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Basic Video Poker Rules

Video Poker is a mixture of Stud Poker and a slot machine with a few wild cards thrown in. It's fast, almost like playing Stud, and you've got a huge range of options. You can choose Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, All American, Joker Poker or a number of other variations. Each game has its own personality and rewards a particular kind of play.

Also, the machines let you play anything from 1 through 5 coins, with the payoffs improving at the high end of the scale. So if you know your Poker hands and take the time to learn your game, Video Poker can be fast, fun, and rewarding.

Old Poker salts should keep in mind that each game has its own strategy. All American, for example, pays better than the others on straights and flushes, so that will effect your approach to card selection. When I first started playing Video Poker, I thought it would be a lonely hearts version of the real thing. Not so. The games do indeed have their own individual winning strategies, and taking the time to learn your game means better payoffs.

Objective

As with all forms of Poker, the player aims to get the best hand possible. The payoffs are marked right on the face of the Video Poker machine so it's a fast lesson in what the hand ranks are. All Video Poker variations rank hands the same, though a given variation may add an extra rank or two.

Betting

As you would expect from a slots version of Poker, betting is pretty straightforward in Video Poker. On any given machine you can typically choose $0.25, $0.50, $1, or $5 games. And the bets are 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x (Max Bet) whichever game you're playing. So if you're playing a $1 game, you can place bets of $1, $2, $3, $4, or $5.

Payoff

The first thing to note is that the game face shows you the payoff for each betting level. Invariably playing Max Bet pays off better, overall, than any of the lower multiples. Smart players pick the betting level they are comfortable with and choose their game accordingly.

In other words, if you're comfortable with a $5 bet, then pick a $1 machine and play at Max Bet for $5. If $25 bets are more your speed, pick a $5 game because Max Bet (5x) puts you at the $25 level. In either case, you're getting the best payoff odds you can for that game. This is similar to Slots strategy.

Also of key importance is the fact that the payoff ratios vary from game to game. Where Jacks or Better may pay 25:1 for Four Of A Kind, All American typically pays 30:1 and Joker Poker only pays 20:1. These ratios do not necessarily reflect the true odds, so again, knowing your game helps you play smarter.

Basic Poker Hands

Video Poker is a simplified poker game played on a machine.  In order to understand the game, it is first necessary to understand basic poker hands.

A poker hand consists of 5 cards.  The Ace is considered the highest card, followed by Kings, Queens, Jacks, etc.   The lowest card is a two.  The object of the game is to get the best hand possible.  The various poker hands are described below from lowest to highest:

No pair - The lowest hand, containing 5 separate cards that do not match up to create any of the hands below.
One pair - If two of the five cards are of the same value, it is a one pair.   Example: two jacks.
Two pair - Two pairs in the same hand, such as two 8's and two 5's.
Three of a kind - Three cards of the same value.  Example: three aces.
Straight - Five consecutive cards, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.   They need not be of the same suit.  An Ace can be used in two ways. It can be a "1" card in a A, 2, 3, 4, 5 hand, or it can also be placed above the King in an 10, J, Q, K, A sequence. 
Flush - Five cards of the same suit.  They do not have to be in any order.
Full House - 3 cards of the same value, along with a pair.   Example: Three Kings and two Aces.
Four of a Kind - Four cards with the same value, such as four jacks.
Straight Flush - This is both a straight and a flush in one hand.   Five cards must be in sequential order AND they must be of the same suit.
Royal Flush - The best possible hand in poker.  You'll rarely ever see this hand.  It is an A, K, Q, J, and 10, all in the same suit. 

Basic Video Poker

The first thing you must remember about Video Poker is that you are NOT playing against other players, as in traditional poker.   You are playing against the machine.  This means that all you have to do is get a certain hand or better in order to get paid.  You don't need to outsmart anyone.  But you do have to play smart.

Video poker is basic draw poker.  Here's how it  goes:

You wager a certain number of coins/credits, usually between 1 and 5.  The machine then deals you five cards.  You can keep or discard as many cards as you like.  To keep a card, click the "hold" button underneath the card.  When you have selected the cards you want to hold, click on "deal/draw."  The cards not being held are replaced with new cards.  If your new set of cards contains a winning hand, you get paid. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
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