Video Poker

About Video Poker

Video Poker is a common casino game, which is based on 5-card hands and replacement of cards. It is familiar to those who have played similar coin machines at gas stations, pubs etc. Almost all casino softwares offer video poker but the paytables can be different giving different house edges. The most important thing is to determine the house edge from the paytable and choose the most suitable video poker variant. Combined with a small house edge and chance to win big, video poker is usually the preferred game for many players. It is often the best choice after blackjack when playing through the bonus.

Video Poker Rules

Video poker uses a single deck of 52 cards (or 53 cards with a joker). The player is dealt 5 cards from the deck. The player then chooses which cards to hold and which ones to discard. The player can hold all cards or discard all if he wants. New cards are drawn from the deck to replace discarded cards. The final hand pays according to video poker pay table.

Note: Usually you have to bet max 5 coins for the highest payout for the royal flush. Even though you have to bet max coins, you can choose a lower coin size to adjust the bet size.

Doubling up

After the hand is played and it wins the player often has a choice to double up his winnings. On some softwares the player can half-double half of the winnings and keep the other half of the winnings. At doubling player quesses if the next card is Red or Black or tries to choose a card that is higher than a random card shown. In either case the probability to double up is 50% and the probability to lose is 50%. The player can continue doubling until he reaches certain max limit. Doubling up has 0% house edge and it can be used to get a bigger win or to reach a target bankroll. However doubling up increases the variance of video poker, which already has quite high variance.

Note: On Microgaming software it has been revealed that the video poker double up result is determined even before the player chooses one of the four cards. Doubling still has the same 50% chance of winning but you don’t need to worry about which one of the four cards to choose as it doesn’t make any difference.

Video Poker Variations

The three most common video poker variations are Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild and Joker Poker (or Joker Wild). In addition All Aces is introduced here in little more detail too, because as it has a very low house edge. Some other more rare video poker variations are introduced below in optimal strategy level, so that you can check out the optimal strategy for those too if you like those variations or use them while wagering through certain bonuses. Continue to the following pages for a presentation of each game including the optimal strategy, rule variations and their effects on strategy, house edges and variances. Strategies are partially formed using following sources: VPGenius video poker website and Wizard of Odds.

Video Poker Introductions:

Multi-hand Video Poker

Many casino softwares offer multi-hand versions of common video pokers (often called Power pokers). In Multi-hand video poker player is dealt one 5-card poker hand and the player chooses which cards to hold. These cards are then automatically held on all hands and new cards are drawn to each hand. Multi-hand video pokers usually have a choice of 4, 10, 50 or 100 hands played simultaneously. Notice that you have to make a bet on each hand so for 10-play video poker with 1.25€ per hand the total bet is 12.50€. The house edge of multi-hand poker is exactly the same as single-hand version, if the pay table is same. Pay attention to the paytables as sometimes multi-hand video pokers have worse paytables than single-hand video pokers.

Playing video poker in multi-hand reduces the overall variance as some of the hands usually win. Also getting Royal Flushes is easier when a large number of hands is played at once. However there is a strong correlation between the starting hand (decision hand) and the end result. This means that a large part of the payout is in receiving pat (dealt) high-paying hands as these are multiplied to all other hands. Likewise getting dealt poor starting hands eats the bankroll away quickly.

The following table lists the standard deviations of multi-hand video pokers with 1, 4, 10 and 50 hands. Notice that the standard deviations are relative to unit bet, so 10-play Jacks or Better with total bet size 12.50€ (1.25€ per hand) has roughly the same variance as single-hand Jacks or Better with 5,5€ bet size (SD = 24.125). See video poker payout calculator for return percentages of different Video Poker variations and standard deviations attached to them. Use return and variance calculator to calculate expected returns over bonus wagering.

Comparison of Multi-Hand video poker standard deviations

  Single Hand 4-Play 10-Play 50-Play
Jacks or Better 4,42 2.52 1.93 1.52
Deuces Wild 5.92 3.46 2.71 2.21
Joker Wild 5.99 3.50 2.74 2.23
All Aces 8.08 4.64 3.58 2.86