All About Video Poker

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Published: 24/10/2010

Mechanical poker machines first appeared in 1891, but electronic versions were not invented until the 1960s. That’s when Dale Electronics introduced the Poker-Matic, the world’s first Draw Poker machine and the first machine to utilize integrated circuits. By 1975, video screens had been added and in 1982 International Game Technology brought out a video slot called “Draw Poker” that revolutionized gaming. It did not take long at all for Video Poker machines to begin chasing classic 3-reel slots right off the casino floor.

Video Poker Essentials

Video Poker provides the excitement and strategy of an actual poker game without the need for other players. An individual can play against the house alone, thus helping otherwise reluctant poker players to enjoy the game. And most Video Poker hands do not require much thought. When a “natural” winning hand is dealt, like a pair of Jacks or better, the winning cards are held, the others are discarded, and the hand either improves or it doesn’t. All of the bluffing and betting and raising of table poker is eliminated.

Indeed, anyone familiar with traditional draw poker will find video poker quite easy to learn and play. In the most basic version, Jacks or Better, the machine deals out a single five-card hand. The player has the option to hold one or more of the cards or draw as many as five new ones. Holding cards is accomplished by touching them on the screen or pressing their associated “hold” buttons.

When the held cards have been selected, the player presses the “deal” button. The unselected cards will disappear and be replaced by new ones. The machine automatically determines whether a winning combination has been obtained and pays out credits accordingly. If there is no winner, the credits used to bet on the original deal are deducted and a new hand can begin. Between deals, it is possible to change the amount of the bet and even the denomination of the credits. Most machines also feature a “rebet” button to make play fast and easy.

Playing to Win

Much like live poker, winning consistently at Video Poker requires some knowledge of odds. Every version of the game features its own pay table, displaying the values of the hands and what is paid out for a win. For example, in the basic version of Video Poker, a pair of Jacks or better is required to win even money. Two pair usually pays 2-to-1, and three of a kind fetches 3-to-1. There are versions that pay even money for a pair of tens or better, but others, including Deuces Wild, do not reward anything less than three of a kind.

The best hand possible, of course, is a “Royal Flush,” which is a straight flush with an Ace-high. This combination typically pays 250-to-1 for a minimum bet, although the jackpot can be worth as much as 800-to-1 when the game’s “max bet” is made. Players need to familiarize themselves with the pay table before betting. The odds will affect which cards are kept and which are discarded at the draw. It is worth noting that out of the 2,598,960 different five-card hands possible in standard Video Poker, only four are Royals. Players should aim to get small wins until a true opportunity comes along to catch the big one.

Today, game makers have developed multi-hand versions and interjected wild cards. They have added innovations never before possible in standard poker rooms. The games currently available run the gamut from classic “Jacks or Better” to the hottest new releases, such as “Ultimate X Poker” and “Quick Quads.” Before wagering, it is always a good idea to understand the games thoroughly, what wins, what doesn’t, and what options are offered.

Published on: 24/10/2010

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