Video Poker (VP), a variation of draw poker, unexpectedly became popular when it was introduced to casinos in the early 1980’s. Unlike today, live poker was a dying commodity back then because poker fans found VP less intimidating than table games.
Today there are many different versions of VP, and if played correctly, and with a bit of luck, the games can be winnable. The most popular are the Jacks or Better (JOB) games with bonus features found in casinos everywhere, such as:
Jacks or Better
Bonus Poker JOB
Double Bonus Poker JOB
Double Double Bonus Poker JOB
The games use standard poker hand rankings to determine payout amounts from a pair of Jacks up to the highest possible five card hand, the Royal Flush. Once the game is selected, one to five coins/credits may be wagered. Five cards are dealt face up after the deal/draw button is pressed. The player then has the option to hold or discard as many cards as s/he wishes. The discards are replaced by new cards from a standard 52 card deck.
It is important to learn how to read the pay tables, which are displayed on screen for the player. The most popular games are the five coin/credit maximum bet per hand on twenty-five cent and one dollar amounts ($1.25 max bet for quarters; $5 max for dollars.) A JOB game with 99.5% return is known as 9/6 Jacks. The nine referring to a single coin payout for a full house and the six refers to the single coin payout for a flush. This is the nomenclature used to identify all JOB games. All winning hands double per each credit bet, except for the Royal Flush which pays 4,000 credits with a maximum of five bet. Here is the minimum and maximum pay table for the 99.5% return game:
Hand 1 Coin 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 4,000
Straight Flush 50 250
Four of a Kind 25 125
Full House 9 45
Flush 6 30
Straight 4 20
Three of a Kind 3 15
Two Pair 2 10
Pair of Jacks or Better 1 5
Because of the huge Royal Flush payout, It's always prudent to bet the maximum number of coins/credits.
For the bonus games such as Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus there are different payouts for four of a kind depending on rank and game chosen. For example: The Double Bonus for Four 5’s through Kings pay 250 with max coins wagered, four 2’s through 4’s pays 400 coins, and four Aces pay 800 coins. The return is 96.4%. For Double Double Bonus the payouts are even higher.
These attractive payouts at the top end do not come without a give back to the house at the lower value hands. For example, in Bonus Jacks, the 9/6 is reduced to 8/5, even lower in some jurisdictions. For Double Bonus the 2 for 1 return for two pair is reduced to a push (1 for 1). It is important to understand the pay tables before selecting your game. Casinos often adjust the full house and flush payouts, upwards to attract more traffic, lower to increase the house edge. Note that the house collects about 3% more for the bonus games than the basic JOB video poker game.
Here are some statistics about how often high paying hands are dealt when playing VP games:
Royal Flush 1 in 40,000
Straight Flush 1 in 9,150
Four Aces 1 in 5,761
Four 2 through 4 1 in 2,601
Four 5 through King 1 in 423
Full House 1 in 90
Flush 1 in 85
Straight 1 in 80
Other popular video poker variants are Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, and Quick Quads.
You can practice many varieties of video poker for free at www.videopoker.com.
Additional publications and videos about poker, casino gaming, video poker including Linda Boyd's book, and other products can be found on Amazon. Direct link from this page to purchase.