How to Play Online Video Poker
With so many different versions of poker floating around, you may never have learnt how to play online video poker. Don’t worry – our experts are here to help! In this guide, we’re going to explain online video poker rules, from the fundamental hand rankings to gameplay mechanics. By the end, you’ll be ready to hit the machines.
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If you’re already familiar with how to play online video poker, you can take a shortcut to one of our recommended casinos by following the links provided on this page. We’ve tested them first-hand from Canada, and each of them offers excellent video poker titles. Or you can read on to learn how to play video poker.
What is online video poker?
If you’re looking for online video poker rules, there’s a good chance you’ve never played before. Firstly, you should understand that there are many different types of poker, including:
- Traditional poker
- Casino poker
- Video poker
Traditional poker is the one you see in the movies, with tournaments or cash games held between players who bluff and raise their way to a big stack. Casino poker is a traditional casino game played between the player and the dealer, much like blackjack.
Video poker is something entirely different. It’s a digital casino game that you can play online, where your objective is to make the highest-ranked hand possible. In real life, you’d play on a machine at the casino, just like a slot game.
Online video poker rules
When learning how to play online video poker, it’s important to note which version of the game you’re playing. Jacks or Better is the most popular version for players in Canada, so we’ll base our guide off of this.
Here’s how a hand works:
1. Choose your stake
The first thing that happens is that you choose your stake. The more you bet, the higher your potential win will be. If you’re following the optimum strategy of how to play video poker, you should generally try to bet the maximum, as this qualifies you for big wins when you hit a top hand.
Note: Always bet within your means.
2. Initial deal
Once you’ve set your stake, you’ll receive five random cards. You have no influence over this stage – you may receive a terrible hand, or you may be dealt a royal flush right off the bat!
3. Hold or discard
Judge the strength of your hand and decide which cards to keep and which to discard. For example, if you have two kings and two queens, keep all four and discard the fifth in the hope of hitting a full house.
4. Second deal
The cards you’ve chosen to discard are then replaced with further random cards to create your final hand. There is no additional chance to switch cards. If you held all five cards from your initial hand, the second deal phase is skipped.
5. Pay out
If you have a pair of jacks or better, you receive your winnings immediately based on the payout table. If you have a pair of tens or less, you won’t receive anything.
When to discard cards
The main aim in online video poker is to create the best hand possible, but that doesn’t mean you need to hit a royal flush every hand. There’s a lot of value to be found in taking lower-ranked hands to guarantee small wins here and there, too.
If you want to learn about the strategy of online video poker, you can read our full guide on it. In the meantime, here are some quick and dirty tips to get you started:
- If you only have one high card (i.e. a jack or above), discard the other four
- If you make a pair, keep it and draw three cards
- If you’ve already made a straight or better, hold all five cards (excluding four-of-a-kind)
Video poker hand rankings
Online video poker rules are very different to traditional poker, but the hand rankings are the same for Texas Hold’em.
Texas Hold’em is the most popular form of poker in the world, with a hand ranking system which is used for many other versions of traditional poker, casino poker and video poker. The best hand is the royal flush, with the lowest-ranked being a high card.
The main difference which you need to remember is that high cards and any pair below jacks are worthless in video poker. You can hardly forget it – it’s in the name ‘Jacks or Better’!
Here are the hand rankings for online video poker, along with an example of each:
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