Video Poker

Video Poker: An Expert Guide

Video poker is known for having some of the best odds of any online or land-based casino. UK players argue that playing video poker can be even more potentially lucrative than slot machines. This is as there is still a chance of landing a big jackpot and due to the fact that, statistically, you have around five times better a chance of hitting it. There is no getting away from the comparison between slots and video poker.

We have encountered a number of former slots players that gave up and converted to video poker, given the higher chance of success. This success only comes to those who employ a proven strategy. The big mistake novices make when playing video poker is to just dive straight in, completely unaware of how the games work. While there is a moderate chance of being successful purely on luck, it is unlikely, nonetheless.

Video poker machines have been around a very long time, and players who frequent them are probably aware of this. The game itself is not incredibly difficult, but there are a certain craft and way to play. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know to give you the heads up before you hit the video poker machines online or in a landbased casino.

The Basics

It is pretty simple to understand the fundamentals of video poker. Players are dealt five cards and have the choice to keep or discard by selecting the appropriate buttons on the screen or machine. The next step is to hit the Draw button where you are awarded replacement cards for those you didn't keep. Wins are paid out if you land a traditional poker hand like two pairs, straight, flush, etc. The prize you win on account of that hand comes down to the paytable of the machine you're playing.

The reason for the five columns in the paytable is down to the fact that winnings are paid out on the 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 coins you select when playing the game. There is generally a bonus for the Royal Flush, which keeps some players searching for this hand over any other. Rather than winning 1250 coins (5 coins x 250), you are awarded 4000 coins. You can ensure you are playing 5 coins by selecting Max Bet when playing video poker. While it is always advisable to play 5 coins, if you cannot do this, it is a good idea to move to a machine designed with lower stakes in mind.

Wins

UK players will often have the upper hand with video poker as you can find out the return of the machine before you deposit. Your average video poker game sees the casino's typical profit per play at circa 3% - this is the figure which represents the house edge. The return is your win. To understand returns, consider this: if the casino pockets 3% of the money staked, players will see 97% of all money bet, on average, of course.

Returns on video poker machines come down to the paytable so you can compare these before you start playing. Most players opt for the Jacks or Better games as returns on them work out around 99.54%. When we put these figures against slot machines, you can see why many gravitate to video poker. Some slot machines are basically a mystery when it comes to payouts, so video poker does seem the best option for those who want to increase their chance of winning.

Choosing a Machine

When it comes to choosing a machine in video poker, the first thing to do is look for one with a decent paytable. For example, always go for the ones which pay 9 & 6 for a full house and flush over one which pays 8 & 5 for the same combinations. The maths involved in this see the latter machine potentially leading to you losing your money faster, and reducing the opportunity for wins.

It works like this - if you are choosing between a machine with 99.54% and 97.29%, the casino stands to make a larger profit on plays. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you have the best machines possible at your disposal. This is why it is important to find quality machines! These 9/6 Jacks or Better machines are nothing less than an excellent place to start.

You would be surprised to learn that many players don't even know how to tell these machines apart. There are a number of casinos that know this and mix them up. The more you play the lower payout machines, the more chance they have of earning. It is incredible to think that some video poker games have a return of over 100% if played properly. That's right, over 100%.

Playing Video Poker

Uk players flock to Jacks or Better due to the ease of learning the rules and the fact that it offers good value compared to other games. Like anything that involves skill, you need to have a plan of action and strategy to make it work for you. If you simply dive in head first hoping luck favours you, you may be disappointed. There are a few ways to learn video poker without spending your own money in the process.

You can play free mode video poker games on pretty much all online casino sites, which gives you the opportunity to hone your skills before you spend your own money. This is an excellent way to learn the strategies involved with video poker, and pick a few tips up as you go along. It certainly beats the alternative. As the old saying goes, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

Know the Hands

In order to really have a chance at winning, you must first understand how hands work in video poker. For example, there are pairs (say Jack & Jack), three of a kind (Jack x3), and a full house, which is three of a kind and a pair. It does not matter what order the card are in once they correspond to a winning hand. This works for all winning hands, which is why it is important to know that whatever order they fall into will not affect a potentially profitable hand.

This is not to say that you will suddenly become rich just by playing a video poker machine. That does apply to machines that pay 100%+, too. Don't start playing poker - even if you know the hands - expecting to just win all of the time. In fact, you must be able to calculate the bankroll and how many hands you can play per hour in order to truly get the best out of video poker.

If you want to buy your first Bentley with the proceeds of your video poker winnings, expect to invest thousands of pounds and many hours sitting in front of a machine, hoping to hit the jackpot. Even then, the chances might be well and truly against you.

Flush

A flush needs every card to be the same suit. Imagine a 4,6,9, Q, A, all in the suit of Spades. This is essentially what will win you the prize for a flush. It is considered one of the most profitable of hands.

Straight

A straight is a hand with which essentially runs. Imagine a 3,4,5,6,7 or a 6,7,8, 9, 10. There is no requirement for the cards to be in order and that an ace can count as a 1 to complete a straight or what is effectively an 11 card where 10, J,Q, K, A.

Outside straight and Inside Straight

This is where cards that can be converted to a straight with another card on either end. An inside straight is one with a gap which can only be filled by one card. Knowing the difference between outside straights and inside straights will keep you winning in games where the potential combination are not made clear to you by the video poker software.

Straight Flush/Royal Flush

This is a hand which is both a straight and a flush.

A royal flush is a straight flush where the higher cards combine to make a winning hand, like a 10, J, Q, K, A. Once again, cards don't have to be in order. The Royal Flush pays out as the jackpot hand in video poker, and, as such, only lands around once every 40,000 or so hands. Given its seldom appearance, players are unlikely to hit the jackpot very often.

Video Poker Strategies

What strategy you choose to bring to the video poker machine depends on the type of machine. The strategy for Jacks or Better will differ from other games and will depend on the style of the particular machine, the corresponding paytable, and a few other factors which are of major importance to players. There is no one strategy for all games, as it simply does not work that way.

When it comes down to choosing the strategy, therefore, it is best to choose the game first and then work around it. If you move on from that game, simply learn another strategy for another machine. When you understand how these machines work then you can get to grips with the best way to ensure that you are helping your chances of making money on them.

Why Jacks or Better is the Best Choice

For a start, it was the first video poker game to hit the market and has survived over four decades to become even more popular than it ever has been. It is not uncommon to walk into a casino and find a number of patrons all sat in the video poker area while a number of slots sit without any players at all. The best part is that there are usually a high number of these machines to be found in pretty much any casino out there.

One reason for their popularity is the fact that the full-pay versions are known to return an excellent percentage of 99.54. These games can be located in casinos across the UK, Macau,  Las Vegas, you name it. When it comes to popularity, Jacks or Better tends to own it among players. The easy-going nature of the game is also something which greatly helps its cause.

Working in the right strategy is very easy with these machines, too. For these reasons alone, expect any casino enthusiast familiar with video poker machines to be very fond of Jacks or Better. Looking for pure fun with a great chance of beating the odds, and with the chance to employ a fair level of skill? Look no further, as these machines really do have it all.

Slots players frequently convert to video poker on this basis. While playing slots is fun, the payouts are usually infrequent and frustrating. With video poker, you have more than just luck on your side.

Conclusion

Video poker is an incredible game to get the hang of, as the possibilities for big wins and a ton of fun on the way shows. Whether you are in arcades in Britain or the lobbies of a major Las Vegas hotel, there is a chance that you will find a number of these machines just waiting to be played. The choice between a high payout and lower payout machine can be your choice, but sometimes, it is not.

This is due to the fact that particular high paying machines are hard to find in a number of casinos who prefer to have as much edge as possible over players. This is where the importance of knowing where to play and what online casinos to frequent come in important. Without this knowledge, you are essentially taking a risk in something which you do not understand. Even if you are playing for fun it always pays to know how to conduct yourself while spending.

Video poker can trace its popularity back decades, and it continues to grow from strength to strength in the world of online casinos. There is so much choice and so much potential fun to be had. For those who have never played video poker, maybe it is time to give it a shot!

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