Video Poker

Introduction to Video Poker

The popular online casino game online video poker is the same game of poker played in the casinos at tables with dealers and video consoles, except the game is played through an online website. The rules of the online game are the same as the table game which is based on the standard “five card draw” poker.

Brief History of Video Poker

The game of poker has evolved from the standard table game which has been played for years and is the legendary hallmark of the American wild west lore, to an ever increasing volume of play online made possible by smart phones and tablet devices. The transition or major leap for poker came with the arrival of the video poker machine becoming commercially viable for regular player use when technicians were able to successfully combine a central processing unit base with a television or video monitor.

This was the bridge technology to the online play which dominates he game today. The first models of these units started to appear close in time to the introduction of personal computers in the middle to late 1970 period. While these units may be considered bulky and primitive by the technology standards of today, at the time the units were considered vanguard technology.

Video poker became embedded as a primary casino game when the “Si Redd's Coin Machines”, or (“SIRCOMA”) mass supported the game. SIRCOMA later evolved to the company known as “International Game Technology”, which presented Draw Poker to game players in 1979. Continuing into the 1980 period video poker increased in popularity in gamin houses and casinos. Players found the video poker units to be less intimidating than engaging in a poker game with a dealer at a table games. Video poker units continue to occupy considerable square footage on casino gaming floors to this day.

Online and Video Poker Games

The rules for both online as well as video poker games are generally the same. After a player either credits funds onto an online game or inserts or deposits money into a video poker machine, the game is initiated with the pressing of the designated “deal” button or tab. The player is dealt an initial hand of cards but that play has the chance to replace one or more of the cards for new cards if the player believes that his chances of having a winning had will increase. After the final draw, the online game or machine pays out to the player if the player has a winning and which matches one of the winning combination posted for that game or machine.

The established pay table for a game or machine distributes payments allocate to winning hands based on the rarity of the hands The more rare the hand, the larger the payout. Variations on these games and the ratio of the percentage of pay out to a player will vary from game to game based on the operating formula of the house or the casino operator.

In both online and video poker games, the pay outs can be set to allow for lucrative progressive jackpots as well as other comps and bonuses. This provides an incentive for players to increase their frequency and continuity of play.


The regulation of online as well as video poker machines located in casinos is under the Provence of the United States, the various state or officially recognized Indian sport and gaming agencies and bureaus. The land based, (table games and video poker games in casinos) are heavily regulated by the varying local jurisdictions. Online poker, however, has not been as easy to regulate as the number of gaming sites, the non geographic nature of the gaming forum and the undisclosed nature of the players and where the players winnings originate and are sent to after play is complete, has restricted government agencies the ability to effectively monitor play. It is unknown exactly how many players regularly play online poker or what are the amounts of earnings per individual player. The identity of a player is not always known, which means that the reporting of winnings by an individual is left solely to the volunteering reporting efforts of the individual player.

Officially, video poker online games are only legal and permitted in three states within the United States. These states include, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. The condition for play for these online game sites is that the player is physically located in one of the three states referenced above and the player is of the legal age to gamble as set forth within that state. Monitoring the validity of such players as well as the location and identity of such players is currently a major challenge to enforcement.

Various Types of Video Poker Games

There are many types and variations of video and online poker games. Some of these games are described below and many are slight variations of other games. The goal of the game variation is to entice more play by the player and build a bigger jack pot. Every player regardless of their skill set will think that they can win the jack pot. However, statistics show that the odds are always in to the favor of the house or the casino. The variety keeps players interested as they know that there chances of wining may be greater based on a different game or a variation of a game.

Full Pay Poker Games

When the modern video poker units were first presented for casino play, the highest pay which was a common variant of any specific game was referenced as a “Full Pay” game. Casino owners and houses began to design games with variations that were more to the benefit of the house and returned a much lower pay out percentage to the player. These games were called “Short Pay” games. While Full Pay style games are still played today, there are many more games with different winning variations which can actually pay more to the player if the play plays the game perfectly. The more perfect the game played the higher the payout. In theory some of these payouts can exceed well over 100% but the skill set to achieve the level of perfect play for this type of payout is extremely rare.

Some online games and casinos do not advertise the pay out percentages. Otherwise players would flock to just that one machine or game. Instead they leave it up to the player to determine their best game and schedule to play. The house and casinos increase the enticement to the players by adding the allure of an increased payout if wages are maximized of each game. While this does increase the player’s odds of winning, the favor is still more towards the house which benefits from the increased play. More play means more wages and ultimately more revenue to the house or casino.

Progressive jackpot poker games are very popular for both the house or casino and the player. The house or casino gains an advantage because a progressive game encourages the player to continuing making increasingly wagers on a game which progressively increases the size and the amount of the jack pot.

Many casino and online poker games post the theoretical returns for these jack pots but players understand that to achieve the posted returns require perfect play and the betting combinations are extremely complex and for only the most skilled players.

Low Pay Table Video Poker Games
Often casinos as well as online game designers designate the use a specific pay tables or a specific online game which reduces the maximum possible payout to the player. This percentages for winning are much lower than other games and in most instances support the house. The result is more revenues to the house which can offset winnings for other games and tables with winning percentages which are more in favor of the player.

“Jacks or Better,” and sometimes also called the traditional “Draw Poker,” is considered the more common variety of video poker games. The payoffs to the player begins with a pair of jacks. Full pay of Jacks or Better is known as the 9/6 “Jacks or Better” as the payoff for a poker full house is nine times the original bet, while the payoff for a flush hand is six times the original bet.

The “All American” poker game is based on the “Jacks or Better” game but with an increased pay out to players who have flushes, straights or straight flushes. To the contrary a player will receive a reduced pay out winning full houses and two pair hands. For the more experienced player who enjoys complex betting, this game permits a rare full pay version which is based on “quads return 50 bets” and produces one of the highest payouts but this version is only mastered by a few good players.

“Tens or Better” poker games is a variant of the 6/5 “Jacks or Better” game. The set minimum hand which can be played by a player is a pair of tens, as oppose to a pair of Jacks. The game strategy is similar as between these two games. The pay outs for a full house and a flush is very different.

“Joker's Wild” poker games includes a joker to the deck of cards prior to hands being dealt out. The joker card is full wild and is can carry the value of any card to support a players hand, including a five of a kind or a royal flush hand.

“Deuces Wild” is a common version of a video poker game where all twos (2) are wild. Much like the joker card the twos as the wild card can be substituted for card in the dealer’s deck to improve the player’s hand.The calculated payout for this type of game can vary from online play to video poker play. Tables games in casinos may be restricted with this form of pay as the percentage for winning will move further away from the house.

“Bonus Poker” is a standard video poker game which is based on “Jacks or Better”. However, this game provides a much larger pay out for a ‘four of a kind” hand. At full pay, a winning hand can provide returns of 99.2% and multiple variations can be played based on the designated rankings of the four of a kind hand.

“Double Bonus” online and video poker games are a variation of “Jacks or Better” set with the payout for a player with four aces. This game variation can offer a theoretical but possible return of as much as 100.2 percent, but only if the hand has been played with the perfect strategy. While this return may sound appealing, the complexity of the betting scheme reserves this game for the very few skilled poker players. Other variation of the games also provide lower possible returns.

“Double Double Bonus” is a version of video poker similar to “Jacks or Better” and presents bonus pay outs for various combinations of four of a kind hands. A full pay poker Double Double Bonus game is rare but can found with pay out schedules which offer as much as a 100.1 percent, in theory and when played by a savvy player with a perfect strategy. This game is also available to players other possible pay out schedules but with a much lesser theoretical return to the player.


Action: The playing of a table game, online game or video poker machine.

Average Payback: Also referenced as “Expected Value” or (EV), this is the average amount of pay back for any particular play. It is critical when an online player has several options with a hand that they always go for the option with the highest possible EV.

Bet Max: This is the maximum bet possible way in which a player can place a wager on a single hand.

Cash Out: This is the process of collecting one’s winnings from a table, a machine or an account set up through online play. Cash out is not always in cash but can be credits or other promotional items and comps.

Comps: This is non cash compensation provided to players such as additional credits to play online or even free rooms in casino hotels for certain levels of poker players.

Credits: All video and online poker games display the amount of money a player has waged on a particular game. This amount is registered as credits. As an example if a player plays a $1 machine or online game and that player then inserts a $50 note, that player will receive 50 credits to play that particular game. Wins by the player will be displayed in a payout tables and are listed as credits.

Cycle: This is the calculated statically mean or average number of poker hands for any specific wining hand to be dealt or played by the player. As an example, the royal flush hand will be dealt to a player approximately once in 40,000 played hands based on variables. For example, how a player plays their hold or discards cards after an initial deal will vary the probability for a royal flush to appear in that designated hand.

Denomination: This applies to all games and relates to the value of the poker chips being played as well as the designated value of the cards based on the game played.

Discard Cards: The decision by a player to get rid of certain or all cards after the initial deal.

Double Up: Once a hand has been dealt, a player may try to increase the size of the pot or that hand by increasing the bet. A player would does this if they thought they had a chance to when the game regardless of the value of the hand that they are playing.

Draw: This is the second deal by the dealer of the game cards after a player has decided to hold or discard the cards which were initially dealt to him.

Edge: This is more generally known as the house edge, which is the calculated mathematical odds advantage the house or casino has on the specific game played.

Expected Return: The average calculated amount pay out on any individual particular hand played based on the type of game.

Expected Value: Known as the “EV,” this is the calculated average of each and all possible results for any played hand.

Flush: When all five cards in one hand are of the same suite regardless of the value of the cards.

Four of a Kind: A poker hand when all four cards have identical value. As an example 8d, 8c, 8s and 8h. The fifth card in the hand is of no value or effect. This is also called quads.

Full House: A poker hand which consists of three cards of the same value and type and a pair. As an example 9s, 9h, 9h, 7h, 7c.

Full Pay: Used to describe the best possible pay table for a particular game type. For example a full pay version of Jacks or Better has a 9 coin win for a full house and a 6 coin win for a flush.

Hand: As it applies to table, online and video poker games, this is the five cards which are dealt by a dealer to a player.

Hold: This is the decision by the player that when the initial deal is complete, the player exercises his option to keep all the cards dealt to him as oppose to discarding cards.

Hopper: This relates to video poker game units only. The hopper is a device which is located in the unit pay out coins to the winning player. The hopper unit simply holds the coins in place and then releases the coins when a player hits the “cash out” button on the machine after being notified that the play has won that round.

Inside Straight: This is a poker hand when the player needs a card in the middle or center of the player’s run to gain a straight hand. As an example if a player has a 7h, 8c, 10s, Jc, the player will still need a 9 of any suit to complete the hand.

Jackpot: This is the additional pay out when a player or players hit a designated big hand like a royal flush for example. A jackpot is considered to be a progressive payout as the pot or the accumulated amount of funds will grow as more games are played.

Kicker: This applies to all poker games and means a card which when included with another hand increases the player’s chances to win that hand. As an example, for a “Double Double Bonus” game the “kicker” is the Ace, the Two , the Three or the Four. A pay scenario where this can come into play is in the example of four aces in a hand with the two as the kicker card.

Maximum Coins: As this relates to video poker game units, each video poker game unit has a preset maximum amount of coins which a player can play in per hand. For example, with a video poker game unit, this may be five coins or the credit equivalent. In both the online game version as well as the video game version the player can press a “Bet Max button” which automatically wages the highest possible coins for that particular bet and then initiates the game.

Multi Hand: Any online or video style poker game where the player can play multiple hands at the same time. This is more common in online poker games and can include versions such as doubles, triple, four, five as well as ten hand play.

Odds: The calculated statistical probability that any particular poker hand will be dealt or played by the player.

Pat Hand: A poker hand that after the initial deal is complete and statistically cannot be improved upon. Examples. A straight, a royal flush a full house or four of a kind.

Pay Back: The anticipated return on a poker game after numerous hands have been played. This can be calculated to the game table’s “EV”.

Pay Off: The total cash amount won by player for any particular hand.

Pay Table: The designated list of possible payout amounts which are normally displayed on the front of a video poker machine or at the beginning of online pay. Before a player initiates play they can determine their possible payout and set a game plan.

Perfect Play: This is the process of playing each hand based on the highest EV. This is to the advantage of the player and to the disadvantage of the house.

Progressive Jackpot: This is a poker jackpot which continues to grow based on the action the online game or the video poker machine receives.

Random Number Generator: Also referenced as the “RNG”, This is the computer processing chip inside every online game and machine that ensures that the deck of cards are consistently shuffled and cut in a random manner

Risk of Ruin: This is the tipping point in a game in which the player can run out of money before they play into the statistical window of winning more hands and restoring some of the player’s previous losses.

Royal Flush: In a five card draw game of poker the ace through the ten card are not only sequential but in the same suite.

Sequential Royal Flush: A poker hand in which the five card hand consists of the ten card up through the ace regardless of the suite.

Straight: A poker hand in which all five cards are in sequential order but are not from the same suite.

Straight Flush: A poker hand in which all five cards are from the same suite and are in sequential order.

Strategy Card: A card in a hand or deck which can show the proper play for each possible hand in a particular poker game.

Suit: The standard four sets of suits in any playing deck which consists of Diamonds, Hearts, Spades and Clubs.

Three of a kind: A poker hand in which three of the cards are of the same set or value. The remaining two cards have no value.

Two Pairs: A poker hand which includes two distinct and separate pairs of cards sets. In a five card draw, the four our of the five will be a dual set. The fifth card is of no value.

Wild Card: Any card in a deck which can be substituted for any other card. Example; deuces in “Deuces Wild” and a Joker card in “Joker Poker.”

Wild Royal Flush: A royal flush hand consists of at least one designated wild card. Normally, the wild royal hand will pay out considerably less than a natural royal hand without any wilds.

Winning Hand: Based on the type and rules of the game which are being played any hand which contains the highest value winning combination for a particular game.

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