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How to Play Video Poker Machines

Video Poker MachineVideo poker made its entrance into the gambling world in the 1970s, and his since become an extremely popular form of gambling. Video poker appeals to serious gamblers because the rules are simple, the house advantage is low, and the game can be played as quickly or as slowly as you like because there are no dealers or other players.

Video poker machines were originally compared to slot machines, but that distinction was based on appearances only. The key difference between video poker machines and slot machines is that in video poker, players can make choices that affect the outcome of each hand. Slot machines are just pay-and-pray games, with no opportunities for players to affect the outcome.

In fact, video poker is one of the few games in which the player can achieve an advantage over the casino. Certain machines, with certain pay tables, when played with the correct strategy, can be played to gain a slight advantage over the casino. Most players never learn the proper strategy, however, and the advantage is small enough that the casinos don't mind a few players achieving a positive return on their video poker machines.

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Or, if you would like to learn how to play video poker, read on...

Rules of Video Poker

There are more than 100 variations of video poker, but the basic idea is the same for most machines. Video poker is similar to five card draw, except it's played against the machine instead of against other players.

After you insert your coins the computer randomly deals you five cards. You select the cards you want to keep, discard the rest, and receive new cards in place of the discarded ones.

Your final hand is then compared to the machine's pay table, and you are paid accordingly. Most video poker machines only pay out for hands that are at least as strong as a pair of jacks or better. These machines are referred to as "Jacks or Better" machines.

Double or Nothing Option

Many video poker machines now offer a Double or Nothing bet that can be made any time you win a hand. If you choose to accept the Double or Nothing bet, your winnings from the previous hand will be bet on this little side game.

The computer will reshuffle the cards, and deal five of them out: four face down, and one face up. Your job is to choose one of the four face down cards. If the card you choose is higher than the initial face up card, you double your money and have a chance to go again. If the card you choose is lower than the initial face up card, you lose your winnings.

It’s a risky bet but the payoff is tempting. The good thing about the double or nothing option is that it’s a perfectly even money bet. Neither the casino nor the player has an advantage in this bet. In the long run, this bet doesn't affect your win rate in any way.

Video Poker Hand Rankings

The hand values in video poker are the same as those in traditional poker. Most video poker machines adhere to the same hand values as those listed below, but you will find the occasional variation if you play at enough video poker machines.

Hand Explanation Example
Royal Flush Ten through Ace of the same suit Tc-Jc-Qc-Kc-Ac
Straight Flush Any five sequential cards of the same suit 5d-6d-7d-8d-9d
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same value Kc-Kd-Ks-Kh-5c
Full House Three cards of one rank with two cards of another rank Jc-Js-Jd-8c-8s
Flush Any five cards of the same suit Ac-8c-5c-4c-2c
Straight Any five consecutive cards (unsuited) 5c-6d-7s-8h-9d
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same rank Ac-Ad-Ah-5s-3h
Two Pair Two cards of one rank with two cards of another rank Ac-Ad-5s-5h-4d
Pair Two cards of the same rank Jc-Js-7d-4s-2h

Another hand that we didn't list (as it is rarely used) is the sequential royal flush, which is a normal royal flush in sequential order: Tc-Jc-Qc-Kc-Ac or Ac-Kc-Qc-Jc-Tc.

Video Poker Payouts

The payouts for video poker hands can be found by looking for the pay table posted on or near the machine. This table will list the payouts for each hand. These payouts are based on the likelihood of a player making each hand. A pair of Jacks pays much less than a straight and a straight pays much less than a royal flush.

One important thing you will want to note is the number of coins required for each payout. If you play one coin at a time, each game will cost less but the payouts will be smaller. You'll also want to check the payouts for betting the maximum number of coins. There is usually a bonus paid on royal flushes for players who bet the maximum number of coins.

Online Video Poker

Online video poker has become extremely popular in recent years, thanks to the advances in technology that have made it possible to visit a realistic casino without leaving the house.

Online video poker machines offer many advantages to players because they are easy to access, and the returns can be just as high as at live casinos. The additional privacy offered by online video poker is a major advantage as well.

Video Poker at Cherry Red CasinoThe best part of all is that certain casinos offer special bonuses just for signing up and depositing. These cash bonuses can be quite significant, so you get two advantages at once: a game with a low house edge and a cash bonus for playing that game.

You will want to read the bonus terms and conditions carefully, though, because not all casinos allow video poker to count towards the wagering requirements.

One exception is Go Casino which offers a $1,200 bonus for video poker players.

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