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How to Play Video Poker: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Play Video Poker: A Comprehensive Guide

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Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, this article will provide you with all the information you need to enjoy and master the game of video poker. We’ll cover the basics, rules, strategies, and tips to help you play like a pro.

What is Video Poker?

If you are wondering what is video poker, it is a casino game based on five-card draw poker. It is played on a computerized console similar to a slot machine. Unlike slots, video poker, as roulette, requires skill, strategy, and a bit of luck, making it a favorite among many casino enthusiasts.

The game offers better odds than most slot machines and allows players to influence the outcome with their decisions. If you’re wondering how to play video poker, keep reading as we delve into the mechanics and strategies that will guide your gameplay.

Each round begins with the player placing a bet and receiving five cards. The player can then choose to keep or discard any number of these cards, drawing replacements from the virtual deck. This decision-making process introduces a strategic element that distinguishes video poker from traditional slot machines.

There are several variations of video poker, such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker, each offering unique experiences and challenges. This variety keeps the game interesting and allows players to select a version that best suits their preferences and skill levels.

Winning in video poker not only requires an understanding of the game’s mechanics but also a solid grasp of optimal strategy. Players must know which cards to hold and which to discard in different situations to maximize their chances of securing a winning hand.

Video Poker Rules

  1. Insert money or a ticket to start the game. This is just like putting a coin into a slot machine or scanning a ticket.
  2. Select the amount you want to wager per hand. You can usually choose the number of credits to bet, typically ranging from one to five credits per hand.
  3. Press the “Deal” button to receive five cards. This is where the game starts to get exciting, as you see your initial hand.
  4. Choose which cards to hold and which to discard. This step involves making strategic decisions based on your hand. You might want to hold a pair or go for a flush or straight.
  5. Press the “Draw” button to replace the discarded cards. The machine will deal new cards in place of the ones you discarded, completing your final hand.
  6. Win or lose based on the final poker hand ranking. If your final hand matches one of the winning combinations on the paytable, you win according to the payout for that hand. If not, you lose your bet and can start a new hand.

Video Poker Basic Strategy

To increase your chances of winning, it’s essential to follow a basic strategy. Always hold onto a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, or three of a kind, as these hands offer the best potential payouts.

If you have four cards to a royal flush or straight flush, keep those cards, since you’re just one card away from a top-paying hand. Pairs, especially high pairs like Jacks or better, should always be held onto because they can often lead to a winning hand.

Additionally, if you have three cards to a royal flush or straight flush, it’s wise to keep them for the chance of completing these high-ranking hands. Finally, holding onto any high cards such as Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces can be beneficial, as they increase your odds of forming a winning combination.

Understanding Video Poker Payouts

Each video poker game features a unique payout system, typically increasing significantly from the relatively common “Jacks or Better” hand to the rare and highly sought-after Royal Flush.

The payouts can vary depending on the specific type of video poker game you’re playing, although most video poker machines offer similar odds structures.

Consider the example from the popular video poker game “Let It Ride,” which has a payout table representative of many video poker games:

HandPayout Odds
Royal Flush1,000-1
Straight Flush200-1
Full House11-1
Two Pair2-1
Jacks or Better1-1

From this table, you can see one of the main attractions of video poker: the potential to win big with every hand. However, these payout odds also reflect the probability of achieving each hand, highlighting the importance of understanding video poker strategies and tips to help beginners improve their game.

Video Poker Tips

  1. Stay calm and avoid emotional decisions. Emotional control is crucial in making rational choices during gameplay.
  2. Take breaks to avoid fatigue and maintain focus. Regular intervals of rest can help you stay sharp and make better decisions.
  3. Learn the odds and probabilities of different hands. Understanding the likelihood of drawing specific hands can guide your strategic choices.
  4. Play at a pace that suits your comfort level. Rushing can lead to mistakes, so find a rhythm that allows you to think through each hand carefully.
  5. Utilize online resources and forums to learn from experienced players. These platforms can provide valuable insights, strategies, and tips from seasoned video poker enthusiasts.
  6. Use a strategy chart. Having a visual aid can help you make the correct decisions for any given hand, increasing your chances of success.
  7. Manage your bankroll wisely. Set aside a specific amount of money for each session and stick to it, ensuring you play responsibly and within your means.
  8. Take advantage of bonuses and promotions. Many online casinos offer bonuses that can boost your bankroll, giving you more opportunities to play and win.
  9. Familiarize yourself with the game rules. Each variation of video poker has its own set of rules, so ensure you understand them fully before playing.
  10. Track your performance. Keep a record of your wins and losses to identify patterns and areas for improvement, helping you refine your strategy over time.


Video poker is an exciting and engaging game that combines the thrill of poker with the simplicity of slot machines. By understanding the rules, applying basic and advanced strategies, and following helpful tips, you can maximize your chances of winning and enjoy the game to its fullest.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, dive into the world of video poker with confidence. Remember to play responsibly, stay informed, and most importantly, have fun. Happy playing and good luck!


What is the best video poker game to play?

The best video poker game depends on your preferences, but Jacks or Better is a popular choice due to its straightforward rules and good odds.

Can you make a living playing video poker?

While some professional players make a living from video poker, it requires extensive knowledge, skill, and a disciplined approach to bankroll management.

How do I find the best video poker machines?

Look for machines with favorable pay tables, and consider playing at casinos that offer good comps and rewards.

Is video poker better than slot machines?

Video poker generally offers better odds than slot machines and allows players to use strategy, making it a preferred choice for many.

Can I play video poker online?

Yes, many online casinos offer video poker games that you can play for free or for real money.

What is a pay table in video poker?

A pay table lists the payouts for different poker hands. Choosing machines with better pay tables can improve your odds of winning.

How do I improve my video poker skills?

Practice regularly, study strategies, analyze pay tables, and learn from experienced players to enhance your skills.