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Gambling Guide

Video Poker for Beginners


What Exactly is Video Poker?

 While most slot machines are based on random numbers, allowing everything to play out to chance, video poker is one of the few casino machine games that actually favor the player.

Video poker is a game that requires skill and can often be used to bridge the gap between table games and slot machines. Video poker machines come with a much lower house edge than the slot machines, are easy to play and our video poker for beginners guide will tell you exactly how.

Video poker is not dissimilar to standard poker, in that you get dealt 5 cards and you want to get a good hand in order to win. The main difference is that you’re playing against the computer and not a group of players, so it’s much simpler in that you’re not raising any bets and so on.

Image Credit: Domas Mituzas.

How to Get Started?

The rules of video poker are not dissimilar to standard 5 draw poker. The machine will deal five cards, and you have the option of drawing up to five new cards, or hold the ones you’ve been dealt.

When you hit the “deal” button, the new cards will be dealt, discarding those not held. Whether you win or lose depends on the final hand you have after the draw button and the pay out depends on the ranking on the hand and the payout offered by the machine.


Basic Poker Strategy

 The basic rules of video poker are not difficult, but in order to play well, and just like in draw poker, you have a hierarchy of hands that determine your winnings. The order of the hand value is given in the table below, running from high to low from the top:


Royal FlushThis is the highest hand you can get in poker, when you have an: ace, king, queen, jack and 10 in the same suit.
Straight Flush This consists of 5 cards of the same suit in a sequence. Like 6,7,8,9,10 of spades, for example.
Four of a KindRanking just below a straight flush, this set is when you have four of the same valued cards, like four aces or four 5s. It doesn’t matter what the value of the fifth card is.
Full HouseThis hand is made up of three cards of one denomination and two of another, like three 5s and two 3s.
FlushThis is when all cards belong to the same suit and not in a sequence.
StraightFive cards in a sequence not belonging to the same suit.
Three of a KindThree cards of the same rank, like three 10s, a 2 and a 5.
Two Pairs Two cards of one rank and two cards from another rank, for example: K, K, 10, 10, 2.
One PairThere are two cards of one rank in the set. Like 9, 9, 5, 2, K.
No PairsIt’s very common to have a game where no one gets any special hand. In this case, the winner is decided by who holds the highest card in each hand. The ace is the highest, followed by a king and so on. If two players hold an ace, then the tied players split the pot.

Even though you’re not playing against anyone else and there is no need to bluff and read other players, to get something out of the game it’s recommended that you use mathematical strategy to get ahead. However, this will depend on the game you’re playing, since Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild will vary in the mathematics applied to the game. You can find a number of strategy charts for each game to help you play well. There is also software that can train you to play like a pro.


Video Poker Tips and Tricks

 If you’re used to slots, the video poker will feel like a dream. It’s not difficult to master, and the odds are definitely stacked more in your favor than slot machines. To get the most out of your video poker play, try these tips and tricks.

  1. Use a strategy card. Pick a game and use the corresponding strategy card to help you play the best game.
  2. Use either a free online simulator or software designed specifically for learning to master video poker. Any money spent on the software would easily be earned back in from the winnings.
  3. Make sure you pick the machine with the highest return. Not all video poker machines are created equal, so you’re going to want to use one that gives you the best game play.


Video Poker Rules

  1. Most video poker machines are set up with a 52-card deck. Sometimes they will include jokers if it’s a wild-card game.
  2. Once the player made the wager, he or she will press the deal button and the game gives the player five cards from the deck.
  3. The player then has the chance to pick which cards he or she wants to keep, and which ones to change.
  4. The player clicks deal again, and the cards that have been selected to be discarded are re-dealt.
  5. If the player holds a good hand, then the player is paid according to the posted pay table.


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About the author

Barbara is a German-born Austrian with unresolved identity issues and a degree in Ecology and Nature Conservation. She doesn't have a degree in journalism or any related field, but such details can't keep her from being one of the best.

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