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How To Play Video Poker for Beginners (July 2024)

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The traction video poker has in the iGaming community is out-of-this-realm. Hands-down, it ranks amongst the most enchanting casino games ever. Rivalled only by the popularity of slots machines, video poker, although a bit complex, is easy to understand. However, the two casino favorites often compare to each other. That’s because initially, they had homogenous-looking playing machines.

Also, that’s why you’ll find gamblers from particular regions referring to slot games as pokies. Nonetheless, it’s a totally different game from slots. While slots require little-to-no expertise, video poker needs tamed skill to win. Also, in slot games, you’re usually reeling in blind without knowing your odds of winning. On the contrary, video poker (VP) has the best odds in any casino lobby. Therefore, with the right strategy, you may decide your winning hand at VP.

Now back to our main event; video poker. It’s a card game played with a 52-deck card that’s shuffled after every round. Interestingly, joker cards can be used in this type of game since they don’t count in others, like Blackjack. In addition, video poker is easy to play, even for newbies, because our beginner’s guide will unwrap all the prerequisites. At advanced levels, where you’ll be after we’re done fine-tuning you, you’ll ravish in the euphoria of playing VP.

You can play video poker’s numerous variations at online casino platforms or brick-and-mortar terminals. The rules are the same wherever you decide to play this iconic game. However, most gaming is done online. Therefore, you can try playing at Real Money Video Pokers after acquiring the basics of the game.

In this VP beginner’s guide, we’ll explain the basic rules and strategies of the game. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the odds & payouts of different hands, where to play, and its history.

Video Poker: A Brief History

Let’s roll back years before most of us were conceived. Although video poker isn’t an old guard among casino games, its origin is fascinating. Sittman and Pitt Company innovated the first poker machine in 1891. The machine had 5 drums or reels, and each reel had 10 playing cards. A coin was slipped into the machine to play, and the player would then pull the handle to spin. The five drums would then spin and halt, with each displaying a card coming up with an eventual poker hand.

Charles Fey, ‘The Father of The Slot Machine,’ engineered a poker machine known as the ‘Card Bell’ in 1898. For a Royal Flush, the card bell would pay a max of 20 coins. He then invented the ‘Skill Draw’ machine in 1901, which enabled players to hold cards to improve their hands. That resulted in the first five-card draw machine.

The hold feature appealed to most gamblers, making them feel they could sway the odds of winning to suit them. Poker Matic was the first video poker machine developed by Dale Electronics in 1970. Although it didn’t hit the ground running, it came into fame around 1981, thanks to Si Redd.

Si Redd took his company, SIRCOMA, and renamed it IGT (International Gaming Technology), which’s now a reputable software developer. The video poker machines were gradually accepted among gamblers in gambling houses.

Video Poker: The Modern Shift

The late 19th century saw the emergence of the very first online casinos. In 1994, Microgaming, a well-known software publisher, was the first to develop online video poker games. The game’s online versions garnered an immense liking from the fresh wave of Internet savvy players.

Online video poker rapidly became admirable among online gamblers. The element of skill and possibility of holding some cards to better your hand made video poker an-industry-dynamite. Steadily, physical casinos began losing video poker clients.

Why visit a land-based casino where you’re likely to miss a VP machine while you can play comfortably at home? Globally accepted game providers like IGT, NetEnt, Microgaming, among others, make that possible. Welcome to the 21st, where the game has completely morphed, revolutionizing the online gaming arena.

Now, you can enjoy playing the game anywhere you are. You only need an Internet connection and a PC, Tablet, and Mobile (Android or iOS), and you’re good to go. There are enormous variations of the game you can play, which makes it more appealing.

Additionally, the online versions use the Random Number Generator software, which ensures all game outcomes are random. Therefore, all game results aren’t fixed but are honest and fair. With the best odds in any casino, video poker will offer you the best winning opportunities.

Video Poker Rules & How to Play

If you’ve played traditional poker before, video poker would be a walk in the park for you. If you’ve not, the rules are quite straightforward. For starters, video poker has quite a number of its variations. Hence, you’ll need to choose the one that fits you. That will come later in this guide, however. For you to win at the game, you need to have at least the lowest paying hand. For example, if you’re playing Jacks or Better, the lowest hand’s a pair of jacks.

In addition, you’ll need to know the rankings of all the hands you’ll be playing at your ideal VP game. These hands will always be indicated at the top of the pay table, and all hands have different payouts. Also, it’s important to note that the hands are arranged in descending order. The Royal Flush is the most significant paying hand. We’ll also learn about these hands later.

Some of the video poker variants also have a wild card feature. The wild card is usually the Deuces (2) or the Joker. For example, in Deuces Wild, 2 is the wild card. Similarly, in Joker Wild, the wild card is the Joker card.

How to Play

Playing video poker is easy. The holy grail is acquiring a unique batch of cards that’ll give you a winning hand. As a standard to all casino games, you’ll need to wager before the game begins. Unlike other card games like Blackjack that need playing chips, video poker requires credits or coins to play. In casinos, you can bet with up to 5 coins per hand. The coins have different values, with some going as low as $0.20. Some other platforms can also allow a minimum bet of $0.10.

After placing your ideal bet, press the deal button. Based on the 5-card draw rule, you’ll receive 5 cards, randomly selected by the RNG software. Depending on the cards and variation you’re playing, you may decide to hold or discard some cards. Also, you can scrap all the cards to try to have a stronger hand that wins. If you have a winning hand or combination of cards after the draw, you will receive payment according to the pay table.

To simplify, here are the steps of playing video poker:

  1. Select how many credits/coins you’ll prefer betting.
  2. Press draw/ deal to receive cards on your hand.
  3. Select hold to keep any suitable cards. All other cards will be discarded.
  4. After holding some cards, click draw/deal to finalize your hand.
  5. If you win, payouts are made.
  6. Click draw if you want to play another hand after finishing the previous one.

The video poker pay table has five columns with different playing hands. You win according to the coins you’ve wagered (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5). We’ll explain the payouts in the odds section of this guide.

The Different Video Poker Hands

Now you know the rules and how to play the game. Next up are popular hands in online video poker. A hand in VP means the cards you hold that were dealt to you. Depending on the variant you’re playing, these hands will payout differently. Remember: the goal’s always to have the most substantial hand. A round begins after you receive the cards and ends when you win the game or fold.

1.      Royal Flush

A royal is a hand with an Ace (A), King (K), Jack (J), Queen (Q), and a 10. All these cards should belong to the same suit to have a Royal Flush hand. For example, when the A, K, J, Q, and 10 cards are all diamonds. Also, you can have the A, K, J, Q, and 10 cards, all of spades, clubs, or hearts.

It’s the best hand you can get and automatically beats all other hands. However, it’s a golden hand that’s unimaginable to acquire. This hand may activate the progressive jackpot feature in some games if there’s that feature.

2.      Straight Flush

It consists of five (5) successive cards in value. These cards should belong to the same suit to have a Straight Flush hand.

For example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 cards, all of the spades, clubs (slang: flowers), hearts, or diamonds. It’s also the 2nd best hand you might have.

3.      Four of a Kind

As its name suggests, this is a hand with four (4) cards of similar rank. For example, four Queen (Q) cards, all of any suit, such as hearts, clubs, diamonds, or spades. Also, it can be Aces (A) of any suit.

4.      Full House

A full house’s a hand consisting of three (3) cards of similar rank and a pair of another rank. For example, 5 (spades), 5 (diamonds), 5 (clubs), and 7 (diamonds), and 7 (hearts).

5.      Flush

It consists of five (5) cards of a similar suit with no particular order. For example, you can win with this hand with an Ace, 6, 3, 8, and 10, all of the hearts, clubs, etc.

6.      Straight

A straight hand is the opposite of a Straight Flush. Instead of having five successive cards in value of the same suit, a straight had has five different suits.

For example, 4 (spades), 5 (clubs), 6 (hearts), 7 (diamonds), and 8 (clubs).

7.      Three of a Kind

As its name suggests, this is a hand with three (3) cards of similar rank. For example, three 7s of any suit, such as hearts, clubs, diamonds, or spades. Simply, it can be 7 clubs, 7 spades, and 7 diamonds.

8.      Two Pairs

Two pairs is a hand consisting of 2 cards of another rank and two other cards of one rank.  For example, Q (hearts), Q (clubs), and 5 (diamonds), 5 (spades).

9.      Pair of Jacks or Better

This is a hand consisting of two Jacks, Aces, Kings, or Queens.

Basic Video Poker Strategy

There’s no cheat sheet to winning at video poker online. Even with the lowest house edge of all casino games, the casino always wins. However, you can increase your winning probabilities by using the proper strategies to try and beat the house.

The strategies come down to whether you’ll discard or hold certain cards from the dealt first five cards. Keeping certain cards will improve your hand, but it can also destroy it. Hence, our beginner’s video poker strategy will guide you on what cards to hold and when to improve your winning chances.

We advise you always to keep/ hold a Straight Flush, Royal Flush, Four of a Kind, Two Pair, Full House, or Three of a Kind. However, with the three-of-a-kind hand, discard the prevailing two cards to have an opportunity at a four-of-a-kind hand. Moreover, by doing that, you’ll also have a chance of getting a full house hand.

If you get two pairs, we advise you to discard the 5th card. That way, you’ll have a likelihood of acquiring a full house hand. Only split up a straight or a flush when having four cards, remaining with one to a Royal Flush. For example, if you have K, Q, J, A, and a 9, all hearts, scrap the 9. Discarding the 9 gives you a chance at the Hail Mary (Royal Flush) since you’ll need a 10 (hearts). You’ll also have the possibility of a Jacks or Better (JoB) hand if you get any K, Q, J, or A.

In addition, split up a pair of JoB with four cards to having a lower Straight Flush or a Royal Flush. These are the simple techniques for playing video poker. After familiarizing yourself with these tactics, you can use the optimal strategy that’s more accurate but complex.

Video Poker Variants/Variations

Statistically, there are about 100 variants of video poker on online gaming platforms. That’s overwhelming for beginners trying to learn the game, primarily because each features multiple pay tables. Therefore, we won’t glut you with all these variations. We’ll discuss the most popular variations, including Jacks or Better, Tens or Better, Deuces Wild, and Aces and Eights.

There are other versions of the game, such as Bonus Poker, which have a higher payout. You may also find jackpot and multiplay variants of the game. In multiplay versions, you can wager several hands simultaneously.

1.      Jacks or Better

We advise beginners learning to play video poker to kick off their online play with this variant. That’s because it has a more straightforward paytable compared to the other versions. In addition, it’s a fan favorite, thus being played by most gamblers. It’s based on the 5-card draw poker and uses a single deck of 52 playing cards.

The minimum winning hand in this variation is a pair of Jacks or Better. So, that’s where the version draws its name. The highest/ best hand here is the Royal Flush and pays out 4,000 coins with a max bet of 5 coins/credits. You’ll find others referring to the game as 9/6.

2.      Deuces Wild

Also, amongst admirable VP games is Deuces Wild. In this version, all 2s are wild. So, that means the 2s can substitute any other cards to help you make a better or winning hand. However, in this version, a pair of jacks isn’t a winning hand. Additionally, the Deuces Wild pay table begins with a Three of a Kind.

When a Royal Flush’s achieved with the help of the wild card, the hand’s usually known as a Deuces Royal Flush. The Deuces Royal Flush is the 2nd best hand after normal/Natural Royal Flush.

3.      Tens or Better

Tens or Better is a desired variation of Jacks or Better. It’s similar to Jacks or Better, but the difference is that the minimum winning/payout hand’s a pair of Tens.

4.      Aces and Eights

Last but not least is the Aces and Eights variation that’s also similar to Jacks or Better. Here, a Four-of-a-Kind of either Eights or Aces will earn you more. With a max bet of 5 credits, the two hands, 4 Eights, or 4 Aces will win you 400 coins.

It’s also played with a single deck of 52 playing cards. The paytable is also similar to the Jacks or Better one.

All the above versions are beginner-friendly, and we advise you to start playing them before advancing to other variations. In addition, before playing your ideal variant for real money, you can practice by playing the free versions of the game available at our casinos.

Video Poker Odds & Payouts

We earlier discussed the different winning hands in video poker. Here, we’ll look at the payouts each winning hand will give you with bets ranging from 1-5 coins. Every VP variant has a paytable that might differ from others. In addition, depending on the software provider and the online casino operator, they may also vary.

Since full pay Jacks or Better is a well-liked variant, we’ll look at its sample paytable. As stated before, JoB is also known as 9/6 JoB. That’s because the payout for a Full House and a Flush is 9 and 6 coins/credits, respectively.

VP Hands1 Credit/Coin2 Credits/Coins3 Credits/Coins4 Credits/Coins5 Credits/Coins
Royal Flush25050075010004000
Straight Flush50100150200250
4 of a Kind255075100125
Full House918273645
3 of a Kind3691216
Two Pairs246810
Jacks or Better12345


The lowest hand here is the Jacks or Better and pays even money. That means if you wager with 1 coin, you’ll receive one extra credit. Similarly, if you wager with max credits (5), you earn an additional five coins. With a max bet on the Royal Flush, you win a staggering 4,000 coins.

If you’re lucky enough to have that winning hand, you’ll have a bankroll that mere mortals would only dare dream. That’s why you should always bet with max coins. The house edge for this paytable is a minute 0.46%- the lowest of all casino games.

Where to Play Video Poker for USA Players

We recommend these casinos:

Ignition Casino

Our current favorite for players from the USA or Australia. Ignition casino offers eight versions of video poker including Bonus Deuces Wild, Joker Poker 1 Hand, 3 Hands or 10 Hands, Jacks or Better 1 Hand, 3 Hands or 10 Hands, & Double Double Bonus Poker.

The games are supplied by recognized game developers such as Revolver Gaming and RTG. These games have high-definition video graphics that allow gaming across multiple devices. More importantly, this casino has some of the fastest payouts of winnings on the planet, along with responsive 24/7 customer service.

Read Review →

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Wild Casino

This is an online casino that caters to USA players by offering a safe gaming experience with responsive customer service. The top notch software includes a large assortment of games with single hand versions of Tens or Better, Joker Poker, Double Joker, Deuces Wild, Faces & Faces, Jacks or Better & Deuces Wild. They also offer multi-hand versions of Tens or Better, Joker Poker, Jacks or Better, Double Joker, Deuces Wild, Deuces & Poker, and Aces & Faces. There's a generous bonus for all new players, and a myriad of deposit and speedy cashout options.

Read Review →

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Cafe Casino

Established in 2020, Cafe Casino is a relative newcomer to the gaming scene but they have established an impeccable reputation amongst players for offering state of the art video poker games along with responsive customer support, and fast payouts. New players can of course claim a generous sign-up bonus, and they offer multiple deposit options including by Bitcoin.

Read Review →

Visit Cafe Casino →

Where to Play Video Poker for International Players

For readers from other jurisdictions we have compiled the following guides:


Video poker’s global appeal among online gamblers is exceptional. With a Royal Flush hand, you stand to win crazy sums of money. That’s why we, the experts, advise you always bet with maximum coins (five) on that hand. It’s a Hail Mary opportunity that knocks once, and you wouldn’t want to miss out.

Th game has other multiple hands you can win with at our endorsed online casinos. The best part about video poker is holding certain cards that may give you a winning hand. In a similar fashion, you may also discard the ones not in your favor to improve your hand.

Our beginner’s guide has explicated every detail crucial to give you an edge against other players. The goal is always to have a hand that beats all others to win. Our recommended online platforms have the best bonuses and video poker variants in the industry. Sign up and live the thrill yourself. Soon, you’ll be framing video poker and sticking it on the mantlepiece.

Stephany loves gaming, she is especially fond of bingo games, blackjack, slot machines, and old school Nintendo. She has a special place in her heart for Sega and online poker.