Odds Shark Top Poker Sites

Video Poker Online: How To Play Video Poker And Win

video poker screen

Video poker was one of the first digital casino games, and it remains just as compelling today as it was back in the 1970s. A straightforward yet exciting game of strategy and probability, online video poker is a fixture at many of the leading gambling sites.

On this page, we at Odds Shark will help you learn how to play video poker, teach you about the different versions of the game that are available, and introduce you to the strategy you can use for a better chance of winning.

Play Now

Play video poker now at Bovada.

How to Play Online Video Poker

When you want to play video poker at a land-based casino, it's as simple as finding an empty machine, sitting down, and getting started. There are a few extra steps that one has to take if they want to play online, especially for real money, but it's not a complicated process.

The first thing you need to do is find an online casino that offers the kind of video poker you want to play, whether that's Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, or another type of poker. Many casinos offer several different varieties, and there may be additional versions that change the number of decks that are used. When choosing an online casino, not only should you make sure their video poker offerings are to your liking, but that there are enough games, even of different types, to keep your attention.

If you want to play for real money, you'll need to sign up for a casino account. Signing up for a casino also brings with it a welcome bonus, an additional sum of money that you'll gain access to when you make your first deposit. The welcome bonus can be used to extend your bankroll and keep you playing for longer than you otherwise would be able to. However, many welcome bonuses are match bonuses, meaning that how much you receive depends on how much you're willing to deposit.

Using real money would typically allow you to play a live dealer version of your game of choice, but the only live video poker is the type that you find playing with other people in land-based casinos. On the plus side, real money play allows you to add your winnings to your casino account; video poker is actually one of the best games to play for real money because of the incredibly low house edge, and in certain situations, there may not be one at all.

Video Poker Terms

When you're learning how to play video poker, some of the terminology might make what is a fairly straightforward game of probability seem a bit inaccessible. Here are some of the most common terms you'll encounter when playing.

Coins: the pay table on every video poker machine is arranged by coin payments, with a straight flush at five coins typically being the best and biggest-winning hand. Players can play for anywhere between one and five coins, with coins being worth different amounts of money on different machines. For example, one coin may be a dollar, or one coin may be five dollars.

Full Pay Machine: a full pay machine is a video poker machine with the highest possible payback percentage. A 9/6 version of Jacks or Better is a full pay machine, as a full house pays nine times a player's bet, while a flush pays six times that wager. An 8/5 version is known as a "short pay" machine due to the decreased payout.

Kicker: a kicker is any card that you have in your hand during a game of video poker that aren't included in the winning combination you have. Based on the game you're playing, kickers may increase the amount that certain hands are worth, or they may not be worth anything.

Pay Table: the pay table on a video poker machine is a list of all hands you can win with, as well as how much they pay out. Pay tables usually list payouts in columns based on the number of coins you're using to bet.

Random Number Generator: video poker games use a random number generator, or RNG, to determine which cards the player is dealt. Much like their use in slot machines, random number generators are how video poker machines remain fair and free of bias, as every card has an equal opportunity to be dealt.

Popular Types of Video Poker

There are many unique varieties of video poker to play, with many introducing unique elements like wild cards or higher payouts for certain combinations. Here are just a few popular types of video poker.

Jacks or Better

Also known as "draw poker", this version of video poker is one of the most popular. As the name suggests, the player doesn't win unless they get at least a pair of jacks.

Deuces Wild

Another popular video poker variant, the unique wrinkle in Deuces Wild is that deuces (2s) are wild - they can substitute for any card in any hand, with the exception of the best hand in the game, the natural royal flush.

Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker is a version of Jacks or Better which gives bonus payouts for 4 of a kind hands.

Double Bonus Poker

Double Bonus Poker is an even more lucrative version of Bonus Poker, with the tradeoff being that the payout for two pairs decreases to even money from 2 to 1.

Joker Poker

Joker Poker is similar to Jacks or Better with a few changes. Not only do players need to get a pair of Kings or better to win, the Joker is inserted into the deck, meaning there are 53 cards in play as opposed to the traditional 52. The Joker acts as a wild card, so it can substitute for any card in any winning hand.

Double Double Bonus Poker

Double Double Bonus Poker is a rarer adaption of Double Bonus Poker which further increases the amount that players can win for hands containing 4 of a kind. Depending on which cards you manage to collect, you can even earn more than you would on a straight flush.

Progressive Jackpot Video Poker

While not strictly a type of video poker itself, some games may offer progressive jackpots, not unlike slot machines. Every time someone places a bet on a video poker machine, the progressive jackpot increases. If a player manages to get a certain combination of cards while playing with the maximum bet, they'll win the jackpot.

video poker buttons

Video Poker Strategy

As opposed to slots, which create random outcomes, you can apply a strategy to have a greater chance of winning. Learning to play the game well and identify the probability of attaining any specific hand helps to take the game from one with a very low house edge to none, or even create a player edge.

When we sit down to play a game, we often react to what happens in the game - if I swap these cards, then I might have a better chance at reaching a desired outcome. Video poker strategy instead is a rigid system that asks you to be proactive, keeping guaranteed winning combinations so that you always walk away with something.

Deuces Wild Strategy

The strategy you should use when playing Deuces Wild depends on how many deuces (2s) you are dealt in your opening hand. Any cards that do not appear as a combination on the following lists should be discarded for a chance at better cards.

When no deuces are dealt
  • Hold four cards to a royal flush
  • Hold any hand that pays out profit
  • Hold four cards to a straight flush
  • Hold three cards to a royal flush
  • Hold a pair
  • Hold four cards to a flush
  • Hold four cards to an open-ended straight
  • Hold three cards to a straight flush
  • Hold four cards to an inside straight
  • Hold two cards to a royal flush if they’re higher than a jack
When one deuce is dealt
  • Hold four of a kind or higher
  • Hold four cards to a royal flush
  • Hold a full house
  • Hold four cards to a full house with three consecutive running cards 5-7 or higher
  • Hold a flush, straight or three of a kind
  • Hold any combination of four cards to a straight flush
  • Hold three cards to a royal flush
  • Hold three cards to a straight flush with two consecutive running cards 6-7 or higher
  • Hold one deuce
When two deuces are dealt
  • Hold four of a kind or better
  • Hold four cards to a royal flush
  • Hold four cards to a straight flush with two consecutive running cards 6-7 or better
  • Hold two deuces
When three deuces are dealt
  • Hold a royal flush
  • Hold a straight flush
  • Hold three deuces
When four deuces are dealt
  • Hold four deuces when fifth card is smaller than a ten

On average, a player will be dealt a deuce in their starting hand every 2.6 hands. Being dealt a pair without a 2 will happen about 42 percent of the time, and there's a 15 percent chance that players will be dealt both a pair and a deuce. If you're holding a pair and want to draw three cards, you have a one in four chance of drawing a deuce.

Jacks or Better Strategy

As opposed to the strategy for Deuces Wild, which can be highly conditional depending on how many 2s you manage to get in your hand, the strategy for Jacks or Better is significantly more straightforward. Once the game has dealt you your hand, consider how it should be played. You should look for the highest-ranking hand you can make from the options in the following chart.

Jacks or Better Rankings
  • Four of a kind, royal flush, straight flush
  • Four cards toward completing a royal flush
  • Straight, flush, three of a kind, full house
  • Four cards toward completing a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair (pair of jacks or above)
  • Three cards toward a royal flush
  • Four cards toward a flush
  • Low pair (a pair of 10s or less)
  • Four cards toward an outside straight
  • Two suited high cards (jacks or better)
  • Three cards toward completing a straight flush
  • Two unsuited high cards
  • One of these suited combinations: J/10, Q/10 or K/10
  • Single high card
  • If none of the above options are present in your hand, then you should discard everything.

Bonus Poker Strategy

Since Bonus Poker is similar to Jacks or Better, a similar strategy does work in most cases. However, because of its bonus payouts for getting 4 of a kind, the preferential card combinations are slightly different. As before, look for the highest-ranking hand you can make from the options in the chart below.

Bonus Poker Rankings
  • Royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind
  • Four cards toward a royal flush
  • Full house, straight, flush
  • Three of a kind
  • Four cards toward the completion of a straight flush
  • Two pair
  • High pair (a pair of jacks or better)
  • Three cards toward the completion of a royal flush
  • Four cards toward a flush
  • Unsuited king, queen, jack and 10
  • Low pair (10s or less)
  • Four cards toward an outside straight
  • Three cards toward a straight flush. This must be an open-ended draw with no more than 1 gap. There must also be one or more high cards.
  • Unsuited ace, king, queen and jack
  • Two suited high cards
  • Three cards toward a straight flush. Open-ended draw with no high cards or gaps.
  • Four cards toward an inside straight, with 3 high cards
  • Unsuited king, queen and jack
  • Unsuited queen and jack
  • Three cards toward a straight flush. The draw must contain 2 gaps and a single high card.
  • K/J or K/Q unsuited
  • Suited J/10
  • One of the following unsuited combinations: A/J, A/Q or A/K
  • Ace
  • Three cards to a straight flush. Open-ended draw with no gaps and one high card.
  • Q/T or K/T suited
  • A king, queen or jack
  • Three cards to a straight flush. This draw has two gaps and no high cards.
  • If none of the above options exist, discard your hand and take five new cards.

Expert Tips on How to Win at Video Poker

If you want to increase your chances at winning your next game of video poker, here are a few things you may want to try:

Stick with one type of game: variety is the spice of life, but it can be hard to memorize the preferential hand order or card probabilities for multiple different types of video poker. If you stick with one type of game, you can play much more efficiently.

Take it slow: when you play video poker, trying to speed through the game is the worst thing you can do, as going fast can lead to costly mistakes. Playing as slowly as you are able not only allows you to minimize your hourly losses, it allows you to refine your strategy.

Always use the max bet: if you can do so within your means, always play video poker with a five-coin bet. How much you choose to bet doesn't affect the game itself, but larger bets result in larger payouts, and so you can earn significantly more from a five-coin bet than you can a one-coin bet.

Live Poker Versions

While online casinos might offer many different types of poker, not all of them are traditional video poker. Instead, types of poker you'd find at a land-based casino or at at a dedicated poker room are adapted to a digital format.

Here are a few of the types of poker you can find at an online casino that are not video poker games.

Texas Hold'em

Texas Hold’em is a form of poker that involves players creating their hands from cards dealt to them combined with community cards that are dealt faced up and shared. The way Texas Hold’em hands work is different from other forms of poker since the object of the game isn’t to win each individual hand but instead to make mathematically sound decisions about how much to bet, raise, call or fold. 

Pai Gow Poker

The goal of Pai Gow poker is to beat both the dealer’s hands. Because each player is given a seven-card hand that is split into five-card and two-card hands, the deck used in the game incorporates one joker instead of two like in other forms of poker. The five-card hand’s rank must exceed the rank of the two-card hand. The two-card hand is known as the in front, on top, hair, small, minor or low. The five-card hand is called the behind, bottom, high or big. The hands have the same value as they would in traditional poker. However, there is one exception: Ace-2-3-4-5 is the second-highest straight or straight flush and five aces is the highest hand in the game. In terms of the two-card hand, any pair will beat any two unmatched cards (no other combinations are possible). Unlike other poker games, there is no bluffing in Pai Gow poker.

Caribbean Stud Poker

Caribbean Stud Poker is a table game in which you play against the house instead of against other players. Due to this, it is also the most common type of digital poker. This form of poker has become one of the most popular games on the casino floor, but with a house edge of 5.2 percent, strategy is often necessary because you get out as soon as you get up. With potential payouts as high as 100 to 1 on a wager, Caribbean Stud appeals to just about every type of in-person or online casino player. 

Red Dog Poker

Red Dog poker is a card game of chance. Cards are dealt and the bettors place their wagers on whether the last card dealt will have a value in between, higher or lower than the two already dealt. Playing Red Dog online more popular than playing it in a casino. However, some bricks-and-mortar casinos do offer Red Dog poker.