Online Video Poker

Complete Guide on How to Play Online Video Poker in 2024

Online Casino Video Poker

If you ever stepped on a casino floor, you’ve surely come across video poker machines. Ever since Dale Electronics introduced the world’s first-ever video poker machine in 1970, they’ve become an essential addition to almost every land-based and online casino. 

What makes video poker games so sought after? Our guess is because these games have something slot machines don’t have — an element of skill. Video poker games provide an exciting alternative to slots and come in hundreds of different varieties. The fact that they’re based on five-card draw poker makes them even more appealing. 

Five-card draw is considered to be the original poker version, and the easiest to learn and play. This is often the first variant learned by beginners, before switching to Texas Hold’em or Omaha. Five-card draw is the type of poker all of us have played in home games.

Video poker games may not be as colorful and flashy as slots, but they are certainly more generous. Video poker has one of the lowest house edge of all casino games, and can be as low as 0.5%. This means that players have a real opportunity to win more than they lose. 

If we managed to capture your interest with this mini video poker intro, keep reading the article below. You’ll find a detailed guide that will teach you how video poker games are played, what are different types of video poker games, and more. Reading this article will help ensure that you fully understand what’s involved with online video poker gaming, and how it all works. Stay tuned!

How to Play Video Poker

Essentially, online video poker is a computerized version of video slots that can be found at brick-and-mortar casinos. The game is based on draw poker, which is by far the simplest poker variant. 

In video poker, players are dealt five cards, and they have an option of discarding one (or more) cards for a chance to draw new ones, and form a better combination. The difference between five-card and video poker is that in video poker players can swap all five of the initially dealt cards. 

The key objective of the game is to form the best possible poker hand combination, and then you get paid based on the payout table, which is presented somewhere on the playing screen. The hand rankings are identical to five-card draw so players familiar with the classic game should quickly understand the basics of video poker. 


Before cards are dealt in video poker, players are required to set the initial stake. By pressing the Deal button, the players will receive five initial cards. They can then either keep or discard any one of the cards (or all of them) in order to make the best winning combination possible.

The outcome of the draw is determined by a special program called the RNG (Random Number Generator). This software ensures that every video poker hand ever dealt is entirely random. In other words, the computer determines whether the player gets a winning hand.

It’s also important to understand video poker odds, or the probability of getting a particular winning hand in video poker. For instance, a hand of four Jacks will appear more often than a Royal Flush — the strongest poker hand, and most profitable one. Knowing the odds in video poker can massively increase your chances of winning.

Video Poker Chart

Video poker is one of the rare games in which the players’ input affects the outcome of the game. Every time the player presses the Deal button, he or she receives five cards and can play their hand in 32 different ways. And your goal, as a player, is to form the best possible combination out of these 32 different options.

Calculating these probabilities without a computer would be a mind-boggling task. Fortunately for us video poker fans, experts in this field have analyzed all possible outcomes and created a video poker strategy chart which shows the expected return of every hand.

Online Video Poker Games

Classic video poker games are referred to as 9/6 variations as they have a 9:1 payout for Full House, and 6:1 payout for Flush. But there are certain variations with a higher house edge in which the payouts are reduced from 9:1 to 8( or less):1, and from 6:1 to 5:1. 

Different video poker varieties have different rules. Some feature Wild Cards, which substitute for any other card, making it easier to form a winning combination. There are some variations labeled as ‘Bonus’, which provide a higher payout for a certain Four of a Kind. In some multi-hand variations, you can play several hands simultaneously. Last but not least, there are jackpot variations of video poker, where a certain hand will pay a hefty jackpot.

Below, we provided brief explanations for the most commonly played video poker variations. 

Jacks or Better

The most popular version of video poker was introduced in the 1970s. It was named as such because a pair of Jacks is the minimum winning hand and the best hand is Royal FlushFull play Jacks or Better or 9/6 Jacks or Better has a payoff for Full House 9x the bet, and the payoff for a Flush 6x the bet.

Bonus poker

A variation of Jacks or Better, which offers a bonus payout for four of a kind. The value of the bonus depends on which rank the cards are in that hand.

Jokers Poker

Also known as Jokers Wild Poker which differs from other versions in that it includes an additional card, the Wild Joker. As a result, it’s played by slightly different rules. For example, a pair of Kings of the minimum winning hand. The Joker card can replace any card, thus help players create a better combination. Almost every Jacks or Better casino also offers a couple of Jokers Poker games.

Tens or Better

As the name suggests, in Tens or Better poker, players need to make at least a pair of tens to receive a payout. It’s very similar to Jacks or Better, but offers fewer payouts because it’s easier to win.

Deuces Wild

In this version, twos act as Wilds, which means that they substitute any other card. For instance, if you have a pair of Eights and a Two, you instantly form a Three of Eights. Due to higher odds, the pay table in Deuces Wild starts with a Three of a Kind. Bonus Deuces Wild is a subvariant of Deuces Wild, and is played by the same rules but features different pay tables. Namely, Bonus Deuces Wild provides additional payouts for Five of a Kind Hands and Four of a Kind with an Ace kicker.

Loose Deuces

This is a variation of Deuces Wild, but offers better payouts on some special rounds. Namely, there is a mini-jackpot payout for Four Deuces.

Aces & Eights

Essentially, Aces & Eights is a Jacks or Better variation, but offers bonus payouts for Four of a Kind Aces and Four of a Kind Sevens.

European Slot Poker

This is a combination of video poker and slots. For each winning hand, you can double your winnings in a high-low Bonus Round in which you have to predict whether the next card is going to be high or low.

Double Down Stud

Double Down Stud is played in both electronic and table versions, so it almost doesn’t qualify as video poker at all. In this variation, you’re not allowed to draw new cards.

Lock and Roll

Lock and Roll was introduced by IGT in 1997, and resembles more of a slot than a video poker machine. It has a three-reel, one payline design, which means that players are spinning symbols on three different reels.

Odds for Most Popular Video Poker Games

Most poker video machines offer the highest percentage only when playing with the maximum stake. And even then, you have to play perfectly and hope to receive the highest theoretical payout.

Below is a list of the payout schedule for the most popular video poker games.  

Jacks or Better

In this version, the player gets paid if he or she has at least a pair of Jacks (or better). Different varieties of Jacks or Better have different payouts for full houses and flushes. These payouts are marked by the 2-number prefix in the name. For instance, the 9/6 Jacks or Better have a 9:1 payout ratio for Full Houses, and 6:1 payout for Flushes. When playing with the maximum number of credits (usually five), the theoretical return (RTP) in Jacks or Better is 99.5%.

Deuces Wild

In Deuces Wilds, all 2s act as Wilds, and substitute all other cards. Some varieties of Deuces Wild offer an RTP of over 100% (when using a perfect strategy), but these games are hard to find. Still, the RTP for most Deuces Wild games are around 99.7%, which is exceptional.

Bonuses Deuces Wild

This is one of the few video poker varieties where players don’t get any bonus for betting five coins per hand. The royal flush is the highest paying hand, and it shows up every 40,000 hands or so, and offers a payout worth 800x stake. In Bonus Deuces Wild, players will receive a bonus payout for forming five of a kind.

Bonus Poker

It’s played like Jacks or Better but provides a few video poker jackpot opportunities, for forming Four of a Kind. The full-pay version boasts the RTP of 99.2%.

Joker Wild

Joker Wild is played similarly to other versions, but it comes with one twist — there is one Joker card in the deck, which makes it easier to form a winning combination. As a result, the payouts are smaller, and you can expect to get 20x the stake for Four of a Kind in the full-pay Joker Wild version. The RTP of this game is 98.59%.

Loose Deuces

Like in Deuces Wild, the 2s in Loose Deuces are designated as wild cards. However, the payout for four 2s in Loose Deuces is higher than in Deuces Wild and is 500:1. Some varieties of Loose Deuces come with an RTP of over 100%.

Tens or Better

Tens or Better follow the same rules as Jacks or Better, but with one difference — the minimum winning hand is a pair of Tens. Since it pays out more frequently, the winnings in Tens or Better are smaller compared to Jacks or Better.

Short Pay Video Poker

Finding the right video poker variety is a daunting task on its own, and to make things more tricky, players often have to find out about payout percentages of a particular game by themselves as these figures are rarely advertised by the casinos. 

Essentially, there are two types of video poker games — full pay and low pay games. As the name suggests, the first type has a solid payout percentage, whereas the second type comes with a reduced payout percentage. Naturally, low pay video poker versions have a higher house edge than the high-pay ones. 

For instance, the Jacks or Better has a 9:6 payout ratio when played in full-pay mode (9:1 for Full House and 6:1 for Flush). But there are also several low-paying varieties of Jacks or Better in which the payouts for Flushes and Full Houses are lower. So, in online casinos, you can find 9/5 Jacks or Better, 8/6 Jacks or Better, and even 6/5 Jacks or Better. 

The same goes for other video poker games. For example, a full- pay Joker Poker has a theoretical payout percentage of 100.64%,and pays 20x the stake for Four of a Kind.. However, the low-paying versions have lower payouts for Four of a Kind (18x, 17x or lower), thus a lower RTP (usually it’s around 98.6%). 

The Full Pay Loose Deuces has an RTP of 100.97% and provides a 10x the stake payout for Straight Flush. The low-pay version of the same game comes with a reduced RTP (99.42) due to the fact that the Straight Flush payout is ‘only’ 6x. 

The Full Pay (25/6/5) Tens or Better poker boasts a solid RTP of 99.14% and a 25x the stake payout for Four of a Kind. In the 20/6/5 version (low-pay), the RTP is reduced to 97.96% and players get paid 20x the stake for Four of a Kind instead of 25x.

Multi-Hand Video Poker

Standard video poker games are also called single-play, because players are playing only one game at a time. In multi-hand video poker, it’s possible to play 3, 10, 50 and even 100 hands of video poker games. 

Multi-hand video poker games are played the same way as single-play games. The pay tables are also the same, so you players won’t need to figure out a separate strategy. Major advantage of multi-hand games is that they offer much higher payouts. Let’s take 52 hand Deuces Wild poker, for example. Here, players will receive a massive 4000x payout for the Natural Royal Flush, when playing on five coins.

The biggest downside to multi-hand games is that they require a higher total bet This means that the variance is higher than for a single hand game. 

For example, the variance in 50 hand Jacks or Better is 115.8, which is 490% higher than in single-hand mode. The same rule applies to other video poker varieties.

How to Choose a Real Money Video Poker Game

New players find it difficult picking the right video poker game, simply because there are hundreds of them out there, and they all come with different rules and payouts. But, there are no right or wrong choices here — it all depends on the player’s preferences. 

Some players like easy games, like Jacks or Better, that have simple rules and no wild cards/bonuses to worry about. Others prefer variations that come with a twist and bonus payouts like in Deuces Wild and Bonus Poker. 

The best possible advice we can give you is to try finding a profitable video poker game, the one that has a 100%+ RTP. This is obviously easier said than done and requires a lot of time and effort, but making money on casino games is never easy. To determine whether or not a certain video slot is high or low-paying, you need to browse through the pay table of that particular game. 

Our team of experts has set aside a couple of online casinos with the best video poker offerings. All of these sites have been tried and tested for security, safety, regulation, and other significant aspects. Some of them will even allow you to play video poker games for free, in demo mode. You can try free Deuces Wild video poker without risking a penny, and learn the game’s mechanics before switching to real-play mode.

History of Video Poker

The first-ever poker machines were invented in 1891 by Sittman and Pitt Company. These served as precursors to modern video poker machines. In 1901, Charles Fey, a mechanic from San Francisco invented the first draw poker machine. 

In 1970, Dale Electronics created the first video poker machine. Although it was not particularly popular at the time, it prepared the gambling community for future similar inventions. Nowadays, video poker machines are a key ingredient of every land-based and online casino. Hundreds of different varieties were developed, but the core principles have remained the same.

Studying Video Poker

If you’re interested in learning how video poker games work, along with all the tools to improve and analyze your gameplay, you should try obtaining the following video poker books: 

  • The Video Poker Edge by Linda Boyd (2005) 
  • Frugal Video Poker by Viktor Nachts and Jean Scott (2006) 
  • Video Poker Optimum Play: The Strategies and Tactics of Advantage Play by Dan Paymar (1998) 
  • Million Dollar Video Poker by Bob Dancer (2003) 
  • The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski (2000) 
  • Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner by Bob Dancer (2009)

Closing Thoughts

That’s it folks! Hopefully, our extensive guide has teached you the fundamentals of video poker. Now, you can register in an online casino fully prepared to take on the challenge of beating the house. We know that the house always wins, but in video poker, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Industry-low house edge on these games makes them potentially lucrative, and give you the best chance to walk away with some extra cash on your account. 

We wish you all the best and remember to always gamble responsibly!