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Is Video Poker for You?

4 December 2021

This article examines video poker.

Game Description:

Video poker has been around for decades. It is a video game that mimics playing the table game of draw poker.

The difference is the player does not play against other players. Instead, each hand is played against the casino.

The player is dealt five cards. The player then has the opportunity to discard any (or all) of those cards and receive the same number of replacement cards – just as in the table game of draw poker.

The final hand is then paid according to a game-specific pay table.

Game Types:

Jacks or Better

The most basic video poker game is draw poker. The most common version has a pair of jacks or better as the lowest winning hand. Because of this, the game is commonly called Jacks or Better.

The Jacks or Better version pays the same for each type of hand regardless of the hand’s rank.

From lowest to highest the winning hands are:

A “high” pair of two jacks or better.
A hand containing two pairs.
A hand containing three of a kind.
A straight.
A flush.
A full house.
A hand containing four of a kind.
A straight flush.
A royal flush.

Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker is almost identical to Jacks or Better. Hands containing four of a kind are paid a “bonus” however, based on the hand’s ranking.

Hands with four 5’s through four kings are paid at the same rate as in Jacks or Better. Hands with four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s are paid at a somewhat higher rate. Hands with four aces are normally paid better than three times the amount in Jacks or Better.

Other Games That are Similar to Better-based Games

There are dozens of video poker games based on Jacks or Better. The main difference is the amount paid for four of-a-kind hands. Some variations of the game pay as much for specific four-of-a-kinds as is normally paid for a royal flush.

Wild Card Video Poker Games

There are no wild cards in the Jacks or Better games. However, there are several video poker games that have them. Some games are Deuces Wild, Jokers Wild, and 7’s Wild.

Within each or these game classifications there are similar “bonus” versions that pay a premium for particular hands.

Other Video Poker Games

There are even more variations available to video poker players.

Pick ‘em (or Pick-a-Pair) – This game deals two cards face up along with two piles of three cards each with the top card face up. The player must pick one of the two piles to complete the hand.

Super Times Pay – In this game, a random multiplier appears every 15 games on average. The average multiplier is just 4 times. The cost of this feature is an extra coin – 6 instead of the normal 5.

Several different video poker game variants from which to choose are available.

Multi-Strike Poker – In this type of video poker game, there are four levels of play. Each level pays twice the previous level, so the top level pays 8 times the first level.

In order to reach the next level, the previous level’s hand must be a winner.

Each level to be played requires five credits bet at the start of the original hand – 20 credits to play all four levels. Some times hands on all levels will win making for a nice haul. Other times the first level hand will lose and you are out 20 credits.

Multi-play Games – Virtually every game mentioned above can be found in a multi-play configuration. These machines allow the player to play 3, 5, 10, 50 or even 100 lines of the same initial hand – at a cost of five credits per line.

A good initial hand means a nice win, a terrible initial hand can mean a hefty loss.

House edge:

Typically, video poker has the lowest house edge of any casino game. The house edge is dependent on the pay table for the specific game. The house edge is highly dependent on the casino. Casinos can have the pay tables changed for each game on each machine on the casino floor.

In Las Vegas, casinos on the strip generally have the highest house edges. Downtown and outlying casinos offer lower house edges. In fact, some games actually have a negative house edge – meaning the player has an edge.

The house edge for video poker can run from about five percent down to just under zero percent.


Other attributes of the video poker:

• The game can be slow-paced and relaxed, or it can move along very quickly. This is all under the control of the player.

• Minimum bets can vary from 25 cents per hand to well over $100 per hand. It all depends on the denomination, number of lines played and whether additional credits are required to activate bonus features.

• Variance also runs the gamut from relatively low in games such as Jacks or Better to extremely high in games such as Super Double Bonus where there are several high-paying lines on the pay table. The player must be aware of the variance of the chosen game in order to match their bankroll and risk tolerance.

• Video poker does offer many games with several huge jackpots for thrill-seeking players. There are also games with few jackpots (the royal flush) for those players who do not tolerate wild bankroll fluctuations very well.

• Video poker play tends to be lonely. That is, it involves only the player and the machine. There is not a lot of camaraderie.

• Conversely, other players are not telling the player how to play.

• There is no physical skill required to play. The player simply has to be able to push some buttons.

• In order to obtain the best return for the game, the player must know he best playing strategy for the specific game and pay table being played.

o Playing hunches can cost the player dearly.
o Strategy cards for certain games can be purchased to help with playing the proper strategy.
o Video poker playing apps are also available for training purposes.
o It takes a lot of practice to master the strategy.
o Most players are not willing to take the time and effort to achieve this level of skill.

• Video poker is about the only casino video or slot game where the player can influence the results. Playing the proper strategy for the game/pay table and playing it perfectly will maximize the player’s return.

• For those players who like to imbibe, video poker is one of the very few games that are available at the casino bars.

Summary:

Advantages:

• The speed of play is totally dependent on the player.

• A very low to moderate house edge (even a possible player edge) depending on the game selected and the skill level of the player.

• Dozens of different games available in order to satisfy almost every player’s desires.

o If the thrill of winning jackpot-sized hands is important, there are many game choices available.
o If the terror of huge swings in bankroll is to be avoided, there are game choices available.

• There is little or no interference from other players as is common in many table-based games.

Disadvantages:

• In order to maximize returns, much practice is required. This practice will develop the necessary mental skill level necessary to succeed.

• Players looking for camaraderie will most likely not enjoy video poker play.

Conclusion:

Video poker can be a relaxing and low house-edge game. It can also be fast paced. It all depends on the player.

The wide selection of video poker games allows the player to find the perfect game.

In order to get the highest return a high level of knowledge and mental skill is required.

As always, may all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”


Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com
Jerry Stickman

Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com