Online Video Poker

26 Mar, 2024 / Oliver Thompson

Mastering the Draw: A Guide to Conquering Online Video Poker

The allure of video poker lies in its unique blend of chance and skill. Unlike slots, where outcomes rely solely on luck, video poker gives players decision-making opportunities that can significantly impact their gameplay. The Fundamentals of Online Video Poker

Online video poker emulates the classic five-card draw poker experience. Here’s a breakdown of the core gameplay:

  • Game Selection: Casinos offer various video poker options, each with slight rule variations and pay tables (the chart displaying potential payouts based on the hand combinations you create). Choose a game that suits your preferences and pay table analysis (more on this later).
  • Placing Your Bet: Use the on-screen interface to select your desired bet amount. Most video poker games allow varying bet denominations, catering to different bankrolls.
  • The Deal: The game deals you five cards face up.
  • Hold & Discard: Analyze your hand and decide which cards to hold (potentially leading to a winning combination) and which to discard. Use the “Hold” buttons beneath each card.
  • The Draw: After discarding unwanted cards, the game replaces them with fresh cards from the deck, forming your final five-card hand.
  • Payout: The game evaluates your final hand based on the pay table. If it matches a winning combination, you receive a payout based on your bet amount and the hand’s value.

Understanding Terminology

Before diving in, let’s decipher some key video poker terms:

  • Pay Table: This chart displays the payouts awarded for various winning hand combinations (e.g., Jacks or Better, Two Pair, Straight Flush). Always consult the pay table before playing to understand potential rewards.
  • Wild Cards: Certain video poker variations include wild cards that can substitute for any other card, increasing your chances of forming winning hands. Examples include Deuces Wild (2s are wild) or Joker Poker (Jokers are wild).
  • Full Pay: A video poker game with a “full pay” designation offers the highest possible theoretical return to player (RTP) for a specific game variant. Finding games close to “full pay” for optimal gameplay is crucial.
  • Return to Player (RTP): This represents the theoretical percentage of wagered money a video poker game pays back to players over the long term. Higher RTP means a better chance of winning back some of your bets.

How to Play Online Video Poker: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Choose Your Game: Choose a video poker variant you find appealing, considering factors like pay tables, wild cards, and minimum/maximum bet limits. Research online to find games with “full pay” or near “full pay” characteristics.
  2. Place Your Bet: Use the user-friendly interface to choose your desired bet amount. Consider your bankroll and the volatility of the chosen game (high-variance games can lead to bigger wins but also larger swings).
  3. Analyze Your Hand: Carefully assess the five cards dealt. Identify potential winning combinations and consider the discard strategy that maximizes your chance of achieving them. Pay close attention to high-value cards and potential straights or flushes.
  4. Hold & Discard: Use the “Hold” buttons to select cards you want to keep. Discard the remaining cards by tapping the corresponding buttons.
  5. The Draw: After discarding, the game replaces unwanted cards, forming your final hand.
  6. Payout: The game evaluates your final hand against the pay table. If it qualifies as a winning combination, you receive a payout based on your bet and the hand’s value.


Example: Jacks or Better
Let’s illustrate the gameplay with an example of Jacks or Better, a popular video poker variant:

  • Hand Dealt: King, Queen, 7, 4, 2
  • Discard Strategy: You hold the King and Queen, aiming for a high pair. Discard the remaining three cards.
  • The Draw: The game replaces the discarded cards. You might receive a Jack or another high card, completing a winning pair or even a higher hand like two pairs. If you don’t draw a valuable card, you lose the bet.

Essential Tips for Video Poker Success

  • Master the Pay Table: This is your bible! Understanding what hands payout and how much is vital for making informed decisions during gameplay.
  • Prioritize Strategy: Unlike slots, video poker offers strategic elements. Learn basic discard strategies based on the specific game variant you’re playing.
  • Manage Your Bankroll: Set a budget and stick to it. Video poker can be fast-paced, so manage your bets wisely to sustain extended sessions.
  • Choose Games Wisely: Always look for video poker games with “full pay” or near-“full pay” pay tables. These offer the highest potential return over the long run, improving your winning chances.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Utilize the “play for fun” modes in many online casinos to grasp the mechanics and refine your discard strategies before risking real money.

Advanced Strategies

  • Learn Optimal Play: There are mathematically optimal hold/discard strategies for various video poker games. Search online for strategy charts or use video poker training software to further hone your skills.
  • Bonus Video Poker: Some casinos offer bonus video poker games with expanded payouts for specific hands (such as Four of a Kind). Adjust your strategy accordingly to maximize the value of these bonus payouts.
  • Progressive Jackpots: Certain video poker games feature progressive jackpots, typically won by hitting a Royal Flush. Consider contributing smaller bets towards the progressive while remaining mindful of your overall bankroll.

Key Takeaways

  • Video Poker is Not Slots: Unlike slots, where outcomes are entirely based on luck, video poker presents an element of skill and strategy that can significantly influence your success.
  • Pay Tables Matter: Always analyze the pay table before choosing a game. Prioritize games with favorable paytables to increase your long-term return potential. Look out for differences in hand-ranking payouts, especially in full-pay versions.
  • Practice and Patience: Mastering optimal play in video poker takes time and practice. Utilize free play modes and online strategy resources to build your knowledge and confidence before wagering real money. Video Poker for the Long Haul Video poker, especially when played with optimal strategy, offers a lower house edge compared to many other casino games. Focus on long-term play and making informed decisions to maximize your enjoyment and potential winnings.

Finding the Optimal Play!

Many online resources can help you master video poker strategy:

  • Strategy Charts: Search for specific strategy charts that visually outline the optimal hold/discard play for common video poker variants like Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild.
  • Video Poker Trainers: Software trainers allow you to practice hands in depth, analyzing your choices and comparing them to mathematically optimal decisions.
  • Online Forums and Communities: Engage with other video poker enthusiasts, sharing insights and discussing strategies on online platforms and dedicated forums.

Practise Responsible Play

Video poker’s mix of skill and luck can captivate players. Always remember to prioritize responsible gambling habits:

  • Choose Reputable Online Casinos: Opt for licensed, established casinos with excellent reputations and a strong focus on responsible gambling..
  • Set Limits: Set a strict budget for your play session and never chase losses.
  • Utilize Demo Mode: Practice strategies and explore different video poker games using the “play for fun” option.
  • Take Advantage of Bonuses: Welcome bonuses and free spins can boost your bankroll and let you test real-money games. Always read the fine print regarding wagering requirements.
  • Manage Your Bankroll: Responsible bankroll management is crucial for the long-term enjoyment of online video poker.
  • Have Fun: Remember, online video poker games are meant for entertainment. Enjoy the thrill and prioritize having a good time!

Responsible Gambling: Key to Long-Term Enjoyment

Baccarat’s elegant simplicity can sometimes obscure its potential for losing streaks. Remember these crucial principles:

  • Set Limits: Establish limits for how much you wager per hand and your total session. Stay consistent with these, even if you’re feeling lucky.
  • Take Breaks: Step away from the screen regularly to maintain focus and perspective. Baccarat can be fast-paced, making it essential to avoid impulsive bets.
  • Recognize Gambling Problems: If you’re concerned about your gambling habits, don’t hesitate to seek help from organizations like Gambling Help Online


Embracing the Challenge!

The world of online video poker offers a thrilling blend of skill and entertainment. By understanding the fundamentals, applying strategies, and always gambling responsibly, you’ll transform yourself from a casual player into a true poker strategist.



Video poker is a casino game that simulates five-card draw poker, combining elements of traditional poker with the convenience of a slot-like interface.

Slots are pure luck-based games; video poker involves strategic decision-making. Knowing when to hold or discard cards can significantly influence your outcome.

No, but a basic understanding of poker hand rankings (pairs, straights, flushes, etc.) is essential.

Yes! Many online casinos offer a “demo” or “play for fun” mode, allowing you to practice and learn the games without risking real money.

  • You choose a game and place your bet.
  • The game deals you five cards.
  • You decide which cards to hold and which to discard.
  • The game replaces discarded cards, forming your final hand.
  • You receive a payout if your hand matches a winning combination in the pay table.

The paytable lists all the winning poker hand combinations and their respective payouts. Analyzing the paytable to understand the potential rewards and make informed strategic decisions is crucial.

Only sometimes. Betting the max sometimes unlocks bonus payouts (like a Royal Flush jackpot), but consider your bankroll and the overall RTP of the specific game.

Jacks or Better is a classic option with a straightforward pay table and relatively easy strategy, making it a great starting point.

  • Learn the basic strategy for your chosen game variant.
  • Prioritize video poker games with high RTPs.
  • Practice in free-play mode before transitioning to real money bets.

Oliver Thompson

In-house Content Creator

Oliver hasn’t given up his dream of becoming a ghostwriter. In the meantime, he picked up another passion – casino games. His keen eye for detail makes every review informative and helpful, which is how we want to present ourselves to the audience. Every article, review, or news piece written by Oliver is well-optimised and well-researched, and you may even get some betting tips from him. When he’s not typing away, Oliver takes his dog Rummy to the dog park.

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