Video Poker History and Rules
According to some sources, modern video poker is closely related to the evolution of home computers, although the first commercial video poker machine was introduced back in 1891.
In 1979, William “Si” Redd patented his own version of video poker called Fortune 1 Draw Poker. After being rejected by the Bally Gaming executives, Redd made a deal with Fortune Coin Company and started mass producing his own machines. By 1980s, video poker became all the rage, remaining one of the most popular forms of commercial gambling up to date.
Although quite simple, video poker is just as exciting as the table version of the game, generating an extremely high return to the player percentage – over 99%. With the right strategy, the house edge can even be eliminated completely, and if you need a casino to practice your video poker skills, be sure to check out our regularly updated list of the best USA video poker sites.
Best Online Video Poker Casinos 2019
Advantages of Online Video Poker
While many consider house edge to be a necessary evil, video poker players know better – the odds here are not always in favor of the casino, especially if you master the strategy. Those who know exactly what they’re doing can even exceed 100% RTP rate, especially in full pay Jacks or Better (aka 9/6 Jacks or Better).
For players who are still in the learning curve, video poker is the ideal platform for practicing the hand-ranking knowledge without suffering excessive losses. In fact, even the beginner level players can have a high success rate while playing video poker, which would not be the case at a conventional poker table, packed with experienced players. A number of casinos will also provide both free-play and real-money video poker, enabling you to switch between modes until you fully grasp the rules.
Unlike the table poker variations, where your success relies on the ability to “read” and understand the fellow players’ body language, video poker provides a safe environment where the RNG software will do everything on your behalf – rank your hand, calculate the payout, settle the bets, and even drop hints of the optimal strategy, integrated into the online video poker software. The pace of the game is player-controlled and can be adjusted to the individual level of skill or gameplay style.
Video Poker Rules, Types, and Strategy
Even though there are plenty of video poker variants to choose from, they all share the following structure:
- Five cards are dealt for the player
- One or all cards can be discarded and replaced
- Players win when the qualifying hand is formed
The hands are usually ranked as follows (lowest to highest), however, certain differences can be present, depending on the video poker variation.
- High card – the highest card in the hand
- A Pair – any two matching cards
- Two Pairs – any two sets of different pairs, such as two Kings and two Queens
- 3 of a Kind – any three cards of the same rank
- Straight – any five unsuited sequential cards
- Flush – any five suited cards
- Full House – three of a kind + pair
- 4 of a Kind – four cards with the same rank
- Five of a Kind – four cards with the same rank + Wild card
- Straight Flush – any five suited sequential cards
- Royal Flush – a suited Ace, 10, Jack, Queen and King
A list of the most common online video poker games is provided below, together with the corresponding payout rates. With slight modifications, most of these variants respond well to the basic video poker strategic principles, which require the players to:
- Always hold the pairs
- Make sure to hold on to deuces when playing Deuces Wild
- Keep all the cards that can form a qualifying (or a higher ranking) combination and discard the rest
Jacks or Better
Probably the most popular video poker version, especially the 9/6, 10/6, and 9/7 variations with the corresponding Full House and Flush hands payouts:
- 9/6 Jacks or Better – 9:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush
- 10/6 Jacks or Better – 10:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush
- 9/7 Jacks or Better – 9:1 for Full House / 7:1 for Flush
To generate a payout, the hand must contain at least one pair of Jacks.
Aces & Eights
Also known as the Dead Man’s Hand (rumor has it that Wild Bill Hickok died holding these two cards in his hands), Aces & Eights variant generates high payouts on Four of a Kind hand that’s formed by Aces or 8s. Just like Jacks or Better, Aces & Eights versions can be distinguished by the payout rates:
- 70/70 – 70:1 for Straight Flush, 70:1 for Aces or 8s / 20:1 for any other Four of a Kind (four 7s pay 50:1 across all Aces & Eights variations)
- 25/7/5 – 25:1 for Four of a Kind, 7:1 for Full House, 5:1 for Flush
- 20/7/5 – 20:1 for Four of a Kind, 7:1 for Full House, 5:1 for Flush
- 25/6/5 – 25:1 for Four of a Kind, 6:1 for Full House, 5:1 for Flush
- 20/6/5 – 20:1 for Four of a Kind, 6:1 for Full House, 5:1 for Flush
- 25/8/5 – 25:1 for Four of a Kind, 8:1 for Full House, 5:1 for Flush
Deuces are the stars of the show in this variant as they play the role of the Wild cards, which means that they can complete any winning combination. The qualifying hand is Three of a Kind and the Wild Royal Flush pays either 20:1 or 25:1. Payout rates for Five of a Kind, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, and Full House can also vary:
- Five of a Kind – 15:1 / 16:1
- Straight Flush – 11:1 / 9:1
- Four of a Kind – 4:1 / 5:1
- Flush – 4:1 / 3:1
Double Bonus is a more generous version of Bonus Poker, introducing a higher payout rate for Four of a Kind hands:
- Four Aces – 160:1
- Four 2 – 4 – 80:1
- Four 5 – K – 50:1
The variations commonly found online are listed below:
- 9/7/5 – 9:1 for Full House / 7:1 for Flush / 5:1 for Straight
- 9/6/5 – 9:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush / 5:1 for Straight
- 9/7/4 – 9:1 for Full House / 7:1 for Flush / 4:1 for Straight
- 9/6/4 – 9:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush / 4:1 for Straight
- 9/5/4 – 9:1 for Full House / 5:1 for Flush / 4:1 for Straight
Double Double Bonus
The rates for Four of a Kind are even higher in Double Bonus, generating up to 400x player’s stake:
- Four Aces + 2, 3, or 4 – 400:1
- Four 2-4 + A, 2, 3 or 4 – 160:1
- Four Aces – 160:1
- Four 2-4 – 80:1
- Four 5-K – 50:1
There are five variations of Double Double Bonus online video poker, differentiated by Straight Flush, Full House, and Flush payouts:
- 40/10 – 40:1 for Straight Flush (other versions pay 50:1)
- 10/6 – 10:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush
- 9/6 – 9:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush
- 8/6 – 8:1 for Full House / 6:1 for Flush
- 9/5 – 9:1 for Full House / 5:1 for Flush
- 8/5 – 8:1 for Full House / 5:1 for Flush
Deuces and Jokers
One of few video poker games with a higher-ranking hand than the Royal Flush, Deuces and Jokers uses 53-card deck, with both Deuces and the Joker as the Wild cards.
Differences in payout rates can be spotted here as well:
- 8/6 – 8:1 Five of a Kind / 6:1 Straight Flush
- 9/5 – 9:1 Five of a Kind / 5:1 Straight Flush
- 7/6 – 7:1 Five of a Kind / 6:1 Straight Flush
- 6/6 – 6:1 Five of a Kind / 6:1 Straight Flush
- 9/9/1 – 9:1 Five of a Kind / 9:1 Straight Flush / 1:1 for Straight
The strongest hand (Four Deuces + Joker ) pays x2,000, outranking the Royal Flush.
Joker Wild introduces Joker as the Wild card and has three variants, each with a different qualifying hand: Kings or Better, 2 Pairs or Better, and Aces or Better.
Royal Flush has the highest payout rate, generating between x400 – x5,000, depending on the number of coins wagered per hand:
- Kings or Better / 2 Pairs or Better – x5,000 on a 5-coin bet
- Aces or Better – x4,000 on a 5-coin bet
Tens or Better
Tens or Better offers the advantage of qualifying with 10s but reduces the payouts for Full House and Flush to 6/5, which makes it a less favorable choice than most of the Jacks or Better variants. The payout table is similar to the one featured in 6/5 Jacks or Better but with a lower payout rate for Four of a Kind (20:1 instead of 25:1):
- Royal Flush – 800:1
- Straight Flush – 50:1
- Four of a Kind – 20:1
- Full House – 6:1
- Flush – 5:1
- Straight – 4:1
- Three of a Kind – 3:1
- 2 Pairs – 2:1
- Tens or Better – 1:1
Bonus Deuces Wild
Bonus Deuces Wild players qualify with Three of a Kind and receive an extra payout for Four Deuces + Ace. Straight Flush pays up to x13, while the payout rate for Full House is either x3 or x4 player’s stake:
- 9/4/4 – 9:1 for Straight Flush / 4:1 for Four of a Kind / 4:1 for Full House
- 8/4/4 – 8:1 for Straight Flush / 4:1 for Four of a Kind / 4:1 for Full House
- 7/4/4 – 7:1 for Straight Flush / 4:1 for Four of a Kind / 4:1 for Full House
- 13/4/3 – 13:1 for Straight Flush / 4:1 for Four of a Kind / 3:1 for Full House
- 12/4/3 – 12:1 for Straight Flush / 4:1 for Four of a Kind / 3:1 for Full House
Video Poker Bonuses
Unfortunately, not a lot of USA online casinos will offer video poker specific bonuses, but in most cases, the welcome bonus offers, loyalty points, and sign-up deals will also cover video poker bets.
If you decide to claim casino bonuses and use the cash across multiple gaming categories, you should bear in mind that the contribution rate towards meeting the wagering requirements is much lower on video poker. In some cases, the category does not contribute at all. To make sure that the bonuses can be used on video poker, consult the customer support or check the Terms & Conditions.