How to Play Video Poker Online

Internet video poker tips

The game of video poker is based on the game of five-card draw. It is played on a machine which displays the cards pretty much like a computer game.

Aside from slots machines, video poker is one of the most popular games played online and in land-based settings. Understandably so, since the game offers reasonable odds and it is semi-skilled. In this article I’m going to discuss the basics of this wonderful game and provide some valuable tips.

The Ins-And-Outs of Video Poker

What exactly does video poker entail? The player bets against the machine, which acts as the dealer and the banker. The object of the game is to get the highest possible poker hand. The game of video poker differs from games such as slots machines since the outcome of the game is affected by the player’s skill.

Winning hands are paid in a fixed return and displayed on the machine. The higher the ranking of the hand the bigger the payout you’ll receive. The payouts also vary from machine to machine and in accordance with local legislation. In a number of ways video poker differs from the traditional game of five-card draw:

  • There’s only one player therefore it’s not necessary to beat the other players’ hands.
  • The game is played at a much faster pace.
  • The payout odds are fixed for certain hands.
  • You can’t bluff

Types of Video Poker Machines

There are various types of machines, each with its own variations and rules. The most popular games are Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and Joker Wild. If you’re a beginner I recommend you start by playing Jacks or Better first since it’s easier than the other video poker games. On some machines the return for a royal flush is fixed, on others there’s a progressive jackpot that accumulates each time the game is played. Machines that offer fixed payouts are called flat tops (non progressive).

How to Play

The aim of the game is to get the highest possible ranking hand displayed in the payout schedule of the machine. The minimum hand to win varies from game to game. Before you can play you must insert a coin or smart card into the machine. If you’re playing online you must register an account with the online casino first and make a deposit. Smart cards are just like credit cards that can be purchased and topped up with money at the cash point.

The minimum stakes are often in multiple of five coins. If you play with less than five coins, you must press the deal button. If you insert five coins, the machine automatically deals a five-card hand. Just like a normal poker game the standard deck comprises of 52 cards. The cards are shuffled and the player receives a five-card hand. You must pick the best possible hand by getting rid of the cards you don’t want. In return you’ll be dealt with new ones.

You must decide which cards you want to keep by clicking on the corresponding hold button. A hold can be cancelled by clicking on the button a second time. You can keep all the cards or you can discard any number of cards. It is possible to be dealt with a winning hand with the initial five cards. Usually this is indicated by means of a beep or a flashing hand. When you decided which cards you want to keep, you can then click on the draw/deal button. The machine will deal new cards to the hand. If your hand wins, it will be paid out to the payout schedule displayed on the machine.

Hand Ranking

The hands are ranked in the same way as five-card draw. For games where there are wild cards, there are additional hands that include the wildcard. A royal flush made with a wild card is considered a lower ranking hand than a regular royal flush. The odds that are given varies from game to game. The most popular game is Jacks or Better. Before you can receive a payout you must get a pair of Jacks or better. The minimum amount that can be staked is five coins.

Deuces Wild

In the variation of video poker all the twos are wild cards. This means that if you receive a two you can use it to represent any card. In other words if you have three aces and a two, the hand held will be four aces.

Joker Wild

In the hand of Joker Wild, an additional card (joker) is added to the deck, making it 53 cards. The wild card is the joker. The extra joker makes it easier to achieve higher ranking hands which is reflected in lower payout odds than jacks or better. To win you also need a higher hand, either two pair or better.

Valuable Playing Tips

  • When playing video poker remember to compare the payout tables of each machine and select the best.
  • Progressive machines offer the best value because they give you the opportunity to win a larger jackpot than flat top machines.
  • Play machines that offer a large jackpot.
  • To win the jackpot you need a bankroll of several thousand coins.
  • Always play the maximum possible stake as smaller bets pays out lower odds. The maximum bet is usually five coins.
  • If you played the maximum bet-five coins, the jackpot pays out 4,000 coins on average. If you inserted one coin it pays out 250.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with the playing strategy for video poker. It differs from traditional five-card draw since you can’t bluff.
  • Keeping a kicker instead of a pair is not the correct way to play video poker.
  • Before you start playing other games make sure that you’ve mastered Jacks or better since it’s the easiest game to learn.
  • Make sure the strategy you are using is the correct one for the game you’re playing.
  • Game with wild cards like deuces and joker are slightly more complex since they require a different strategy than Jacks or Better.
  • While you’re mastering the game play slowly and carefully. Hands like straights are not immediately obvious, as the cards will rarely be displayed in the correct ascending or descending order. In a straight an ace can be used as a high or a low card.

Jacks or Better Basic Strategy

The following strategy when playing jacks or better is ideal for beginners.

  1. Hold any hand of a straight or higher.
  2. Draw one if four cards to a royal flush are held (including a winning flush).
  3. Four cards to a straight flush or flush, draw one.
  4. Three of a kind, draw two.
  5. Two pair, draw one.
  6. Pair, draw three.
  7. Three card royal flush, draw two.
  8. Four-card straight, draw one.
  9. Three-card straight flush, draw two.
  10. Two high cards J, O, K, A, draw three.
  11. Three high cards (jacks or more)-if you have the same suit hold two by holding the two lowest high cards.
  12. Four-card straight, draw one.
  13. High-card, draw four.
  14. If you have nothing, draw five cards.


When playing video poker online don’t get too confident. You may be lucky with one draw but might not be so lucky with the next. Before you place your bet double-check your hand first. I often make the mistake by not selecting the best possible hand, take your time, don’t rush. A hasty video poker player is normally a losing one. Before you start playing for real cash practice the game as much as possible. Make sure that you understand the rules and strategy of each game.



  1. Here in Germany Video Poker in real casinos became meaningless. It’s a pity, because this game is one of a fistful of games where you can improve your chances with smart play. So I am very happy to see you writing good playing tips and basic strategy for people who love Video Poker.

    And last but not least … Video Poker is the most popular poker variant, where the player is not in direct contact with a dealer or other player. Many prefer that. So it is perfect for online gambling.

  2. Hi Leopold,

    First of all a warm welcome and thanks for the compliment on our article. Yes, I completely agree with you that it’s a great game where a semi-skilled player can take a couple of pennies off the house. Without a doubt one of my favourite games.

    However, I must confess I haven’t played it online yet but only in brick-and-mortar casinos. Before I play it online for real money I’ll hone my skills with the free video poker games first. My favourite games are Jacks or Better and Joker Poker.

Leave a Reply