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How to Play Video Poker in Las Vegas

How to Play Video Poker

Video poker is a casino fast-paced game based on five-card draw poker. It is played on a device similar in size to a slot machine. However, unlike slot machines:

Video poker is a game that can be beaten.
Video poker offers offers some of the highest odds of any game in the entire casino (if played correctly), as well as a low house edge.
Video poker also offers players the chance to maximize their chances of winning and influence the game’s outcome.
Also unlike traditional slot machines, video poker machines are the only game where the pay tables are clearly displayed.
Video poker is the only casino game where a player is able to compute the probability of obtaining the winning hands as shown on the paytable. In video poker, you actually know your expected return.
Deciding which cards to keep and which to discard is one of the most important skills you’ll need when playing Video Poker.

Object of the Game of Video Poker

Like all other poker variants, the object of the game of Video Poker is to wind up with an impressive paying hand, such as a royal flush or three-of-a-kind.

How to Play Video Poker

Video poker is based on simple five-card draw poker mechanics and uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, just like most poker games.

1 Insert a number of coins into the video poker machine – usually, players have a choice of playing with one and up to five coins.
2 Place a bet, usually $1 to $5 per hand, then press the "Deal button".
3 The machine will then give you 5 random cards from a randomized deck of cards. Once you are dealt your five cards, the goal is to make the best hand possible.
4 Choose which cards to keep by tapping on the chosen cards on your screen. After choosing which cards to hold and which cards to discard, press the "Deal button" again and the machine will deal new cards (from the remaining deck) to replace the ones that were discarded.
5 You now have your "final hand". At this point the machine pays out the amount on paytable of the game you’re playing if your hand matches any of the winning hands.
Wins take place when you land two pairs, straight, flush, or a royal flush.
How much you win depends on the poker value of your hand and the paytable of the game you’re playing.
Every video poker game is different, but each will have a minimum hand you need to make in order to win. It might be a pair of jacks (in Jacks or Better) or three of a kind (in Deuces Wild).

How Video Poker Machines Work

Just like modern day slot machines, cards in Video Poker machines are chosen by a Random Number Generator (RNG) contained in the machine's software. The RNG “shuffles” a standard deck of cards, at a rate of hundreds or maybe thousands per second, until a person hits the "Deal button". At that point the player is dealt 5 cards. The RNG continues to shuffle the remaining 47 cards until the "Deal button" is pressed again-at which point the discarded cards are replaced.

Video poker is dealt from a single deck of cards, so if you discard the 4 of spades, for instance, you won’t be seeing that card again.

Video Poker Variants

In Las Vegas, there are many types of video poker games: Joker’s Wild, Jacks or Better, Tens or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, the list goes on. Within each of these games there are subvariants, meaning the winning hands are the same but the payouts are different depending on the machine.

Video Poker Tips & Strategy

Unlike slot machines, which are primarily based on luck, video poker requires a certain amount of skill and technique. To win big in this game, players need to bring their best skills, strategy, and attitude when trying their luck at beating the machine. Although some of the strategies for video poker can be a little complicated, the rewards for understanding and implementing them is well worth it.

Below are some simply tips to help you along as you learn the game of Video Poker. Remember, like every other casino card game, practice makes perfect.

1 Choose the right paytable
Video Poker gives you the ability to compute the probability of obtaining the winning hands as shown on the paytable.

What is a paytable? A paytable is a list of potential poker hands and how much they payout when you land that hand in that particular game.

Choosing the right paytable is essential to winning big in Video Poker. Look for a game that provides between 97% and 100% return. The lower the house edge, the better your return. For example, when playing a Jacks or Better game, always go for a "9/6" (where the percentage of return is 99.54%) or more. This is a fair return that offers nine times your wager on a full house and six times your wager on a flush.

2 Bet the maximum number of coins
Always bet the maximum. The pay tables on most video poker machines unlocks the bonus payoff for the royal flush when you hit a top hand with a five-coin wager, this bonus amount in turn lowers the house edge. Simply playing the maximum bet allows you the best chance for a major win. If a $5 per hand is too high for you, consider switching to a lower denomination machine (like a dollar machine) that allows you to play the maximun coins.

Sample pay table for a 9/6 Jacks or Better game
Winning Hand
1 Coin
2 Coins
3 Coins
4 Coins
5 Coins
Royal Flush
Straight Flush
Four of a Kind
Full House
Three of a Kind
Two Pair
Jacks or Better

3 Put in the time to learn the game
There is no single strategy that is right for every video poker game. It is recommended that you choose your favorite poker variant, and then learning about it and playing it as much as possible. There are many online casino games that offer video poker step-by-step tutorials that you can play online without investing real money.

4 Manage your bankroll
Always know your expected return before you start playing video poker. Always look for "full pay" machines. Although Las Vegas casino floors are full of Jacks or Better video poker machines, don't assume that every machine is the same, since the casino can change the pay table and make the game more or less lucrative.

Decide how much you intend on spending before you begin playing video poker. Place the right bets and don’t overbet. If you’re new to video poker, start small by looking for the lowest denomination machines. Set a budget of how much you wish to wager – and stick to it (this is your bankroll). Once you hit that budget, you're done for the day.

5 Print out a Basic Strategy chart
An easy way to get better at video poker is to simply print out a Basic Strategy chart. As a game of skill, this gives you a much better chance at winning. There are numerous online charts that can be printed and fit in your wallet. You can also pick one up at your casino gift shop.

6 Slow down the pace if you're a newbie
If you are new to video poker, it’s best to slow down and take your time when first starting out to avoid any unnecessary losses along the way.

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Video Poker House Edge
The house edge is 0.5% - 5% percent. Meaning, for every $100 you bet, you'll only lose between 50c - $5 on average.

Video poker House Advantage and Expected Loss

  House Advantage For Every $100 bet, the player can expect to lose
Pass/Don't Pass 0.5% - 5% 50c - $5
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Disclaimer encourages you to play responsibly by betting within your limits. Know when to stop before you start®. Gambling problems? Call 1-800-522-4700 in NV or 1-800-GAMBLER in NJ.

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