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A Guide to Video Poker Game Variations

When Video Poker first gained popularity in the 1970’s, there were only a few different games to choose from. Deuces Wild, Jacks-or-Better and Joker Poker were all commonly found in both bars and casinos around the country. Since that time, the number of variations of this game has literally exploded, with 100’s of different games based on the old Video Poker principals. Not only has the number of game variations increased, the ways you can access them has increased too. You can now play Video Poker at online casinos and even on mobile devices – as well as in bars and brick and mortar casinos.

This article covers the main types of Video Poker games which you can find today. First of all the ‘base’ draw poker game which most of the variations are derived from is outlined – to create a starting point to compare the other varieties. After that the main rules variations, which are the inclusion of ‘Wilds’ and minimum ranks for payouts are discussed. Next some of the variations which involve different payouts are covered, before I look at the many different multi-hand variations. Finally, progressive jackpot games and variations involving different poker games are covered.

The Basic Video Poker Game

The original video poker game worked like this. You made your bet, got dealt 5 cards and decided which to hold. Hitting the Draw button swapped those you had not held for different cards. Your final hand is then compared to a pay table and you are awarded credits accordingly.

This game did not include a double-up round, or qualifiers for the minimum pair to be paid. It was a simple (and still entertaining) game with a deal and a draw only.

It is this central concept that game creators have built on over the years.

Types of Video Poker Game – Wilds

Adding a wild card increases the number of possible wins for each deal. This can be done by adding cards, usually in the form of Jokers. It has also been done by declaring that certain cards from the existing deck are counted as Wild. The most famous game is Deuces Wild, where all the 2’s can count as any card to make the best possible poker hand.

Increasing the number of possible wins means that the payout table needs to be adjusted to match. Since all hands become easier to make, the payouts need to come down. More frequent and smaller wins result, which keeps your bankroll ticking over while you are waiting for the big wins to kick in. You may find that a Royal Flush with a wild card included pays less than the equivalent hand without.

Types of Video Poker Game – Qualifiers

This game requires your pair to be above a certain rank to get a payout. The classic example is Jacks-or-Better, where you only get paid if you hit a pair of Jacks plus. This means less frequent payouts than standard games, since those small pairs all result in a loss. To balance this, the payout table for the better poker hands improves. You get bigger wins for great hands, by giving up the many smaller wins for average hands.

Types of Video Poker Game – Payout Variations

Some games have more detailed variations in the payout structures. Remember that each of these games will end up paying out approximately the same percentage over time. One example of this is the Double Double Jackpot Poker variation. This plays much like any other Video Poker game, except that there are enhanced payouts for 4 of a kind. These hands get more valuable the higher their rank and can result in some big payouts.

Multi-Hand Video Poker Games

Nowadays, you are not restricted to playing one hand at a time. Many Video Poker games give you the opportunity to play many hands at once. An extreme example is a game where you get to play 100 hands at the same time.

This works by giving you one main hand, where you decide which cards to hold as normal. Once you draw, you are actually drawing 100 times. The end result is a list of your wins, for example 15 Flushes, 12x 3-of-a-kind, 29 pairs. If nothing else this clearly demonstrates how the ‘luck’ factor in the deal of cards averages out over a lot of deals – and these games are very entertaining too.

Video Poker Games with Jackpots

You will also find Video Poker games with progressive jackpots. Some of these are linked between different casinos, which means they can get very big. The payout is usually for a Royal Flush, with maximum coins. Payouts for other hands are slightly lower in these games, with the extra coin going to build up the jackpot.

Video Poker is diversifying even further, with games based on different poker variations also becoming available. This is an excellent casino niche, and one where you are bound to find a game which suits your personal tastes.