Video Poker vs Slots

Video poker and slot machines are both staples of modern gambling.  Both machines appear regularly in casinos across the US and any other location in which gambling is allowed.  While both machines look very similar, they are very different and offer benefits to different gambling subsets.  Let's look at each machine and then compare the differences.

Slot Machines

Slot machines have been around for a very long time. However, the modern machines are operated by a computer chip (RNG), just like a video poker machine and any other form of electronic gambling.  The player inserts their money in the slot (nickels, dimes, quarters, dollars and even $5 slots are popular). Once the money has been placed in the machine, the gambler pulls a lever or pushes a button and the "wheels" spin.  The amount of payout (or lack thereof) is determined by the symbols on which each "wheel" stops.  Winnings are dispensed in a slot below the control panel, much like a video poker machine.

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Video Poker Machines

Video poker machines operate just like the real card game.  There are 52 or 53 cards available in the game, depending on which variety you are playing. Most video poker games are based on Five Card Draw, meaning that most gamblers are at least somewhat familiar with the rules.  The video monitor (where the wheels are displayed on slot machines) displays slots for five cards, as well as information such as the number of credits left for betting purposes.  A number of buttons can be found on the center control panel, including the Hold/Cancel button, the Deal/Draw button, Cash Out and at least two options for betting credits.  When the player presses the Deal button, five random cards are drawn and displayed.  The player chooses which cards to keep by pressing the Hold button and the hits the Draw/Deal button if desired.  The cards not held are changed for fresh cards and the player has their final hand.


There are many comparisons between the two machines, all of them negative towards slot machines.  For instance:

  • Skill, knowledge and strategy are required to win at video poker.  Slot machines require nothing but the push of a button; dumb luck decides the outcome.
  • Video poker machines payout a higher percentage than slot machines do. Slot machines generally payback around 90%, while video poker machines payout around 97% or more.
  • Video poker machines can be easily recalibrated for a different payout by changing the payout schedule.  Because slot machines payout a varying percentage of the total money passed through the machine, the entire computer must be reprogrammed.
  • Video poker can be won with the right combination of skill and strategy on a predictable basis.  There is no positive outcome expected from slot machines and no amount of guesswork can predict the outcome of the spinning wheels.

As you can see, if you value your gambling dollar, video poker machines are a much better option than throwing them away in a slot machine.