In just four decades since inventor and slot machine executive Si Redd had the big idea, video poker has come to dominate the world of modern casino gaming. Today video poker machines are a staple of every gaming venue’s floorplan, and players from all walks of life flock to the virtual felt looking to make big hands and even bigger jackpots.
Video poker can be played in dozens of different variants, but the foundation of the game is five-card draw with escalating payouts for completing poker hands of various strengths. With bets beginning at just a quarter, video poker offers a great chance for players to live every gambler’s dream: turning a tiny investment into a huge return. The option to increase bets from $0.25 to $0.50, and on up to the max bet of $1.25 (or $5 on $1 machines), adds another wrinkle to the game.
The standard video poker game is known as Jacks or Better, and under this format players must make one pair of at least jacks to recoup their wager. Of course, just doubling the bet isn’t the main goal, and players are really hoping to make poker’s strongest hand: the Royal Flush.
Completing the 10-J-Q-K-A straight flush is good for a 250:1 return on the minimum bet, but serious players swear by the max-bet, because this option offers a massive 4,000:1 payout for making a Royal. You can learn more about the rules of video poker and how to play the game properly on our how to play page.
One of the reasons video poker appeals to a wide cross-section of gamblers and gaming aficionados is because the game really isn’t a gamble at all. Just like blackjack, video poker has been broken down mathematically to the point that a clear optimal strategy has emerged. By studying optimal strategy for video poker and committing the correct decisions to memory for each situation, you can easily reduce the house edge to less than 1 percent by finding the achiness with the best pay tables.
This makes video poker one of the best values in any casino in terms of expected value for players. To learn more about video poker strategy head to our video poker strategy page.
Another fun aspect of video poker comes from some machines that have multiple versions of the game available all on one machine. Several popular variants on the classic Jacks or Better game are programmed into video poker machines, and you can alternate between them with just a few clicks of the screen. Everything from “Deuces Wild” poker in which 2’s can be used as wild cards, to “Double-Double Bonus” machines that pay out bonuses when you make four-of-a-kind in 2s, 3s, 4s, or aces. If you enjoy the addition of a single Joker as a wild card, “Joker Poker” is the ticket.
Video poker is a great way to enjoy the casino experience because even if you never hit a Royal Flush jackpot, just grinding away and winning small hands can keep you at or around even. As everybody who gambles can tell you, not losing can be just as good as winning, and video poker allows players to survive on single pairs while they chase the big hands and bonuses.
You’ll also enjoy complimentary drink service at most casino bars while playing the machines that ring the bar, and nothing beats a free drink. But the best part about video poker is by far the potential. After all, where else can you turn a single quarter into 250 more, or $1.25 into $4,000, by pushing a single button?