Video poker is one of the most popular casino games around. It offers simple rules, one of the slimmest house edges, and the potential to walk away with a big win in your pocket at the end of playing. Video poker is one of the oldest video games within casinos and has built up an almost legendary status. For these reasons, it continues to attract players from all over the world.
A game with this much potential can draw in players from around the world quite easily, but if you have never played video poker, or even standard poker, before, then it can be quite intimidating to start. How can you take your first steps into the world of video poker? There is no need to worry – we have put together a comprehensive guide of the basics to playing it.
The rules for video poker are relatively easy. It is actually quite similar to Yahtzee in some ways, but with a significant amount of extra variety. When you first begin to play, your first step will be to choose your wager. Different games have different wager ranges, so depending on the game you choose to play, you may be placing high wagers or low wagers. Almost every video poker game uses a one to five coins wagering system, but some do have different values for the coins. This is how they allow for different wager ranges without having to undertake wholesale changes to the pay tables within the game. Once you have chosen your wager, you will be dealt your first hand.
Your first hand will be dealt randomly from a deck of 52 cards. Despite video poker being a computer program, it still uses an algorithm to ensure that the deck is both shuffled fairly and dealt out fairly. It actually offers a fairer shuffle than in real life due to the algorithm carrying out the shuffle without human error. Your first hand will contain five cards.
Once you have received your cards, you can then choose which ones you would like to keep and which ones you would like to discard. You can keep as many as you like or discard as many as you like. Once you have chosen which cards you would like to keep or discard, you will be dealt out more cards from the deck to make sure that you have a hand of five cards. If you choose to discard no cards, then you will be dealt no additional cards. The cards are dealt from whatever is left in the deck – just because it is a computer dealing does not mean that the cards will just be random cards. They still come from the genuine cards that are remaining.
The aim is to create the best possible poker hand. Depending on the pay table, you will then either be paid out depending on what your hand is, or you will not be paid at all if your hand is sufficiently bad.
Every pay table for every video poker game is different. They offer different levels of payouts for each hand, and some put the hands in a slightly different order. Here is a general table of where the hands rank in video poker, from best to worst. Bear in mind that some games may put extra value on four aces than a standard four of a kind, and some games may put more value on four deuces. It does all depend on the game you are playing as to whether there will be additional caveats added to the pay table.
· Royal flush – This is when you have managed to get an Ace, Queen, King, Jack and Ten all of the same suit.
· Straight flush – This is any five cards in sequence that are all of the same suit.
· Four of a kind – This is, as the name suggests, four cards that are the same – for example, four Jacks.
· Full house – This is when you manage to get three of a kind and a pair to make up your hand – so three Jacks and two Queens would be a full house.
· Flush – This is when you manage to get five cards from the same suit, but they are not in sequence.
· Straight – This is when you get five cards in sequence but not from the same suit.
· Three of a kind – This is when you manage to get three cards that are the same – for example, three Aces.
· Two pair – This is when you get two pairs – so two Jacks and two Queens would make up two pair.
· Pair – This is when you get two cards that are the same. Two Kings would make up a pair.
· High card – This is when the only hand you can make is having as high a value card as possible.
Most games will pay out a certain amount for any hand that is two pair or better. However, this is usually equal to the wager, so it does not return a win. The profitable payouts usually start for a straight and sometimes three of a kind. This is why you should always check the pay tables before you begin playing.
Additionally, most pay tables will offer an increased maximum win when playing on the maximum wager – so a royal flush on a five-coin game will pay out significantly more than a royal flush on a four-coin game. We will cover this in more detail in the next section.
The first simple strategy is to play at five coins whenever your bankroll allows it – this is because it offers higher rewards. For example, here is a sample pay table for a royal flush:
· 1 coin – 250 coins
· 2 coins – 500 coins
· 3 coins – 750 coins
· 4 coins – 1,000 coins
· 5 coins – 4,000 coins
See how the total payout jumps by such a huge amount when the maximum wager is placed. From four to five coins is a 25% increase in wager, but the maximum payout jumps by 300%. Because the increase in payout is so much larger than the increase in wager, it ensures that the value is always with wagering at the five coins level. This makes five coins the most sensible wager amount, and it should be undertaken whenever possible.
The next strategy you should carry out is to look for the games that have the best pay tables for your own personal play style. If you are a risk taker, then playing on a game that only starts paying out for straights or better is likely to offer higher overall payouts. If you are the kind of player who likes to play it safe, then find a game that starts paying out on Jacks or better. This means that you will get a return on your wager if you have a Jack or better as your high card. These games will have a much lower maximum win, but will make it much easier for you to get a return as you play.
The final important piece of basic strategy is to look at the hand you have and move on from there. If you are dealt a pair in your first hand and the game you are playing pays out on a pair, then it makes sense to keep that pair. Never just react without thinking about what you have and what you are happy to accept. The beauty of video poker is that there is no time limit. There is no worry about someone tapping their finger on the table waiting for you to make a decision to put you off. You can take as long as you need to make sure that you make the right decision. Take a good look at your hand and think about what you are going to do before you do it. Take into consideration what you are happy to accept as a return and base your decision around that.
While there are significantly deeper levels of strategy to video poker than what we have covered, each game has a different strategy based around its own pay table. It would be impossible to create a blanket strategy in terms of how to handle each individual hand because each game pays out in a different way. As long as you take on board the tips we have laid out here, you will be able to move forward and develop your own strategy as you play.
The best place for you to play video poker is Bitcasino. We have a wide variety of games from which to choose. You will be able to learn at a rapid pace and become a video poker expert in almost no time at all.
If video poker is not your game of choice, then we also offer a wide range of other casino games. We have made it a simple task for you to be able to begin your casino journey. If you want to find the best online casino around, then look no further than Bitcasino.
Words: Sean McNulty
Images: Shutterstock and Bitcasino