To begin playing video poker, sit down at the machine of your choice and deposit a wager. You can slide either a bill or an electronic payout ticket you received during an earlier game into the machine.
Video poker players typically begin with a $100 deposit when max-betting ($0.25 x 5 for $1.25 per hand), but if you’re just betting a quarter per hand a $20 or $40 deposit offers enough to play.
Once you’ve made a deposit it’s time to select the video poker variant you prefer to play. (This only applies to a machine with multiple game choices. If you chose a stand-alone game you’ve already picked your game of choice.) The different games are relatively straightforward in terms of rules, and you can learn much of what you need to know just from the name of the game alone.
For example, the standard Jacks or Better version of video poker requires you to make one pair of jacks or higher as the minimum high hand required for a win. In Deuces Wild any 2 you are dealt becomes a wild card, and you can play it as any other card to complete a high hand. Other variants of video poker include Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus, and you can learn more about these games by examining the differences in the payouts they offer.
After deciding on a game (going forward this primer will reference Jacks or Better), you’re next task is to select the stakes of the game. On the majority of machines the minimum bet is $0.25 and you can bet anywhere from 1x to 5x this amount on a single hand. You’ll also find higher-stake machines with minimum bets of $1 or $5 for people who want to play higher and sometimes nickel machines for low rollers..
Most experienced video poker players prefer to max-bet at all times because video poker machines offer jackpot bonuses for making a Royal Flush – the best possible hand. A typical payout scale for video poker offers a payout of 250:1 on a minimum bet of $0.25, 500:1 on $0.50, 750:1 on $0.75 bet, and $1,000 on $1.00. But when you max-bet for $1.25 and hit a Royal Flush, the payout jumps all the way to 4,000:1, making the max-bet an optimal strategy for increasing your expected value over the long run.
Paying close attention to the payout table offers you the best way to play a more profitable video poker game. The best machines to play are known for their 9/6 payouts, because they pay at 9:1 for a full house and 6:1 for a flush.
When compared to similar machines that pay full houses at 8:1 and flushes at 5:1 (with all other hand payouts remaining identical), the 9/6 machines clearly offer players the most value. Sure enough, the math bears this out, as 9/6 machines offer a 99.54 percent expected return, while the 8/5 alternative offers only 97.29 percent. In other words, by playing on machines with an 8/5 payout table, you’ll lose your money at a rate of about 5 times faster than when you play the 9/6 version of video poker.
After selecting your stakes you press the Deal button to begin the game. The screen will fill with five random cards from a 52-card deck (games involving Jokers as wild-cards obviously include additional cards). The strategic elements involved in video poker begin here, as players are given the option to hold or discard any or all of the five cards dealt to them.
The goal of video poker is to make any qualifying five-card hand by holding and drawing cards, with higher hands earning payouts on an escalating scale. After one drawing round is completed your hand is ranked, with the appropriate payout being awarded or the wager deducted.