Video Poker Rules
With a few exceptions video poker rules are based on five card draw and require a basic knowledge of poker hands and poker hand rankings. Most experts recommend that new players learn the game of jacks or better first. Why? Because jacks or better is the granddaddy of video poker and the games that followed like Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker and Double Double Bonus Poker, etc. are all a variation of that original jacks or better game.
The rules of individual games are listed below starting with jacks or better. The rest of the page details the video poker rules that apply to most games and explains the different game variations and features.
Wherever you decide to play it is important to become a member of the casino's players club before putting any money in a video poker machine. This goes for online casinos as well. Signing up is free and you will earn points as you play that can be redeemed for cash. Earning cash back has the effect of lowering the house advantage which I discuss in detail on my video poker strategy page.
You also need to figure out how much you can afford to wager per coin and pick a denomination that falls within your budget. Some video poker machines are multi-denominational and allow players to change the coin value via touchscreen. If you are playing video poker for the first time I recommend playing online for free. Learning how to play at a live casino can be costly especially if you are not making draw decisions based on optimal strategy.
Video Poker Playing Procedures
Before playing first look for the "insert card" or "insert club card" words lit up with arrows pointing to an empty credit card size slot. This is where you will insert your players club card to get credit for your action and start earning points.
After your club card is inserted you will need to buy credits by either feeding cash into the bill acceptor or inserting a cashout ticket (more on cashout tickets later). The amount of credits you get depends on the denomination of the machine and how much you deposit. For example if you are playing on a $.25 video poker machine and you insert $10, your total credits would equal 40 ($10 x 4). If you were playing on a $1 video poker machine your total credits would equal 10 ($10 x 1).
Machine layouts vary slightly but your credit total usually appears in the lower right side of the screen underneath the cards. The pay table is shown at the top of the screen and lists the payoffs for each hand which varies depending on the number of coins played. You will also notice a large bonus for hitting a royal flush with five coins played. This is an incentive for players to play five coins at a time and accounts for 1.1704% of the overall payback on a 9-6 jacks or better machine.
You can adjust how many coins are bet per hand by pressing the "bet one credit" button. With each press of the button the coins bet will increase by one until you reach the maximum number of five coins. If you know you want to bet five coins you can save some time by pressing the "play max credits" or "bet max" button.
Press the "deal/draw" button and five random cards are dealt from a continuously shuffled deck of 52 cards. You now have the option of holding all, none or any number of cards in between in order to make the best possible poker hand. To hold cards you can either push the "hold/cancel" buttons directly below each card or you can also hold a card by touching it on the screen (available on most machines). If you hold a card by mistake you can always undo it by touching the card a second time or pushing the "hold/cancel" button again.
When you are finished selecting the cards you want to hold push the "deal/draw" button and the machine will replace any cards not held from the 47 cards left in the deck. If you have a winning hand it is usually highlighted in the pay table and the payoff amount is then added to your credits.
Remember to always push the "cash out" button when you are finished playing. The machine will print out a ticket with your cash balance which can then be used to play on another machine or you can exchange it for money at the cashier. Lastly, after you cash out don't forget to grab your players club card.
Multiple-Hand Video Poker
Playing single-hand video poker is fun but nothing beats the excitement of getting dealt a royal flush off the top of the deck while playing three or more hands at a time. Below are some of the more popular multi-hand video poker games available.
- Triple play
- Quadruple play
Game play begins with each hand receiving the same five cards on the initial deal. When cards are held on the primary hand, the same five cards are automatically held on each of the other hands. The difference comes on the draw when the remaining 47 cards in the deck are reshuffled for each hand. So for example on a 50-hand machine players have 50 unique draws to form a winning hand.
Progressive Video Poker
Progressive video poker machines have a jackpot that pays on a royal flush and sometimes straight flushes and fours of a kind. Usually a group of machines are linked together in what is called a carousel and a portion of every wager gets added to the progressive jackpot.
According to John Grochowski in his book The Video Poker Answer Book, anywhere between 1% to one-tenth of 1% of every wager is added to the progressive jackpot. Exactly how much is added to the jackpot is at the discretion of the casino.
For a typical jacks or better game the progressive jackpot starts out at the usual 4000 coins for a royal flush. As coins are wagered the jackpot continues to grow until a royal flush is hit which then resets the meter back to 4000 coins.
Double-Up Bet Rules
Some online and land based video poker games have a double feature that gives players a chance to double the credits won on winning hands. If the player loses the double-up bet all credits are lost on the winning hand.
The rules can vary slightly but one popular online version deals a random card face up and four cards face down. When a player clicks on a face down card it is turned over and compared to the original face up card.
- If the rank of the chosen card is higher than the rank of the original face up card the player wins. Any credits won on the previous hand are doubled and the player has the option of doubling again.
- If the rank of the chosen card is lower than the rank of the original face up card the player loses. All credits won on the previous hand are lost and the double feature ends.
- If the rank of the chosen card is the same as the original face up card it is considered a tie or "push".
Casinos usually put a limit on the number of coins that can be won on the double feature. Players are allowed to continue doubling until a loss occurs or the coin limit is reached.
Video Poker Pages