Beginner’s Guide to How to Play Video Poker

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Beginner’s Guide to How to Play Video Poker

Playing video poker seems to be one of the best ways to enjoy casino gambling. It’s a great alternative to slot machines since they both have similar game features. Here, you can hit the jackpot, and the probability of hitting it is five times greater than at a slot machine. 

Video poker machines are steadily taking over slots at casinos, but you will need a proper strategy to begin winning the great odds attached. However, we will cover proven strategies for winning in the following sections. In this guide, we offer an in-depth explanation of how to place your first wager on a delightful game of casino video poker. 

First, we begin with a brief history of how video poker has become a viral sensation among casino players. 

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Casino Video Poker: History

The origin of video poker is amazing! Records show that the game gained recognition when the Sittman and Pitt company invented the first ever video poker machine in 1891. This slot-game lookalike consisted of five reels with ten playing cards each. 

A gambler had to insert a coin and turn the handle to play the video poker machines. All five reels or drums would spin and stop, displaying a card combined to make a poker hand. In 1898, Charles Fey manufactured the “card bell” machine, another version of the poker machine. Here, a royal flush could pay up to 20 coins. This upgrade earned him the title “the father of the slot machine.”

Charles innovated another upgrade, the skill draw machine, in 1901. This machine type allowed players to hold cards if they felt it increased their chances of getting a strong hand. This led to the rise of the five-card draw

As time progressed, gamblers began to accept the upgrade, and software companies soon took notice. SIRCOMA (later renamed International Gaming Technology) became the first software publisher to build a video poker machine and supplied them to gambling venues. 

Modern-Day Video Poker

From the early 90s, online casinos became more accepted, leading to the emergence of more software suppliers. Microgaming, another reputable software supplier, was the first to launch online video poker machines. It also offered tips on how to play video poker in a casino. 

The eager acceptance of this technology among gamblers saw the rise of other software companies launching their machines. You can now find video poker from well-known names like NetEnt, Pragmatic Play, etc. 

How to Play Video Poker Machines – Basics

As stated, video poker machines are like slots. It will be challenging if you’re asked how you play video poker but do not have an idea of the fundamentals of the game. It is important to understand the hand rankings. This forms the rules of each video poker type you are interested in. All hands have different payouts, too. We will dive into the hand types later. 

Another basic but important aspect of video poker that you should know about is the presence of wild cards. In learning how to play video poker slot machines, a wild card offers you a chance to drastically change the fortune of your hand. 

Rules on How to Play Video Poker Slots

Video poker in casinos varies and comes with a few rules. While you may find some with a bonus offer, others have a joker attached. These rule differences can be misleading, even if you have experience playing conventional poker. It’s why we recommend studying the rules of each poker table before making a wager. 

Although you may still have some wins while guessing the gameplay, your odds of winning are higher when you develop a working strategy around the rules of the video poker slot machine you’re betting on. 

The main objective of playing video poker is getting a combination of cards that offers a payout. The good thing is they’re similar to regular poker, so you won’t have much difficulty knowing which hand offers a higher advantage when you start. 

Video poker is based on five-card draw poker. It begins when you place a bet and press the  “Deal” button. A set of cards will be issued to you in physical or virtual format. You can either exchange all cards dealt to you or maintain them to build yourself an ideal winning sequence. 

The difference in how you play video poker and other casino games is the currency used to wager. Here, you need credits or coins to wager compared to chips required to play table games. A minimum of one coin or up to five coins is sufficient. These coins have different values. Some go below $0.10, and others go as high as $0.20. 

Here’s a quick summary of the general rules on how to play video poker in casinos:

  • You’re dealt five cards after placing a bet.
  • You can either hold or discard one or all of the cards issued.
  • Any discarded card will be replaced with a game draw. 
  • You win and get a payout if your hand matches the qualifying hands displayed on the video poker machine. 

Video Poker Hands

As we’ve already mentioned, the hands used here are the same as poker, although there are a few differences. This also depends on which video poker type you wish to play. Here’s a ranking of the hand combinations. Don’t forget that the idea is to get the best hand to match what the machine displays at the end. For example: 

  • Fold: you are okay with the hand and don’t want a new set of cards.
  • Discard: the cards issued are unsatisfactory and you feel a new set offers you a higher chance of winning cash prizes.

Royal Flush

The royal flush hand consists of ace (A), king (K), jack (J), queen (Q), and 10. They all belong to one suit, the royal flush. For instance, the A, K, J, Q, and 10 cards belong to either diamonds, spades, hearts, or clubs. 

While this hand is the best option, the odds of landing it are almost impossible. It loads the progressive jackpot round for video poker games if it has the feature. 

Straight Flush

The cards in this hand are all successive to each other, belonging to the same suit. For example, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 cards of a club, diamonds, hearts, or spades make up a straight flush. 


All four cards in this hand rank the same, except for one. An example is four queen cards, one of either hearts, diamonds, spades, or clubs. Aces can also be included in the mix. 

Full House

The full house hand is formed when you have three cards of similar ranks and two ranks of another suit. For instance, if your hand includes cards like 7 of diamonds, 7 of spades, 5 of diamonds, 7 of clubs, and 5 of hearts. 


A flush hand has all five cards in the same suit, but no particular sequence is followed. For instance, a hand made of an ace, 8, 10, 3, and 6, all spades, is a flush. 


This hand is the direct opposite of a straight flush. Having up to five-of-a-kind cards, all different suits, is a straight hand. A common example is the 8 of clubs, 7 of diamonds, 6 of hearts, 4 of spades, and 3 of clubs. 


The three-of-a-kind hand consists of three cards in one rank. The remaining two cards are of different ranks. For example, three 5s for any suit, like 5 of spades, 5 of clubs, and 5 of hearts. The last two cards could be 7 of diamonds and 7 of hearts.

Two Pairs

A two pairs hand means two cards belonging to one rank, another two belonging to a different rank, and the last card belongs to a different rank. For example: K (clubs), K (hearts), 7 (diamonds), and 7 (spades). The last card could be 8 (hearts). 

Pairs of Jacks or Better

This hand includes a pair of either aces, kings, queens, or jacks. The remaining cards could be ranks other than the ranks mentioned. 

To help you understand better how to play video poker machines, we have developed a small video poker cheat sheet on selecting the best hands. This is not the holy grail for all video poker games, but it will serve as a good foundation when making decisions. 

Hand dealt by dealer or machineHow many cards to discardHow many cards to keep
Royal Flush05
Straight Flush05
Full House05
Two Pairs14
Pairs of Jacks or Better05
How to Play Video Poker: Playing all Variants 

How to Play Video Poker: Playing all Variants 

As a beginner, you may be shocked at the number of video poker game types available. Currently, there are over 100 variants played at different gambling venues and online casino and poker sites. Each of them has its special pay tables attached. 

While you may be eager to look at all types and find which pays the most, we recommend starting with the most common types. Here, we will go in-depth into how to play each of them. 

Before playing video poker, you should consider wagering on free money online games. There are several mobile apps and desktop versions where you can practice for free and for as long as you want. 

How to Play Jacks or Better Video Poker

Jacks or Better is the most common variant you will find on gambling platforms. It is also the oldest and regularly referred to as Draw Poker. It is easy to wager on, especially if you understand 5 card draw poker. 

A crucial skill you will need here is luck and a good strategy in order to learn how to play video poker and win. 


The rules governing this variant are almost the same as five card draw. There’s no need to raise or call a bluff. Also, it’s just you against the house here. There are no player opponents to play against. Make a single bet from the beginning and ensure you have a hand consisting of a Jacks or Better pair. Anything lower than this and the house wins. 

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Select the amount of credit you desire, between one and five. Each credit is worth between $0.25 and $1. The value depends on which machine you’re wagering on. 
  • You will be dealt five cards. Select which card to discard and keep the others. 
  • The system replaces the discarded cards instantly. 
  • This final hand will be compared to the system’s, and you will be paid if you win. 
  • The higher your hand ranking, the better your chances of winning. 

Jacks or Better video poker machines have a good payout offer compared to slots. It’s a wise offer to wager against the house when you have a strategy on the ground. 

Here are some of the common payouts for a game of Jacks or Better video poker:

  • Royal Flush – 250x (depending on the casino you play at, bonuses are offered up to 4000x your wager or more at maximum stake)
  • Straight Flush – 50x
  • Four-of-a-Kind – 25x
  • Full House – 6x to 9x
  • Flush – 5x to 6x
  • Straight – 4x
  • Three-of-a-Kind – 3x
  • Two Pair – 2x
  • Pairs of Jacks or Better – 1x

Payouts can only be made based on the highest value for the cards in your hand. For instance, if your hand makes a flush, you will be paid between 5x to 6x, depending on which casino or machine you’ve selected. 

Loose Deuces

Loose Deuces poker offers an exciting and rewarding game of video poker. Its payout is impressive since you will find wild cards here. The Loose Deuces game type closely follows Deuces Wild since its four deuces are presented as wilds. The difference, however, is in the pay table.

The basics follow any regular video poker game:

  • The credit denomination is the same as Jacks or Better. You need to select the number of coins you want in order to begin.
  • Watch the pay table to understand what your payout margins will be. The minimum winning hand is three-of-a-kind, and the maximum is a Royal Flush. 
  • You can get a double value for your winning hand in a separate bonus feature (explained later). 


The rules governing this variant are not entirely different. Here, you can get a wild royal flush with deuces and four deuces. 

The Loose Deuces video poker type has a “Gamble” feature. If your hand wins, you will be presented with an option to double your potential payout. The house will display random cards face down. You must choose which of the cards is the highest compared to the house’s card. This can continue until you reach the maximum limit placed by the house. 

Here is a list of payouts for Loose Deuces:

  • Natural Royal Flush – 4000x
  • Four Deuces – 2500x 
  • Wild Royal Flush – 125x
  • Five-of-a-Kind – 75x
  • Straight Flush – 25x
  • Four-of-a-Kind – 20x
  • Full House – 15x
  • Flush – 10x
  • Straight – 10x
  • Three-of-a-Kind – 5x

These values are designated if you play the maximum wager of five coins.  Reading the pay table is easy. Suppose you make a wager of five coins and get a natural royal flush of 5 coins. This gives a payout of 50 coins. In essence, you’ve won 45 coins when you minus your bet of five coins. 

When playing Loose Deuces, the difference is majorly in how much you wager. Before explaining further, here’s a full breakdown of the payout table. 

Hand1 coin wager2 coins wager3 coins wager4 coins wager5 coins wager
Natural Royal Flush25050075010004000
Four Deuces5001000150020002500
Wild Royal Flush255075100125
Straight Flush1020304050
Full House6912 15

Because of its huge payout when you bet with 5 coins, it’s recommended you go for the highest bet possible when you wager on a Loose Deuces table. Also, did you notice the difference between the natural and wild royal flush? The latter is possible when a wild card is involved. 

The Loose Deuces is the only variant with immediate payout for a natural royal flush. This makes it a favorite  among most jackpot-hunting gamblers. 

Deuces Wild

In this version, there are two wilds. If they both appear on your hand, they can substitute other regular playing cards, offering you a chance to generate a better winning hand. It is also another popular form of video poker. It is also recommended for people who want to learn how to play video poker. 

The rules here are simple, and payouts are amazing since it offers a 100% increase compared to most other forms of video poker. If you decide to wager on an online casino, its RTP is between 97% and 100%, making it a favorite to play. 

Like other video poker variants, you are presented with a 52-card deck, and five cards will be issued to you. If you’re lucky enough to get a natural royal flush, you win! The differentiating factor is that the deuces (2s) are presented as wilds and can be substituted for other cards. 


The payout for Deuces Wild is very similar to Loose Deuces. Here is a general pay table. 

Hand1 Coin Wager2 Coins Wager3 Coins Wager4 Coins Wager5 Coins Wager
Natural Royal Flush25050075010004000
Four Deuces2004006008001000
Wild Royal Flush255075100125
Straight Flush918273645
Full House3691215

A careful look at the above table shows some differences if you compare the Loose Deuces and Deuces Wild with each other. Specifically, the differences are found in the payout for four deuces, flush, etc. Don’t forget that the deuces can quickly replace any card and increase your chances of getting higher hands. An exception is in the natural royal flush. 

Joker Poker

Joker Poker is another beautiful variation of the Jacks or Better version. However, there is one small difference: the joker, which also serves as a wild. It is also played on a 53-card deck instead of the usual 52-card deck we’re used to. The pay table is also varied to create space for some changes. 

The rules here are also similar to the versions discussed previously: get coins with credits worth a value set by the house, place your bet, and wait for the house to deal you cards. If you prefer, we’d advise you to always go for the five coins option.  

Here, a fixed jackpot offer is available for a royal flush (jack, queen, king, ace, and 10, all of the same suit). One rule you should be aware of is that a pair of kings ranks the lowest for hand capacities, landing you a good payout. The pay table for a regular game of Joker Poker stars with a pair of kings as its lowest pair. 

Just like in Loose Deuces and Deuces Wild, a wild joker gives you the chance to replace any card you feel reduces your chances of having a winning hand. 

Here’s a simple breakdown of the pay table for Joker Poker video poker:

  • Natural Royal Flush offers 800 for 1
  • Five-of-a-Kind offers 200 for 1
  • Wild Royal Flush offers 100 for 1
  • Straight Flush offers 50 for 1
  • Four-of-a-Kind offers 20 for 1
  • Flush offers 5 for 1
  • Straight offers 3 for 1
  • Three-of-a-Kind offers 2 for 1
  • Two Pair offers 1 for 1
  • Pair of kings or higher offers 1 for 1. 

With a house-edge value of 0.64%, your returns are at 100.64%, assuming you’re playing with a useful strategy. Here, the probability of not winning anything is about 55%. 

When it comes to a pair of kings or higher, the probability of it occurring is 14.2%. The two pairs probability value currently stands at 11.1%, bringing the total to 25.3%. 

Three-of-a-kind has a higher occurrence, with about 13.4% probability. Its high value is probably due to the joker or wild card. 

These three hands account for over half of all winning payouts that occur. 

Deuces and Joker Power

Deuces and Joker Power

If you have come to love more wild cards and want to learn how to play video poker slot machines, Deuces and Joker Power offers a rare opportunity. Here, there are two different wild card combinations involved. You can find this game type in most gambling retail centers or even online casinos. 

This video poker variant offers up to five different opportunities to get a wild card from the special 53-card deck. All of the four 2s in the deck are placed as wilds. In addition, the joker, which is the 53rd card, is also another wild. 

The probability of landing a minimum of one wild card in a game of Deuces and Joker Power is under 1 in 10. This makes the possibility of creating a wild royal flush possible. However, all pairs and two pairs are so common here that they have become useless in building a strong hand to win. 


With the pay table, you can calculate the percentage payout for a game of Deuces and Joker Power. Here is a common pay table for most Deuces and Joker Power found at casino venues:

Hand1 Coin Wager2 Coins Wager3 Coins Wager4 Coins Wager5 Coins Wager
Four Deuces and Joker10000
Natural Royal Flush25050075010004000
Four Deuces with No Joker255075100125
Wild Royal Flush1224364860
Straight Flush612182430
Full House6912 15

You may notice that there is no payout when you bet with one to four coins for five wilds. That’s because the top pay is only available when you wager with the max bet of five coins. If you bet with less than five coins, you will be awarded the payout for the four deuces instead. 

Also, there is a huge bump between the wager for four and five coins when you wager and get the natural royal flush. 

These two features show that you’re better off placing the highest wager where possible and within your budget. Also, don’t forget that two pairs or a pair of jacks doesn’t pay anything in Deuces and Joker Poker. They are too common here, and if the house were to offer a payout, they would consistently lose money to the players. 

The payback percentage also differs in a game of Deuces and Joker Poker. They offer a theoretical amount you’re expected to get after wagering. On average, the percentage you can expect here is an estimated 99.07%. 

Bonus Poker

Like its name, bonus poker video poker offers you jackpot-like bonus amounts for 4-of-a-kind. The bonus, however, depends on the rank of cards that make up your hand. Notwithstanding, it is one of the best video poker games you will find at different gambling venues. 

The gameplay is also similar to Jacks or Better. After obtaining your credits, you can choose the number of coins you want to wager with. This amount varies from one casino to another. Here, you’re playing with a 52-card deck. There are only four cards per rank, bringing it to 13 cards per suit. 


For example, the major difference between Bonus Poker and Jacks or Better is that the payout is made for 4-of-a-kind. The pay table, however, varies from one gambling site or retail center to another. Here’s a general pay table found at most casinos: 

Hand1 coin wager2 coins wager3 coins wager4 coins wager5 coins wager
Royal Flush2004006008004000
Straight Flush50100150200250
Four-of-a-Kind (aces)80160240320400
Four-of-a-Kind (2s, 3s, and 4s)4080120160200
Four-of-a-Kind (others)255075100125
Full House816243240
Two Pair246810
Jacks or Better12345

There are some noticeable features here:

  • While the Jacks or Better variant does not pay out for four-of-a-kind, Bonus Poker does. There are payouts for different kinds, like twos, threes, etc. The aces is the icing on the cake. 
  • The payouts for a full house and flush are lower than the original Jacks or Better video poker type. 
  • There are newer versions of the Bonus Poker game type. They are differentiated by a number that displays the odds you can get on hands that win. Example: an 8/5 Bonus Poker game offers 8 to 1 for a full house and 5 to 1 for a flush hand. 

The payback percentage for a Bonus Poker game is usually tagged at 99.17%. This value is for an 8/5 type of Bonus Poker game. Anyone who bets $100 could get a bankroll of $99.17. The loss incurred is usually around $0.83. 

Double Bonus Poker

The Double Bonus Poker is just a tweak to the Bonus Poker version of the game. This makes it a variation of Jacks or Better. There is an added extra payout for all 4-of-a-kind hands you may encounter in the Bonus Poker game—the reason for the “Double” in the name! 

The payment is possible as the house evenly reduces the payout for all two pairs. The house-edge value may be lower or higher depending on which poker center you decide to play at. 

As usual, the mode of play used here is similar to that of other types of video poker. 


The pay table differs because of the amount the house may reduce from the pairs hands. A few tweaks of the Double Bonus Poker game offer a payback percentage of 100.17%. This is possible with some luck and the right strategy at hand. 

Here’s a simple pay table depending on the Double Bonus Poker version. 

  • Royal Flush offers 800 to 1
  • Straight Flush offers 50 to 1
  • Four Aces offer 160 to 1
  • Either Four Deuces, 3s, or 4s offers 80 to 1. 
  • Full House offers 10 to 1
  • Flush offers 7 to 1
  • Straight offers 5 to 1
  • 3-of-a-Kind offers 3 to 1
  • Two Pairs offers 1 to 1
  • Pair of Jacks or Higher offers 1 to 1

The pay table illustrated is typical of the 10/7 Double Bonus Poker game. You will find some differences here as Jacks of Better  takes in the other 4-of-a-Kind payouts. Also, two pairs will pay 2 to 1, which is not the same as Double Bonus Poker. 

Double Double Bonus Poker

Double Double Bonus Poker is yet another version of Bonus Poker. You won’t find any wild card offers here. Like other versions, the game is played on the standard deck of 52 cards. However, there are more increased bonuses than you’ll find with  Double Bonus Poker. 

The pay table for Double Double Bonus Poker is also amazing! This game becomes a fast favorite when you learn video poker because of the lucrative offers you can get. 

To play this game, you need to select your bet amount. Once done, the video poker machine will deal cards for you. If you’re satisfied with your hand, you can move on and press “Play”, and the cards will be compared. 


The payout for a Double Double Bonus game is another lucrative offer you will find among the video poker types. Here’s the pay table for a regular Double Double video poker game. 

Royal Flush offers 80 to 1

Straight Flush offers 50 to 1

  • 4-of-a-Kind (aces) with a lower rank (either 2, 3, or 4) offers 400 to 1
  • 4-of-a-Kind (aces) with other ranks offers 160 to 1
  • 4-of-a-Kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) with a lower rank (A, 2, 3, or 4) offers 160 to 1
  • 4-of-a-Kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) with other ranks offers 80 to 1
  • Ace with 4-of-a-Kind from any rank offers 80 to 1
  • 4-of-a-Kind from any rank with a card from any other rank offers 50 to 1
  • Full House offers 9 to 1
  • Flush offers 6 to 1
  • Straight offers 4 to 1
  • 3-of-a-Kind offers 3 to 1
  • Two Pairs offers 1 to 1

You can see that a Double Double Bonus Poker game specifies payouts for all types of 4-of-a-kind. There are also smaller payouts from the full house, which is unusual compared to other video poker types. 


There are numerous types of video poker games. However, the variants we have discussed are common at casino parlors. Don’t forget to study the pay table since the house is at liberty to decide the payout and can vary it to their preferences.

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