Alongside slot machines, video poker has been one of the most popular casino sections for decades. It should be noted that, unlike slots, video poker is not strictly a game of chance but also of skill. This fact and its virtually non-existent house edge make it attractive for casual players and high rollers alike.
However, the number of variations can sometimes make choosing an exciting and generous machine difficult. Until online gambling arrived, video poker had not changed much throughout the decades, but the fierce competition in the industry made things more complicated. Developers have created many exciting variants, adding twists and new elements to the classic game.
The new ingredients include bonus payouts, jackpots, Wild Cards and many other perks. Online and land-based casinos offer multiple versions with various rules and paytables, each requiring a different strategy to maximise the return. The task of winning is much more challenging when it is difficult to differentiate between the games. Read the article to learn about the basic types of this game and the differences between variations.
Full Pay vs Low Pay Games
Video poker draws inspiration from the classic five-card table game, representing the simplest variation. In the early days, video poker machines were called Draw Poker (we now know the game as Jacks or Better). With perfect strategy, this game has an incredible RTP of 99.54%.
In Jacks or Better, a standard payout rate is 9x the bet for a Full House and 6x the stake for a Flush. The full-pay games are hence referred to as 9/6 games, though many games with a higher rate have been created. Some games, including Deuces Wild, offer a return bigger than 100%.
On the other hand, the games offering a lower RTP percentage are known as low-pay games. It goes down to 95%, increasing the house edge, like in a 6/5 Jacks or Better game. Players must review the paytable and find the Flush and Full House payouts to know the casino policy.
Single-Hand vs Multi-Hand Games
Most video poker games are single-play or single-hand, meaning you bet on one hand at a time, like table poker. In the last decades, multi-play variants have appeared, with three, five or more hands played simultaneously. The game starts with a regular hand; the player chooses which cards to hold and splits them into multiple hands. Each hand gets a unique draw, having an equal chance.
However, your chosen bet is placed individually, so if you wager five coins in a 100-hand game, you actually bet 500. Multi-hand games often attract players by offering higher payouts and sometimes having Wild Cards that make winning easier. The house edge remains the same, but there is the less mathematical variance for each deal, which makes players’ chances better.
Less experienced players will hurry to play multi-hand games due to low bets and high payouts. However, they should pay attention, for they can win big quickly and break the bank in a few rounds if unlucky.
Video Poker: Variations
The basic variants include Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, but many other variations exist. Tens or Better, Joker Poker, Bonus Poker, and Aces and Faces are some of them. Progressive Jackpot Video Poker is another generous type that provides lucrative rewards.
Jacks or Better
New players often choose this variation because of its simplicity and an RTP of 99.54% in its 9/6 form. However, there are many low-pay variations, too. If you have a suitable hand, you will get a winning equal to your wager. In most single-hand variations, you can double your winnings each time you get a titular hand. Pick a face-down card with a higher value, and you did it.
Deuces Wild is played with a single 52-card deck where all Deuces are Wild Cards. The best hand is a Royal Flush, while the lowest in the paytable is Three-of-a-Kind. The odds of winning a hand rise significantly with Wilds, so the returns are low, but the full-pay Deuces Wild returns 100.76% with maximum bets. A Five of a Kind earns you 15x the stake in this game.
Another game variant has a colloquial name, Not-So-Ugly Deuces Wild, with a payback of 99.73%. The payouts are better; a Five of a Kind is worth 16x, while a Straight Flush pays 10x. Despite the lower payout for a Four of a Kind, it is an excellent game for beginners.
This variation is based on Jacks or Better but awards more generous payouts for some Four-of-a-Kind hands, like four Aces. A pair of Jacks is the lowest hand that pays, and the rest is in a standard order.
Four-of-a-Kind hands are the only exception, with 80:1 for four Aces. The full-pay version is 8/5, meaning a Full House pays 8:1, and a Flush gives 5:1. The return is 99.17%, which makes the game an excellent option for new players.
Aces and Faces
This version is a more complex variant of Jacks or Better, played with a standard 52-card deck. Increased payouts come for all Four-of-a-Kind hands that have Aces or Face Cards. A hand of four Aces ranks higher than a Straight Flush (80:1 compared to 50:1). Any combination of Face Cards is 40:1, and the return is 99.26%. Other versions are 7/6 and 7/5, with 99.2% and 99.1% returns.
Progressive Jackpot Video Poker
This variant has winning hands that do not pay off fixed amounts but a rising jackpot. If many video poker machines are linked in a network, a part of every bet is added to the jackpot. Furthermore, the jackpot-winning combination can be a Royal Flush, a Straight Flush or a Four of a Kind.