Video poker has been a casino favorite for decades, which is a big reason why you'll find dozens of video poker games at any given casino.
But what are some of the exact things that have made video poker withstand the test of time and remain popular among gamblers?
Find out below as I discuss 7 reasons why players love this game.
Few games in the casino give you as good of a chance to win as video poker does. By using correct strategy, you can lower the house edge below 1% on some variations.
But the key is that you have to play games that offer high payback. You also have to avoid making mistakes while playing, but that's arguably less important than the pay table.
Jacks or Better is normally the best paying video poker variation that you'll find in casinos. 9 / 6 Jacks or Better offers 99.54% payback with perfect strategy.
But what does the 9 / 6 stand for?
On this game's pay table, you'll see that a full house pays 9 coins and a flush pays 6 coins.
If you were to play 9 / 5 Jacks or Better instead, you'd receive 5 coins for a flush. This may not sound like a big deal, but it drops the highest potential payback from 99.54% to 98.45%.
As long as you know your video poker pay tables, you stand a good chance of winning money with this game. Other variations with solid payback include:
As mentioned above, it's important to use good strategy when playing video poker so that you earn the highest possible payback. This may sound like a chore to some players, but it can be stimulating for those who like using strategy in casino games.
In this context, I'm not talking about betting strategies that involve raising and lowering your bets based on what's happen on previous hands. That way lies madness. I explained why in that previous article I just linked to, but in short, it's an example of the gambler's fallacy. The erroneous idea that past results have an effect on future results has caused many a foolish gambler to go broke.
Every decision that you make in video poker has an effect on your long term payback. And knowing what moves to make in each situation is how you achieve top payback.
Here's an example:
You're dealt a hand that contains both 3 cards to a royal flush and a two pair. The two pair is guaranteed to pay you 10 coins on 5 coin bet, but you only need two more cards to earn the 4,000 coin royal flush payout.
What do you keep?
In this case, you'd keep the two pair because common Jacks or Better strategy ranks it slightly higher than 3 cards to a royal flush.
But if you had 4 cards to a royal flush, you'd go for it. The payout is high enough, and the odds of hitting it are good enough, that you'd want to go for the bigger jackpot.
Knowing video poker strategy and making decisions like this are part of what keeps many players engaged. But be sure that you know strategy for the specific variation you're playing because this changes based on the individual game.
After being introduced to casino floors in the 1970s, video poker started growing in popularity during the 80s because players saw it as a less intimidating alternative to table games.
This still holds true today because video poker allows you to learn at your own pace, rather than the pace of the dealer and other players. If you only want to play a few hands every minute while you work through strategy basics, there's no pressure from others to hurry your thought process.
Contrast this to a game like blackjack, where casinos want games moving fast so that they make a larger profit. Beyond this, fellow players can get agitated when they have to wait on you.
Another perk to video poker is that there's no etiquette to follow because it's just you and the machine.
This is vastly different from a table game like craps,, where players get mad if you say the word seven, enter the game when a shooter is hot or count your chips at the table.
We mentioned several times earlier that you should know video poker strategy if you want to earn higher payback.
But does this mean that you should completely avoid video poker until you know strategy?
No, especially if you're not obsessed with maximizing your pay back.
The nice thing about video poker is that it's an easy game to play. You're dealt five cards, and you choose which cards to keep and which ones to discard before your hand is finalized.
As far as your long term payback goes, it's nice to know whether you should keep a 3 of a kind or 4 cards to a straight flush. But if you make the wrong decision in a close play like this, it's not like this will cripple your bankroll.
If you later decide that you enjoy video poker enough to learn the strategy, then by all means study the game. But don't feel obligated to right away because this is a simple game to play and most players have a basic idea of what cards to keep / discard.
Earlier we mentioned that 9 / 6 Jacks or Better is one of the best video poker games that you can find due to its potential 99.54% payback. But if you get tired of this game, don't worry because there are dozens of other games.
Some other video poker games include:
Keep in mind that these are just some of the video poker games that land based and online casinos offer, and you'll have no shortage of options when it comes to finding new video poker variations. Each game presents its own challenge because strategy will differ slightly as you move from machine to machine.
One exciting aspect of video poker is that it's a strategy based game with a jackpot.
Jacks or Better presents the most common model for video poker jackpots because, on a 5 coin bet, you can win a 4,000 coin jackpot by getting a royal flush.
Different games offer different jackpots, including Bonus Deuces Wild, which pays a 5,000 coin jackpot when you get a royal flush.
Even more enticing are the progressive jackpot games that award huge prizes for certain hands. One example I've seen is a Jackpot Deuces Wild game that offers over $260,000 and growing for getting a diamond royal flush.
No matter what size of jackpot you're playing for, the fact that you can hit a jackpot adds more entertainment to video poker.
We should preface this by stating that the days of casinos featuring lots of 100% payback video poker games are long gone. But this isn't to say that you can't still beat the casino under the right conditions.
Vegas' South Point Casino features 9 / 6 Jacks or Better machines coupled with a generous loyalty program for gambling machine players. If you play well enough and take advantage of this loyalty program, you could earn over 100% payback.
Or you could just head down Las Vegas Boulevard to The D Casino, which offers a group of VP machines with over 100% payback. These Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus games give you the perfect opportunity to beat the house if you're skilled enough.
Again, finding opportunities where the odds are in your favor isn't so easy these days. But if you look hard enough, favorable video poker games still exist.
Unlike slots, which have undergone many upgrades over time, video poker games have remained largely the same since hitting casino floors in the 1970s. Despite this lack of innovation, video poker still remains popular in casinos due to the seven reasons that I discussed above.
Competitive players appreciate how they can use complex strategy to improve their odds of beating the casinos. This same group likes it even better when they find games that offer over 100% payback.
Those who are intimidated by table games, yet still want to use strategy will also enjoy video poker.
If you're totally new to casino games, video poker isn't a hard game to pick up if you don't mind skipping over strategy lessons.
Even slots players who enjoy hunting for jackpots will get excited by the fact that they can win big with a straight flush or royal flush.
As you can see, video poker appeals to a wide range of players and there are plenty of reasons to love this game.