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 How to Play Video Poker

Some people have the misconception that Video Poker Machines are money eating contraptions. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, some Video Poker Machines have a long-term payout of greater than 100%. Other than card counting in Blackjack, they are the only games in the casino where a player can get a long term advantage over the house.

Players who like to play alone could find Video Poker to be the perfect game with its low house advantages [bottom right] and possible jackpots. Another advantage for the new player is the fact that you control the pace of the game. You can take your time while you are learning the game and then pick up the pace when you’re more comfortable.

Video Poker is often classified as a type of Slot machine, but there are two major differences. First, Video Poker has an element of skill where Slots is a game of luck. Second, you can tell the payout percentage of a Video Poker machine by looking at the pay table, and it is impossible to know what a slot machine’s payout is set to.

Poker is one of the most popular card games in the US. Even if you don’t know how poker hands are ranked, they are easily learned and the payoffs for hands are always printed on the machines.

Video Poker follows the same game play as Five Card Draw Poker. Players are dealt five cards and decide which ones to keep. Players can discard 0 to five cards. After the draw, winning hands are paid out according to the posted payout schedule.

It is important to note that all Video Poker payoffs are on a “for” and not a “to” basis. For example, a pair of Jacks pays 1 for 1 on a Jacks or Better Video Poker machine. This means that your original bet is returned, not doubled — in other words, you break even.


Some machines and online casinos offer the option of doubling your winnings after you have won a hand. If you decide to do this, the machine will deal five additional cards with the first one face up and the last four face down. The player then picks one of the face down cards. If it is higher in value you double you winnings, if it is of lower value, you lose your winnings. In most cases a tie is a push, but in some cases a tie loses. If you win the double, you are usually allowed to keep doubling.

If a tie is a push, there is no house advantage because your chances of winning are 50/50. If a tie counts as a loss, the house advantage is a very high 5.8%.

Although there is no House Advantage in doubling your winnings, this does not affect the overall long-term payout of a machine. The reason is you cannot double unless you have already won.

Multiple doubling can be tempting but dangerous. Below are the chances of winning consecutive double bets. Keep in mind that the chances of winning a double bet are not affected by previous double wins — if you have won 3 doubles in a row you still have a 50/50 chance to win the fourth double at that point.

Number of Doubles   Likelihood of winning
One Double 50%
Two Doubles 25%
Three Doubles 12.5%
Four Doubles 6.25%



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