What is video poker?

Video poker is a computerised game based on five-card draw poker.  It is played on a machine similar to a typical poker machine and usually appears in casinos rather than in pubs or hotels.

Video poker games began appearing in the mid 1097s, at around the same as the first basic personal computers. They were obviously quite basic by today’s standards but the premise was the same.  The game evolved through the 1970s and 1980s, and video poker became increasingly popular. It features prominently today in Law Vegas and in casinos around the world.

The game mirrors a regular poker game:  it begins with the placing of a bet – putting money into the machine.  The machine then “deals” the cards, and the player can either keep the cards from the initial draw or discard one or more cards and replace them with new cards drawn from the same (virtual) deck. After the deal, the player may wine a payout if the machine assesses that the player’s hand matches on of the winning hands in the pay table.

Payouts typically commence with a pair of jacks as the minimum hand. The pay table sets out the payout for hands based upon how rare they are, as well as the total theoretical return offered by the particular game you are playing. Some machines offer progressive jackpots for particular hands, usually for a royal flush.

There are variants on the basic five card draw that can be found in some newer poker machines.  There are a wide range of these, but typical variations include the following:

“Multi-Play Poker” – the player begins with the base five card hand. Each additional played hand draws from a different set of cards from which the base hand has been removed.

“Deuces Wild” – a two serves as a ‘wild card’ and the jackpot is hit for four deuces.

“Pay Schedule Modification” (usually include ‘bonus’ or double/triple’ in the game name) – four aces with a kicker card of five or smaller pays a special larger amount.

In classic video poker, here is the typical pay table according to credits wagered and hands drawn. The theoretical return is based upon playing the game with perfect strategy.

Hand 1 credit 2 credits 3 credits 4 credits 5 credits
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two Pair 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or Better 1 2 3 4 5
Theoretical Return 98.4% 98.4% 98.4% 98.4% 99.5%