Video Poker has gained a massive cult following over the years, with land-based players now also choosing to try out this popular format of gambling online too. We know how exciting it can be to play this style of digital poker, so we've decided to dedicate a whole section to it on our site, where you can find out more information and the best video poker strategies in general and for each game. Digesting this literature isn't enough on its own, so we have included the best and most popular free video poker games for you to access and try out at your pleasure. These games can be practised anytime via your desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.
Intel created the first transistor-based Microchip in 1971, and it wasn’t long before people began coming up with exciting and innovative uses for this new technology within the gambling industry. It took a few years for the techies and engineers to devise ways to use these new chips to create “video” slots and other digital casino games, but by 1975 an American businessman named William Redd was finally putting the finishing touches to what would become the first-ever Video Poker machine, titled “Fortune 1 Draw Poker”.
Before researching this subject, I always believed Jacks or Better was the first Video Poker game. In truth, Fortune 1 Draw Poker was extremely similar to Jacks or Better – it merely lacked the “Jacks or Better” payout from the paytable. It’s also not surprising that many people haven’t even heard of Fortune 1, too – the game was a colossal flop. With the lowest payout for two pairs, players would only win approximately 13% of the hands played.
William Redd wrote a book about his invention of Video Poker later in his life. He described the “Lightbulb moment” when he realised that adding an extra payout for hitting a pair of “Jacks or Better” would dramatically improve the game's playability.
It’s almost sneaky – the payout in question is just your original stake being returned to you – but psychologically, it immediately felt like you were losing much, much less often than you were in Fortune 1 Draw Poker. And it’s true, you were “losing” fewer hands – but you also weren’t winning any more money either. However, this didn’t matter to casino patrons, and Jacks or Better was the first big hit for Si Redd and his company SIRCOMA (shorthand for Si Redd’s Coin Operated machines).
Si Redd offered his new single-person poker game, Jacks or Better, to his former employer, Bally, as he felt they would be much better positioned to promote the game and get it into land-based casinos across America than he could ever hope to do on his own. But, surprisingly to Redd, Bally wasn’t interested in his offer, despite the success that Jacks or Better was quickly beginning to show in the small number of venues where it was already available.
Simon had no choice but to seek out his own manufacturing and marketing partners and soon began to sell Video Poker machines under the “Game King” brand to casinos across the United States. The machines were also immensely popular in smaller establishments in gambling towns such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
When it became clear that Video Poker would be a huge hit, Bally decided that the game had been developed on company time by one of their employees and sued Si Redd for the rights to the game, despite his earlier offer to share the product with them. The outcome of this case meant that Redd’s attempt to patent Video Poker failed, allowing other companies – including Bally – to develop their own Video Poker variants.
Bally created All American Video Poker, which turned out to be a big hit. Redd and his newly-renamed company International Gaming Technology(IGT), responded by creating their version of All American Video Poker. Whilst this tactic worked, Si Redd realised that his company would need an edge if they were to stay ahead of all the other companies now creating video poker variants.
The beauty of Video Poker is that it combines the best elements of table games – allowing players a degree of control over the outcome of each round – with the single-player, fast-paced nature of a slot machine. Of course, the modern Game King machine adds several further advantages to this, too.
So popular is the Game King cabinet that you can barely walk a hundred yards in Las Vegas without coming across one. I’m not just talking about the strip either – downtown is stuffed full of the things too, and even the tiniest bars on the edge of the desert are likely to have one or two of these cabinets tucked away somewhere on their premises. It’s even reported online that the rec room at Area 51 has its own Game King machine, although, like most things related to Area 51, good luck confirming that one!
The popularity of the Game King cabinet can no doubt be linked largely in part to the multitude of different gaming options that are available on each machine. For example, when you buy a Game King machine, it will usually come pre-loaded with at least a dozen different Video Poker games.
Earlier variations of the Game King could be updated with additional rom chips to support other games. In contrast, most modern-day versions even allow owners to purchase additional games remotely, which are then downloaded and installed onto the cabinet via the internet.
Here’s a brief selection of just a few of the best Video Poker variants you can find on a modern Game King machine:
Note that this is just a small selection of the full amount of games you can play on a Game King machine – there were 45 different Video Poker variants at last count, a number that has almost certainly increased already by the time you are reading this, as well as several other card games and other types of gambling game. Not bad for a machine initially designed simply for playing Jacks or Better!
All the games listed above are based on draw poker, with the main differences being the pay tables and RTP% of each variant. Jacks or Better is familiar to just about everyone with an interest in Video Poker, but 10s or Better is much less well-known. Nevertheless, it plays similarly, with minor tweaks to one or two higher payments to accommodate the additional payout for a pair of tens.
The Bonus Poker games, including Double, Double Double, and Triple Bonus Poker, are all loved by fans of high-variance casino games, as these offer the largest number of high-paying combinations of any video poker machine. Unfortunately, the upshot of this is that the RTP is often lower than simpler games such as Jacks or Better, and achieving these lower RTPs can be extremely difficult because of the sometimes ludicrously complex set of rules you’ll need to follow in all kinds of very specific situations to get the most out of your hand.
Joker Poker, Deuces Wild, and Deuces & Joker Poker are all wild card games, so allow for different combinations that simply aren’t possible with a regular 52-card deck. Deuces & Joker has the largest number of wild cards, but it also makes scoring a “Wild” Royal Flush extremely easy, reducing the payout for that combination significantly.
As you can see, despite all of the games being based on a familiar ancestor, many differences exist between the variants offered on a Game King cabinet.
The most popular new form of Video Poker is Ultimate X, which adds multipliers on top of several games' regular pay tables. I’m not entirely sure how this works, as the paytables appear to be the same as usual, only sometimes your winnings can be multiplied by as much as 10x. There’s definitely a catch somewhere, but a full review of this new form of Video Poker will be necessary to thoroughly investigate the ins and outs. Perhaps we’ll get around to writing one soon here at demoslot.com… watch this space!
Game King has even begun adding other games to their cabinets, recognising that these machines take up a considerable amount of floor space, and there is no real reason to restrict them to playing just Video Poker.
A limited number of slot machines have already been released, as well as Blackjack, Keno, and Baccarat. Who knows what other games we might see on Game King cabinets in the future?
Learning how to play a Video Poker machine is unlikely to be much trouble for anybody who has ever played a slot machine. However, mastering the art of poker will likely take longer – even a single-player variety like this one. If you have played a table poker game in the past, such as Texas Hold’em, then you are in luck – the hand rankings used in Video Poker are identical to all other forms of Poker. If not, understanding the various hand rankings is, in truth, the easy party – it is the individual strategies for each game variant that will truly take you some real time to learn.
We have published reviews of the five most popular forms of Video Poker, including Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker. All five of these reviews come with a complete strategy card included that you can download and use whether playing online or in a land-based casino. These strategy cards are often called “cheat sheets”, but don’t let this terminology confuse you!
Casinos are more than happy for you to use these strategy cards, even whilst sitting at a machine in one of their land-based properties. Most of them even sell the cards in their gift shops at exorbitant prices… rather than purchasing one, feel free to print out our version free of charge. You’ll probably find that ours is a tad more accurate to the full RTP of the game as well!
When I play online, I notice that the Jacks or Better machine pays 9 for a Full House and 6 for a Flush, but many of the other payouts do not seem to reflect the generic “Full Pay” paytable I have heard so much about. So what is going on here?
Many developers will keep the payouts for a Full House and a Flush at 9/6 to try and trick players into believing they are getting a true “Full Pay” game of Jacks or Better. In truth, this is definitely not the case, and these are the paytables that you should be especially weary of. Check out our review of Jacks or Better for a full list of all the developers we could find, along with their Jacks or Better paytables, to find out how high – or low – the RTP on their game is.
Do Video Poker machines go through hot and cold streaks in the same way that slot machines do? I can always tell when I am on a hot streak whilst playing my favourite slot machines.
Assuming you are playing a truly random slot machine (and not a Fruit machine or AWP class machine), there is no such thing as a hot or cold streak – sorry to disappoint you. It is human nature to interpret runs of good and bad luck in this way, but true slot machines use random number generators, ensuring every reel spin is an entirely independent event. The machine doesn’t remember what happened the previous round or ten rounds ago – it is perfectly possible to win a jackpot on two back-to-back spins, although incredibly unlikely.
The same is true of Video Poker machines – Las Vegas law insists that any on-screen depiction of a set of playing cards must be truly random, and gaming companies find it much easier to create a single set of code that satisfies this law and distribute their games worldwide than creating multiple different codebases for each jurisdiction where the machines are going to be used. Besides, almost every country with legalised gambling now has a similar regulatory body that insists that all games must be fair for the player anyway. In short, there are no hot and cold streaks, but this is a good thing – every hand is a fully independent and fair random event.
Should I use a players club card when playing video poker? I’ve heard some players state that they always seem to go on a terrible run immediately after hitting a large jackpot on both slots and video poker machines when playing using their player's cards.
Again, this is another superstition perpetuated by the typical psyche of human gamblers. You have to remember that jackpots are inherently rare events – they wouldn’t be jackpots if they weren’t!
Every casino game has a built-in house advantage that makes it pointless for any casino to try and cheat a player – not only would they risk losing their casino license, but they already have all of the advantage anyway! When playing online, players' points are always collected – you don’t need to insert a card of any kind – and it has no bearing on the luck experienced by players. All a casino cares about is keeping you playing as long as possible; if they can keep you playing long enough, you will go bust eventually. There’s no getting around this – it’s a scientifically provable, mathematically guaranteed fact based on the rules of the games.
My friend claims he is making a living playing Video Poker. Do you think this can really be done? I’m sure he has to be stretching the truth a little.
It isn’t impossible, but it is extremely difficult… and unlikely. However, full Pay Deuces Wild pays over 100% RTP, as does Microgaming’s All Aces online video poker and Triple Double Bonus Poker. If you spend enough time playing either of these games with perfect strategy, then it is possible you could potentially make a living from doing so, but it only takes one mistake to ruin many hours of previous perfect play to wipe out potentially an entire day's worth of profits!
It seems easier just to work, I would say, but if you do really want to give it a go, online is probably a better bet than a land-based casino – the comps may not be as generous, but games with a higher than 100% RTP are much easier to find online.
Article by Chris Howlett
11 Years Slots Playing Experience