All The Questions You (Literally Ever) Wanted to Ask About Video Poker

Video Poker

For a surprising number of poker players, video poker was their entry into ‘proper’ poker. It enabled them to get to grips with their hand rankings, in an environment where they didn’t have to worry about other players. For others, it’s something they’ve never explored. The ‘Great Poker Unknown’.

In the latter camp? Buckle up. We’re going to look at – all – the questions you never managed to ask about video poker – but always kind of wondered about.

How Does Video Poker Differ From ‘Traditional’ Poker?

A poker beginner might be wondering ‘how much video poker can possibly differs from traditional poker games, like Texas Hold’em or Seven Card Stud’? The answer is, quite a lot! So, firstly, video poker is a game between you and the ‘dealer’. There are no other contenders to deal with. If you’re bad at bluffing, you could be a winner with video poker.

Secondly, video poker relies almost solely on a really solid understanding of hand rankings. Sure, there are different variants of this game, but all of them rely on you having a better hand than the dealer. So how do you do it? Simple. You need to employ a good strategy – and know your hand rankings inside and out.

How Does the House Edge Work in Video Poker?

In traditional poker there isn’t a house edge, because the house doesn’t exactly participate. Instead, the house makes its money through the rake or from tournament fees. Video poker is quite different in this sense. It does have a built-in house edge, just like slot machines do. However, the house edge is much, much lower in video poker.

Depending on the variant you’re playing, you can get the house edge down to as low as 0.46%. You do need to be playing with the best possible strategy though! Something like jacks or better is a solid choice if you’re looking for the lowest possible house edge. And let’s face it, who isn’t?

With this in mind, it probably comes as no surprise that video poker is one of – the most popular games – in both online and land-based casinos. It has the ease and appeal of a slot game. A sprinkling of strategy. An RTP that hovers around 99%. What’s not to like?

When Was Video Poker Invented?

We’re heading back to 1979! This was when SIRCOMA introduced the first ever video poker machine. Don’t remember SIRCOMA? We now know them as IGT (International Game Technology). Bet you’ve heard of those guys!

These guys also invented the Megabucks Jackpot. It was the first progressive jackpot slot – in history! It led to some – enormous – payouts at the time (1986) and cemented IGT’s place in the casino who’s who.

There are actually a handful of video poker games that use the progressive jackpot technology. This offers players a chance to shoot for bigger wins (much bigger). While you do take a hit to the RTP (i.e., the house edge increases) you are in with a shot at a huge jackpot. So, for some high rollers, jackpot chasers, and the like it can be a more than worthwhile trade-off.

How Do Video Poker Games Ensure Fairness?

While in live poker games, or live dealer poker games, you can literally watch the cards be dealt in front of you, the same isn’t true for video poker. This game doesn’t have a ‘real life’ equivalent. So how can we ensure fairness in video poker games?

Well, just like slot games are randomly assessed and independently audited for fairness, video poker games are too. All of them – must – use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure complete fairness. These work by ensuring each and every hand is generated completely at random.

All legal (important!) online casinos that have video poker games will be audited by companies such as iTech labs to ensure they’re in compliance with the RNG rules. Land-based casinos with video poker games will buy the machines from distributors who are audited in much the same way.

How Much Strategy is there to Video Poker?

I find that the best way to describe video poker strategy is that it’s more or less in line with blackjack strategy. You can do ok with basic strategy, but you can only get the house edge down to the absolute minimum by following the optimum strategy. Just like blackjack, there are video poker strategy charts. It’s totally within the rules to use these, so for your first few rounds it’s not a bad idea to.

It’s a common misconception that video poker involves a similar amount of strategy to slot games. This simply isn’t true. Although the strategy isn’t as nuanced as traditional poker games, this is still a game that’s – hugely – influenced by skill, rather than just pure luck.

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