Sat, Apr 20, 7:00am by William Brown
Last Updated Thu, Apr 2, 1:44am
The phrase refers to a wide variety of electronic games with video screens that base their rules on traditional poker card games. Video poker is so popular, it is one of the few games of chance or skill that can be found outside of casinos, in bars, nightclubs, and even convenience stores or petrol stations.
Though these games are closely related to pokies, they are different in one important way. A player’s skill set or knowledge of strategy has an effect on the outcome; video poker is a game of skill. It is because of this skill element that some countries allow the games to be played in non-casino settings.
The skill element is also responsible for the fact that some versions have the best odds in the casino. With practice, knowledge of game strategy, and by playing versions of the game that have the most lucrative pay tables, you can reduce the house edge to well below one per cent.
This page outlines which Australian casinos have video poker games, how to play and which games have the best odds. Don’t forget to signup using the links on this page to maximise the bonus you will receive from the casinos.
The rules of the game are simple. Once a player chooses a machine, he’s asked to place a bet, normally between one and five credits. Credit values vary from one game to another, but are similar in range to coin values on pokies and other machine-based casino games. Once a bet has been placed, the player is dealt their starting hand, normally made up of five cards.
The most important part of the game for the gambler is the decision about which cards to keep and which to replace. The idea, as in any card game, is to build a more valuable hand according to the game’s pay table and rules. Once the discards are replaced, the player is paid off if their hand is a winner. Values of winning hands are described on the machine’s pay table.
A game’s pay table gives out a lot of information – experienced gamblers can tell a lot by looking at the pay tables. These tables, like the tables on pokies, are posted on the case or as part of the video screen. The information on that table is sufficient to determine if it offers particularly good odds or not, provided a player knows what to look for.
Many variations exist, as do varieties of pay tables, but most games share some features in common. For example, the set of cards used in these games is usually a standard 52-card deck. Some versions use jokers or other wild cards, a feature reflected in the names of variants like Deuces Wild (see our article about Jackpot Deuces) and Joker Poker. But for the most part, learning to play on one machine makes a gambler familiar enough to easily adapt to a different variant.
Pokies and video poker have a common ancestor. The first poker machines appeared in the US near the end of the 19th century. In fact, the slang word “pokies” is a nod to the fact that the earliest mechanical poker machines were simple hybrids of the rules of poker and the rules of what we now call poker machines.
The earliest machines that are ancestors of both pokies and video poker games had a pay table based on the traditional hierarchy of poker hands – these rudimentary pokies had five reels (for the five cards used in most poker games) each of which was able to display one of ten cards. Pulling a lever set the reels spinning; the cards displayed when the reels stopped made up the player’s hand. Different hands paid out different rewards – for example, a high pair was less valuable than a straight flush, etc.
Charles Fey, credited with inventing the first “slot machines” (as Americans call them) was also the inventor of a game known as Skill Draw, what had rules very close to the rules of video poker. Skill Draw players could choose to re-spin any number of the reels after their first hand, even replacing each of their five cards if their first hand was bad enough to warrant it.
Because Fey’s other invention, the original poker machine known as Liberty Bell, caught on bigger than Skill Draw, it wasn’t until the 1970s that what we’d recognize today as video poker would make another appearance in casinos. These modern games came with pay table structures designed to attract the growing crowds of pokies players to a different type of machine-based game.
Once casino profits from machine games based on the rules of poker increased, game designers started producing new variations and gamblers reacted by increasing the amount of time and money they spent playing titles like Jacks or Better and Aces and Faces. The popularity of these new machine games grew to the point that casino management had to dedicate big chunks of the gaming floor to them; setting them up alongside the similar (and massively-popular) pokie machines of the day just made sense. It took nearly a century, but these two distant relatives (pokies and video-style poker games) now stand side-by-side in casinos.
Video poker lends itself to all sorts of formats. The majority of the game takes place on a video screen or some other small interface; it’s an ideal fit for online casinos, gaming consoles, personal computers, and screens on airplanes and in retail spaces. Since pushing buttons on the screen of a game in a casino isn’t all that different from clicking a mouse or pressing a button on a handheld console, the game was an easy fit for online casinos, handheld home games powered by battery, and in play-money distractions designed for laptops and smartphones.
Ultimately, the fact that these games involve an element of skill makes them appealing to pokies players looking for a bigger challenge or a smaller house advantage. Originally conceived and invented by the same man, the two games are still going strong even 125 years after they first showed up in saloons in frontier America.
Video poker is an electronic machine game that uses the basic structure of a poker game. While video poker machines may look like pokies, they are a completely different type of game, as players can utilize decision making and strategy to improve their odds. Most of these games are based on five-card draw poker, meaning players will have to decide how much of their initial hand to keep, and what cards to swap out in an attempt to improve their hand.
A video poker game begins with the player making a bet, usually between one and five coins. After the bet is made, the player will be dealt five cards. These cards are dealt randomly from a standard deck of 52-cards, though some games may also add one or more jokers to the mix as well.
The player will then have a chance to look at their hand and discard as many cards as they wish (including the entire hand if they so desire). Once the discards have been made, the computer will deal out new cards that are randomly selected from the remaining cards in the deck.
The new hand represents the final hand for the player. That hand is compared to the pay table on that machine. If the hand is at least as strong as the minimum needed to win, the game will pay out at the odds listed. The stronger the hand, the more the player wins for making that hand.
Many video poker machines have a gamble feature that activates at the end of every winning hand. This is a simple “double or nothing” game that allows players the opportunity to risk everything they’ve won on the equivalent of a coin flip: usually, by picking whether a card drawn from a deck will be red or black. If you choose correctly, your winnings are doubled; if you’re wrong, you lose everything.
Keep in mind that the gamble feature is always optional. If you’d rather just keep what you won, you can always decline the opportunity to play this feature. In addition, some machines will have a maximum payout, limiting the number of times you can play the gamble feature.
Multi-hand video poker allows players to play multiple hands simultaneously. The number of hands you can play varies by machine; some allow “only” four or five hands, while some may let you play up to 100 at the same time. Each hand must be played for separately: if you’re playing 100 hands for $1, that’s going to cost you $100 each time you generate a new hand.
Multi-hand games begin exactly the same way as a standard round of video poker. However, after you choose which cards to discard, the replacement cards will take place separately and randomly for each hand you are playing. The same cards can be drawn for multiple hands; it is as though each hand is being drawn simultaneously from separate but identical decks. You’ll receive payouts from each hand that wins, with all of those winnings totalled to give you your final payout.
Video poker payouts are usually expressed in a “for one” format as opposed to the “to one” format used in most casino games. If you’re a fan of pokies, you’ll be used to this, as most pokies use an identical system.
The “for one” payouts mean that your initial bet is treated as a payment to play the game, and it is lost at the start of each hand. The number listed on the payouts is what you’ll be given if you make that hand. For instance, making a pair of jacks or higher in Jacks or Better video poker has a payout of “1” – which means you’ll win your initial bet back, but that’s it. A video poker payout of “2” is the equivalent of winning even money, as you’ll win your initial bet and one additional unit.
A number of different games have become popular around the world. However, a few stand out as being particularly widespread, which means you can count on seeing them in virtually every casino or club you play in.
Jacks or Better may be the most popular video poker machine or all time, and is a mainstay of any video poker collection. Nearly as popular is Deuces Wild, a game in which all twos are considered wilds. Other popular machines include Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus, and Joker Poker.
Yes, playing video poker at online casinos is legal in Australia. While the government does not allow Australian companies to run online casinos, there are many online casinos that are operated overseas, and there are no laws preventing Australians from playing at these casino sites. If you’d like to try playing online, we recommend opening an account at Royal Vegas Online Casino.
Learning video poker strategy is important if you want to get the most out of each machine you play. While most plays may seem obvious, much of optimal strategy is actually counterintuitive, and it’s often very difficult to figure out what the right play is on the fly if you haven’t already learned the proper strategy.
For most games, optimal strategies are very long and complex. However, there are strategy cards and charts that are widely available for all of the most popular video poker games. In addition, there are often simplified versions of optimal strategy that come within a few hundredths of a percent of the payouts you would achieve with perfect play.
One of the reasons for the popularity of video poker among serious casino gamblers is the fact that, in some cases, the player can actually hold an edge over the casino. This is only the case when playing on certain machines along with the best possible pay table being used. For instance, a “full pay” Deuces Wild machine offers the player an edge of 0.76%. Of course, to get that advantage, players must use optimal strategy (or a strategy that is very close to it).
Many other machines have a very small house edge – one that can often be overcome with bonuses, promotions, and the benefits of loyalty programs. Examples include Jacks or Better, which has a house edge of less than 0.5% with the full pay table.
Each game has its own unique payout structure, so there’s a different answer to this question for every single game in existence. However, it’s nearly always true that the casino can make changes to the payouts, meaning that most machines do not offer the “full pay” table that gives the players the best odds.
However, these full pay machines do exist, and they’re worth looking out for. For instance, this is the full pay table for Jacks or Better:
Royal Flush: 800
Straight Flush: 50
Four of a Kind: 25
Full House: 9
Three of a Kind: 3
Two Pair: 2
This pay table is known as the 9/6 pay table, after the payouts for a full house and flush. Lower pay tables are commonly known by names like “9/5” or “8/6.”
Most payouts are the same no matter how many coins you play: they’re just multiplied by the number of coins, so your actual odds don’t change. However, you can usually only get the full payout for the jackpot hand – such as a royal flush in Jacks or Better – if you play for the maximum number of coins (almost always five). This means that it is necessary to play for the full number of coins if you want to get the best odds possible on a video poker machine.