Video Poker: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering the Game

How to play video poker - guide
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Video poker is a classic casino game, based on five-card draw poker. Video poker machines have been around since the mid-70s and have been a staple in live casinos ever since. Thanks to the advancement of technology and the advent of online casinos, online video poker is now one of the most popular casino games on the market.

This guide will teach you the basics of video poker & how to play it. We will also show you the most popular video poker game types.

Let’s get started with…

The Basics of Video Poker

The basic rules of video poker could not be simpler. While there are many different variations of this game, they all have a very similar gameplay structure. You play one to five coins, or credits, depending on your bankroll. The higher the coins/credits wagered, the more you stand to win. 5 random cards are dealt to you by the video poker machine.

Then, you simply click on the cards you wish to ‘hold’. The remaining cards are discarded and replaced with new ones. This then leaves you with your final hand and the machine pays out winnings according to the value of your hand.

You can continue to play more hands from your previous winnings or choose to cash out.

How to Play Video Poker

Now that you have an overview, let’s go through a standard game step by step.

  1. Video poker games are played with a digitalised 52-card deck. Some games may include one or more Joker cards. The Joker card is usually determined as wild, meaning it can be played as anything you need it to be to create a high-ranking hand.
  2. First off, you place your wager. Video poker uses credits or coins. You have the option to select how much each credit is worth.
  3. After your wager is placed, you will see buttons that are labelled ‘Bet One‘ and ‘Bet Max‘. These buttons allow you to automatically place your bets (one credit bet or a max bet of 5 credits on each hand).
  4. At the top of the screen, you will see the pay table. This graphic tells you how much each hand will win depending on how much you wager.
  5. If you’re happy with your wager and the pay table, you can hit the button labelled ‘Draw/Deal’. Once pressed the game will randomly generate five cards from the deck.
  6. The player then chooses which cards he/she wants to keep and which ones they want to discard. You do this by simply clicking on the card you want to hold. Most games will prompt you if you’ve been dealt a ranking hand. Once you’ve clicked on the cards you want to hold, you press the deal/draw button again.
  7. The game then replaces the cards you chose not to hold with random cards from the remaining deck.
  8. Once the cards are replaced, the player’s final hand is revealed. If lucky, the machine will pay out according to your hand ranking. Don’t worry if you’re not used to ranking poker hands, the game will tell you if you’ve drawn a ranking hand.

Video Poker Hand Rankings

Like in almost all variants of poker, hand rankings in video poker are standard. The one hand that isn’t counted in this version of poker is ‘High Card’. This is because you are not playing against other players, but rather against a machine. Although video poker machines automatically display if you have a winning hand on the screen, which eliminates the need for knowing ranking hands, it is always useful to know:

Royal flush – Ace, King, Queen, Jack & 10, all of the same suit

Straight flush – 5 cards in sequence, all of the same suit.

Four of a Kind – Four Cards of the same rank.

Full House – Having three of a kind, and a pair

Flush – Five cards of the same suit

Straight – 5 cards in sequence

Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank

Two Pair – Two sets of cards of the same rank

Jacks or Better/Kings or Better – A pair of Jacks, Queens or Kings

Different Types of Video Poker

As we’ve stated previously, there are many different variations of video poker games. They all have a very similar gameplay structure. The hand rankings and pay tables are the main difference between them. Let’s go through our top four favourite video poker games.

Jacks or Better

Jacks or better is possibly the most popular video poker game in the world. The main feature of this variant is, as the name suggests, you can score a win if you have a pair of Jacks in your hand or something better. This follows the rules of 5 card draw very closely, with the main exception being one pair lower than a pair of Jacks isn’t counted as a winning hand. Nor is High-Card counted as a hand. Jacks or better can also be called Draw Poker or 9/6 Jacks or better.

Jack or better video poker

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is an extremely popular video poker game, and almost as popular as Jacks or better. The wild 2s, or deuces, are the feature that makes this game unique and highly addictive to play. A wild deuce can be played as any card. This makes the hand rankings different to other game variants. Three of a Kind is the lowest-ranking hand which will get you a payout. A Natural royal flush (one without deuces) is the strongest-ranking hand. Deuces Wild also contains a few other strong-ranking hands which don’t appear in table poker or other video poker games. These include 4 Deuces (all wild 2s), Royal flush with Deuces (a royal flush made up with the wild 2s), and 5 of a Kind (4 of a kind with a wild 2 acting as a second card to make 5 of the same card value).

Many people prefer Deuces Wild as the skill set needed is slightly lower due to the reliance on wild 2s to make a strong and winning hand.

Some strategies for Deuces Wild include;

  • Getting rid of a non-deuce card in a hand with 4 deuces
  • Getting rid of one card that has been dealt with 2 deuces and 2 cards to a straight or royal flush
  • Keeping all cards in a winning hand with one deuce.

Deuces wild video poker

Bonus Poker

Bonus poker is again very similar to Jack or Better, except Bonus Poker offers a higher payout percentage for four of a kind. The pay table and hand ranking are also different, with the strongest hands revolving around different types of four-of-a-kind.

On top of Bonus Poker, there is a similar version called double bonus poker. This version offers even more of an increase of four-of-a-kind hands.

Bonus Poker video poker

Joker Poker

Joker Poker, also known as Joker Wild, is very similar to Deuces Wild, with the only exception being the Joker cards are wild instead of the 2s, or Deuces. A wild card can be played as anything, so this increases the excitement of playing for high-ranking hands. People tend to prefer Deuces Wild over Joker Poker as you have more of a chance of drawing a wild card since there are 4 deuces in a standard deck. There are only 2 jokers in a deck, decreasing the chances of drawing a wild card.

The pay table and hand rankings are also slightly different in Joker Poker. The lowest hand ranking is a pair of Kings, with the 2nd highest ranking being 5 of a kind.

Joker Poker Video Poker

Video Poker Strategy

There are a few hints and tricks to help you beat the video poker machine.

Check the Paytable – Always make sure to check the pay table, as not all video poker games pay out the same amount for winning poker hands. This also goes for the ranking hands. If you have played a lot of one version and suddenly switched to another, you could be playing for a hand that your new version doesn’t pay out on.

Claim Bonuses – Always make sure to claim bonuses whenever you can. Claiming offers and promotions adds crucial credits to your bankroll, which will give you a better chance of winning.

Practice, Practice, Practice – Watching video guides, and studying strategy charts will undoubtedly increase your chances of success.

Learn which moves to make – Knowing which cards to keep and which ones to throw away, depending on your hand, could turn you into a video poker shark in no time.

Did You Know…

Throughout the 1980s, video poker became increasingly popular in casinos, because people found the games less intimidating to play than live table games.

Find Casinos to Play Video Poker Online

You can play free video poker on most sites that offer video poker games. Free video poker is a perfect way to get started playing poker in general. It lets you familiarise yourself with the basics of poker, the strategy, and the hands. Once you are confident, you can graduate to the best real money video poker game, which can be found at one of our recommended real money poker sites.

The Bottom Line

Whether you want to delve into the world of online poker or just want to brush up on your poker skills, video poker game variants are perfect for both beginner and advanced poker players.


  • Wikipedia. “Video Poker”,,the%20four%20of%20a%20kind.
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Noah Adams
Noah Adams
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Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.

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