Video poker combines the speed and privacy of slot machines with some of the strategy decisions of traditional poker. You probably already know that slot machine gambling offers lousy odds and no strategy opportunities, but you might not know that many video poker machines offer excellent payouts and the chance for a smart gambler to raise the odds of winning. That’s why wagers at online versions of these games have become so popular in the past 20 years, as more books and Internet sites have pointed out the good odds.
If you only have a small understanding of the game itself, this website provides rules, tips, and strategies for new players. You can read about games like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, and you can study the basics of the game by study the definitions in our glossary. The site covers the basics for both online players and traditional brick and mortar casino-goers.
The basic idea is that you’re given a 5-card hand, much like you would in Five Card Draw. Just like in 5-card draw, you can keep the cards you’e dealt or ask for a redraw. After this second set of cards, you must build a winning hand based on the payout rules of the machine you’re playing. This is where the game diverges from live poker at a table full of other real players.
In Jacks or Better, you don’t try to build a hand better than other players in the network. You don’t even have to build a hand better than a virtual dealer, like you would in blackjack. To win money in Jacks or Better, you have to build a hand of 2 Jacks or a hand that would beat a pair of Jacks in a regular game of poker. Of course, a pair of Jacks isn’t going to pay off a whole lot, so you want to build hands better than a simple pair–a whole lot better. That’s where strategy comes in, because you not only have to know which hands are better than others, but you also have to know when you should stop trying to build small hands and take a shot at a less likely, higher paying hand.
Those are the basic rules of the game. If you’ve ever played poker around the kitchen table, you have a pretty good idea of how hand rankings work. Since hand sizes and the hierarchy of cards are the major part of the rules, learning to play is more like re-learning to ride a bicycle than learning a whole game. A look at a description of the poker hands, the pay tables, a few tips on how to work the machine, and a quick tutorial on how to play is all you need.
Internet players also have an advantage over standard online poker and blackjack players: the Internet version is exactly the same as the live casino version. Because it’s a solitary game in a brick-and-mortar casino, it’s not as if you’re missing out on the camaraderie, rivalry, or personal interaction that you would around the table at a live game of Texas Hold’em. That means you can stay in the privacy of your own home, grab a snack from the fridge, and play with no disruption of your daily schedule for a drive out to the casino. You won’t have to mess with cigarette smoke or idle conversation from the gambler down the aisle, while you won’t have to deal with traffic and high gas prices to get to the casino in the first place.
The Internet has another advantage over live gambling. Name any online casino and you’re almost certain to be able to play free versions of the game, to promote their games, teach potential new players who to use the gaming software, and sometimes to meet legal requirements of being a free online casino or “not for money” gambling site. These free games are a good way to learn to play for real money, but you don’t have to worry about any kind of penalty if you just stick with the free versions, either. Beware that some free online casino games are rigged to make the game seem easier to players, in hopes they decide that gambling is easy and start putting real money on the line. Many virtual video poker machines that let you play at no charge are meant for instruction and enjoyment, not to drive customers to the paid version of the casino. Just know that you might not be as good as the free game makes you think.
How to Play
Playing online is one option, but don’t let me discourage you from playing in a live casino environment. Every brick-and-mortar and web casino offers different games, payout rates, and progressive jackpots. You should shop around and see what multiple sites and live gaming establishments have to offer. Try Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, and even less common gameslike Joker Wild, Bonus Poker, and All American.
If you’ve been avoiding these guys, for whatever reason, then you’ve been walking past the best paying game in the casino.