Believe it or not, the very first coin-operated gambling machines were mechanical poker machines. The company Sittman and Pitt produced the machines out of New York. First created in 1891, they were hugely popular and widely accepted to be the pre-cursor to the slot machine.

Leap forward nearly one hundred years to the 1970s, and video poker made its first appearance in the casinos of Nevada, right alongside the first video slot machines. Playing video poker is a contest between you and the machine.

Real Poker vs Video Poker

Many people wonder why you would want to play video poker when the real game is just as easily available.

It completely depends on the kind of person you are. Maybe you don’t want to sit at a table and play the game with others, and it’s also reasonable to assume that if it’s you and a computer, you have a better chance of winning.

Aside from the significant difference that you are not playing against anyone, you are also trying to achieve the highest hand possible to gain higher payouts.

At the computer, you will place your bet and be dealt five cards. You have the option of holding your hand, discarding any number of cards and replacing them with new cards, or drawing a whole new hand completely.

Video Poker Hand Rankings

The hand rankings are exactly the same as table poker, i.e. a royal flush is Ace – 10 of the same suit. Your bets are placed using the ‘Bet One’ button, e.g. if you originally wagered £5 and you hit the ‘bet one’ button three times, your new wager would be £8.

Unlike the table, you will not be challenged by the computer, i.e. the computer will not call you or try to bluff you; you simply have to make the best five-card hand to win.

There are a couple of things to note though many online casinos offer different types of video poker, so the advice is to play for free on a few types to work out which suits you the best.

Also, note that many do not offer payouts on a pair or even two pairs and the lowest hand you can win with is three of a kind.

Some also use more than one deck, so you can actually get 5 of a kind which clearly, you can’t do in a one-deck table game.

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Video poker is a great game, and you are definitely in more control of your hand. You can bin the useless cards and have them re-deal to up your chances of winning.

Top Tips for Playing Video Poker

Here is a list of tips for playing video poker:

  1. Understand the Game: Familiarize yourself with the rules, hand rankings, and payout structure of the specific video poker variation you’re playing.
  2. Play Maximum Coins: Always bet the maximum number of coins allowed to be eligible for the highest payouts, especially for the royal flush.
  3. Choose the Right Machine: Find video poker machines with favourable paytables and higher payout percentages. Different machines may have different odds and payouts.
  4. Practice Proper Bankroll Management: Set a budget for your video poker sessions and stick to it. Avoid chasing losses and never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.
  5. Use Strategy Charts: Consult strategy charts that provide the optimal moves for each hand. These charts can guide you in making mathematically correct decisions.
  6. Play at a Comfortable Pace: Take your time to make decisions and avoid rushing. Video poker is a game of skill, and thoughtful play can improve your chances of winning.
  7. Know When to Hold or Discard: Understand which cards to hold and which ones to discard based on the potential hand combinations. Remember, you can choose to discard all five cards if needed.
  8. Focus on High-Value Hands: Aim for higher-ranking hands like a royal flush, straight flush, and four-of-a-kind, as they offer the best payouts in video poker.
  9. Take Advantage of Bonuses: Watch for video poker promotions or bonuses offered by online casinos, which can boost your bankroll or provide extra rewards.
  10. Stay Calm and Patient: Maintain composure and avoid impulsive decisions. Video poker requires concentration and strategic thinking, so stay focused throughout the game.
  11. Learn from Mistakes: Analyze your gameplay and learn from any mistakes you make. Adjust your strategy accordingly to improve your future outcomes.
  12. Avoid Superstitions: Video poker outcomes are determined by random number generators (RNGs), so superstitions or lucky rituals won’t influence your results. Rely on skill and strategy instead.
  13. Take Breaks: If you’re experiencing a losing streak or feeling fatigued, take a break. Clear your mind and come back refreshed to make better decisions.
  14. Play for Free: Practice video poker for free using online demos or play-money versions to sharpen your skills and test different strategies without risking real money.
  15. Stay Informed: Stay updated on new video poker variations, strategies, and trends by reading articles, forums, or following reputable gambling resources.

Remember, video poker is a blend of skill and luck. While you can’t control the cards you’re dealt with, employing optimal strategy and making informed decisions can significantly improve your chances of winning.