Video poker was introduced to casinos in the 1970’s and is now one of the most popular forms of gambling. It is a casino game based on five-card draw poker and is very simple to play. The appeal comes from the low house edge, the application of skill and the possibility of a very large win.

There are many variations of the game, ‘Jacks or Better’ being the most common. In Jacks or Better, payoffs begin at a pair of jacks. Full pay Jacks or Better is also known as 9/6 Jacks or Better because the payoff is 9 credits for a full house and 6 credits for a flush.

‘All American’ provides an increased payout for flushes, straights and straight flushes, but a reduced payout for full houses and two pairs. The full pay version, rarely available these days, is one of the highest return versions of video poker but requires a very complex play strategy.

‘Tens or Better’ is a variation of 6/5 Jacks or Better. As the name suggests, payout starts at a pair of tens, rather than a pair of Jacks. In ‘Deuces Wild’ all twos are wild. The payout for four of a kind makes up around one third of the payback percentage of the game. A four of a kind occurs every fifteen hands on average.

‘Bonus Poker’ offers an increased payout percentage for four of a kind. The game has many different versions, each with different bonus payouts based on the ranking of the four of a kind. ‘Double Bonus’ offers a bonus payout for four aces.


The earliest models for Video Poker appeared in the mid-1970’s when the first personal computers were produced. The game became established when International Game Technology introduced Draw Poker in 1979. Its popularity spread throughout the 1980’s as players found the game less intimidating than playing table games and the game now enjoys a prominent place on the gaming floors of most casinos.

When modern video poker games first appeared, the best-paying common variant of a particular game was called ‘Full-Pay’. Game variants that returned a lower payback percentage were referred to as ‘Short-Pay’. There are now many variations of the game that return more. Some Payback percentages on full-pay games are often close to (and occasionally more than) 100%.

Since the mid-1990s, Video Poker has flourished with the increasing speed of Internet connections, the increasing availability of computers and the development of online casino software. Video Poker was now accessible to everyone with a good Internet connection. Microgaming was one of the earliest providers of video poker on the World Wide Web. Many other companies have followed as the online gaming experience continues to improve in terms of graphics and sound quality.

How To Play

The rules of video poker are very simple. After making a wager and pressing the "deal" button, the machine will give the player five random cards from the deck. The player then chooses which to hold and which to discard and the machine replaces the discarded cards. The player is then paid off according to the value of their hand. 

Most video poker games are played with a standard 52-card deck. Joker wild games will include one or more jokers in the deck. Some games also offer progressive jackpots or other bonuses to encourage players to play for longer periods.

Pay tables allocate the payouts for hands and are based on a number of factors including how rare they are and the game variation. A pay table usually starts with a minimum hand of a pair of jacks, which pays out at even money. All of the other hand combinations in video poker are the same as in table poker i.e. two pair, three of a kind, straight (a sequence of five cards of different suits), flush (any five cards of the same suit), full house (a pair and a three of a kind), four of a kind (four cards of the same value), straight flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit) and royal flush (a Ten, a Jack, a Queen, a King and an Ace of the same suit).

Tips & Tricks

If you are considering playing video poker online, you will want to be sure that you’re playing at one of the top casinos in terms of graphics and reliability. There are many useful sites that provide full ratings and reviews of online casinos. These reviews usually include a list of the video poker games available along with the paytables offered at each of the casinos. You should try out several before you decide which site offers you the best in terms of bonuses and an enjoyable gaming experience.

For the serious video poker player, it is possible to gain a fractional advantage over the house by looking at the most liberal pay tables and playing them properly. By applying incentives such as cash back or free play, the tables can sometimes return over 100%. Learning to play using the correct strategy is vital if you hope to increase your prospects of winning.

The pay back calculations are based on the fact that every hand will be played with the correct strategy to achieve the best possible return. Holding the right cards on every hand is the only way to do this but the majority of players still fail to follow any real strategy when they play video poker.

You should always play the maximum coins so that you have a chance of being offered a bonus on the highest hand for five coins played. You should avail yourself of any special bonuses that can help to tilt the odds in your favour.

Some games offer a double-up feature. This is one of very few bets that you can make where there is no house advantage. Whether you make the double-up bet should depend on your reason for playing. You will have to factor in whether you want high or low volatility. If you are playing a 100%+ game, you should probably refuse it. If you want high volatility and wish to maximise return, including money bet on the double, then you should accept it.