Video poker is a popular electronic card game type based on five-card draw poker. The goal of the game is to assemble the strongest possible poker combination. Players wager a set amount of coins and are paid according to the strength of the poker hand they assemble.
History of Poker Machines
The earliest poker machines appeared in the early 20th century and were essentially luck-based slot machines with 5 reels and cards as symbols. Players received payouts whenever a strong poker hand appeared on the reels. Due to their overly complex nature — which made mass assembly impractical — these early physical poker machines quickly fell out of favor with manufacturers, who turned their attention to making 3 reel slots instead.
Game manufacturers returned to the idea of creating poker machines in the 1980s. This was the birth of video poker. By pairing microcomputer technology with CRT screens, game manufacturers were now able to create games of virtually any complexity, so manufacturing a poker machine was no longer any more expensive than creating a video slot. In fact, in many cases, a manufacturer’s video poker and slot machines shared many of the same internal components. The only difference was the software.
Video Poker Gameplay Loop
To start playing, a player must first insert coins into the machine. After the coins are converted into play credits, the player chooses their wager size (usually ranging from 1 to a max bet of 5 coins) and presses Deal. The machine then deals the player five cards, which are drawn from a virtual deck using a random number generator. The player then has the opportunity to exchange one or more of the cards for new ones. If the player manages to assemble a strong enough hand, they will receive a payout according to the value of their hand in the payout table. In general, the rarer the assembled hand, the more the player will be paid.
Video Poker RTP
Unlike slots, which can be programmed to pay out according to any return to player percentage, video poker odds cannot be altered. This means that the casino cannot change how often a player gets a winning combination. Thus, the only way for a venue to change its house edge is to lower the odds according to which payouts are made. The odds are typically altered on only two combinations: full house and flush.
Using tables that can be easily found online, players can now calculate the return-to-player figure of any video poker machine. To do so, all they have to do is consult its payout table. For example, the payout percentage of a Jacks or Better machine with a 9:1 full house and 6:1 flush payout is 99.54%. On the other hand, the RTP of the same game with a 6:1 full house and 5:1 flush payout is only 95.00%.
Popular Video Poker Games
There exist hundreds of different video poker games. Here are just some of the most popular ones:
- Jacks or Better. The most popular video poker variant. Payouts start at a pair of jacks.
- Joker Poker. In this variant, jokers serve as wilds. Payouts start at a pair of kings.
- Deuces Wild. A game type where 2s serve as wild cards. Payout start at three of a kind.
- Bonus Poker. In this variant, players receive additional payouts for 4 of a kind combinations.
- Double Bonus Poker. This variant offers even bigger payouts for 4 of a kind, but lower payouts for 2 pair.
- A popular electronic card game type based on five-card draw poker.