Chapter 2. Video Poker Background

Before you tackle any game, it's important to know how to play. While this might seem like a basic tip, you'll be surprised at how many people simply sit at a live video poker machine or log in, and try their luck without really knowing what they're doing. Our video poker guide will ensure that you know how to play video poker before you start wagering.

2.1 The Basics Of The Screen

In this section of our video poker guide, we're taking a look at the very basics - the screen. With video poker learning how to play is simple, if you can work your way around the machine. When you first look at a video poker machine, you might think that it is quite complex. However, video poker is a relatively simple game that is somewhat reminiscent of a traditional slot machine in style. The screen will tell you everything you need to know.

At the top of the screen, and possibly the most important part to understand, is the payout table. This table simply shows you how much each hand is worth, and what you could win dependant on the wager that you place. A great way to use this information is if you are looking to compare different video poker machines in order to find the best odds in a casino or online.

At the bottom of the screen, this is where you control the game. Generally, there are six buttons which you can use to make your decisions throughout the game. This includes: ash out, bet one credit, hold/cancel, deal/draw, bet max and change/call attendant.

These buttons will be used at different points of the game and are used in the same way that you would play the table variation of five card draw poker.

The middle of the screen is where the cards are placed, and you can use the five cards that are shown to you as the game goes on to formulate the hands that you need to maximise your winnings, and to make decisions as the game progresses.


Now On To The Buttons!

This is a quick overview of what buttons you will be able to find on the screen and what these buttons actually do.

Bet One Credit

  • Positioned underneath the screen (often the second button from the left).
  • Pressed w hen player wants to bet-player can bet from one coin to the max number of coins.
  • After this button the player needs to push the ‘Deal/Draw' button.

Bet Max

  • This button is only to be used if a player wants to place a maximum bet
  • Usually positioned second from the right on the machine
  • Before pressing this it is important that the player familiarises themselves with what the maximum number of coins is (some machines will have a 5 coin maximum bet whereas others have up to 10 or 20).
  • Once this can button has been pressed, the cards will be dealt and then there will be no need to use the ‘Deal/Draw' button (you will not be able to change your bet once this button has been pushed).

Hold / Cancel

  • If the player is dealt an unfavourable hand combination or there is a low ranking winning combination of cards that the player thinks they can improve on, they can choose to hold particular cards and replace others by pressing the ‘Hold/Cancel' buttons.
  • The cancel button is often underneath the machine's screen, with one button being underneath each of the five cards you have been dealt. By pressing these buttons, the corresponding cards will be held. If you want to remove a card, then this button should not be pressed.

Deal / Draw

  • This button is located underneath the screen. Once you press this button you will receive your first hand. The button can also be used once you have chosen which cards you wish to hold on to. If a winning hand is drawn, the amount of coins the gamer earned will be shown on the payout table on the screen.
  • If the player is looking to begin yet another game and use the same bet amount, then they can push the Deal/Draw button again. The new hand will be visualised on the screen.

Cash Out

  • Once you have finished your game and do not wish to begin a new one, then you need to push the ‘Cash Out' button. This is typically located on the left underneath the screen).
  • Older machines will see coins drop out into a tray, whereas newer machines will dispense a cash ticket (quicket).

Change / Call Attendant

  • On new machine models, this button will be labelled as ‘change' whereas in older models it will say ‘call attendant'. It is usually positioned on the left hand side of the video poker machine, under the screen and above the ‘Bet One Credit' button.
  • Pressing this button will make the top part of the machine (the machine's ‘candle') to flash which will indicate that the player is in need of service.
  • This button can be used for situations that involve more change or a mechanic being needed or any other type of service.


2.2 The Paytable

Similar to the way a slot machine works, video poker machines will pay out a certain amount depending on the wager that you have placed and the combinations that you are getting - in this case poker hands.

The paytable in video poker is located at the top of the screen, and is a list of the payout combinations which is determined by the ranking of the particular hand that you win. In video poker, the payouts are listed in rankings, because like traditional poker games, different hands are worth different amounts.



The amount that you wager will determine the value of your payout. For example, in a game of Jacks Or Better, a royal flush will payout 250 if you wager 1 coin. If however, you wager 5 coins, you can expect to see payouts of around 4000!

Here is what the paytable on a video poker game looks like:

2.3 House Edge

In this part of our video poker guide, we're taking a look at the important factor of house edge. While all casino games are different, one thing that they do have in common is the fact that they will provide a payout on a win, and also the fact that they have a house edge. One of the more interesting things about house edge is that it can vary dramatically across all casino games that you can find. Quite simply, the lower the house edge, the higher your chances of winning are.

While many people turn to blackjack tables when on the hunt for a casino game with a low house edge, one excellent game that is often overlooked is video poker. Depending on the variant on video poker that you are looking to play, the house edge can be anywhere been ¼ to up to 5% on any particular machine. Want to know something even more interesting about video poker and house edge? Then read on!

House Edge In Video Poker

Interestingly, video poker is one of the only games where you can find out the house edge simply by looking at the screen.

Due to the fact the paytable is so clearly displayed on a video poker machine, you can quickly work out the payback percentage and through this work out the house edge. Paybacks/payouts go hand in hand with house edge, which you can see below.

The best part about all of this? Being able to see the paytable gives you a huge opportunity to really boost your winnings. If you can work out what the house edge is on all of the games, then you will be able to pick the machine with the lowest house edge to help increase your winning chances!



Can You Influence House Edge?

As with other table games, you can influence the house edge of video poker. To do this, all you need to do is learn a video poker strategy and practice enough to be able to make the best decision with every hand that you are dealt. Whether you do this through memorising every video poker strategy for every game variant that you can find, or whether you simply are a mathematical genius, the best part is, you can influence just how little edge the house has over you!


Top Things To Consider About House Edge

Now we've come to an end of our basic overview of video poker section, you are ready to move on to learning some of the more advanced video poker strategies. To summarise, we've put together a quick list of top things that you should remember about house edge.

House Edge is international, meaning you cannot escape the dreaded percentage

House edge correlates with payouts and payback percentages so keep this in mind when choosing a video poker machine

With video poker, you can find out what the house edge is by looking at the pay table

Remember to compare all of the machines to find out which machine can provide you with the best chances of winning

House edge will provide you with the information you need to determine the chances of winning