Tricks and Tips Scoring Big in Video Poker

Characterizing Video Poker

Video poker is a game like no other. Gamblers often describe this game, designed to attract a crossover crowd, as a blend of slot machines and poker. But what defines this popular game is how it’s not like slots or traditional poker. This section looks at what video poker is by comparing it to slots and classic poker. I also briefly look at why video poker is so trendy in today’s casinos.

Contrasting video poker and slots

At first glance, video poker machines may look and act like most other traditional slot machines. You often find video poker machines in the exact location in the casino as regular slot machines. Furthermore, both slot and video poker machines have a coin slot or bill acceptor, a slot-club card reader, and a payout hopper. That’s about where the similarities end.

People sometimes describe video poker as the thinking man’s slot machine because you need some skill to play. Your understanding of poker strategy improves your odds of winning. Instead of mindlessly pulling a handle and praying for three cherries to line up, you call the shots.

Distinguishing between video and traditional poker

Success at video poker requires some skill, specifically a cursory knowledge of poker. Video poker most closely resembles Five-Card Draw. As soon as you receive it, you are randomly dealt five starting cards; you choose what moves to make to win.

Although you need some basic poker knowledge to play video poker, remember that video poker differs quite a bit from the traditional table game. Video poker is a game between you and the machine rather than between you and other players.

Understanding the allure

Video poker is a popular game in casinos, but what makes it alluring? First, video poker offers a near-unheard-of low house edge, especially when you’re savvy about basic playing strategies and other factors, including choosing the suitable machine.

Video poker provides a bit of solitude when you want a break from table games. When playing video poker, you don’t have to worry about a pushy dealer intimidating you or obnoxious players harassing you. Instead, you can play at your own pace, focusing only on the screen and the flashing cards in front of you.

Playing the Game

If you decide to try video poker, this section can help you with all the ins and outs of playing the game. You can usually locate the video poker machines in carousels in the same casino section as slot machines. Like slots, almost every modern video poker machine takes bills, which it converts into credits. So you use those credits instead of hand-feeding coins for each Play. Video poker machines also have buttons similar to slot machines, which you use to start the game process.

Making your best hand in one draw

After you feed your money into the machine (or play credits) and hit the Deal button, five cards pop up on your screen, dealt from a standard 52-card deck. After receiving your initial starting cards, the game closely resembles Five Card Draw poker. You can push any of the five buttons — one for each card — on the front of each machine to hold or keep any cards. You have three options available with each hand.

Collecting your winnings

The machine pays you in coins or credits. After your hand is finished and you’re done celebrating, press the Deal/Draw button, and the entire process starts over. When you’re done playing, hit the Cash Out button, and the machine either spits your coins into the hopper or prints a cash-out ticket for you to redeem at the cashier’s cage.

Putting Your Money on the Best Machines

The most important decision you make in video poker isn’t what to hold or discard but which machine to play. Video poker comes in a wide variety of devices, such as

  • All American Poker
  • Deuces Wild
  • Double Bonus
  • Double Bonus
  • Jacks or Better
  • Joker Wild
  • Triple Play

Many of these games look alike to the untrained eye, which can be a problem. The strategies for different machines can get quite complex, and frequently new versions of video poker come and go with the wind. Some very profitable games (for the players) have become extinct, and more recent games that are profitable only for the house have replaced them. Despite their similarities, the machines may offer returns for players that vary dramatically.

Comparing short-pay and full-pay machines

When a casino offers a lesser-paying version of a video poker machine, it’s called a short-pay rather than a full-pay machine. Jacks or Better offers several examples, starting with 9/6, then 8/5, 7/5, and even 6 ⁄5. Anytime the payouts are reduced, your wallet is hurt. But another variable (progressive jackpots — see the next section) sometimes comes into the equation to offset the lower payouts. The percentage is how much the casino returns to you (on average) for every dollar wagered. In most cases, you lose (such as when the return is 99.5 percent), but some video poker games offer you a positive return (100.2 percent)


A new variety of video poker — Multi-Game Play — has become quite popular, and for a good reason: You can play out several games instantaneously with the same starting hand. But be prepared; the first time you try Multi-Game video poker, such as the modern Triple Play version, you may think your alcohol consumption affects your eyesight. The multiple images on your video screen have nothing to do with the number of margaritas you’ve downed. Triple Play lets you play three different hands at once and is available in many famous versions of video poker, including Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. When you start, you usually have several options of games available. You touch the screen to choose the type of game and the denomination you want to play.

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