What Is Video Poker and How Is It Different?

Video Poker machines are very similar to slot machines. However, unlike slots, which require very little decision-making or skill, your actions will have a significant impact in this game. It is, therefore, vital to have some basic knowledge of Five Card Stud poker. When you start playing, the principle is the same as with slot machines. You make your bet by choosing how many coins you would like to wager, and you spin the reels. 

The charm of this game is that you don’t have to worry about anybody else and can focus on your own hand. You don’t have to bluff and don’t have to be afraid of professional players that are lingering a shark in a tank to steal your money. It plays as easily as a slot but unlike in a slot machine, your input really matters. For that reason, this is a great poker variation for beginners and slot enthusiasts that want to dive into the world of this exciting card game.

It's essential to know that there are lots of variations of video poker. Some of the most popular video poker games you can find at most online casinos are Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, Aces and Faces, and All American. While the gameplay is generally the same for all of these, there are some specific rules that make each of them unique.

How to Play – Video Poker Rules

Video Poker has become an insanely popular online casino game in a very short amount of time. This is mainly because it is relatively easy to play and requires little skill. Once you understand the basics, you can get started straight away. You don't have to be a good poker player to master Video Poker rules. The most important thing is that you familiarize yourself with the different values of the hands in order to play properly.

The rules are simple! You make a bet and spin the reel. You’ll receive five cards face up. Then you can decide how many of the five cards you want to keep and how many you want to discard and replace with new ones. Your goal is to get the best Five Card Stud poker hand possible. The better your hand, the better the payouts. When deciding which cards to keep you must properly estimate the probability of getting cards that can improve your current holding. Once you replaced the selected cards, it will be determined whether you win or lose.  

Since Video Poker is played on slot machines, you don't play against the dealer or other players. Therefore, you don't have to worry about bluffing or estimating the other people’s cards. As already mentioned, your winnings depend entirely on your hand in accordance with the published paytable of the machine. We will take a closer look at this in the next point. Playing Video Poker couldn't be easier!


There are different kinds of Video Poker Slots out there with different rule sets and, of course, different paytables. For that reason, we recommend checking out the game description before getting started. In this way, you’ll know what you are signing up for. One of the most popular types of Video Poker is called Jacks or Better. Commonly, the payouts for it are as follows:

  • 250:1 – Royal Flush
  • 50:1 – Straight Flush
  • 25:1 – Four of a Kind
  • 9:1 – Full House
  • 6:1 – Flush
  • 4:1 – Straight
  • 3:1 – Three of a Kind
  • 2:1 – Two Pair
  • 1:1 – Jacks or Better

Video Poker Strategies and Other Helpful Tips

There is an optimal Video Poker strategy but explaining all details of it would go beyond the scope of this article. But there are a few things that you should keep in mind that will instantly boost your winnings. For example, you should never keep your kicker like in traditional poker, as it doesn’t improve the value of your hand in Video Poker. A kicker is a side card that does not take part in determining the rank of the hand. However, it may be used to break ties between hands of the same rank. As this is not required in Video Poker, however, there is no value in it. Down below, you can find some more quick tips that might help your game.

GoodLuckMate’s best tips for playing Video Poker:

  • Never keep your kicker
  • Never keep three cards in order to chase a flush or straight, except:
    • Three consecutive cards in the suit with a chance to make a straight flush
  • Never break up a winning hand to pursue something better
  • Jacks or Better has the best RTP 

House Edge – What Are Your Chances of Winning?

Since there are so many Video Poker variants, it is difficult to determine a specific house edge. As previously mentioned, Jacks or better is one of the most popular Video Poker machines out there. The good news is that it is simultaneously one of the most lucrative games to play at an online casino. If you play this Video Poker game with the most optimal strategy, the house edge is only about 0.46%. In other words, the RTP (Return to Player) is 99.54%, which is better than almost any other slot machines by a long shot. 

But be careful. These numbers are only true if you know how to play the game. If you don’t know the correct moves, the RTP will be drastically lower, decreasing your chances of winning significantly. For that reason, it is absolutely worthwhile studying a little bit of game theory before getting started. But don’t worry. You can learn how to play Video Poker within a couple of minutes, especially with the help of charts that show you the correct move for every situation. 

Play Video Poker at Online Casinos

You can play Video Poker online at most casino sites. There are plenty of options. All of them have their own advantages and disadvantages. In any case, Video Poker is most likely always the game with the best RTP. This sounds great but can also lead to a problem. If you want to take advantage of any bonus offers you have to pick your Video Poker casino wisely. As the return to player value of these machines is incredibly high, some casino sites decided to exclude Video Poker from their bonus offers – or at least limit its contribution towards the wagering requirement. In some cases, less than 10% of your turnover will be credited. 

Live dealer games vs RNG games

Due to the nature of the game, it is only possible to play Video Poker on machines with a random number generator (RNG). This is not hard to guess as it is kind of implied by the name. For that reason, we can’t really do a comparison between RNG and live dealer games. 

However, there are plenty of alternatives available that can be played at a live casino. If you are a Video Poker veteran, the transition won’t be all that hard, as they often follow similar rules. Some of the most popular live dealer games include Casino Hold’em, 3 Card Poker, and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker. So, be sure to check those out.

We should mention that there is also an option for free Video Poker online. Most RNG-based machines can be played with credits – without the need of risking your hard-earned cash. You can do so at many online casinos by selecting the game whilst you are not logged into your account. This provides you with a great opportunity to practice your strategy without endangering your bankroll.

Casino poker vs Video Poker

In reality, there’s no difference between casino poker and video poker, except that normal casino poker can be played against a real dealer in a live casino while video poker is always a fully digital game. That being said, you might find quite a few additional versions of video poker. Even though the full version of casino poker can be played on a machine, you can also find other games. Often you’ll play with fewer cards, simpler rules, or less advanced betting options.

Andreas Schmidt
Andreas Schmidt
Last Update: 13 Mar 2023
Andreas is our go-to guy for anything related to poker or in-depth guides. He's not only a former professional poker player, but he's also been working within the iGaming industry itself since 2014. Casino, Poker and Sports Betting are his main areas of expertise, in addition to anything and everything related to payment processes at online casinos.

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