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AKA Poker Slots

Video Poker

Unlike most table games dating back centuries, this game is relatively new, one of the youngest of the lot in fact. It is a fascinating fusion of the skill-based card game, Poker, and online video slots. A Video Poker machine works in the same way as your typical slot machine as they both rely on random number generators (RNG) to choose the card combinations that appear before you; the virtual card shuffling in Video Poker resembles the spinning of virtual reels in online slots. If you’re not a big fan of sociable games like Blackjack and Pai Gow Poker (not everyone enjoys interacting with others after all) and tend to shy away from those intimidating Poker tables, then this game was designed for you, having no interaction between players or dealers; it’s just you and the machine. What makes Video Poker an attractive game is that it doesn’t follow the acclaimed aphorism, ‘the house always has the edge’ as some machines can have an RTP of over 100% (if you include cash back, free play, mailers, and so on). Furthermore, it differs from a standard slot as it adds an element of skill to the game. The objective of the game is just like in Poker, to end the game with the best hand possible.

Why play Video Poker?

  • Low stakes, best odds, and possibility of large wins
  • It’s a decision-making game of skill
  • No need to interact with other players or dealers

The History of Video Poker

Video Poker, or as it was originally named, Poker Slots, made its debut in casinos in 1979 as a means to attract players who couldn’t cope with the pressure of playing live Poker tables and who either don’t have the expertise or experience to do so. However, before its inception in the late seventies, the Sittman and Pitt Company of Brooklyn, New York, were the first to create the poker machine in 1891. This machine contained five drums of ten different playing cards. This means that they used a total of 50 cards, unknowingly leaving out the Jack of Hearts and Ten of Spades. Similar to a slot machine, once a coin was inserted and the lever pulled, the drums would spin and eventually stop on a card to determine the player’s final Poker hand. In 1898, Charles Fey, who is commonly known as the father of the slot machine, created the Card Bell; a Poker machine which could automatically paid cash prizes to the winner of up to 20 credits for a royal flush. Then, in 1901, Fey created a new poker machine called the Skill Draw which had a “Hold” feature typical of most fruit machines. What this feature does is that it allows the player to hold some of the cards in place and re-spin the unheld cards in an effort to improve the hand. Thus, the first Five-Card Draw Poker machine was born. Amid the early 1900s, Sittman and Pitt also began manufacturing machines with the draw feature. Their popularity spread like wildfire and couldn’t be produced quick enough as they became available in almost every liquor store and cigarette shop throughout the US, during a time when Poker was already considered the card game of the people. Cigarettes, packs of gum and shop merchandise were offered as prizes in these stores. Thanks to modern technology and the advancement of the computer chip, in the 70s, the Poker machine was given a major overhaul, during the same time as the personal computer was invented. In 1979, SIRCOMA (Si Redd’s Coin Machines), the original casino game provider, IGT. (International Game Technology) came out with their own Video Poker game called Draw Poker. At this point, Video Poker machines rivalled slot machines on the casino floor.

Playing Video Poker Online

To begin with, online Video Poker games pay a lot more than land-based games. This is because online and offline casinos don’t share the same expenses. Every machine has a screen upon which you can see the cards you are dealt. Usually the screen features the following buttons; on the left, you’ll find “Cash Out” and “Bet One Credit”, five buttons in the centre corresponding to each card dealt marked “Hold/Cancel”, and on the right, you’ll see “Deal/Draw” and “Bet Max”. The vast majority of video poker games are played with a traditional 52-card deck (games using joker wilds will feature one or two jokers in the deck). You start the game off by placing a wager and then hitting the “Deal” button. You can wager up to five credits at a time. You are then dealt five random cards (using the RNG) and must choose which to keep and which to discard by hitting the corresponding “Hold/Cancel” button. The game automatically replaces the unselected cards with more randomly chosen cards from the deck. This is your final hand and you are then paid out accordingly. The value of your Poker hand is determined by the paytable on the machine. There is no dealer’s hand or any other player’s hand to beat for that matter, and you can cash out at any point in the game.

List of Poker Hand Rankings

Royal Flush: A-K-Q-J-10 in the same suit (hearts, clubs, spades, or diamonds).

Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit; for example, 3-4-5-6-7 all of diamonds.

Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank in different suits along with a random card, A-A-A-A-9.

Full House: Three cards of one value, two cards of another value, belonging to different suits. For example, 3-3-3-6-6.

Flush:Five random cards of the same suit. For example, 2-K-8-A-6, all of clubs.

Straight: Five consecutive cards of mixed suits. For example, 5-6-7-8-9.

Three of a Kind:Three cards of the same rank from different suits. For example, 6-6-6-8-K.

Two Pair: : Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank and a single odd card. For example, 7-7-2-Q-Q.

Pair of Jacks or higher:

J-J, Q-Q, K-K, A-A.

Beginners’ Tips

Now that you have the basics of the game down, here are some pointers for your perusal.

  • As in classic Poker, the royal flush is the top hand in Video Poker, however, getting your hands on one isn’t easy.
  • It’s common knowledge that some games simply pay better than others. Full pay games, for example, are ideal for players looking to inflate their winnings. The key is to look for paytables with a 9:6 scheme, meaning that the game will pay out 9 to 1 for a full house and 6 to 1 for a flush. You do need to keep an eye out as certain games have full pay and standard versions. These usually have an 8:5 payout scheme which may not seem that much lower but will significantly raise the casino’s odds against yours.
  • Video Poker is more straightforward than online slots as you know what the odds of getting a particular card are (that is 1 in 52) but you’re in the dark about when a watermelon symbol is going to come your way. You also know the odds of getting a card belonging to a particular suit, which is 1 in 4. This way you can calculate the odds of being dealt every hand, as well as the expected return on each hand. Thus, you will be able to make the right decisions regarding which hands to discard and which hands to play.
  • Although Video Poker machines have a high RTP, it’s very easy to go through a losing spell of five to ten successive hands as the payouts are volatile.

Variations of Video Poker

Never has there been such an apt saying for all Video Poker variations out there; they’re all “same same but different,” as the Thai would say. According to industry data, there are more than 25 versions of Video Poker out there to choose from which play the same way, however, each game varies very much in its details and comes with its own singular strategy for players who want to boost their chances of winning. You should always analyse the paytable before deciding which machine to gamble on. Here’s some information on the Video Poker machines most frequently found in online casinos.

Jacks or Better: This is one of the most played variants of the game owing to its widely accepted winning strategy and dominant presence in casinos (it’s also a full-pay game). The chances of winning are very high with 20% of the hands dealt being winners and a whopping return to player (RTP) of 99.54%! The odds are very much in your favour even without a strategy in a place. To top it all off, the house edge is only 0.46%, almost on par with Blackjack. In this game, one can expect a royal flush for every 40,000 hands played with a massive 800:1 prize and a grand prize of 4000 credits if you put down a 5-credit wager. You’re also guaranteed a 50:1 prize with a straight flush. In a game of Jacks or Better, you are required to have at least a pair of Jacks or higher to get a basic even money (1:1) payout. If you want to start playing Video Poker, this is the best game to start off with, seeing as it’s the most basic, making it the easiest to learn and the least volatile. The paytable for this game is as follows:

Royal Flush 800
Straight Flush 50
Four of a Kind 25
Full House 9
Flush 6
Three of a Kind 3
Two Pair 2
Jacks or better 1

Five Play Draw Poker: This variant of Video Poker was a very successful game invented by pioneers, IGT. Players can play more than once each time they are dealt a new set of cards, anywhere between three and a hundred hands at the same time, particularly if it’s a multi-hand game you’re playing.

Jokers Wild or Joker Poker: This card game uses 53 cards, including one Joker which can substitute for any card to create a winning hand, as well as increases the payout. The average RTP remains 99%.

Tens or Better: This game is similar to Jacks or Better, however, you’re awarded for a pair of tens or better, meaning that you have more opportunities for a winning hand. This is also great for new players to learn the basics of the game and the winning hands. There are no Jokers in this version.

Deuces Wild: Is the game with the best odds of the lot with a super high RTP of 100.76%. The word “deuce” means two, and a Wild is a card which can take the value of any other card in the deck (which is done automatically using the RNG). The game also features an extended hand hierarchy which differentiates between hands made naturally, that is, without a Wildcard, and hands utilising the Wild.

Aces and Faces: Is a game of multi-hand and power versions. The main difference lies within the payouts. As the title tells, Aces and face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are critical here as four Aces or face cards will result in higher payouts.

Double Bonus/Double Double Bonus: This variation offers an added bonus of 200 credits when your winning hand contains four of a kind 2s, 3s, and 4s. In Double Double Bonus, the amount increases and you’ll receive 400 credits when playing the maximum bet. In addition to this, four Aces warrant you a 400-credit bonus in Double Bonus and 800 credits in Double Double Bonus. Moreover, Double Double Bonus is usually a 9:6, 10:6 or 10:7 game, making it a very appealing game.

Playing for Real Money

The advancement of the internet and the generation of online casinos has brought Video Poker to the comfort of people’s homes all over the world. As it’s not a pricey game to play with good odds in your favour, a small deposit into an online casino can go a long way. You should have a look at the list at the top of the page that features some of our favourite casinos which are all regulated, licensed and frequently audited, meaning that they are all safe and reputable. And if you’re already good at Poker, your chances of coming out on top are significantly increased, so a larger deposit is in order.


Is there a surefire way to help me win at Video Poker?

You can ameliorate your chances of winning by following some pointers when choosing to hold and discard your cards after your first hand has been dealt. You should always hold a royal flush, straight flush, full house, three of a kind, and/or two pair. However, with a hand of three of a kind, you should discard the remaining two cards for a chance at four of a kind while leaving full house opportunities open. Furthermore, with two pair, you should discard the fifth unpaired card in the hope of hitting a full house.

  • It is advisable that you break up a flush or a straight only when you have four cards to a royal flush. That is, if you have A-K-Q-J-9, all of hearts, get rid of the 9 to take a chance at the big payoff for the 10 of hearts. In this way, you are still left open to the possibility of a flush with any other heart, a straight with any other 10, and a pair of Jacks or better with any Ace, King, Queen, or Jack.
  • You should separate a pair of Jacks or better if you have four cards to a royal flush or four cards to a lower straight flush.
  • You’ll also have more luck keeping a low pair instead of a single high card like a Jack, Queen, King, or Ace.
  • It is not advisable to draw to a four-card inside straight, that is, one within which the missing card is in the middle rather than on either end, lest it includes at least three high cards. A four-card open straight is one that has space open at either end to complete the hand; for example, a hand of 5-6-7-8 can use either a 4 at one end or a 9 at the other to complete the straight. An inside straight has space in the middle that must be filled to complete the hand. For example, a hand of 5-6-8-9 requires a 7 to become a straight. Open straights give the player a better chance of winning, having twice as many cards available to fill the straight.

Do Video Poker Machines have a “Double Down” feature?

Yes, certain Video Poker Machines do have a double or nothing feature which comes into play just after you win a hand. It is the only bet, apart from the Odds bet in Craps, with no house edge. Just like in online slots, you are given a 50:50 chance of doubling your winnings or losing it all. The decision lies in your hands and ultimately depends on your reason for playing. If it’s for entertainment purposes, go on and take the bet in moderation, otherwise, it’s best to avoid it.


Do some Video Poker variations come with a progressive jackpot?

The answer to this question is yes, there are a few casinos which feature a progressive jackpot, however, it depends on the size of the game and the casino involved.

Important: US residents are only permitted to play for real money at casinos that are licenced and regulated by the State they reside in. Please ensure you are familiar with your local laws if you intend to play slot games online or take part in any other form of online gambling for real money.