Video poker combines the richness, variety and skill of the online poker world with the fun, quick-fire format of slot-style gaming. Although some might consider video poker games second fiddle to the more popular video slots or poker games, a quick try of Jack or Better Video Poker and its sure to change their tune.
The following explains all that goes into selecting and playing video poker games.
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Nearly every game will follow the same format, based on a five-card draw. First, players must place a bet and hit deal. The game then deals out five cards, all face up. Players choose which cards to hold – whether it's all five, some, or none, and hit deal again. Discarded cards are replaced with new ones, and the game pays out for winning hands.
Each game will have a pay table, which lists the amount a player can win for certain hands. The exact payout amount will vary – the better the hand, the bigger it will be. But the winning hands will always match the basic poker hands:
- Pair | Two cards of the same value.
- Two Pairs | Two sets of two cards of the same value.
- Three-of-a-Kind | Three cards of the same value.
- Straight | Five consecutive cards of different suits.
- Flush | Five non-consecutive cards of the same suit.
- Full House | Any pair and any three of a kind.
- Four-of-a-Kind | Four cards of the same value.
- Straight Flush | Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
- Royal Flush | Consecutive sequence of ace to ten of the same suit.
There are a huge number of twists on this classic format, and video poker sites are adding new games all the time. Widely available video poker variants include:
- Jacks or Better | This common format follows the basic rules outlined above, but the lowest hand receiving a payout is a pair of Jacks. Similar variants have lower payout thresholds, like Tens or Better.
- Pick'em Poker | This game deals players two cards and allows them to pick blindly from two stacks of three to complete the hand.
- Wild Poker | A designated wild card can represent any other card in order to complete a winning hand. Common variations are Deuces Wild, in which the wild card is Twos, and Joker Poker, in which it's the Joker.
- Two Ways Royal | Two Ways Royal carries an additional payout called a Lo Royal Flush, which consists of a Two, Three, Four, Five and Six in the same suit. For this game, the traditional Royal Flush is renamed a Hi Royal Flush.
- Multi-Hand | Players bet on up to 100 hands at once. The five-card hand is dealt and the player selects which cards to carry over. These cards are carried over into every other hand for the second deal. Each hand is played with a different deck, and every winning hand is totaled up and paid out.
- Bonus Poker | This game pays extra large jackpots for a Royal Flush.
- Progressive Jackpots | Progressive jackpots are similar to Bonus Poker, but instead of fixed jackpots, the prize is steadily built up from a percentage of wagers placed by players. Usually won with a Royal Flush, although the winner can be randomly selected, or chosen on the basis of a different hand.
Special Features and Strategy
Some sites offer special features that enhance your experience or help you improve your strategy. The following are the most familiar features found:
- Practice Play | Beginners should look out for the 'practice' play function, which allows people to play for free without using real money, and the auto hold function, which automatically keeps the cards that are more statistically likely to result in winning hands.
- Convenience | Experienced players might want to explore functions that speed up and enhance gameplay. For example, shortcut keys like tabs, which moves your cursor to the next playable button, can help avoid misclicks. Multi-game functionality opens up split screen mode so players can have multiple games running at once. Extra opportunities can be found in Doubling or Gamble features, which allow players to increase the prize pot on the turn of a card.
- Timing | Finally, all good consoles should have their own clock or timer. These are vital for keeping track of how much time players are spending on video poker sites, and also to help calculate players' average wins and losses per hour – a great way to figure out how successful your strategy is.
There are a huge range of options out there, so keep exploring to find the ones that best suit your style and goals.
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