Video Poker

Video poker is one of the most popular games that you can find in a live casino for players who are simply looking to relax and play some cards on a computer.  The idea behind the game of video poker is based on five-card draw poker.

History of Video Poker

Video poker all started back when it became possible to combine a monitor that was about the size of a television with a central processing unit.  This didn’t actually happen until around the mid- 1970’s, but they were not anywhere near as in-depth as you’ll currently find today in a casino.  Video poker really saw it’s boom happen when IGT brought Draw Poker out in the late 1970’s (1979 to be exactly), and the popularity of the game increased rapidly through the 1980s.  The main reason that it quickly became so popular was in large part due to the fact that people felt more comfortable and less intimidated playing with these machines than at live tables.

Today, the game of video poker is huge in almost all major gambling cities like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Game Play

To start up the action you must play at least one credit, but can play more depending on the specific video poker machine that you are playing.  You will insert the money into the machine and then hit the “deal” button in order to start the action.  At this point you will get to choose whether or not you want to keep specific cards or not, and whichever cards you do not keep will be replaced with new cards from the deck.  This is when the hand that you are holding is evaluated, and you will be paid out depending on the odds of whatever your hand is!  Payouts will depend on specific machines, but they are typically listed somewhere on the machine.

In most situations you’ll find that the minimum payout will begin with a pair of jacks, and the payouts will work their way up from there.  So essentially the tougher a hand is to get, the more the odds will pay out if you are able to hit the hand.  Depending on the machine that you are playing on, you can also potentially hit some progressive jackpots if you make a hand like a royal flush, which is definitely a selling point on certain machines over others.

Types of Video Poker

You’ll find that while five-card draw is the most common game played on a video poker game, some of the new machines will have multiple variations on the standard game.  Some of the variations will include things like pay schedule modification, which means that four aces with a five or lower kicker will pay out a larger bonus, or even things like multi-play poker, which means that players get their standard five cards, and each additional played hand comes from a different deck of cards that will not have the standard hand in it.  Another popular and well-known option is a game called Deuces Wild, which means that any two will act as a wild card.  In this game there are typically jackpots paid out if you get four deuces, or if you make a natural royal as well.

As far as games that don’t have wild cards in them, the average time that it takes a player to get a four of a kind will happen about once every hour if a player plays five to six hundred hands an hour.

Full Pay Games

“Full Pay” games are machines that have specific pay schedules.  Players can use perfect strategy to get more than 100% payback over a long play period as well here.  Many casinos will put these machines near machines that have pay schedules that offer negative return as well though, so the players actually have to tell which video poker games offer the full pay.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is one of the games that can offer a potential return of up to 100.762% when it is played with perfect strategy.  This game is played with other pay schedules that have lower returns as well though:

Hand1 credit2 credits3 credits4 credits5 credits
Natural Royal Flush30060090012004000*
Four Deuces2004006008001000
Wild Royal Flush255075100125
Five of a Kind1530456075
Straight Flush918273645
Four of a Kind510152025
Full House3691215
Three of a Kind12345
Theoretical Return99.679%99.679%99.679%99.679%100.762%*
  • There is quite a gap between a Natural Royal Flush that is with 4 credits against one with 5 credits, and many video poker machines will have gaps like this as well, because casinos obviously want you to play the max credits as often as possible!  If players play with less than max credits in almost all situations then they are playing with a negative theoretical return.

Double Bonus

Double Bonus is another variation of video poker, and it is one that also can give you another great theoretical return.  When played with perfect strategy you’ll find that it ends up being about 100.1725% here, and is also available with different pay schedules:

Hand1 credit2 credits3 credits4 credits5 credits
Royal Flush25050075010004000*
Straight Flush50100150200250
Four Aces160320480640800
Full House1020304050
Three of a Kind3691215
Two Pair12345
Jacks or Better12345
Theoretical Return99.1079%99.1079%99.1079%99.1079%100.1725%*
  • The same thing listed above will stand true here as well, meaning that you will lose quite a bit on the payoff between betting 4 credits and 5 credits.

Double Double Bonus

Last but not least is the variation of video poker, “Double Double Bonus”, which offers another nice pay schedule here that is 100.067% when played with perfect strategy.

Hand1 credit2 credits3 credits4 credits5 credits
Royal Flush25050075010004000*
Straight Flush50100150200250
Four Aces w/2, 3, or 4400800120016002000
Four 2, 3, or 4 w/A-4160320480640800
Four Aces160320480640800
Four 2, 3, or 480160240320400
Four 5-K50100150200250
Full House1020304050
Three of a Kind3691215
Two Pair12345
Jacks or Better12345
Theoretical Return98.9154%98.9154%98.9154%98.9154%100.067%*
  • Once again, the payoffs between 4 and 5 credits are definitely noticeable, which makes going with max credits the correct decision in this variation as well.

Other Full Pay Games

As far as the other games and variations of video poker, you’ll find that the positive theoretical returns on them will depend on the jackpots.  If a progressive jackpot is high enough then it will become positive, but you’ll have to keep an eye on specific games in order to get this information.  Some casinos will go out of their way to point out the fact that the progressive jackpots are at the right level.

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