Video poker is a very familiar game for us Finns. During the 90’s, RAY’s JokeriPokeri slot machines were found in the foyer of almost every shop, kiosk, or gas station, and the game surpassed even traditional slot machines. The popularity was also well-deserved, as Finnish video poker was one of the best in the world in terms of technical implementation during the 1980s and 1990s.
Like RAY’s slot machines, Finnish video poker was quite a kind of slot game, which differs from video poker games played elsewhere in the world. RAYs were generally used in RAY’s poker machines, which is not very common in online casino video poker machines. In addition, RAY’s video poker requires at least three or two pairs for even the smallest winnings. In most video poker, you can already make a small win with one big pair. Perhaps the most memorable of Finnish slot machines was the iconic theme music of their doubles. Of course, the doubling game can be found in many video poker machines in online casinos as well – you have to hum your own music.
The payback percentage for video poker played at an online casino is downright excellent. Almost all video poker returns at least 97 percent, and return rates above 99 percent are no rarity. In some rare cases, the payback percentage can rise to over one hundred percent, leaving the mathematical advantage on the player’s side. Admittedly, reaching the theoretical recovery percentage required a perfect style of play, which requires some effort to learn. Because of the high payback percentage and the skill element of gaming, video poker is more like blackjack than video slots and other slots.
Introducing various video poker
There are at least dozens, if not hundreds, of different variations of video poker. They all play Five Card Draw style poker, meaning the player is dealt five cards, some of which can be exchanged once. The player should try to make the best possible poker hand from the dealt cards and exchange unfit cards. The most common video poker games are Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, and All American.
Jacks or Better is perhaps the most common form of video poker. The name of this variant comes from the fact that at least a pair of jacks or a higher pair is required to win.
Deuces Wild — or second poker in Finnish — is a video poker game where second ones are jokers. For the smallest win, the player must get at least threes.
Joker Poker is a good old Joker Poker loved by all Finns. So this game uses a deck of cards containing Jokers. For a minimum win, either a pair of kings or aces is usually required.
All American differs from Jacks or Better video poker only in its payout table. In All American poker, the flushes, straights, and flushes give higher wins than usual, while the winnings of two pair and full house have been cut.
Video poker strategy
Playing the perfect video poker is not quite simple, as the player must pay attention to the payout table of the particular slot machine in addition to the game variant. In addition, the theoretical payback percentage, as the name implies, is quite theoretical, as the player should be able to analyze each hand and combine their play accordingly. The video poker strategy below works for Jacks or Better video poker on NetEnt, Microgaming, and Playtech, for example (payout table from highest to lowest 800/50/25/9/6/4/3/2/1, theoretical return percentage 99.54%). Following the strategy, the return rate should be 99.48%, meaning that wrong choices will reduce the return rate to 0.08%.
Jacks or Better strategy
Below you will find all hands in order of value. Keep the cards in the list and replace the rest.
- Four, straight, royal
- Royal Straight Draw
- Triplets, color, straight, full house
- Straight draw
- Two pairs
- Military pair or higher
- Three cards from the royal flush
- Four cards of the same suit
- A pair of tens or lower
- Open open straight draw
- Two picture cards of the same country
- Three cards of the same suit
- Two picture cards from different countries
- Ten and picture card of the same country
- Picture card
- Replace all cards
Following the strategy is quite simple. Just compare your own hand to the poker hands on the list and select the option at the top of the list. In many ways, this video poker strategy follows common sense, but at a few points the player should make some rather intuitive decisions. For example, a certain color or line should be sacrificed if it allows you to draw a royal line. Often players want to keep a safe win, but just looking at the expected values of wins is the wrong way to play in this situation.
Other tips for video poker
Many video poker games feature a doubling game in which a player tries to guess the color of a card drawn from the deck. Unlike RAY’s old slot machines, video poker played at an online casino always works well. So there is no house advantage in the doubling game, and the payback percentage of the doubling is always exactly 100 percent. The doubling game should always be played for as long as possible.
As with other slot games, the stakes in video poker are adjusted by selecting the number of coins to be wagered and the value of the coin. In many video poker machines, the player gets some extra benefit from using the highest bet level. So the player should always play at the maximum bet and adjust the value of the coins to suit their wallet.
Some of the online casino deposit bonuses can also be used to play video poker. However, winning bonus money in video poker can prove to be very difficult. Due to the high payout percentage, many online casinos have banned the withdrawal of bonus money by playing video poker. In some casinos, wagering is in principle allowed, but gambling accumulates a wagering requirement for only a small portion of the amount wagered. Despite the limitations, playing video poker with bonus money is often the best way to take advantage of casino bonuses.
The most lucrative video poker games
To make it easier to compare different video poker machines, we’ve compiled the return percentages for NetEnt, Microgaming and Playtech video poker machines here.
- * NetEnt *
- Jacks or Better 99.56%
- All American 98.11%
- Deuces Wild 97.97%
- Joker Poker 97.95%
- Microgaming *
- Jacks or Better 99.54%
- All American 99.38%
- Deuces Wild 96.77%
- Joker Poker 98.60%
- * Playtech *
- Jacks or Better 99.54%
- All American 99.38%
- Deuces Wild 98.92%
- Joker Poker 98.60%
Video games from different game manufacturers differ somewhat in their payback percentages. So it doesn’t matter at all which video poker you choose! On the other hand, the differences are so small that mistakes made by a casual player will reduce the return percentage significantly more.
Some video poker machines offer more than one hundred percent return percentages. For example, Deuces Wild gives a full payout percentage of 100.76%. Understandably, these games are not available at online casinos, but the player should go hunting for them in Las Vegas. So, in principle, it is entirely possible to play video poker professionally, although the pay for this is very poor. The maximum bet for physical slot machines is usually one dollar, so one perfectly played round averages 0.76 cents.
In principle, it is also possible to play video poker with a positive expectation at an online casino. The payback percentage for video poker is already very close to a hundred, so a sufficiently large progressive jackpot can reverse the player’s expected value in favor of the player. Video poker with a progressive jackpot can be found at least on Playtech and 1 × 2 Gaming.
Casino poker at an online casino
In addition to traditional video poker machines, the online casino can play a wide variety of poker games. These are not actually video poker games, but rather digital versions of casino poker. Casino poker is a card game created on the basis of regular poker games, in which the player plays against the dealer in an effort to form the best possible poker hands.
The main difference between casino poker and video poker is that the former is played with the game manager with the right deck of cards, while the latter are digital slot machines. At an online casino, however, this distinction is blurred, as casino poker is played against the computer. In any case, Casino Poker is a great alternative to video poker. In both games, the payout percentage depends largely on the player’s skills and at best it is significantly better than in video slots or other slot games.