Video poker is primarily a casino game that’s derived from an immensely popular poker variant referred to as five-card draw poker. The game’s played on a computer based console that’s almost the same size as a conventional slot machine.
The origins of video poker can be traced back to the mid-1970s, the time when for the first time it became commercially feasible to combine television-like monitors with solid state central processing units. The earliest versions of video poker machines appeared around the same time as the initial versions of personal computers, around mid-1970s. However, those machines were quite primitive compared to the modern-day video poker games that you see in offline or online casinos such as Bet365.
The game became more solidly established after the introduction of draw poker in the year 1979. Draw poker was the creation of SIRCOMA or Si Redd’s Coin Machines that later evolved into International Game Technology (IGT). Video poker gained immense popularity all through the 1980s and became one of the most preferred casino games as people found these devices far less intimidating compared to the conventional table games. These games have become a prominent feature in all major casinos’ gaming floors. Video poker is particularly popular among the Las Vegas regulars and people who love to play in online casinos like Bet365. In Las Vegas you can find many gamblers enjoying video poker in local casinos that operate separately from the regular Las Vegas strip.
How the game is played
After you insert your paper ticket (usually barcoded and loaded with credit) or money into the video poker machine, the play is started by placing a certain wager amounting to one or more credits, followed by pressing of the ‘deal’ button. Once you do that, you’re handed five cards by the machine (as it works the same way as the five-card draw poker). You are free to discard one or more of these cards and exchange them for new ones from the same deck. The winning payouts depend on the hand/s you receive and whether they match either of the winning combinations displayed on the pay table.
The payouts for different hands are allocated by the pay tables, and the same is based on the rarity of the combinations, the game operator’s decision and the particular game variation. A normal pay table pays out starting from minimum hands of pair of jacks (paying out even money). Rest all combinations (hands) of video poker are similar to that of table poker such as flush (five cards belonging to the same suit), three of a kind, two pair, full house (a two pair and a three of a kind), straight (sequence of five consecutive cards), four of a kind (any four cards having the same value), straight flush (a sequence of five consecutive cards belonging to the same suit) and a royal flush (sequence of 10, J, Q, K and A belonging to the same suit).
It’s pretty common to find special types of video poker machines that offer unique bonuses or progressive jackpots to players, encouraging players to play more number of coins on a frequent basis.
Different types of video poker games
Video poker games come with several different variations, for example:
- Joker’s wild where a Joker is employed as a wildcard
- Deuces wild where ‘2’ is used as a wildcard
- Multiplay poker that is usually offered in different versions like ‘triple play,’ ‘50 play,’ ’10 play,’ ‘100 play’ and ‘5 play’ versions. The player starts the game with a certain base hand and every additional hand is drawn from a different set of cards.
- Pay schedule modification in which four aces along with 5 or a smaller card earns you a good bonus (such games normally have certain adjectives in their titles, for example ‘triple,’ ‘double,’ ‘bonus’ etc.)
The games wherein there is no involvement of a wildcard, the player usually receives a four of a kind hand almost 1 in every 500 hands. On the other hand, a player may need to play tens of thousands of hands to bag a rare royal flush (that normally delivers the biggest payout).
Considering its huge popularity in brick and mortar casinos throughout the world, video poker evolved over a period of time and can also be enjoyed in online casinos of the modern era, for instance, Bet365 and more.
Full pay video poker games
When the modern-day video poker games made their appearance for the first time, the highest paying variant used to be referred to as the ‘Full Pay.’ On the other hand, the variants which offered a lower payback percentage were referred to as ‘Short Pay.’ Although the term ‘Full Pay’ continues to be used among the video poker enthusiasts and casinos, there are certain variants of video poker that even offer a return higher than the bet amount.
The payback percentage in video poker is a reflection of the long-term expected value of the bet amount, in the form of a percentage, provided that the game is played in a perfect way. Hence, a payback percentage of 99% indicates that the player can expect to lose £ 1 for every £ 100 bet on the game in the long run, provided he/she plays it in the most optimum way. Some of the payback percentages offered in full pay games are in fact close to or sometimes even 100%. To give you an example, full pay ‘Jacks or Better’ provides a payback percentage in excess of 99.54%. It should be noted that no casino advertises its payback percentages. It’s completely up to every individual video poker player to figure out the machines that may provide the best returns based on their respective schedules.
Majority of video poker machines’ payoff schedules are configured based on a schedule that pays out proportionally more in case of certain hands (like royal flush) when you bet maximum credits (normally around 5 coins). Hence, anyone who doesn’t play using maximum credits can be considered playing for a proportionally smaller return.
Let’s now look into the different variants of full pay video poker games:
Jacks or Better
Sometimes simply referred to as draw poker, ‘Jacks or Better’ is one of the most common video poker variations that you’ll come across. The payoffs in this version start from a pair of jacks. 9/6 Jacks or Better is another commonly used name of full pay Jacks or Better as the payout in case of full house is almost 9 times the wagered amount, while the payoff when you get a flush is almost 6 times of the wager.
Bally’s All American
This version of video poker is derived from ‘Jacks or Better’ and has a higher payout for straight flushes, straights and flushes, but lesser payout for two pairs and full houses. The full pay version of All American which once used to be pretty commonplace isn’t that common in the modern era. In fact, it used to be a version offering one of the best returns ever in the game of poker, however, the play strategy used to be pretty complex and could only be understood by a few. Bally’s All American’s IGT (International Game Technology) version is referred to as the USA Poker.
Tens or Better
This variant of video poker is a spin on the 6/5 Jacks or Better. You get paid starting from pair of tens, instead of pair of jacks. The strategy used is same in both the games, despite having very different payouts for flush and full house.
As is evident from its name, this video poker variant introduces a joker to the game. This joker can be used in any way wanted and can provide the player with much stronger hands. Such inclusion of a wild joker also enables the players to score a winning hand like five of a kind more frequently than normal. Once commonplace but now a rarity, the full play variant of ‘Joker Two Pair of Better’ used to have one of the highest returns offered by video poker ever, but it’s strategy used to be pretty complex.
In this video poker variant, all twos are treated as wild cards, and can be used in any which way for making a better poker hand. The payout offered for a four of a kind constitutes almost 1/3rd of the game’s payback percentage. In fact, four of a kind happens almost once in every 15 hands. The pay schedules of Deuces Wild offer theoretical returns of almost 100.8%, provided you play using a perfect strategy. Its full pay version can only be found in permissible places in Nevada. Furthermore, the version is also available in other pay schedules that provide lesser theoretical returns.
This one is a video poker variation that’s a derivative of ‘Jacks or Better’, however, its payout percentage is comparatively higher if you score a four a kind. Bonus Poker’s full pay version provides returns of 99.2%. Furthermore, the game is available in multiple versions that have different bonus payouts depending on the rank of the four of a kind.
This version of video poker is also a spin on ‘Jacks or Better,’ and you’re awarded a bonus payout every time you get four aces. The theoretical returns offered by this variation are in the vicinity of 100.2%, provided you play using the perfect strategy. Nevertheless, this percentage is applicable only on the “10/7” variant of this poker game (10/7 is the payout rate whenever you get a flush or a full house).
You may find other double bonus video poker varieties having payouts of 9/6, 10/6 and more, which are lower compared to the generous 10/7 payout. Despite the fact that the full pay version features theoretically positive returns, not many players are able to play it well enough. On the whole, double bonus is a slightly complex variation of the regular video poker.
Double Double Bonus
Another spin on the ‘Jacks or Better,’ this one provides a bonus payout whenever you score some distinctive four of a kind hands. The full pay version of Double Double Bonus may feature pay schedules offering theoretical returns in the range of 100.1%, provided you play using the perfect strategy. You can even play Double Double Bonus with lesser theoretical returns.