This online video poker introduction is going to give a general overview of the game to help bring anyone new to video poker up to speed on this fun and interesting game. Video poker is a game that has been very popular for decades because not only is it engaging and interactive but it also has odds that are much more favourable to the players than many other casino games. With the proper strategy the house has only a slight edge which means you can play longer without going broke and you may even be able to come out ahead and take a little piece of the casino for yourself.
A Brief History of Video Poker
Video poker first started showing up in casinos in the mid 1970’s. It was around this time that the first personal computers for home use were coming out. Microprocessors were becoming affordable enough as well as powerful enough to make this type of gaming machine viable for the casinos. Although primitive by today’s standards the first video poker machines were on the cutting edge of modern technology. The little computer chips inside these machines were capable of simulating a completely randomly shuffled deck of cards and also rapidly completing complex calculations to keep the action moving quickly while shuffling, dealing, and figuring payouts.
Video poker machines can actually trace their roots all the way back to the first slot machines that came out in the late 1800s. The very first slot machine was in fact a poker machine. The Sittman and Pitt company of Brooklyn NY developed a machine in 1891 that used 5 drums with 10 cards on each drum. A player would insert their nickel, spin the reels, and wait to see what would come up. The spinning reels would produce a number of various poker hands and players would be paid according to the strength of their poker hand.
The mechanics of these early slot machines were somewhat complicated and made it impossible to have an automatic payout system. If a player won on one of these machines they would be paid by the owner or an employee of whichever establishment the machine was located in. Because gambling was not legal in many areas it was not uncommon for winning players to be paid in drinks or cigars.
It was these early slot machines that eventually led to video poker. Once the technology was available and affordable it was a natural progression to go from mechanical machines to electronic machines. Once video poker machines were introduced they quickly became very popular not only because of the novelty of a new type of game but also because of the favourable odds and small advantage that the house had over the players.
The Rules of Online Video Poker
The technology has advanced an incredible amount in the decades since the first video poker machines became available. Advances in technology led to superior graphics and sound effects as well as increased computing speeds which allowed games to evolve. Today there are literally hundreds of different variations of video poker. Each variation will have certain rules and strategies that are specific to that particular game but the general rules, based on the game of poker, will always be the same.
In poker, the winner is determined by the cards they are holding. There is a hierarchy of poker hands and whoever is holding the highest ranking hand wins. In video poker you are not playing against other players but you’re still trying to make the best poker hand possible because the payouts are based on the ranking of the hands. The higher the ranking, the more you will get paid.
Poker Hand Rankings:
Royal Flush – The royal flush is an Ace high straight flush meaning that all five cards are in sequence ie. 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace and are all the same suit, either spades, clubs, hearts, or diamonds. It is the best possible hand in the game of poker.
Straight Flush – A straight flush is five cards all of the same suit and in sequence. The only difference between a royal flush and a regular straight flush is that the royal flush has an ace high which makes it out rank a straight flush with a smaller high card.
Four of a Kind – Four cards of equal value.
Full House – Three of a kind and a pair at the same time. For example, three Kings and two 7’s would be a full house.
Flush – Five cards of the same suit — spades, clubs, hearts or diamonds.
Straight – Five cards in consecutive order. An ace can be used as either a high card or a low card to make a straight. For example, a hand containing 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace (of different suits) would be a straight as would Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 (of different suits).
Three of a Kind – Three cards of equal value. Also known as a “set”.
Two Pair – Two sets of two cards of equal value. For example the three of clubs, the three of hearts, the eight of clubs, and the eight of diamonds would be two pair.
Pair – Two cards of equal value.
In video poker you will need at least a high pair to win any payout. In the game Jacks or Better you need at least a pair of Jacks to receive a payout. In a game like deuces wild you would need at least three of a kind to receive a payout because the wildcards give you more opportunities to make a winning hand. There are countless variations of video poker to choose from but for whichever game you choose to play there will be a payout schedule that tells you exactly how much each winning hand will pay.
Each variation of video poker will also have various strategies that are suited to that particular version of the game. People have used computer simulations to work out the best statistical play for any starting hand. The strategies will tell you which cards to hold and which ones to discard in a number of different situations to give you the best chance of winning. Before sitting down to play video poker it might be a good idea to research a specific strategy for your chosen game.
No matter which version of the game you choose to play it is a good idea to study the payout tables before you start making wagers. Different casinos and different games will have different payout schedules. Two otherwise identical games can have slight differences in the payouts for winning hands so finding the games that offer the best payouts will increase your odds of winning. For example, in the game Jacks or Better there are games that are known as “full pay” games. A full pay game is also known as a 9/6 game and what this number refers to is the payouts on a full house and a flush. In a full pay game a full house would pay 9 to 1 and a flush would pay 6 to 1. Other, lower paying versions, of the game have payouts of 9/5, 8/6, 8/5, 7/5 and even as low as 6/5. If you have your option between a game that pays 9/6 or game that pays 6/5 it’s obvious which one would be more favourable to the player and frankly you should stay away from the 6/5 game even if it’s the only game in town.
Video poker is a great game that offers favourable odds to the player as well as an interactive game that gives players the chance to make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game. This makes it more interesting than many other games where you simply place your bets and wait for the outcome. Taking the time to familiarise yourself with the rules of the game and even the specific strategies for different variations of online video poker will help you hold onto your money a little longer and even come out ahead more often.