The basics of playing video poker are very easy to learn but like most things in life if you want to get the most out of your play and keep the house edge at it's lowest you will need lots of practice. Perfecting the correct strategy for each game type is covered in a different article so the information below is focused on the new player who has not yet tried video poker.
There are several phases in a video poker game, these are;
- Inserting money to get credits
- Betting options
- The initial deal
- Selection of cards to hold or discard
- The draw
- The final hand result
- Doubling Up (optional)
- Repeating steps 3 through 7
- Cashing out your winnings
Your first step once you have sat down in front of a machine is getting some money into the game. There are in general three ways to do this, insert a note, insert coins or in some of the more modern casinos you can insert a special ticket containing a certain value. Always make sure that when you insert money that the correct amount is displayed in the credit meter - 99.9% of the time everything will be fine but there is always a chance of an error. Check to be sure.
Now that you have credits in the machine you are ready to play. All video poker machines give you the option of betting between one and five coins. You should always play five coins per game. Playing less than five coins gives the casino a bigger edge. You will also notice that there is a big reward for playing five coins when it comes to the best hand - the royal flush. Four coin play often pays 1,000 coins where the extra coin will pay a much bigger 4,000 coins.
The easiest way to play maximum bet is to press the max bet button for the first deal. For all hands afterwards you can just ht the deal button as the machine will remember that you are playing five coins per game. The reason we recommend hitting the max bet button on the first play is that if the player before you was playing less than max bet and you press the deal button on the first play you will bet whatever the person who played the machine before was betting.
As soon as you press the max bet or deal button the first five cards will be dealt. Here you get to choose which cards you will hold. You can hold one, two, three, four, all five or none of the cards. Selecting which cards are the best to hold depends on the game variation. (See our Video Poker Variations section for strategies for all of the major games).
Once you have selected the cards you want to keep you then can go ahead and press the deal button again. This draws new cards for any of the cards you decided not to hold on the initial deal. As soon as the final draw is complete any wins will be indicated on the pay table.
On some games you will have the option of trying to double up your win. If you elect to double there will be five cards dealt with the one on the far left dealt face up and the rest face down. Your aim is to pick a card which has a higher value than the face up card. Select a face down card and if your choice is higher you double your win. If your selection is lower you lose your win. You can double multiple times up to the machines maximum double limit which varies from machine to machine and casino to casino.
Once the double up is over or if you choose not to double the hand is now over. You then press deal to repeat the whole process again. You can keep playing as long as you have credits in the machine. If you are having bad luck you can insert more money or if you are winning and want to take out your winnings then simply hit the Cash / Credit button. Depending on the size of your win you will either receive a win in coins, a ticket or if you are really luck a hand pay.
That's the basics of playing video poker. For more information on machine selection, strategies and individual games guides visit our Playing Guides section and our Video Poker Machine Variations section.