If you are looking for a fast-paced game like slot machines that allow you to decide your actions, look no further: Video Poker is the game for you. It has the best of both worlds: you can fit dozens of rounds in a five-minute break, and you can actively engage with the game, which gives your brain cells a job to do. In this article, we’ll take a look at what video poker games are, how to play them, and how you can make the most of them.

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What Is Video Poker?

In its essence, video poker is a single-player game of poker. It works according to the rules of Five Card Draw, a beloved poker variant. Instead of a pot, in turn, the game has a pay table and pays out prizes based on the standard poker hand rankings. 

Video poker is widely available on real-life gambling machines and many video lottery terminals. It is also available at the majority of online casinos.

How to Play Video Poker?

If you already know the rules of the Five Card Draw poker variant or are familiar with poker hand rankings, you’ll find the game very familiar.

Video Poker Hand Rankings

Each hand has its own corresponding prize that you can find on the game’s pay table. 

PairTwo matching cards of the same rank (A A, 2 2, 10 10, Q Q)
High Pair or Jacks or BetterTwo matching Jacks, Queens, Kings, or Aces
Two PairTwo pairs of two matching cards each (J J and 10 10)
Three-of-a-KindThree matching cards of equal rank or value (three Jacks, three 10s)
StraightFive consecutive cards. The suites don’t have to match (e.g. any 7-8-9-10-J)
FlushFive cards of a matching suite. The cards don’t have to be consecutive (e.g. 7, 9, J, Q, K of hearts)
Full HouseOne pair and a Three-of-a-Kind (e.g. J J 10 10 10)
Four-of-a-KindFour matching cards of the same rank or value
Straight FlushFive consecutive cards of the same suite (e.g. 7-8-9-10-J of spades)
Royal FlushThe five highest-ranking cards of the same suite (e.g. 10-J-Q-K-A of clubs)
Poker (and video poker) hand rankings

Depending on the specific game variant you’re playing, the payouts for the various hands can differ:

Jokers

Some video poker variants use jokers, too. These are cards that can stand in for any other card in hand - much like Wild symbols in online slots. They are sometimes called “Wild cards”. Depending on the game variant, there can be extra Jokers in the deck used or deuces (twos) can serve as jokers.

As you might expect, adding jokers to the mix affects the game’s pay table. For example, Springbok Casino’s Bonus Deuces Wild video poker version will only pay for at least a Three-of-a-Kind.

Video poker pay table and jokers / deuces wild

Gamble

One of the most interesting features of video poker games is “gamble”. This becomes available after you win a hand, and gives you the chance to multiply your winnings

Double up video poker game

In most cases, the gamble feature is a simple guessing game that you can continue as long as you win - or as long as you reach a certain limit. Each win doubles your winnings - but with each round, you’ll risk losing more and more. One misstep, and you lose everything. This makes the gamble feature even more exciting. 

Video Poker Variants

Many video poker variants are available at online casinos, each with its own set of rules. The basics of the games are not different - it’s the special features and side bets where you’ll see most of the difference between them. And, of course, in the pay tables. By altering the number of credits paid out for the most frequent hands - Full House, Four-of-a-Kind, and Flush - the casinos can fine-tune the game's house edge. Depending on several factors, this can be anywhere between 0.5% and 5%.

Basic Video Poker

This variant is the closest you can get to Five Card Draw in a casino. It’s played with a single 52-card deck with no jokers or other wild cards. The lowest hand to win is a pair. The only side game in this variant is the gamble feature.

Jacks or Better

It will only pay for a pair of Jacks or better. It is the most popular video poker variant available at online casinos, especially because its house edge is minuscule with the right strategy - it can have an RTP of 99.5%. 

Deuces Wild

A video poker variant with twos - deuces - acting as wild cards. It will usually pay for at least a pair of Jacks or have an even higher minimum requirement for a win.

Joker Poker

Similar to Deuces Wild, except there is at least one Joker in the deck. Usually, it pays for a pair of Jacks, maybe Kings, or higher.

Side Bet and Jackpot Poker Variants

Any combination of the above variants, plus side games, bonus bets, and jackpots. You may encounter any variation of pay tables and house edges. 

How Do You Play a Hand of Video Poker?

First of all, you need to log into your casino account and find the game you want to play. Some casinos have a dedicated “Video Poker” section, while at others, you may find the games among the RNG-powered table games or a separate section for specialty games. 

Once you find the game you want to play:

Video Poker Strategy Guide

Video poker is the game with perhaps the highest odds at online casinos. The house edge is among the lowest - it can be as low as 0.5% on the right game - and it can even be negative (as in profitable for you) if you play it right. But this requires a lot of work.

1. Find the right pay table

The pay table of each video poker game can be different. But there’s something that will tell you how good a return you can expect from it: the payout for two of the most common winning hands. After a lot of number crunching, and millions of hands played, specialists have found that the best pay table you should go for is the one that pays at least 9x your bet for a full house and at least 6x your bet for a flush. This is often marked as a 9/6 pay table. The higher, the better.

2. Basic Strategy

While every poker hand - this very much includes video poker - is unique, there are some general tips that we can share with you:

3. Make sure you manage your bankroll wisely!

Video Poker FAQ

  • What is video poker?

    Video poker is a digital version of the classic casino game, played over the internet on websites or mobile apps. The goal is to make the best possible poker hand using five cards.

  • How do you play video poker?

    To play video poker, choose a reputable South African online casino, register an account, deposit funds, select your video poker game, place your bet, and follow the game’s prompts to hold or discard cards.

  • Which video poker game has the best odds?

    "Jacks or Better" with a 9/6 pay table is one of the best options for favourable odds. Look for full-pay versions of games like "Deuces Wild" for the best return on your bet.

  • How can you win at video poker?

    Winning at video poker involves selecting games with favourable pay tables, learning and applying the optimal strategy for each game, and managing your bankroll wisely.

  • What are the best online casinos for video poker in South Africa?

    Look for licensed and regulated online casinos with a good reputation, such as Springbok Casino, Yebo Casino, or Punt Casino. Ensure they offer a variety of video poker games and have secure payment options.

  • Are there any tips for playing video poker in South Africa?

    Yes, practice with free versions of the game to understand the rules and strategies, use bonuses and promotions to extend your playtime, and always play within your budget to ensure responsible gambling.