Video Poker

Video PokerQ: What is Video Poker, and how is it different from regular poker?

A: Poker is, of course, a game that can be played with real playing cards. Video Poker, however, is meant to be played exclusively electronically. It grew out of the Video Poker machines at casinos and bars – standalone arcade-type games meant to separate you from your money.

Video Poker has also been a staple on computer screens for many years, and it's easy to see why. Unlike regular poker, Video Poker is meant to be played solo. It has very few rules, so can be picked up in just a few minutes, and games are very quick – perfect for short breaks between real work.

How to Play Video Poker

Video Poker is a popular game, both in real life and on computer screens, and it's one of the few gambling-style games that can be more skill than luck, offering rewards for players willing to study and learn successful strategies and techniques.

Video Poker is extremely simple: the game deals you five cards, you have the opportunity to hold or discard each card, then you're dealt replacement cards, and you're then paid off based on the resulting poker hand:

Hand Example Hand
Royal Flush ♠10 ♠J ♠Q ♠K ♠A
Straight Flush ♠9 ♠10 ♠J ♠Q ♠K
Four of a Kind ♠5 5 ♣5 5 ♠9
Full House ♠Q Q ♣Q Q ♠A
Flush ♣3 ♣4 ♣8 ♣J ♣A
Straight ♠9 10 ♣J Q ♠K
Three of a Kind ♠9 9 ♣9 Q ♠K
Two Pair ♠J J ♣8 8 ♠K
One Pair ♠J J ♣8 9 ♠K

Payoffs vary according to the rules of individual machines or games. Understanding the payoff table is a crucial skill in choosing optimal strategies. Payoff amounts depend on how much you've risked, and the odds of achieving a given hand – more difficult hands, such as four-of-a-kind, pay off at a higher rate than more common hands, such as two pair. Some versions have minimum values for one pair, such as "Jacks or Better", which only pays for a pair if the cards are jacks, queens, kings, or aces.

Some of the web sites listed below offer detailed "return tables", listing the odds, probabilities, and returns for each possible hand for each possible video poker variation. We recommend the easy-to-read return tables at

Many of the Video Poker Books also offer strategy tips and techniques, along with detailed return tables and probability charts, which you can study from the comfort of your armchair, and practice at home using Video Poker Software or Online Video Poker Games.

Video Poker Links

  • Video Poker 365
    Video Poker 365 has a simple, direct purpose: to teach people how to play video poker, and to teach people how to play smart.
    Play the world's best video poker games for free. Secrets from the pros will help you beat the casinos. Learn to win at video poker!
  • VideoPokerBaller
    VideoPokerBaller is dedicated to teaching you everything there is to know about video poker, with dozens of articles that will teach you how to play the game, guides for selecting the highest paying video poker machines.
  • VPGenius
    VPGenius is dedicated to helping you play video poker better. Whether you play video poker online, in a land casino, or just for fun, you can find a strategy guide for your favorite game, and can analyze hands, practice your skills, or run a simulation.
  • Wikipedia Video Poker
    Learn about Video Poker with this article from the free online encyclopedia, with history and information about soem of the most common Video Poker variations.
  • Wizard Of Odds Video Poker
    Video poker is one of the few casino games where a player who is willing to do some work can have an edge -- "doing work" consists of both learning correct or near correct strategy and seeking out machines with generous payoff tables.

Handheld Video Poker Games

These handheld electronic video poker games offer a fun way to practice, as well as an enjoyable way to pass the time when traveling or idle. Some of the games offer more than one variation, or even provide strategy tips and play suggestions.

Image courtesy of midom.

Note: While Video Poker is often played in casinos, and is considered by some to be a "gambling game", it can be played for other reasons, such as relaxation, or for the intellectual challenge of pitting your strategies against the random nature of lady luck. Read more: Responsible Gaming

Last Update: May 1st, 2012