How do Video Poker Machines Work?

Video poker machines are one of the most popular games to play at a casino, and they’re also becoming very popular to play online. The games are best described as a mix between five-card poker and a slot machine, and they have an excellent return to player rate if you know how to play. The game is simple enough to play, although you will need to be aware of poker hands and some basic strategy. Unlike a lot of casino games out there, including slots, you have control over the outcome of the game.

Generally, games that don’t let you have any control over the outcome are the kind of online casino games to avoid. In other words, video poker is an excellent choice if you’re looking to improve your chances of winning the next time you visit the casino. See below for more details on how to play and some tips for success.

How to Play Video Poker

Although there are many different types of video poker, each with its own unique rules, all of them are based on five-card draw poker. That means that essentially, the basic premise is the same, no matter which type of machine you’re playing at. Playing is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Choose your bet – Video poker machines will let you drop coins into a slot to load credits, or if you’re playing online, you can choose how much you want to bet on each hand by pressing the bet one or max bet buttons. Most machines have a minimum and maximum bet, which you’ll be able to check in the game details.
  2. Hit deal – Just like a slot machine, you’ll need to press the deal button to get started. The machine will then deal five cards from the standard 52 card deck. The cards are chosen at random, with machines using a computer to generate random numbers which determine the cards.
  3. Hold and deal – If you have cards in your hand you want to keep, you can press hold to keep them. Pressing deal will then swap any cards you didn’t hold, replacing them with new cards from the deck. Again, the deal is random, but it will always be new cards, so the ones currently in your hand will be excluded.

Payouts are determined by the strength of your hand, with the hand usually displayed at the top of the machine. Bear in mind that some versions of the game have different payouts, so you should always check the paytable before you start playing.

After you win a hand, you can cash out and walk away with your winnings, or you can keep playing. It’s up to you. Just remember to play responsibly and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose. Video poker does require skill to play, but the cards you’re dealt are still based on luck.

Video Poker Machines

Video Poker Hands

Whenever you play video poker, you’re trying to complete the strongest possible hand for the biggest payout. Hands are based on traditional poker, so if you have some experience of playing poker already, you have an advantage over complete beginners. If you’re unsure about the hands, you can normally find them at the top of the machine or in the game details. We’ve also included the hands below, ranked in order from highest to lowest.

  • Royal flush – Ten through to ace of the same suit. The biggest payout possible, usually up to 4000x your stake.
  • Straight flush – Five cards of the same suit, in consecutive order.
  • Four of a kind – Four of the same rank.
  • Full house – Three of a kind and a pair.
  • Flush – Five cards of the same suit.
  • Straight – five cards of consecutive order.
  • Three of a kind – Three cards of the same rank.
  • Two pair – Two separate pairs of the same rank.
  • Jacks or better – Two of Jacks or higher.

Video Poker Tips

Before you start playing video poker for real money, you’ll want to be prepared. Here are some tips you can follow to make sure you have the most fun and are hopefully able to win some good hands too.

  • Always play responsibly – Playing responsibly means not betting more than you can afford to lose and staying in control of your bankroll.
  • Bigger bets give better payouts – In most games of video poker, betting the maximum bet will give you a better payout rate than betting in smaller amounts. Of course, you should only do this if you can afford to.

Check the RTP rate – Most video poker machines have good return to player rates, but there is a lot of variance between games. Jacks or better is normally the best choice but always check in the game details before you play.