Video Poker Variations

When choosing a real-money game at a land-based or online casino, less experienced gamblers tend to turn their attention to slots and blackjack, while actually passing by the best bet. Video poker is easy to learn, does not involve betting against others, and can be played with lower stakes. But its biggest advantage over many other casino games is that with the right preparation and skill set, the player can gain an advantage over the house. However, before starting to play video poker for real money, gambling enthusiasts need to learn the differences of the many video poker variations, so they can make informed decisions and choose wisely.

All video poker games derive from the classic 5-card draw poker, which despite not being played in casinos, is still popular as a casual, home entertainment. But every variation has slightly different rules and pay tables. For this reason, it is extremely important for players to choose a game and play it correctly, as there is a different strategy for every variation. Playing video poker with a few or with zero mistakes ensures better odds of winning. Some versions of the classic game, for instance, offer an advantage to the player, but it can be achieved only through understanding of the rules and by employing a perfect strategy.

Most casinos host at least several video poker games players can choose from. There are classics such as Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, but often, you will also find 9/6 games, multi-hand versions, and even variations with progressive jackpots. Casinos and game developers sometimes refer to full-pay video poker games as 9/6 games, while multi-hand or multi-play variations are games where the player can place bets not on a single hand, but on multiple hands simultaneously. The rules and the payouts for the different winning hands are usually the same as in single-play video poker, but it is very important to pay attention to the size of the bet. It will be multiplied by the number of hands you bet on each round.

Classic Video Poker

classic video poker machine imageAlso known as “draw poker”, Jacks or Better is the classic video poker game all other variations are based on. Its name is simply a reference to the lowest hand that gets you a winning. It is a pair of Jacks or higher cards. The game is played with 52 cards and it starts when the player places a bet. The computer then deals 5 cards which can be kept or discarded in order to achieve the goal – to collect a winning hand. There is a second draw and if the player has a winning combination, the game pays out the corresponding amount of money.

The game allows you to adjust your bet – you can bet from 1 to 5 coins per hand and pick a denomination from a few cents to $5 or more. It is very important for less experienced players to start with lower bets because there is a single betting interval and once placed, the bet cannot be canceled or increased. Learning how to play Jacks or Better is rather easy, even for those who have never played poker before. The lowest winning hand pays out evenly while getting Two Pair earns you winnings that are twice as big as your bet. A Three of a Kind hand pays out 3 to 1 and a Straight hand (5 consecutive cards of any suit) pays out 4 to 1.

Full-Pay Games

video poker machine imageThere are literally hundreds of video poker games found in online casinos but not all of them are equally good when it comes to the returns. One simple way to distinguish between good and bad video poker variations is to see the payouts for Full House and Flush they offer. Usually, games that pay 9 and 6 times the size of the bet for these two hands, respectively, are known as “full-pay” games. Some of them also have “9/6” in their titles – this is also a reference to these two payouts and if you see a 9/6 Jacks or Better in a casino, it means that this is a full-pay game and you can expect returns of 99.54%.

However, most casinos offer games with lower payouts for Full House and Flush and thus, lower average returns. There are many lower-pay or short-pay versions of Jacks or Better and it is important to distinguish between them if you want to collect some winnings. A game where the player receives payouts 8 and 6 times the size of the bet for these who hands will have an expected return of 98.39%. There is also a 9/5 version which returns on average 98.45% of the bets, while the 8/5 Jacks or Better pays back 97.30%.

Video Poker Variations

Along with the many video poker variations, there are also different versions of most of them as each gaming studio releases its own take on the classics. This has resulted in a greater diversity and at some casinos right now, players can choose from over 50 titles. However, these video poker games usually belong to less than ten variations and once players become familiar with the basic games, they should not have trouble playing any version, single or multi-hand. When you open each game, you will notice slight modifications in the pay tables, which will directly influence the average return.

Jacks or Better

jacks or better screenshotAs mentioned earlier, Jacks or Better is the classic variant of video poker and it can be found in almost every land-based or online casino. The full-pay version is not always available and common games are 9/5, 8/6, and 8/5. The expected returns of these versions are lower than what you could expect to get back from a 9/6 Jacks or Better game, but they are still quite popular because they are simpler and easy to play compared to Deuces Wild or Aces and Faces, for instance.

Tens or Better

tens or better screenshotTens or Better is a popular video poker variation which is based on Jacks or Better. There is one major difference and it is the fact that players need to get at least a pair of Tens in order to collect a winning. This slight modification in the rules of the game improves the odds as there are 4 more cards that may form a winning combination (the four Tens). As a consequence, the payouts are significantly lower than in a typical Jacks or Better – the payouts for Full House and Flush, in particular. When hitting a Full House, the player receives a winning only 6 times the size of the bet, while a Flush pays off 5 to 1.

Aces and Faces

aces and faces screenshotThis variation of video poker is also based on Jacks or Better but there are several changes in the pay table that lead to great modifications in the strategy and the RTP percentage of the game, as well. The title Aces and Faces refers to the higher payouts for Four of a Kind hands which are formed by sets of Aces or face cards (Kings, Queens, and Jacks). Once again, the game uses a standard deck of 52 cards and the lowest winning hand is a pair of Jacks.

Deuces Wild

deuces wild screenshotDeuces Wild is one of the most popular variations of video poker and it comes in several versions, including a full-pay game. It is recommended for players who have some prior experience with simpler games, however, because it is a bit complex when compared to Jacks or Better. It is played with 52 cards, but all Twos in the deck referred to as Deuces, act as wild cards. This means that the player can use the Deuces to replace any other card and to form winning combinations much easier. Indeed, winning hands appear much more often in Deuces Wild and to balance that, the game eliminates the Jacks or Better as a winning hand.

Joker Poker

joker poker screenshotJoker Poker is another player advantage video poker game if it is played with near-perfect strategy. This variation is played with 53 cards and the extra card is the Joker, which is wild and helps you form winning combinations more easily. For a payout, a pair of Kings or Better is required. Also, as typically for video poker games with wild cards, the payouts for natural hands are higher than the payouts for hands formed with the help of a Joker.

Bonus Poker

bonus poker screenshotThis version is one of the most common and most profitable video poker options offered by online casinos. It comes in a full-pay and a short-pay variation, as well as in various “Double” forms. The full-pay, 9/6 Bonus Poker provides players with the best opportunities for winning over the long term. The game is played much like Jacks or Better – it uses a standard deck of 52 cards and the lowest paying hand is Jacks or Better. However, the payout for Two Pair is the same as the one given for Jacks or Better.

Pick’em Poker

pickem poker screenshotPick’em Poker is a little different version of video poker. It is a simplified variation and can be played by even novices as its strategy is quite easy to learn. Once the player places a bet, he or she is dealt two cards face up on the left side of the screen. On the right side of the screen, the computer deals two stacks of 3 cards each but only the top cards in these two piles are face up. The player chooses which stack of cards to hold and then, a hand of 5 cards is formed by the two groups.

Choosing a Video Poker Variation

jacks or better screenshotChoosing a video poker game can be a daunting task for less experienced players, especially if they are playing at online casinos where there is an immense variety of titles. Each particular version has its specific rules and slightly modified pay tables, so it should be played with a corresponding strategy. However, there are several principles players should follow when searching for a good video poker game where they can make decent profits.

The first one is to determine one’s levels of skill and expertise. Logically, novice players should stick to simpler video poker variations such as Jacks or Better and Pick’em Poker and play at least several hands for free to learn the basics. Strategy charts can be found in numerous video poker guides or even online, so using them is also recommended. It is also wise to pick a game which offers more regular winnings over a version with higher payouts. In other words, players with little or no experience should choose low-stakes games where lower-paying hands occur more often such as Tens or Better, for instance. This way, they will be able to manage their bankroll more easily and prevent big losses.

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Find the answers of questions people asked so far:

Dan James

Is there a big difference in the rules of different video poker variations?

Asked by: James | Asked on: 2023-06-12
Answered by: Dan | Answered on: 2023-06-13

It depends on the video poker variations that you compare. Some video poker variants share almost the same rules and hand ranks, with slight changes in the least-paying hands. For instance, if you compare Jacks or Better and Tens or Better, you will only get a different least-paying hand, with the first variation typically paying even money for a pair of Jacks or higher while the latter offers the same payout for a pair of 10s or higher. That said, due to reduced payouts for Full House and Flush in Tens or Better, you will get an RTP of 99.1% for a full-pay variation of the game. Compared to a full-pay version of Jacks or Better, you will play with quite the reduced RTP since the 9/6 version of Jacks or Better offers an average return of 99.54%.

Dan Scott

Are there any Live Casino variations of popular video poker games available at online casinos?

Asked by: Scott | Asked on: 2023-10-17
Answered by: Dan | Answered on: 2023-10-18

Yes. Until recently, there were no live-dealer video poker games that casino fans could enjoy when they played online. However, Evolution Gaming has just released Live Video Poker, allowing fans of the game to enjoy this casino classic in a different format. The reason why video poker games have not been introduced to Live Casino players until now is the specifics of the game, which presents certain challenges for Live Casino software companies, which need to find a way to translate the RNG gameplay into a real-dealer format of casino play.

Live Video Poker allows players to play the same set of five cards dealt by a professional dealer in five different modes, which represent the popular video poker variations Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Tens or Better, Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker. Depending on the variation you would like to play, the RTP and the payouts for hands will be adjusted to fit your choice.

While the first five cards are dealt on the table by the dealer, once you select which cards to hold, and which ones to discard an RNG will determine the next cards that will be drawn to your hand. If you cannot make a decision, the game will automatically hold the cards it has valued as good to keep. Then an animation will replace the discarded cards and you are paid according to the hand you hold after the second deal. You can choose to play on multiple hands at once, just like in many RNG variations of video poker games.

Dan Kathleen

I saw that Evolution Gaming has added video poker to its gaming portfolio of live-dealer casino games. Which video poker variation exactly does the game offer?

Asked by: Kathleen | Asked on: 2023-11-27
Answered by: Dan | Answered on: 2023-11-28

One of the latest additions to Evolution Gaming’s portfolio is called Video Poker and one of the interesting things about the game is that it actually allows players to choose from a few popular video poker variations. While a real dealer deals a single hand of five cards on each gaming round, players of Live Video Poker can choose to play the hand either in a game of Jacks or Better, Tens or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus. The respective RTP rates of these games are 99.54%, 97.96%, 98.91%, 99.17%, and 98.98%.

Since the Jacks or Better variation is the full-pay 9/6 version of the game, expert video poker players can use the right strategy to enjoy the highest potential return if they decide to play hands in Live Video Poker as a part of Jacks or Better gameplay. If you are not experienced in playing different video poker variations, I suggest you begin your live-dealer video poker experience with Jacks or Better or Tens or Better. You can also use the same 9/6 Jacks or Better strategy when you play both of the variations but do keep in mind that Tens or Better offers the lowest RTP among the five available variations.