Anyone new to online gambling might be slightly confused the first time they open a video poker machine. These machines have the same appearance as slot games but there is one major difference. Instead of just chancing your luck you can help your gameplay with a basic knowledge on poker and how the game is played.
Each video poker game variation has its own set of rules and strategy that can be applied where Online Slots are games of chance that follow a similar structure with different sets of bonus features and pay-outs.
If you’ve never played a video poker game before in your life then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide we will look into the history, teach you how to play and even give away a little bit of strategy. The best part is that you’ll have the opportunity to test your new found knowledge for free without the worries of wasting away your bankroll. Thanks to technology you have the ability to play many video poker variants for free instead of having to fund your play from the get go like you’d have to do in land based casinos.
The Rise of the Underdog
The gambling industry was up and running long before there was ever a possibility of online gambling activities. But when the idea of a personal computer became a reality in the mid 1970’s the gambling industry jumped to embrace new technology.
The interesting thing is that video poker was almost scrapped from the table if its inventor didn’t put up much of a fight back in the day. SI Redd who was working as a distributor for Bally Gaming at the time pitched the idea of video poker to the Bally Executive back in the day only to have them shut it down. Their argument was that they didn’t want to branch out and risk developing something that was untested.
Thankfully Si Redd convinced them to let him buy the patent on video poker and within months Si Redd signed a deal with Fortune Coin Company to form his own company Sircoma (now IGT, one of the most recognizable names in the industry). He began to mass produce the video poker games and while the uptake was slow at first during 1981 it quickly became a highly popular game in casinos worldwide.
Bally Executives must’ve instantly regretted their decision, it just goes to show you shouldn’t turn something down unless you’ve tried it. You never know what might happen.
The Benefits of Free Video Poker
The same goes for you, if you’ve never tried a video poker game whether it is because you don’t want to waste money on something you’ve never tried or you just prefer regular poker then the free video poker games is the perfect place to start.
The pros of playing free video poker:
Try different variants at zero cost
Play for hours risk and cost free
Test and learn new strategies
No real money deposit required
Find the game you like before investing
Then there are only a few cons to dampen the mood. Luckily they are not so major.
Free play winnings can’t be credited to your account
It doesn’t matter what game it is, at the end of the day the pros of free play will always outweigh the cons. especially with games that require some strategy and skill such as Video Poker.
Become a Video Poker MVP
The first thing you need to know about video poker is that like normal poker you are rewarded according to your hand value. Thus, you objective is to create the best paying 5 card hand you can with the cards you are dealt. The pay-outs might and winning hands might differ slightly depending on which variant you play but in most cases they remain the same.
The biggest perk of playing free video poker is allowing yourself to learn the rules, create a strategy and also understand how the game works to successfully start playing for real money. So take your time, relax and just have fun. After all, the best part of free games is getting all the entertainment without emptying your pockets.
Whenever you open a video poker game you will notice that pay-outs are awarded according to the hand value you have.
The hand values offering pay-outs are: (From low to high)
A pair of Jacks or Better (pairs of J’s, Q’s, K’s or A’s)
Three of a Kind
Four of a Kind
All video poker players aim for the Royal Flush which is a 5 hand combination of 10, J, Q, K and A of the same suit. This hand provides the biggest pay-out in most or almost all video poker variants.
To start the game you need to first place your bet, whether you are trying out a single hand or multi hand free video poker game. In most cases you can place a bet of up to five coins per hands and most pros recommend playing your hands with 5 coins.
Why 5 coins? In free video poker it might not mean much but its good practice for when you start playing Real Money Video Poker. Playing with 5 coins per hand opens the possibility of triggering the highest pay-out aka the Royal Flush.
As soon as you’ve placed your bet you can click the ‘Deal’ button and you’ll be handed five cards, all face up. If you know the poker hands you needs to start selecting which cards you will hold onto and which cards you are going to discard. Your decisions will determine whether you win or lose. Try to form the best possible winning hand with the cards you have and discard the cards that won’t fit into that hand.
Did you know? The odds of hitting a Royal Flush (the best Video Poker hand) are 649,739/1. How crazy is that!
Once you’ve done this you are ready to draw new cards which you can do by clicking on ‘Deal’ again. The number of cards you are dealt this time will depend on how many cards you’ve held on to. If you chose to hold on to only 2 cards you’ll be dealt 3 more cards. Any time you qualify for a pay-out it will be awarded whether it was on the hand you had in mind or a simple luck of the draw resulting in Two Pairs or Three of a Kind.
The Top 6 Video Poker Variants
Much like with slot games there are various options of video poker variants to play but some are more popular than others. The perk of playing free video poker is being able to test and try all the variants to find the one you like the most. At GamblersPick we know how daunting it can be not knowing where to start so we’ve made a list of the most played variants. You can always try these first and we’re almost 100% certain you’ll end up finding one you like.
1. Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is one of the very first video poker games that were created and it is perfect for beginner players. The game is a video poker version of five card draw so you have to keep and discard cards to create the strongest poker hand.
Highly Recommended… Due to Jacks or Better being one of the simplest, most straightforward video poker games available for free play it is ideal for beginners. It will allow you to get comfortable with the game, learn strategy and upgrade your skills before you move on to fancier variants with bonus features. It’s always best to start with the basics.
2. Tens or Better
For easier wins, Tens or Better is the perfect video poker variant to start on. The game is extremely similar to Jacks or Better with the only difference being that you have to have a minimum of a pair of tens to be awarded a pay-out. It’s a little bit easier and pay-outs are lower but if you’re focus is free play and creating strategy then it’s an ideal game to start out with.
3. Aces and Faces
Aces and Faces is yet another variant with extremely similarities to Jacks or Better but comes with an added benefit. In this variant you will receive a bonus pay-out of a four of a kind hand that includes an Ace or a Face card (J, Q and K). You can always jump to this variant once you’ve got the hang of Jacks or Better and before you move on to something like Deuces Wild just to get a feel of how the game plays when extras are added.
4. Deuces Wild
This video poker variant is among the most played as it comes with a nifty bonus benefit. The game is played like any other poker variant with the highest paying hand still being a Natural Royal Flush. The upside is that in this variant all two’s act as wild cards which creates better and more frequent winning possibilities.
5. Joker Poker
Joker Poker is also often referred to as Joker Wild. The objective of the game remains to form the highest possible 5 card winning hand combination. The game comes with the added benefit of Jokers that act as wild cards and will substitute for all other cards to help create the best winning hand. Thus, the game is played with 53 card decks instead of the regular 52 card decks.
6. Bonus Poker Deluxe
Another extremely popular video poker variant among online casino players is Bonus Poker Deluxe. It might seem difficult but it’s one of the easiest variants available online. The game is played a lot like Jacks or Better but comes with a bonus pay-out on four of a kind hands. If you’ve got the basics covered you should consider trying this variant as it is often one of the best paying video poker games available in online casinos.
Any video poker variants you want to add? When you become part of the GamblersPick Community you don’t just get easy access to what we or the rest of the community has to share, you also get to share your tips, tricks and knowledge with fellow players. We all know how confused you can be when you first start playing but with this community we can help new players find their feet much quicker. Sign up is quick and free and once that is done you get to share your knowledge or even grievances on games or casinos with the rest of the community.
Take A Seat and Start Playing…
You now know all the basics that will help you start your video poker journey in a jiffy. So where to from here? The first thing you’ll need to do is find an online casino that offers free play on video poker variants or you could just play the games right here on the site.
If the online casino seems like a good choice as you’d like to go directly into Real Money Video Poker mode once you’re confident in your strategy then we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our GamblersPick Casino Select page. Here we list all the online casinos that have been reviewed and vetted and found worthy of you.
Hey you, listen up… The casinos with the Select Badge next to them are highly recommended and they offer the biggest bonuses, around the clock customer support and a wide variety of gaming choices available for free play and real money gaming.