The Basics of Video Poker

Video poker is one of the most popular games in online and physical casinos today. You can find video poker machines throughout any state where gambling has been legalized, located in casinos and often in convenience stores, grocery stores and elsewhere.  While the game is incredibly popular, a beginning gambler must know how to play the game, in order to enjoy it to the utmost.  Here is a brief rundown on the basics of game play.

Most machines in the US are based on the game 5 Card Draw.  There have been other machines created, but these remain the most popular, thus ubiquitous.  The first thing for new players to understand is the types of hands they should seek.  There are nine types of hands playable, in all.

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- Pair of Jacks or Better – Two jacks, kings, queens or aces of any suit
- Two Pair – Two pairs of any card, regardless of suit
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of a single denomination
- Straight – Five consecutive denominations in different suits
- Flush – Five cards of the same suit, regardless of denomination
- Full House – Three cards of one denomination and two of another denomination
- Four of a Kind – Four of the same denomination, one in each suit
- Straight Flush – Five consecutive denominations in the same suit
- Royal Flush – Ace, king, queen, jack and 10 of a single suit

What Next?

Now it's time to look at the video poker machine.  There are several lights and many different buttons that may confuse a new gambler.  However, these can be easily mastered.  There are five buttons in the center, one below each card, marked Hold/Cancel.  On the left, you will find the Cash Out button, as well as Bet One Credit, while the right hand side holds the Max Bet Button and the Deal/Draw button.  The bill accepter and coin slot should be located on the front of the machine in plain view.

Once money has been deposited and the type of bet selected (usually one credit or max bet), the player can press the Draw button.  Depending on the machine, a series of animations will follow on the central screen, followed by the five cards of the hand being displayed.  The player can choose to hold any of these cards by pressing the corresponding Hold button.  Holds can be canceled by pressing the button once more.  Once all applicable cards have been held, the Draw/Deal button is pressed again. Those cards not held will be dealt again.


Some hands should obviously not be discarded.  For instance, if you hold a royal flush, a straight flush or a full house, hold all cards.  If you are dealt four of a kind, hold the four and reroll the fifth card.  Three of a kind means that you should hold the three that are the same, while discarding the other two.  If you have two pairs, discard the fifth and reroll.  These are just a few of the more obvious strategies to help beginners understand the way in which the game is played; more experience will yield better strategy.