Video poker varies greatly from the traditional forms of poker such as Hold ‘Em, Omaha, HORSE and so on in that it is almost a different game entirely. Video poker is not played against other individuals but against a computer-generated system. Whilst traditional poker involves a complex mix of strategy, psychology, body language, false tells and patience, video poker returns a much quicker payoff and as a direct result a much higher risk in the short term.
The nature of video poker is close to that of a slot machine in terms of players hitting a button and receiving 5 playing cards, as they would in the 5-card draw variation of poker. The lowest pair that results in a win is a pair of jacks with queens, kings or aces being the other acceptable couplings. Above this is 2 pair, which is any 2 different pairs of cards, then it’s 3 of a kind or “trips”. A straight is the next step up, which consists of 5 consecutive cards of any suit. After this there is a flush, which is any 5 cards of one suit (not in any consecutive order) and above a flush is a full house, which is both a pair and 3 of a kind in the same hand. A straight flush tops this, which is cards which are both consecutive and of the same suit, whilst a Royal Flush is the absolute nuts – 10, J, Q, K, A of the same suit. The odds of hitting the latter are extremely slim.
After the initial 5 cards are dealt, players are given the option to hold certain cards and discard the rest in exchange for new cards – much in the same way that slot machines allow players to hold certain reels before spinning the rest again. If players have 2 or 3 of the same card they will naturally hold these and spin the rest in the hope of upgrading to a full house or 4 of a kind. If there are, for instance, 4 cards of the same suit and one of another, the player should hold the 4 that are the same in the hope that the discarded 5th will be returned to complete the flush, bagging odds of 6/1.
Odds vary with video poker, though commonly players can choose to bet between £1 and £5 per spin. This comes down to budget and personal preference; £1 that results in a Royal Flush would return £250, whilst £5 would return an increased value of £4,000. Video poker is easy to learn and fairly quick to master, making it a popular option with gamblers seeking a quick return and fast action.