Video Poker vs Slots: Which is Better? (2023)
Published7 months ago
Slots machines have been among the most popular gambling machines in any casino, be it online or land-based. Of course, video poker is also not too far behind for several reasons. It is less complex than real, traditional poker, where the player has to employ more advanced strategy, psychology, and other tools in order to outplay not the house but other players.
But, since both games are played on machines, there are both similarities and differences that they share. The similarities are enough to get players who lost on slots interested in video poker, but also, the slots are often attracting those who want to play a machine-based game without having to come up with a strategy.
Slots require nothing other than putting in your wager and pulling a lever or pressing the button. While arguably less exciting than other games, the spin of the mechanism on the machine is still more than enough to make the players’ hearts beat faster in expectation, but overall, slots are the simplest games that you can find in any casino.
Despite this, they are also the most numerous. Video poker, on the other hand, also has plenty of versions, and multiple machines throughout each individual casino, as some might find slits too simple, and they want a greater level of participation. If you fit into any of these two categories of players, then join us today as we take a careful and in-depth look into slots and video poker machines, see how they compare to one another, break down crucial aspects of both, and more.
Video poker vs Slots: What is the difference?
Despite video poker and slots both being hosted on similar-looking machines, they are two very different games. In fact, while comparing them ourselves, we found as many as 9 important differences between the two games. So, let’s break them down and see what they are about.
The first big difference between the two games is based on strategy. Simply put, video poker involves strategy, while slots do not. We mentioned this already, but slots are very simple, and all you need to do is drop in a token, a coin, or a banknote, press the button or pull a lever, wait for the spinning to end, and see if you have won something or not.
Video poker, on the other hand, is far simpler than real poker, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t involve strategy. You see, at the start of each game, you are dealt 5 cards. This is your hand, and the decision-making starts. The first choice that you need to make is whether to keep the hand or discard it. After that, there are additional decisions, all of which depend on what you are dealt and what you wish to play. You can discard the entire hand, or you can only discard a few cards. So, if you are playing 9/6 Jacks or Better, and you hold 6s, 4s, 9c, Js, 10c, the best move that you can make is to keep Js and discard the other cards.
This is a simple example, with the mentioned strategy being the best possible move. In fact, if you do anything other than the recommended move, the house edge will be higher, while your chances of winning would drop.
Meanwhile, with slots, the only strategy that you can focus on is how much money you will spend and which game you will play. Other than that, there are no other choices that you can make, as everything else is on the machine to do. You may find some of the newer machines featuring things like skill-based bonus rounds, but this only accounts for 5% of the overall payback.
In the end, video poker requires greater knowledge from the player, more strategizing, more skill, and a bit of luck.
2) Progressive Jackpot
Moving on, we have a feature that slots have while video poker doesn’t, and that’s progressive jackpots. These can be so rewarding that they can go up to being worth millions of dollars, and winning one truly is a jackpot in the full sense of the word. Naturally, not every slot will offer that much money, and winning a jackpot on any slot is extremely rare.
However, if you are lucky enough, you might make a fortune, and that possibility alone is what drives many slots players to keep returning to the machine.
And, in case you were wondering whether the stories about millions of dollars worth of jackpots, there have been several recorded occasions where it happened. For example, a 25-year-old software engineer once won a $39.7 million-large jackpot in Las Vegas’ Excalibur Casino. In another case, a cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay-Brennan became a millionaire in a second after winning $34.5 million in Desert Inn, also in Las Vegas.
Even online casino jackpots were known to take places, such as the case of Jon Heywood, a British soldier who won a jackpot of 17.8 million EUR, or around $22 million. There have been many other cases, but these are enough to prove our point — you can win a jackpot if you are lucky enough, and the winnings can be life-changing if you find yourself in the right place at the right time.
Video poker doesn’t really offer something like that. The biggest prize that they have are 4,000 coins that you can get if you get a royal flush. To be fair, there are some video poker machines that do have progressive jackpots, but they are rare, and the largest recorded progressive jackpot offered a $670,000 payout. While this is still no small amount of money, it can’t compare to what slots have to offer.
3) Higher payback for video poker players
While video poker doesn’t offer dozens of millions in jackpots, they are generally a lot more rewarding when it comes to regular winnings, as their paybacks are simply higher than what slots can offer.
For example, full-pay Deuces Wild offers a payback of 100.76%. Joker Poker offers a payback of 100.64%. 10/7 Double bonus offers 100.17%, 10/6 Double Double Bonus comes with 100.07% payback, and so on.
In comparison, the highest slots payback that we have on record comes from Mega Joker, with 99% payback, followed by Jackpot 6000 with 98.8%, and then Blood Suckers with 98%. The percentage keeps going further and further down from there. And, it is worth noting that these games offer far better returns than the ones in land-based casinos. But even so, video poker is simply more rewarding, whether online or in a brick-and-mortar casino.
4) Slots are more relaxing
Earlier in this comparison, we mentioned that video poker requires more strategizing, which means that users need to keep their guard up and carefully consider their decisions, decide on which cards to keep and which to discard, and alike.
There are no such things as slots, which is why many find slots to be more relaxing. All you need to do is approach the machine, feed it money, pull the lever, and see what happens. There is no need to think things through, and the only decision that you need to make is whether to keep going or to stop after each round.
Sometimes, you might trigger a bonus round or get free spins, but that’s about it. You may receive some small amount back depending on the symbols that the reels stop on, but that’s about it.
In video poker, you first have to select your bet size, then receive your initial 5 cards. Then you need to decide what to do with them, meaning which ones you wish to keep and which ones should you discard. Then, you click Draw to complete your hand. There is more thinking and considering involved here and at least one extra step than what you need to do compared to playing slots.
In slots, you make a decision to stop or keep going in a fraction of a second and act on it, while in video poker, you will often spend at least 5-10 seconds on average considering your options. Of course, this is not necessarily bad, but it all depends on what you wish to achieve. If you are just a casual gamer who wants some fun and relaxation, then slots are definitely a better option. But, if you are after strategy, deduction, and calculations, then video poker is a great choice for you.
5) It is easier to calculate video poker payback
If you are planning to go gambling on slots, it makes sense that you would want to know all you can about paybacks. For some slots, you can find that information through simple research, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, you might not find the information you are looking for for a machine that you have available in your local casino or the game that you prefer to play in an online casino.
You would essentially have to approach the game blind and try to figure out the frequency of the payouts on your own through countless spins or research of the paytable, at best. However, that would likely cost you a small fortune, not to mention that it would be time-consuming and pretty much the opposite of having fun.
From this point of view, video poker is a lot more organized and easier to figure out. All you need to know is what payouts charge the payback for specific variations of the game and you will be all set. Of course, there are certain things to note here, as well, such as the fact that some variations of the game may have more than two different payouts on the paytable, but as long as you know what to look for in any given game, the rest is pretty transparent and easy to find and figure out.
6) Extra comps at slot machines
Slots machine’s house edge is pretty big, which is an obvious downside of these games. But, this is balanced out by the fact that slots also offer more comps. For example, whenever you lose a game at slots, you earn a 2% comp rate. So, if your game comes with 5% house edge, and you bet $2,000, in theory, your loss will be $100, which is calculated by multiplying the amount of 2,000 by 0.05. As a result, you would get $2 in comps.
The situation is significantly different in video poker, where you earn a 2% comp rate. So, let’s say that in this situation, you are playing 8/5 Bonus Poker, where the house edge is 0.83%. If you once again bet $2,000, you would, theoretically, lose only $16.60. The calculation in this scenario is 2,000 x 0.0083, which would mean that you would get $0.33 in comps.
Now, a common rule is to avoid playing for comps, as you can see that it doesn’t pay that well, and your losses would be $83.40 less than slots if you use the same amount and end up in the same situation as described in the example. The good news, however, is that slots can offer more comps, which will significantly soften the blow.
7) Video Poker offers the ability to make long-term winnings
When gambling, your goal is to take any advantage that you can find. That means learning the best and most successful strategies, lowering the house edge, increasing your own odds, and more. So, since players will need any advantage that they can get, many opt to seek out machines that offer positive expectations (+EV).
These are not so easy to find these days, but it is still possible, especially in places like Las Vegas, if you look hard enough. Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to slots. You will not find a single game anywhere with the payback being above 100%. Earlier, we mentioned several +EV video poker games, including Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus.
The latter two do not offer a particularly big edge, even if you use the perfect strategy. However, if you are a skilled player, then Joker Poker and Deuces Wild can bring a noticeable difference in winnings. The numbers don’t lie, and the probability figures say that Deuces Wild can bring you $7.60 for every 1,000 hands played. For Joker Poker, that amount is somewhat lower, sitting at $6.40. Double Bonus only lets you win $1.70 under those circumstances, while Double Double Bonus has the lowest winnings of $0.70 for every 1,000 hands played.
On their own, these win rates will not exactly earn you a full-time living. However, if you are an expert, you can make a living with Deuces Wild and Joker Poker, provided that you take advantage of double and triple-point promotions. But, if you don’t seek to become a professional and you only want to have a good time while playing, then Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus will let you win decent amounts and entertain yourself along the way.
8) Slots let you win more if you play online
If we are talking about the amounts that you might win in online casinos, then this is the area where slots get another point in their favor. Slots are well-known for offering much greater winnings in online casinos than in land-based ones. There are no specific figures to back this up, but the estimates say that online slots can offer 96% returns on average, while brick-and-mortar casino slots only offer around 93% to 94% returns. This might not seem like a massive difference, but with high enough amounts, it can be quite noticeable.
On the other hand, video poker return to player percentage is pretty much the same regardless of where you play the game. In other words, you may as well stay in the comfort of your home or play on your mobile device on the go. If you play slots, chances are that you will win more than you would in a land-based casino, and if you are a video poker fan, then your winnings will remain unchanged.
9) Video Poker depends on max bets for top payback
The last great difference between video poker and slots lies in how to achieve top payback. In video poker, the rule is that you need to make the max bet of 5 coins in order to get the max payback. As a result, you get to receive a much larger royal flush payout with all 5 coins wagered.
Essentially, a 5-coin bet can grant you a 4,000-coin royal flush. If you were to only bet 4 coins, then the royal flush can only bring you 1,000 coins. For a 3-coin bet, the royal flush rewards you with 750 coins, and you would only get 500 of them for a 2-coin bet. Lastly, a 1-coin bet gets the minimal winnings of a 250-coin royal flush.
As you can see the greatest difference is between a 4-coin bet and a 5-coin bet. In exchange for adding a single coin, you get a 3,000-coin jump for the royal flush payout, which is massive.
If we take a look at slots, on the other hand, there are some machines that require you to make specific bets in order to qualify for the maximum jackpot or to win bonus rounds as well. However, these are not the norm, and you are far more likely to run into machines that don’t have such requirements.
Video poker vs Slots: What are the similarities?
As we have seen, the differences between video poker and slots are many, which confirms our original statement that these are two very different games. However, that doesn’t mean that they do not share a few similarities, as well. For example:
1) Both use a Random Number Generator
In order for casino games to be truly fair and offer equal chances for victory to everyone, they rely on random number generators. A random number generator, as the name suggests, is software that offers completely random sequences of numbers. They cannot be predicted in any way, so there is no way for anyone to cheat, including casinos.
Both slots and video poker machines use this software to ensure that every round is based on nothing but random chance. Of course, there have always been those who believe that they can identify a pattern to the numbers produced by the generators, but that is not possible, and any apparent pattern is nothing but a coincidence. It is important to understand that, because believing that you have identified the pattern can lead to bad gambling decisions where the player bets everything, convinced of victory, only for the supposed pattern to fail and the player loses their entire wager.
Casinos have no need to cheat you. It is in human nature to continue taking risks for as long as we can afford it, and all that casinos need to do is wait. Eventually, your losses will pile up if you don’t know when to stop, which is why you can be certain that these random generators are truly random.
2) Both are great alternatives to table games
Being new to gambling in land-based casinos can be difficult, and it can lead to a lot of awkward situations when you sit down to play a table game. You will make mistakes simply because you lack the experience and you might not be sure how to behave at the table, what to do, what not to do, and alike.
You might even be lectured by other players, or you may cause impatient reactions if you take too long to make a decision. In any event, this can be extremely discouraging, and it can ruin your experience, causing you to give up on playing table games.
Some players may even be intimidated by the very idea of trying for the first time, and they might never even try gambling in the first place. Fortunately, video poker and slot machines offer an alternative. You can try gambling on your own, with much greater privacy, where only you and the machine are included, and the machine will not criticize a bad move, comment on it, and alike.
The worst that can happen is that you will lose your money, and if you follow the golden rule of gambling, which is not to risk the money you can’t afford to lose, then you will be perfectly fine, and you can learn on your mistakes on your own. This helps to reduce the anxiety, encourages players to try again and again until they get it right.
3) The same games, different payback
Another similarity to keep in mind is that the same video poker and slot games can have very different paybacks. This depends on the paytable, and it is typically only the case in brick-and-mortar casinos. Essentially, it means that you can play the same game in two different casinos and in one of them, the payback would be 92% and in another, it might be higher or lower, such as 89%.
Online casinos typically don’t do this, and the payout percentage tends to remain the same. Perhaps this is because it is easier to identify the payback on online platforms and then switch to a different casino if you don’t like what you see while going from one physical casino to another might be too much work, so the players would simply accept that the payback is lower and they will go along with it.
4) Both feature betting options
Finally, our last similarity on the list is the fact that you can choose different betting options in both games, depending on your preferences and capabilities. We mentioned that, in video poker, you can choose to bet from 1 to 5 coins. You can also play multiple hands per turn if you choose triple play, or you can make side bets.
As for slots, you can change the coin size from $0.01 to $1, adjust pay lines, change coins per line, or use the double-up option when you win, which is useful for slot strategies.
So, with all that said, we have seen that video poker and slots share similarities, but they also have their differences. We have been able to identify twice as many differences than similarities, which, as mentioned, confirms our original statement that these are two very different games.
But, these differences are a good thing. They separate the games and define them as unique, different experiences. Meanwhile, players can simply choose the type of game that they wish to play, depending on how involved they wish to be, and how complex they want their game to be.
Slots are also more rewarding if you can hit jackpot, while video poker is more rewarding for standard payouts. Both can be played online or in land-based casinos, they offer different betting options, and they allow you to bet privately, away from other players, which is a great thing for newcomers to the world of online gambling who might be too intimidated by the idea of playing in front of others, especially when it comes to professionals.
But, both are also fine to play online, with even greater privacy. In fact, slots are more rewarding that way, while video poker offers the same chance of winning the same amounts of money. So, if you want to win some cash and don’t really care about the loud and flashy casino experience, then that is definitely a great option to consider.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.
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