Video poker offers you incredibly high RTP: in fact up to 99.73% RTP! It’s also very easy to play.
In our Complete Guide to Online Video Poker, we’ll cover everything you need to know (whether you play online or in a casino) about video poker.
We’ve also gathered a collection of tips and stories from video poker experts across the country to provide you with the best video poker guide in America!
Let’s get started.
Is Video Poker Legal in America?
Video poker can be played at land-based casinos or online.
While only a few states have legalized online casinos, the majority of states across the country do offer some type of licensed gambling venue that would feature video poker machines.
It’s only illegal if you’re playing at an unlicensed site or room, and penalties vary by state.
Can I Play Offshore Video Poker Rooms?
It’s always been possible to play video poker with offshore casinos. Offshore companies operate illegally in the U.S. Still, the nature of anti-gambling laws means the target is the operator, rather than the player.
However, now it is increasingly hard to find a way to deposit, much less withdraw, funds to an offshore account. Most major credit cards will not allow transactions with offshore casinos as they operate illegally in the U.S.
You won’t get any help from US regulatory borders if you’re playing with a site based exclusively in Europe, for example.
Are Video Poker games rigged?
Legal, state-approved video poker games are definitely not rigged. The software is programmed with a random number generator.
The state’s gaming division also monitors the games for fairness. Any casino caught rigging games would be fined very heavily.
Gaming regulations require that gaming devices must have random outcomes of game play results. In order to satisfy this requirement, games of all types use a random number generator (RNG) software algorithm to determine game outcome.
While the game is in the idle state, i.e. waiting for someone to deposit a coin or push a play credit button, the RNG algorithm is called hundreds of times every second.
The RNG has approximately 16,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible outcomes and, depending on the game type, there will be many billions of outcomes that map into any set of cards, or keno balls, or slot machine symbols.
This ensures that all IGT games are completely random, just as if the cards were dealt from a perfectly shuffled deck.
What is Video Poker?
First, let’s cover the basics. Video poker has virtually the same rules as a game of five card draw poker.
The only difference is that you have no opponent to beat and you can’t lose more than your initial bet. First, you deposit from one to five coins in the machine to make your bet.
You are then shown five cards on the video screen and your goal is to try to make the best poker hand possible from those cards.
Since it is a draw game, you are given one opportunity to improve your hand. This is done by allowing you to discard from one, up to all five cards from your original hand.
Of course, you don’t have to discard any if you don’t want to. After choosing which cards you want to keep (by pushing the button below each card), you then push the deal button and the machine will replace all of the other cards with new cards.
Based on the resulting final hand the machine will then pay you according to the pay schedule posted on the machine.
Naturally, the better your hand, the higher the amount the machine will pay you back.
Watch as casino author/expert Steve Bourie teaches you the details on how video poker machines work and how to be a long-term winner at the game, below!
What is the difference between physical video poker and online?
The feel of online video poker is nearly identical to a physical machine. The rules are the same.
The main differences are in your favor: you can start out with a great bonus that gives you an edge up!
You can also find games with a much higher return to player than you’ll ever find in a land-based casino.
What is the difference between physical video poker and slots?
Okay, who knows the main difference between video poker and slot machines?
C’mon now, raise your hands if you think you know it.
If you said “a slot machine is a game of luck and video poker is a game of skill” then you are correct!
When you play a slot machine there is no decision you can make which will affect the outcome of the game. You put in your money; pull the handle; and hope for the best.
In video poker, however, it is your skill in playing the cards which definitely affects the outcome of the game.
Okay, who knows the other major difference between video poker and slot machines?
Well, you’re right again if you said “you never know what percentage a slot machine is set to pay back, but you can tell a video poker machine’s payback percentage just by looking at it.”
Of course, if you knew that answer then you also knew that video poker machines almost always offer you better returns than slot machines (provided you make the right playing decisions).
Which Video Poker Games Pay Out the Best?
Now that you understand how a video poker machine works let’s learn how to pick out the best paying ones.
It takes a little bit of knowledge to know the difference among all the different types of machines. An example of some of the different machines available are: Tens or Better, Jacks or Better, Two Pairs or Better, Joker Poker and Deuces Wild.
To make it even more confusing, not only are there different machines, but each of those machines can have a different pay schedule for the same hand.
Fortunately, every video poker machine’s payback percentage can be mathematically calculated.
Not only does this let you know which machines offer you the best return, but it also tells you the best playing decisions to make on that particular machine based on the odds of that combination occurring.
The bad news, however, is that it’s fairly impossible to do on your own so you’ll have to either buy a book that lists all of the percentages and strategies or buy a computer program that does the work for you.
Many online casinos offer video poker variations with some amazingly high Return to Player (RTP) percentages.
And by far, Game King’s video poker is leading the pack here! Check out these high RTP values:
- Triple Play Draw Poker (playing Deuces Wild): 99.73% RTP
- Five Play Draw Poker (playing Deuces Wild): 99.73% RTP
- Jacks or Better: 99.54% RTP
- Double Double Bonus Poker: 99.51% RTP
- Bonus Poker: 99.16% RTP
- Double Bonus Poker: 98.98% RTP
How to Find the Best Paying Video Poker Machines in Any Casino with Gambling Author Linda Boyd
Steve Bourie, author of the American Casino Guide, interviewed gambling author Linda Boyd for information on how to choose the best paying video poker machines in any casino.
Topics covered include: the main difference between slots and video poker; how to read a video poker paytable; how differences in the paytable affect the overall payback for a video poker machine; a definition of ER (expected return); which video poker game is the best to play; how volatility affects the game; and more!
Tips for For Finding the Best Payout Video Poker Machines
Play Machines that Have High Returns
First, you’ll need to find the machines that offer you the highest returns. One of the best is the 9/6 Jacks or Better machine.
Of course, you’re probably wondering “what exactly is a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine?” Well, the Jacks or Better part refers to the fact that you won’t win anything from the machine unless you have at least a pair of Jacks.
The 9/6 part refers to the payback schedule on this kind of machine.
As stated earlier, each machine can have a different payback schedule and there are at least 20 different kinds of payback schedules available on Jacks or Better machines.
In Las Vegas, the two most common Jacks or Better machines you will find are 8/5 and 9/6. Here’s a comparison of their pay schedules (per coin, for five-coin play):
|One Pair J’s||1||1|
As you can see, the schedules are identical except for the better payoffs on the 9/6 machines for Flushes and Full Houses.
The payback on a 9/6 machine is 99.5% with perfect play, while the 8/5 machines return 97.3% with perfect play. Of course, it doesn’t make any sense to play an 8/5 machine if a 9/6 machine is available.
Yet, in Las Vegas you’ll see lots of people playing an 8/5 when a 9/6 can often be found in the same casino. The reason they do that is because they don’t know any better; you do.
Always look for the 9/6 machines. They can be found in every downtown Las Vegas casino and most, but not all, strip casinos. In other states, including New Jersey, they won’t be found as easily.
In Mississippi we found a few, but it took some searching and not every casino had them. If you can’t find one be sure to double-check with the Slot Host to see if they’re offered.
One other common machine you will come across is an 8/5 Jacks or Better progressive. These feature the same 8/5 pay table as above except for the royal flush which pays a jackpot amount that is displayed on a meter above the machine.
The jackpot will continue to build until someone hits a royal flush; then it will reset and start to build again. If the jackpot on a 25¢ machine is above $2,240 (for five coins) then you should play it. If it’s below $2,240 then stick to the regular 9/6 machines.
Play the Same Type of Machine
Another good tip is to restrict your play to the same kind of machine all the time.
Each video poker machine has its own particular strategy and what works best on a Jacks or Better machine is definitely much different from what works best on a Deuces Wild machine.
Keep in mind that when you calculate the payback percentage for a video poker machine the number you arrive at is based on perfect play.
As an example, a 9/6 Jacks or Better video poker machine has a 99.5 percent payback with perfect play. This means that, theoretically, it will return $99.50 for every $100 played in the machine, but only if the player makes the correct decision every time.
If you make mistakes, and most players do, the return to the casino will be higher. If you play several different kinds of machines it becomes increasingly harder to remember the correct play to make and you will make mistakes.
Therefore, it only makes sense to memorize the correct decisions for one kind of machine and to always play on that same kind of machine (of course, in order to learn those proper strategies, you may want to buy that book or software).
Watch below, as Steve and Matt Bourie, from the American Casino Guide, give their five best tips for winning at video poker.
Topics covered include: getting a player’s club card; checking pay tables; finding the best video poker games; learning and practicing the correct strategies; and only playing when there are casino promotions available.
Where to find Game King video poker?
You can find Game King video poker at these online casinos in America.
Of course, with the largest legal online game selection in the U.S., it’s not surprising that Golden Nugget (New Jersey) has some of the best video poker you’ll find.
Video Poker Software Providers
Even when you play at a land-based casino, video poker uses software that’s very similar to what you’ll find online. Some of the leading providers for online video poker software are:
- Spin Games
- Game King/IGT
- Amaya Gaming
- PlayTech Video Poker
- Vegas Technology Video Poker
Most software providers offer slightly different versions of the same games, but their payouts can be quite different. For example, Spin Games’ Jacks or Better pays out less on a flush than other versions.
Online casinos rarely offer games from more than 2 different providers. To find the name of the provider, you need to either 1) click on the Information icon on the game or 2) do a search by name of game provider.
Video Poker Selection at Online Casino
Some online casinos offer an enormous video poker selection. We’ve gathered some of the top contenders here.
Borgata and BetMGM
- Bonus poker
- Double bonus poker
- Double double bonus poker
- Double double Regal poker
- Jacks or Better
- Game King Jacks or Better
- Ultimate Texas Holdem
- Destiny poker
- Deuces Wild
- Jester Poker
- Triple play Draw Poker Multi-hand
- Five play Draw Poker Multi-hand
- Texas Holdem Bonus poker
- Ultimate Texas Holdem
- Casino Holdem poker
SugarHouse Video Poker (Pennsylvania and New Jersey)
SugarHouse also has an outstanding selection of video poker titles. Here’s what you’ll find:
- Bonus Poker (Game King)
- Double Bonus Poker (Game King)
- Double Double Bonus Poker (Game King)
- Jacks or Better (Game King)
- Triple Play Draw Poker (Game King)
- Five Play Draw Poker (Game King)
- Ten Play Draw Poker (Game King)
- DJ Wild (Shufflemaster Games)
- Mississippi Stud (Spin Games)
- Texas Hold’em Plus (Spin Games)
- Regal Poker (Spin Games)
- Double Regal Poker (Spin Games)
- Double Double Regal Poker (Spin Games)
- Regal Poker Delux (Spin Games)
- Jester Poker (Spin Games)
- Deuces Wild (Spin Games)
- Jacks or Better (Spin Games)
Golden Nugget online (New Jersey)
Golden Nugget also has nearly 20 video poker games. These include:
- Tens or Better
- Triple Play Draw Poker
- Bonus Poker
- Regal Poker
- Deuces Wild
- Aces and Faces
How to Play Video Poker Games
Playing video poker is quite easy. For most games, you only have only two decisions to make:
- How much do you want to bet?
- Do you keep or discard any cards from your hand?
Generally, #1 is the same for all games; you can always choose your bet amount.
#2 may be different depending on which game you’re playing. That is, some poker variations let you swap out more cards than others.
But some variations have additional bets. For example, the NetEnt has a version called Jacks or Better Double Up. This has a bonus bet opportunity built in called the Gamble feature. Here, you can try to guess the color or suit of the next card. If you’re right, you “double up” your winnings.
What is the difference between video poker and poker sites?
Video poker is played against a computer software. It has enhanced graphics and sound to give you that live-poker feeling.
Poker sites are usually more basic in their appearance. You play against other live players, not the computer.
Both kinds of poker use a random number generator to randomize the draw of the cards. It’s the virtual equivalent of shuffling.
How Do I Find Video Poker?
To find a video poker game, find the Games tab on your online casino’s page, and scroll down for video poker. (Some sites have a separate tab for video poker.)
Be sure to find “video poker” if that’s what you want to play (instead of at an online poker table). Sites like 888, Borgata, and PartyPoker that have both casino games and poker sites have a tab that will take you to their poker site.
Here, clicking the Poker tab would take you to poker tables, not video poker.
On your screen, you’d click in the area circled in red to find video poker.
Video Poker Strategy
Your video poker strategy is simple: build the best hand you can. The order of best possible hands will depend slightly based on which game you are playing. But your only decision is whether you should hold or exchange your cards.
Video poker involves a lot more luck than strategy. You are not playing against other players, so you won’t benefit from anyone else’s bad decisions.
Also, the game uses a random number generator to select which cards are drawn. It is randomized with every dealing, which would be like playing with an infinite deck.
That means that card counting doesn’t work with video poker. You only know that cards you can see and that you’ve discarded.
Free Video Poker Strategy Charts
Listed below are links for video poker strategy charts. You can print them out and take them with you to the casino so you know how to properly play your hand in any given situation. Good Luck!
Please Note – These charts are in a PDF format and you will need to use Acrobat Reader to print them out. If you don’t already have that program installed on your computer you can visit Adobe’s website and download it for free.
Just go to – http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html Then, click on “Download.”
When looking at the 9/6 chart there are a few things that should seem rather obvious. We list them, below.
1) A low pair is relatively good
Of the 36 possible hands, a low pair is #16 which means there are 20 hands worse than a low pair. If you look at the 15 hands that are better than a low pair eight of them are pat hands that require no draw. Of the other seven hands, six of them are four card hands and the remaining hand is a three-card royal flush.
2) Don’t hold three cards trying to get a straight or flush
Nowhere on the chart do you see that you should hold three cards to try for a straight or flush. In some instances you should hold three cards to try for a straight flush, but never a straight or flush.
3) Rarely draw to an inside straight
Inside straights (6,7,_,9,10) appear only twice on the chart and only in rather bad positions: #30 (with three high cards) and #25 (with four high cards).
It is much easier to draw to an outside straight (_7,8,9,10_) where you can complete your straight by getting the card you need on either end.
Open end straights appear four times on the chart and in much higher positions than inside straights: #21 (with no high cards), #18 (with one high card), #17 (with two high cards) and #15 (with three high cards).
4) Don’t hold a kicker
A kicker is an unpaired card held with a pair. For example (8,8,K) or (K,K,9) are examples of hands where an extra card (the kicker) is held. Never hold a kicker because they add no value to your hand!
Keep in mind that the strategy tables shown here are only for Jacks or Better and are not valid for games played with wild cards such as Joker Poker, Deuces Wild, Double Joker, etc. Those games employ a completely different strategy and it would be wrong to use these strategies for those kinds of machines.
For your information, there are exactly 2,598,960 unique poker hands possible on a video poker machine (when played without a joker).
On a 9/6 Jacks or Better machine a royal flush will occur about once every 40,000 hands; a straight flush about every 9,000 hands; four-of-a-kind about every 425 hands; a full house about every 87 hands; a flush about every 91 hands; a straight about every 89 hands; three-of-a-kind about every 14 hands; two pairs about every 8 hands; and a pair of Jacks or better about every 5 hands.
The interesting thing to note here is that both a flush and a straight are harder to get than a full house, yet a full house always has a higher payback than either of them.
The majority of the time, about 55% to be exact, you will wind up with a losing hand on a 9/6 machine.
Strategy Videos with Video Poker Experts
Perfect your video poker strategy with advice from casino gambling experts!
How to Become a Winning Video Poker Player with Video Poker Expert Henry Tamburin
Gambling author and video poker expert Henry Tamburin explains how casino-goers can learn how to become winning video poker players.
Topics covered include: why video poker is better than a slot machine; how to find the best-paying video poker machines; how to use the correct playing strategy; how to take advantage of casino comps and cashback programs; plus much more.
How to Become a Professional Video Poker Player with Video Poker Expert Bob Dancer
Steve Bourie, interviews video poker expert Bob Dancer about How to Become a Professional Video Poker Player. Bob has won more than one million dollars playing video poker and he gives his tips on how anyone can learn the information needed to become a professional player.
Topics covered include: how to find the best games, analyzing the benefits of players clubs, using proper strategies, practicing with video poker software, how much a player can be expected to earn, plus much more.
Six Tips to be a Smarter Video Poker Player
Watch this two part series as gambling expert Henry Tamburin discusses six tips to become a smarter video poker player.
Topics covered include: only playing full-pay games, learning proper strategies and making max coin bets, plus having a sufficient bankroll.
Topics covered include: Knowing the volatility of the game you choose, increasing the games overall return with players club benefits, and keeping a gambling journal for tax purposes.
Top 10 Mistakes Video Poker Players Make with Mike “Wizard of Odds” Shackleford
This is two-part series where Mike Shackleford, also known as the “Wizard of Odds” gives his top 10 list of mistakes that video poker players make.
Topics covered include: playing lousy pay tables; not playing maximum coins; not using a player card; not using a mathematically-based strategy; and making accidental errors.
Topics covered include: over-tipping on jackpots; not paying attention to promotions; leaving a game in a high state; leaving credits in the machine; and playing a defective machine.
Types of Online Video Poker Games
There are over a dozen types of video poker. We’ll review some of the most popular.
As the name suggests here, 2s are wild. That turns a losing hand toward some great possibilities. No wonder it has such an incredibly low house edge: 0.27%!
The great thing is that the game automatically calculates the best hand for you when you have those wild deuces. So you’ll get the best possible hand automatically.
Play “Deuces Wild” on Game King’s Triple-Play and Five-Play poker for an unbeatable RTP: 99.73%! Available at these casinos:
- 888 (New Jersey)
- Borgata (New Jersey)
- Golden Nugget (New Jersey)
- SugarHouse (New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
- Hard Rock (New Jersey)
- BetMGM (New Jersey)
- Hollywood (Pennsylvania)
- PartyCasino (New Jersey)
- Virgin (New Jersey)
- Tropicana (New Jersey)
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is one of the most popular video poker games (although you have better odds with other versions). In this variation, only hands with at least a pair of jacks can play. If you’re the only one with a pair of jacks, you win!
As you might imagine, that cuts out a lot of action.
Jacks or Better, order of winning hands:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pairr
Bonus Poker uses the same hands as Jacks or Better. However, the value of the cards is the opposite. In Bonus Poker, you want the lower cards. So, for example, four aces, 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s are all very strong hands.
Why Play Online Video Poker?
While going to the land-based casino to play video poker may seem like the more appealing option, playing online will be a lot more beneficial short and long term.
There is nothing worse than the hassle of having to travel hours just to find the closest land-based casino to play video poker. Playing video poker online has become increasingly more popular for the big reason that you don’t have to go anywhere to play.
If you live in a state where legal online casinos are offered, it only takes a few minutes to get started playing video poker. All you need is a stable internet connection and a device to play on. Playing video poker online allows you to play when you want, wherever you want.
Something you will rarely see at the land-based venue is the chance to claim a bonus and use it on any games on the casino floor. Online video poker is one of the many choices of games you have to use your casino bonus on.
Claim an offer just for signing up and use the bonus cash on video poker to get a hang of how it’s played, but also potentially win some big cash prizes!
Your options for video poker are much larger online than at the land-based venue. Instead of a few machines on the casino floor, you have an almost unlimited video poker selection online. There are multiple available online video poker platforms, which you can access from the comfort of your own home minutes after creating a casino account.
Unlike at the brick and mortar casinos, you will never have to wait for a video poker online game to start due to too many people.
Can you Play Video Poker Games for Free?
Yes, you can play nearly all the online video poker games online for free. You can take welcome bonus dollars and apply that to video poker at most casinos. Then, if you win, withdraw after you’ve met the wagering requirement.
You can also play in demo mode, but you can’t make any money that way.
Video poker has such a low minimum bet that you can play for next to nothing online. We always like to put a little money down. You’ll play more seriously even if you just have $0.25 in the game.
Video Poker articles, videos and podcasts. Learn how to win at video poker. Find out the best strategies for playing video poker. Watch, read and listen to interviews with video poker experts that tell you the best tips for winning at video poker.
- Video Podcast – How to Become a Winning Video Poker Player with H. Tamburin
- Video Podcast – All about Video Poker with Michael “Wizard of Odds” Shackleford
- Video Podcast – Video Poker – How to Win and How it Works with Steve Bourie
- Audio Podcast – The changing face of video poker with Linda Boyd
- Audio Podcast – Setting your video poker goals with Jean Scott
- Audio Podcast – Basics of video poker with Linda Boyd
- Audio Podcast – Choosing the best video poker paytables with Jean Scott
- Audio Podcast – Becoming a professional video poker player with Bob Dancer
- Audio Podcast – Tips for improving video poker play with Linda Boyd
- Audio Podcast – Jean Scott discusses her helpful hints for video poker
- Audio Podcast – Dan Paymar shares his winning tactics for video poker