profitable video poker. This means a lot of the funner, more unique game variations are not offered. Thankfully, when you play online, this simply isn’t the case. You will be able to enjoy a wide variety of different titles!

What’s the best video poker machine to play, payout-wise?

This depends on the specific machine you’re playing, the environment, and your personal preferences. For example, in certain land-based casinos, there are video poker variations where it’s possible to reach nearly a 100% payout rate. However, this is only possible with particular gameplay and discipline. It’s a lot harder to do this online.

Generally speaking, you should not play video poker machines with a payout of less than 99%. Ideally, aim for above 99% when you play video poker. 

Should I bet at max credits?

Yes! Playing online video poker, you should always bet at maximum credits. You see, while rare, the payout rates for a royal flush are always much higher when you’re betting at max credits. If you don’t bet max credits, the payout percentage will be MUCH lower – so it’s always a good idea, especially if you plan to play for lengthy periods.

How To Main Index: