Whether you are gambling on the internet or in a brick-and-mortar casino, there are always going to be a ton of different video poker games to choose from. The best way to decide which game you should play is to consider factors such as your current skill level and your familiarity with video poker in general.
The reason why these factors matter so much is that most video poker games have a strategy that must be followed if you want to receive the highest returns possible. You should be highly concerned with receiving as much money back as you can from each game so that you can have the maximum amount of fun for every dollar that you spend.
Easiest Video Poker to Learn
As is the case in most areas of life, the level of video poker expertise from person to person will vary wildly. For this reason, we have compiled a list of a few video poker games that will appeal to beginners since they are easy to learn as well as a list of some video poker games that are tough to learn for those who feel like they are ready to play some advanced variations.
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is one of the easiest video games to learn due to its simple rules and the lack of any wildcards or bonus features. In this game, you are dealt five cards and after you discard however many cards you like you will receive new cards to replace them. At this point, the hand is finished and if you hold any hand that is stronger than a pair of tens then you will receive a payout.
The simplicity of this classic video poker game is countered by the fact that you are never going to win a flashy prize unless you hit a royal flush. Most of the time you will either win a little bit or lose a little bit, which is great for beginners but this structure can be boring for those who are looking for a high variance thrill ride.
As long as you know basic poker hands and which cards are higher than a jack you should be fine when trying to figure out how to play this game optimally. To get a better idea of the specific strategy involved in this game, you can read our in-depth JoB strategy guide.
Deuces Wild is another simple video poker game which brings a special element of fun since deuces are considered a wild card. Much like in Jacks or Better, you will receive five cards and you can discard as many cards as you wish one time per hand.
After the first discard round the hand is over and you will be paid accordingly for your best 5-card hand. This makes for some pretty wild hand combinations and you will regularly see monster hands such as quads or a straight flush. To compensate for this drastic change in average hand quality, the payouts for this game are not very rewarding unless you hit quad deuces or a royal flush with no deuce involved.
The paytable for Deuces Wild will always pay more for a royal flush if you have bet the full amount of five coins. For this reason, we always recommend playing the full five coins because you never know when fortune will smile upon you and you want to receive the biggest payout possible when this happens.
While the strategy for this variation is slightly more complicated than Jacks or Better, it is still relatively simple compared to other advanced forms of video poker. The hand requirements for what you should discard are just shifted a little bit because the deuces provide you with extra outs to make each specific hand. For more information on how to play Deuces Wild correctly, be sure to check out our Deuces Wild paytables and strategy.
If you like bonuses and you like simplicity, then Bonus Poker is probably the game for you. This game is especially good for beginners because it can be found in nearly every land-based casino and it usually offers the best return percentages.
Bonus Poker is a lot like Jacks or Better in that you have to make a five-card hand that includes a pair of jacks or stronger. However, the payout table is slightly altered since Bonus Poker pays extra money for certain hands such as quad aces, quad twos, quad threes, and quad fours.
Paytables may vary from casino to casino, but all of them will reward more money to you when you hit a royal flush if you have bet the full amount of five coins. For this reason, we recommend always betting the maximum amount in these games, and if five coins are too much for your bankroll then you can drop down in stakes.
This tweak in the payout structure has a slight impact on the strategy that should be used when deciding what to discard, so you cannot use the same strategy you were using in Jacks or Better. To check out more information on our specific strategy for how to play Bonus Poker, you can take a look at our Bonus Poker guide.
Toughest To Learn Video Poker
Triple Double Bonus
Triple Double Bonus is a video poker variation that is not for the faint of heart. This is one of the highest variance video poker games that you can possibly play since the strongest hands have a very large payout and the weaker hands have a relatively low payout.
The main goal of this game is to hit either a royal flush or quad aces with a two a three or a four as the kicker after the discard round. Both of these hands pay up to 800 times the amount that a pair of jacks would pay which gives the player more incentive to employ a risky playing style.
Due to the top-heavy nature of these payouts, it is important to pay attention to the kicker cards that you keep in Triple Double Bonus when you are dealt three of a kind. Since two of the top three payout prizes for this game involves having an ace, two, three or four as your kicker card, they really force the issue and make you pay attention to this minor detail that is not relevant in most other video poker games.
Even the most basic of strategies for Triple Double can be complicated since the list of hands that you can keep is quite long. If you want to learn more about how to play this complicated video poker game optimally we recommend taking a look at our TDB strategy article.
Ultimate X is a rare and complicated form of Video Poker that allows you to play three, five, or ten hands at once. If you were expecting some boring action that involved only one hand at a time, then you have come to the wrong place.
There are many different variations of Ultimate X video poker which include Ultimate X Jacks or Better, Ultimate X Bonus, Ultimate X Double Bonus, and Ultimate X Double Double Bonus. In order to unlock the Ultimate X bonus feature in any of these games, you will need to wager ten coins per hand instead of the usual five.
Once you have unlocked this Ultimate X bonus, you will be rewarded with a multiplier next to each hand that will determine how much money you get paid for that hand. These multipliers are based on the strength of your previous hand, which is what separates them from bonus features in other video poker games.
With so many hands to play and so many rules to memorize, it is imperative to prepare yourself before you attempt to play this game. To make sure you are playing with the proper strategy you should visit our guide to Ultimate X video poker.
Dream Card video poker is a special variation that deals you a unique card known as the Dream Card as your fifth and final card. You can play this game in one-hand, three-hand, or five-hand format but in order to receive the Dream Card for each hand, you will need to pay an extra five coins per line.
Why would you pay extra for a Dream Card? Well, between 25% and 50% of the time, this card magically morphs into the exact card that you need the most after the computer determines exactly what card that is. The total percentage of hands that this card morphs into your dream card is controlled by which video poker variation you are playing.
The highest frequency belongs to Deuces Wild at 50% while the lowest frequency comes from Triple Double Bonus Poker at 27%. As a general rule, the less variance that is built into a specific variation of video poker is, the more often the Dream Card will present itself.
Dream Card poker comes in many different formats which means that you can play your favorite games with your favorite payout structures and still take advantage of the Dream Card bonus feature. Some popular Dream Card formats include Double Double Bonus Poker, Bonus Poker Deluxe, and Deuces Wild.
If you are not going to pay for the Dream Card, there is really no reason to even play this game since the paytables will not be as juicy. You have to be able to embrace the fact that high variance situations occur in complex games such as this because this high level of variance is the reason why the payouts are so good. For more specific tips on how to play this unique and complex video poker variation, read our Dream Card tips and strategy topic.
Finding Your Optimal Video Poker Game
After reading this article you should have a pretty good idea of what type of game is right for you. By analyzing your current video poker knowledge and skill level, you should know whether you are looking for a game that is easy to learn or a game that is tough to learn.
As a general rule, it is safe to assume that the simpler a game is, the less variance will be built into it. On the flipside, any game that includes a lot of fancy bells and whistles with a large jackpot on the line will probably involve a complex set of rules and strategies.
This means that if you want to play a video poker game where you have a chance at a high reward, you are most likely not going to want to play one of the basic variations of video poker such as Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better. The video poker world is constructed in this manner because if there existed a variation of video poker that was easy to play AND had huge payouts then nobody would ever play any of the other games and they would all die out.
Another lesson we can learn from observing the video poker world is that the advanced games sometimes offer better paytables than the simpler games do because the casinos don’t think that most people will play a proper strategy anyway. This should be pretty good motivation to start learning the correct strategy for some of these advanced variations so that you can maximize your returns and focus on having the most amount of fun as possible for every dollar that you spend.
Finally, you should always bet the maximum amount of coins possible if there are some prizes on the paytable that increase more than usual when you do so. Many variations of video poker, whether they are easy to learn or not, will offer more credits per coin for a royal flush if you bet the full amount of five coins. There is no reason not to bet the full amount unless your bankroll is too small, in which case you should seek out machines that allow you to play at lower stakes.