Video Poker Rules

The overwhelming majority of video poker machines are based on 5-card Draw: those in Vegas, as well as the one down in the corner pub (though the pay-out rates may be radically different on them). Sure, there are VP machines featuring Texas Holdem, but they’re few, far between and not exactly popular.

There are a whole bunch of video poker variants played in casinos and online casinos everywhere, but they’re all based on 5-Card Draw. Here are the basic rules of the game. Once the player sets the stakes, and places his initial bet, the machine gives him 5 cards. The player can then decide to which of his cards he wants to hold on, and which ones he’d like to have replaced. His aim is to juggle his held and replaced cards in a way that will give him a good poker hand. Poker hand rankings are the same as in live Texas Holdem, although some low hands that do count in Holdem may not count in some VP variants.

After the player selects the cards he wants to hold via the ‘hold’ buttons, he hits ‘deal’ and the unselected cards are replaced with new ones. The hand that the player makes this way is rewarded by the game. Some Video Poker machines have bonus rounds included. Following a win, a player can choose to double it up or to lose it all by betting on red or black. Each card that he gets right doubles up his winnings, right up until the last one (there are 5-6 cards flipped over in this round) after which he gets a special bonus on top of it all.

After the deal-draw round is complete, another one starts.

In Jacks or better, one of the most popular VP variants, the lowest paying hand is a pair of Js. You won’t get anything for a pair of 10s or lower. This one pays even money, that is, you’ll get the coin(s) that you wagered back.

Two pairs pay 2-1 and that’s already pretty good. The highest paying hand is naturally the Royal Flush. Be careful however, as it only pays 250-1 if you’re betting less than 5 coins. This is exactly why you should play more than 5 coins whenever possible.

Optimal strategy for Jacks or better is available in table-like formats. These charts – quite like the blackjack basic strategy ones – tell you what to do (which cards to hold) depending on the initial hand you’re dealt. Mind you that even though most VP variants are slightly negative EV ones, there are a few which can be turned into EV+ game via optimal strategy.

Deuces wild is another VP variant present in pretty much every live and online casino. In this game, deuces act as bugs, replacing any card in a hand. In Deuces wild, the lowest paying hand is the Three of a kind, which gives you even money on your wager. Straights pay out 2-1, flushes 3-1, the Full House pays either 3 or 4-1.

The best paying hand is the Royal Flush, in particular the one without any deuces in it. That hand pays out more than 4,000 coins per coin bet, but only if you played more than 5 coins. Otherwise, it only pays 250-1. Basic strategy is available for Deuces wild too.

Jokers wild is a less popular VP variant. It works in a similar fashion with deuces wild, and even the optimal strategy table for it looks very similar.

Again, most video poker games carry a house edge – as slight as it may be – and therefore they’re negative EV games. The EV can be turned around or further diminished either by learning optimal strategy or by taking full advantage of comp points and any comp drinks.

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