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Want to play Video Poker now?
If you’re already familiar with online video poker and its various strategies, you can join one of our top-recommended casinos now. They’re all focused on players in Canada, and all offer online video poker. Alternatively, scroll down to read our free expert guide to online video poker in Canada.
What is online video poker?
Online video poker is an electronic casino table game which takes place between the player and the house. Physical machines are popular, but there are now many online versions too, making it easy to play online video poker in Canada.
There are many variations of online video poker. Jacks or Better is one of the most popular variants, alongside other titles such as Tens or Better, Joker’s Wild, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker and many more. Some versions of online video poker even have a progressive jackpot, giving you the chance to win big money if you hit that elusive royal flush.
How to play
Most of the best online video poker sites for Canadian players offer a version called Jacks or Better. So, for the purpose of this guide, we’ll focus on that version when discussing how to play video poker.
When you begin a game of online video poker, you’ll be dealt five cards. Note that this is three more than you’d receive in Texas Hold’em, the most popular version of regular poker. Instead, this is more like five-card draw poker.
Stick or twist
Once you’re dealt your hand, you need to decide how many cards to keep. Your aim is to get the highest-ranked hand possible. So, if you were dealt 5-6-7-8-9, you’d already have a straight and would keep all five for a guaranteed win. If you had 5-6-7-8-Q, you’d likely keep the 5, 6, 7 and 8 and ‘twist’ on the Q in the hope of hitting a 4 or 9 for the straight.
You can save anywhere from zero to five cards. Any discarded cards are replaced with the next cards in the deck. You only have one opportunity to switch cards per round.
Win or lose
In order to win anything, you must make at least a pair of jacks. That will earn you even money. Anything less than a pair of jacks – like a pair of 8s, or simply ace-high – wins you nothing.
After the hand concludes, a new five-card hand is dealt to begin the next round. If you’re wary of playing for the first time, most online video poker sites in Canada also offer free video poker.
Video poker hand rankings
If you’re already familiar with regular poker hands then you’ll pretty much know the hand ranking order for online video poker – it’s almost exactly the same. The royal flush is the best possible hand, working all the way down to one pair.
The only difference is that the lowest relevant hand in online video poker is a pair of jacks. Anything below that counts as a loss.
Here are the standard poker hand rankings from best to worst, including their online video poker odds:
Online video poker vs regular poker
Regular poker and online video poker have the same hand rankings, but the similarities don’t extend much beyond that.
In regular poker, you’ll play against real-life opponents. There are cash games and tournaments, and your job is to raise, call and fold when appropriate in order to build your chip stack. You also need to bluff, which requires strong nerves and a solid poker face.
Online video poker is different. There’s no need to bluff, and you’re not playing against real people. Instead, your focus is on making the best possible hand. Both games require strategy, but online video poker has far fewer variables. You can even use a cheat sheet!
There are many fans of regular poker who also like online video poker, because they use the same hand rankings and it’s a nice alternative when you just want to pick up and play for a few hands, rather than investing hours or even days of your time. But there are stark differences between the two. Online video poker is arguably closer to blackjack than poker in terms of its ‘stick or twist’ style of gameplay.
If you love the thrill of playing live poker, but prefer the gameplay of online video poker at Canadian sites, you can always try live dealer video poker, which uses real-life dealers.
Online video poker strategy
Online video poker strategy requires a mixture of luck and skill – much like regular poker. But unlike regular poker, you don’t need to factor in other players’ behaviour – you can simply do your homework and plan the best strategy in advance.
There are tonnes of online video poker games in Canada, many with different payouts. First, hunt down a casino which offers the best value so that, when you do hit big, you get paid accordingly. If you like, you can check out the top casinos recommended on this page. They’re all suitable for Canadian players and all offer online video poker.
Here are some top tips for online video poker:
Don’t chase straights or flushes
There are circumstances where holding cards in the hope of hitting a straight or flush make sense, but not when you’ve only got three cards. For example, if you have 4-5-6, there’s no point holding them in the hope of hitting two perfect cards – the odds are just too slim.
Bet the max
First off – only bet within your means. With that said, the max bet pays out much more when you finally do hit those mega hands. If you’re not betting the maximum, you’re hampering your potential winnings.
As is the case with regular poker, don’t get carried away with a hand because it feels lucky, or because you think you’re on a hot streak. A pragmatic approach is always best. If you’ve got a dud hand, just try to make the minimum pair required for an even win.