Introduction to Video Poker at Online Casinos
When it comes to variety, only slot machines have anything on video poker. At online casinos, video poker can be found in a staggering array of different denominations and gimmicks. Still, it's an easy game to play, requiring mostly a knowledge of basic five-card winning poker hands. Within that framework, gaming companies have come up with plenty of different ways to make the game both more exciting and more complex, but in the end, it all comes down to the pursuit of the big payoff that can be had for uncovering a royal flush.
Types of Video Poker Games
Most often, video poker games are identified by the minimum hand needed to achieve any kind of payout on your wager. For instance, a Jacks or Better machine will pay out on any hand that has at least a pair of jacks – and much more as the hands increase in value. That doesn't mean all Jacks or Better machines play or pay out the same way, but it's a good starting point. Video poker games can also be linked to progressive jackpots just like some slot machines, taking a small amount from each wager to fund an ever increasing top jackpot. There are also more exotic video poker games that feature multiple hands dealt at a time or a number of other non-standard game mechanics.
How to Play Video Poker
No matter what type of video poker machine you end up playing, the basics are generally the same. Five cards are dealt to you from a simulated deck of 52 cards, or 54 cards in games that use jokers. For each card, you'll have the option of holding it or discarding it. For online video poker games, this is usually done by clicking on a hold button beneath each card. Once those decisions are made, clicking the “Deal” button again will produce replacements for any cards discarded the first time around.
Once the second round of cards is dealt, the five cards left on the screen make up your hand. If it's a winning hand, you'll receive credits based on the pay table of that particular game – the better the hand, the more the payout will be. A wager of $3 might win $15 for a straight, but that same bet on the same machine could yield $75 for a full house. Thus, an understanding of the ranking of poker hands is essential in order to determine which cards to keep and which ones to throw away. On nearly every video poker game, the highest payout is for a royal flush (10 through ace, all of the same suit), so most of the strategy for video poker is focused on maximizing your chances to end up with that very rare hand.
Like slot machines, some video poker games may offer a bonus round after a winning hand. A common one is the opportunity to go double or nothing on your winnings for guessing if the next card dealt is higher or lower than a card shown on the screen. These bonus rounds vary depending on the game, and are often optional, so you can skip them if desired.
Tips for Playing Video Poker
Besides knowing the minimum hand necessary to win, it's also important to know if any cards are wild. On a Deuces Wild game, the fact that twos are wild make them much more important to hold than in a standard video poker game. As noted above, a royal flush is the ultimate goal on almost every game, so holding even two suited cards that would help make that hand is always a good idea. Some common types of video poker games have had basic strategies devised for them in the same manner as blackjack, making it worth an internet search to see if that's the case for your favorite game.