Anatomy of a Video Poker Machine

Video poker does not pit your gambling skills against those of another player, nor is there a hand for the house.  However, the video poker machine can still be considered your opponent.  Understanding how the basic video poker machine operates, and which buttons do what, will help you make sense of the machine during your first experience with it.

The Game

Most video poker machines in the US are based on the standard Five Card Draw game.  There are variations on this theme, but they are rarely seen.  Therefore, chances are that if you're playing video poker, it will be Five Card Draw.  If you understand the rules of the game, you'll have a better "feel" for the machine.

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The Machine

Most video poker machines are setup in roughly the same manner.  A large video screen is used as the "table top," where your cards are displayed.  Many screens also display advertisements, flash "Winner!" when you win and show you information such as how many credits you have remaining with which to gamble.  The screen is usually set at face level, with a stool positioned in front of it for gaming comfort.

The Buttons

There are quite a few buttons on the average video poker machine. Directly below the screen, you will find five buttons marked with Hold/Cancel.  These are used during game play to hold a card or cancel a hold placed on a card previously.  To the right of these buttons, you will find the Deal/Draw button, as well as the Max Bet button. The Deal/Draw button is pressed after the initial bet is set in order to deal out the cards, while the Max Bet button allows you to bet the maximum on this hand.

The left side of the console is where you will find the Bet One Credit button and the Cash Out Button.  The Bet One Credit button is self explanatory; it allows you to wager a single credit (usually $1 or $5), while the Cash Out button is used to collect your winnings, unless you hit it big, in which case an attendant will pay you.

The Cash Slot and Payout Drawer

Below the console containing the control buttons, you will find the bill acceptor and coin slot.  This is where you will insert your money with which to bet.  Some machines can accept credit and debit cards, as well as cash.

In addition, this is where you will find the payout drawer or slot on some machines.  There are many variations on the ways in which machines payout, but most feature a drawer where coins (credits, usually), are dropped following the player pressing the Cash Out button.  Other variations include automatic credit to a room (only in high-end casinos) and cash payouts (rarely found today).

The Payout Chart

The payout chart is usually located on the front of the machine, often near the video screen.  This chart is used to calculate your return on your wagers.