How to Play Poker Slots: A Quick Guide!

How do you play poker slots? Poker has been an inseparable part of Australian casinos and gambling ever since one can remember. A poker game is prevalent in many forms like Texas Hold 'em, Omaha Hi, Seven-star stud, and more. Poker slots or Video poker is another popular form of poker where your luck and skills are tested. 

So, how do you play poker slots? Before we get on to some simple beginner's tips, let us know what poker slots/ video poker is.

What is video poker?

video poker
Photo by Mohammed Kabir on Unsplash

Video poker or poker slots is a poker game that has fixed odds and a 5-card draw. You can easily find video poker at most online casinos. You will even spot a terminal for poker slots at real casinos. However, despite the “slots” in its name, poker slots do not entirely rely upon luck. They need skills like any other poker game.

One reason that poker slots are everyone's favourite is because it is a homogenous amalgamation of the most popular table game and the slot machine technique. Poker is one of the most beloved table games of all time. It has become synonymous with casinos and gambling. In popular culture, a movie scene in a casino almost always shows a game of poker.

There are other table games that movie directors can show on screen, but there is something about the hero and the villain locking horns over a poker table that cannot be recreated with other table games. As for gamblers, they love playing poker because it is a game of both skill and luck. It has intensity and fun, which makes playing poker enjoyable.

Slots or pokies need no introduction among Aussie players. Slots are popular because they are easy to play, are based entirely on luck, modern technology has made pokies quite interactive, and the rewards are enormous. Pokies are best when you want to have some casual fun at the casino and not exhaust yourself with strategies and calculations.

You create a blockbuster game when you join two of the most popular games and video poker exactly that.

How to Play Video Poker?

The basic steps of playing video poker are simple. You start by selecting a video poker game, then you insert the bet in the video poker machine(you click on the bet if it is an online casino), then press or click on the “deal” button. But there is much more to video poker than this. Suppose you want to play and be a better video poker player. In that case, you have to know about video poker hands, about video poker machines, about each paytable, and the basic video poker strategy.

We will learn all about playing video poker in this article. We start by learning about all poker games' cornerstones: the card values and winning hand combinations.

Individual values of the cards in video poker games

There are many types of video poker games, but the cards' values are the same across all. Video poker uses a 52 card deck, and their values and ranks are as follows:

Rank 1: Ace ( face value is either 11 or 1)

Rank 2: King ( face value is 10)

Rank 3: Queen (face value is 10)

Rank 4: Jack (face value is 10)

Rank 5: Face value of 10

Rank 6: Face value of 9

Rank 7: Face value of 8

Rank 8: Face value of 7

Rank 9: Face value of 6

Rank 10: Face value of 5

Rank 11: Face value of 4

Rank 12: Face value of 3

Rank 13: Face value of 2

Notice that the face value of every face card is 10. The Ace can either be of face value 11 or 1. There are four suits in a deck of cards, but they do not have any individual value but are crucial in making poker winning hand combinations.

Video poker winning hand combinations

Playing video poker involves a hand consisting of five cards. These five cards create a combination that determines your win amount in a video poker game. There are 10 winning hands in poker irrespective of the game variant (certain tweaks in these combinations). These hands are ranked from high to low and determine the fate of video poker players. The higher the rank of the hand, the higher are the rewards.

Rank 1: Royal Flush

The Royal Flush hand consists of an Ace, a King, a Queen, a Jack, and a 10, and all of them belong to the same suit. We notice that the Royal Flush has cards belonging to the top five ranks in the cards list. The Royal Flush is the best possible hand in a video poker game.

Rank 2: Straight Flush

The Straight Flush is a poker hand combination where the cards are in sequential order. The sequence can be in ascending or descending order. All the cards in a Straight Flush must belong to the same suit. Two examples of a Straight Flush is as follows-

4-5-6-7-8, all the cards are in diamonds.

8-7-6-5-4, all the cards are in diamonds.

The Straight Flush is the second-best hand in poker.

Rank 3: Four of a Kind

In this hand combination, four cards have the same face value. The fifth card can be of any face value. An example of a Four of a Kind would be 5-5-5-5-Q. The four cards in this combination have a face value of 5.

Rank 4: Full House

The Full House consists of a Three of a Kind and a Pair in the same hand. In Full House, three cards have the same face value, and the remaining two have the same face value, but that face value is different from the face value of the three cards. An example of Full House would be 6-6-6-2-2. Here, the three cards are of face value 6, and the two cards are of face value 2.

Rank 5: Flush

In this hand combination, the cards must belong to the same suit but can be of any individual face value and in any order. For example, in 2-J-5-8-3, all the cards are in spades.

Rank 6: Straight

In the Straight hand combination, you have cards in increasing or decreasing sequence. But the cards do not belong to the same suit.

Rank 7: Three of a Kind

Three of a Kind hands, you have three cards of the same face value, and the remaining cards can be of any face value each—for example, 5-5-5-3-7.

Rank 8: Two Pairs

The Two Pairs hand consists of two different pairs. The face value of one pair must be different from the face value of the other pair. If both the pairs have the same value, then it is Four of a Kind. The last card can be of any face value—for example, 4-4-9-9-2.

Rank 9: A Pair

In this combination, two of the five cards are of the same face value—for example, J-J-5-3-9. You have a pair of Jacks in this hand, and the other cards are of random face values.

Rank 10: High Card

The High Card is that card in your hands that has the highest face value. When you do not get any of the above combinations, the highest valued card in your hand comes into play. The highest valued card is an Ace, and the lowest valued card is a 2.


The High Card combination has zero value in a video poker game. It does not feature in any video poker paytable, which means you will not win a dime with this combination. The High Card combination has value in other poker games but not in video poker. This is because the High Card combination exists as a tie-breaker. When you compare two poker hands and see that they belong to the same rank, the High Card breaks the tie. Since there is no comparison of hands in video poker games, the High Card does not exist. Keep in mind the above-stated point before you sit down to play video poker.

Another point to keep in mind is that video poker pay tables do not reward a Pair unless it is a pair of Jacks, Kings, Queens, or Aces. So, a pair of 10s will do you no good in video poker games.

Winning hands are different across different types of video poker games. This is because a video poker paytable is dependent on the rules of that particular game type. A video poker paytable will only show those winning hands that adhere to the rules of the game. You will understand this as you read on.

Video poker machines

The video poker machines in video poker games are as important as the cornerstones of poker games stated above. A video poker machine consists of the paytable that is specific to that machine. So, if you play at that video poker machine, you will get rewards according to that particular paytable only. In that way, video poker machines decide your winnings.

Besides winnings, a video poker machine also determines your bet amount. Video poker machines are differentiated based on their denominations. A video poker machine denomination states how many credits you will get for betting $100. In a $1 machine, you will receive 100 credits for betting $100. In a $20 video poker machine, you will receive five credits for betting $100.

There are many different denominations in video poker machines. Apart from the dollar machines, you also have quarter video poker machines. In these video poker machines, each credit costs 25 cents. You will get four credits per dollar and 400 credits per $100 bet. But these machines have become quite rare.

How to play video poker at a video poker machine?

It is very easy to operate video poker machines. Assuming that you are playing at a land-based casino, you first buy credits at the casino counter. Then you choose a machine and sit at it. Place bets by inserting credits. You hit the deal after you have placed your bet. The machine gives you your initial 5-card hand.

You can now perform your actions. You can discard any card you deem unfit. Just select those cards you want to change and leave the cards you want to keep. Hit “Draw,” and the machine will substitute them from a “virtual” deck. Remember that a machine will allow you to substitute only one time per game. Your final hand is then compared to the paytable, and you get paid accordingly.

The basics of playing online poker are similar to playing physical poker. There are slight differences because of the change in platforms. In some online video poker games, you do not have to buy credits and bet directly with real money. Other online video poker games will allow you to play only with “virtual” credits. The play procedure if video poker online varies from casino to casino. Like a land-based casino, an online casino has complete jurisdiction over how online poker will be played on their casino.

Video poker paytable

Video poker paytables show how much you will win if you place a bet of x credits and get a y hand. The classic video poker paytable is the Jacks or Better paytable. You can place one to five credits in this table and receive coins based on your bets and the hands you get across games.

The coins you will receive for betting one credit on the hands in Jacks or Better paytable is as follows:

Royal Flush-250, Straight Flush- 50, Four of a Kind- 25, Full House- 9, Flush- 6, Straight- 4, 3 of a Kind- 3, 2 Pairs- 2, and Jacks or Better- 1.

The coins you will receive for betting two to five credits can be found out by simple multiplication. For example,

You will receive 250 x 2 = 500 coins if you bet 2 credits and get a Royal Flush.

You will receive 9 x 3 = 27 coins if you bet 2 credits and get a Full House.

You will receive 1 x 5 = 5 coins if you bet 5 credits and get a Jacks or Better.

But you notice one anomaly in the Royal Flush pay. A 5-credit bet should give you 250 x 5= 1250 coins on a Royal Flush, but the table states that you will receive 4000 coins instead. Well, this is no anomaly. It is how the paytable works. The extra coins that you are getting on Royal Flush can be called the video poker jackpot. The machine gives you a higher reward for placing the maximum bet and getting the Royal Flush.

The coins refer to a video poker paytable; it pays for a one-credit bet on the Full House and Flush hands. For example, in the above table, a one-credit bet on Full House and Flush hands will give you 9 and 6 coins, respectively. Hence, that table is referred to by a prefix 9/6. Similarly, a 7/5 table indicates that a one-credit bet on Full House and Flush hands will give seven and five coins, respectively.

Video poker pay tables vary across games and from one casino to another. Video poker online paytables also follow the same rules and regulations.

Types of video poker games

Video poker has over a hundred variations. Land-based casinos have many video poker machines where poker players can play all these variations. These variations increased with the advent of online casinos, but almost all these variations are based on the popular Jacks or Better video poker game despite the differences. Other classic video poker games have served as an inspiration to other variations. Let us have a look at them.

Jacks or Better video poker

This is the most simple video poker game. That is why most newcomers in gambling, who have just started playing video poker online or in physical casinos, prefer it. Another reason gamblers prefer playing Jacks or Better is that it has an attractive payback percentage of 99.54%.

In Jacks or Better video poker, you place your preferred bet and get your first hand after hitting the “Deal” button. You hit the “Draw” button till you get a winning combination. You get your rewards based on the paytable.

In 9/6 Jacks or Better, the lowest-paid hand is a pair of Jacks or Kings or Queens or Aces. The win ratio with this hand is 1:1. It means if you get this hand while playing Jacks or Better, then you will win as much as you have betted.

Deuces Wild

This is the second most popular video poker game after Jacks or Better video poker. The rules and play procedure are the same, but there is one huge difference. All the Deuces or 2s in this game are wild cards. Wild cards are those cards that can be substituted with any card from the deck. This gives players more chances to achieve a winning hand combination.

This game's paytables and variations do not give impressive returns as the house edge is lowered significantly. The lowest paying hand in Deuces Wild is Three of a Kind which pays even. It means if you get this combination after pressing the deal button or draw button, then you will be paid equal to your bet amount.

The best hands in Deuces Wild are Four Deuces and Royal Flush. Four Deuces gives you the best chance to get the top-ranked hands on the paytable. You can literally substitute four of the five cards. The Royal Flush comes next to Four Deuces because of its payback.

In a full-pay Deuces Wild game, a player can beat the house edge as it has a payback percentage of 100.76%.

Tens or Better

Tens or Better is similar to Jacks or Better. The only difference is that the lowest paying card combination in Tens or Better is a pair of 10s. The payouts on hands are a bit low in this game, but the payouts are frequent. You will win a little per game, but you will win frequently.

The payback percentage of this game is 99.13%.

Bonus Poker

This type of video poker is also similar to Jacks or Better. The rules and gameplay are similar to Jacks or Better. The difference lies in one of the hands. The Four of a Kind has a significantly high payout in Bonus Poker, but there is a catch. The four cards in Four of a Kind have to four Aces to get the high payout. The payout for Four of a Kind with other cards in Bonus Poker is similar to what Jacks or Better pays on a Jacks or Better combination.

Bonus Poker has a high payback percentage of 99.1%. The other advantage of Bonus Poker is that they have many hands that pay more.

Double Bonus Poker

The Double Bonus Poker is similar to Bonus Poker in all aspects except the paytable. In Double Bonus Poker, the Four of a Kind hands pay double of what they pay in Bonus Poker. For example, wherever Bonus Poker pays 400 coins in 4 of a Kind combinations, Double Bonus Poker will pay 800 coins. The paybacks or other hands like Royal Flush are similar to Jacks or Better.

The payback percentage of Double Bonus Poker is 100.17%. It means you can beat the house edge while playing Double Bonus Poker.

One drawback of Double Bonus is that the play strategy is quite complex.

Video Poker Tips and Tricks

All the casino games, whether online and offline, are majorly based on luck. There are no proven ways to win them. Similarly, there is no surefire method or tricks to win at video poker. However, there are a few things that you can consider to improve your chances of winning and making better decisions.

Know the types

Just like the good old poker, video poker comes in a variety. If you browse through the online casino sites, you will notice an array of vivid video pokers. Some casino websites even feature live dealers. However, the most straightforward type is the five-card draw. And if you are a beginner, you should opt for this game before advancing to other variants.

Other types include –

  • Jacks or Better

Just like the name suggests, a pair of Jacks or better cards might help you win big at this game. So, if your hand has two jacks or better cards, you win! This is a common type of poker slot that you can play at any top casino site.

  • Deuces Wild

In this variation on poker slots, you can substitute the twos for any card of your choice. This enables you to form a better hand. 

  • Crazy Eights

Crazy 8s is similar to Double Bonus. Except for the fact that the 8s are of greater help here. Additionally, the payouts are also different from the Double Bonus.

  • Double Bonus

This is similar to Jacks or Better, just with a twist. If you manage to get four aces in your hand, you are in for a payout!

  • Double Double Bonus

Just like Double Bonus and Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus gives you a payout for four-of-a-kind.

Additionally, there are some other lesser-known variations of video pokers that you can check out online. The basic 5-card is explained below.

Steps involved in playing a hand

Let us first know what exactly the 5-card draw game is. Basically, the player is dealt with five cards, just like the name suggests. Out of those five cards, the player can keep whatever cards he wants and dismiss the rest. You receive new cards after you dismiss the remaining some of the cards.

Here are the steps on how to play a hand. You will understand it better when you start playing yourself.

  • First of all, deposit the required amount in video poker.
  • Then place your bet.
  • You will receive your 5-card hand after you hit ‘deal.'
  • Check out the cards. Keep the ones you want.
  • You can dismiss the cards that you do not want. You can negate all five cards.
  • After this, you will get the dismissed cards replaced.
  • If you are lucky, you will get a reward! The rewards are based on the paytable.

Always check the paytable.

You should always go through the paytable before betting for any casino games. In the case of poker slots, the pay tables can vary a lot. In fact, poker slots can be classified into two kinds based on the payouts. There are Full-pay and short-pay video pokers. Some of the full-pay slots give up to 99% returns.

You will notice some video pokers that advertise more than 100% RTP (Returns To Players). But you should note that these returns are based on players making mathematically accurate decisions for every turn.

The paytables can be easily accessed while playing. Usually, they are located in a game's ‘i' tab. Do not bet before checking this table out.

Always play within your means.

When you play video poker, always play with your bankroll in mind. It is easy to get carried away while playing video poker as payouts are frequent and the games are interesting. But nothing will bear fruit if you squander away your money in the heat of the moment. Keep in mind to not bet more than you can afford.

Play video poker with the max bet

Most video poker machines have pat tables that have the highest reward for Royal Flush. The Royal Flush in these video poker machines pays a bonus amount if you put the max bet. Placing a bet of five coins (maximum bet in a video poker pay table) gives you the chance to get this bonus amount.

But make sure that the max bet is within your means. One smart video poker strategy is to make smaller bets at the beginning, then jumping on to higher bets.

Play at video poker machines that has the best pay tables

You know by now that different video poker machines have different pay tables. If you want to play video poker to win, then you must play at the right paytable. The best paytable is the 9/6 paytable that pays 9 coins per 1 coin bet on a Full House and 6 coins per 1 coin bet on a Flush. You should always play at this paytable or a paytable that has a higher denomination than this.

A paytable with a lower denomination than 9/6 increases the house edge, and you lose in the long term.

Learn the difference between video poker machines and slot machines

You would be surprised to know how many people do not know the difference between a slot machine and a video poker machine. This might be because slot machines look almost like video poker machines. A superficial examination would say that they work similarly: place coin bets, press buttons, and the machine returns random results. But that is not at all true.

Slot machines return random symbols on reels. Video poker machines return randomly picked cards from a deck of 52 cards. A slot machine can return an endless number of patterns. Nobody can predict what symbols will appear on what place and on what reel. But that is not the case with video poker machines. Since the machine draws cards from a pool of a finite number of cards (52), the machine's possible returns are also finite.

You can predict what cards will come up with the next draw through the math of probability. The prediction will not be exact (or can be), but it is not a shot in the dark as it is with slot machines. Every casino game has its fair share of luck, and video poker is no different. But slots are based entirely on luck, and video poker isn't. Keep this in mind when you play video poker.

Make the best use of your hands.

Do not press the “Draw” button thoughtlessly. Give each poker hand a careful thought before making any move. You will have to practice making mathematically logical decisions to beat the poker slot games. The math of probability will be your best ally in poker slot games. Practice regularly, and you can get better and faster at making optimized math decisions every time. 

Don't fall in the Flush-Straight trap.

The Flush-Straight trap is when you retain 3 cards and draw the rest in an attempt to get a Flush or Straight hands. This is a foolish video poker strategy, and you must never fall into this trap as it will leave you on the losing end.

This video poker strategy should only be followed when you are in a position to pull off the high-paying Straight Flush. For example, you have 3-4-5-8-2 and 3-4-5 belong to the same suit.

Even though you can pull off a Straight Flush doesn't mean that you will actually pull it off. There is no certainty in casino games, and the luck factor will play its part here as well.

So, this was all about poker slots,' and we even explained the types and discussed tips. As you might have noted that poker slots are easy to play once you practically do it yourself. Do not forget to compare the payouts before you go ahead and play.

Things you should know before playing poker slots.

Make the most use of free trials.

Some casinos give free trials on poker slots. Make the most use of them to hone your video poker skills. By now, you know that video poker is a game of both strategy and luck, and if you want to win, then you must be both lucky and skilful.

Playing free trials will give you first-hand experience regarding gameplay and strategies. After you have had enough practice, you can move on to real money poker slots. Remember that free trials do not have paybacks.

Avoid playing progressive poker slots.

Progressive slot machines and progressive poker slots are always trending because of their jackpot amounts. The jackpot amount increases with every game, and the player that gets the Royal Flush after betting 5 coins gets the pooled amount. The prospect of winning millions attract many towards progressive poker slots.

Even though you have a chance of winning a lot of money at progressive poker slots, you should avoid them. One reason is the paytables. Progressive poker slots have lower paytables than regular poker slots. You will put the same amount of wagers, but your returns will be lower than usual.

You might think that this is a small price to pay while vying for the top prize but let us keep our feet firmly on the ground. You will not get the jackpot combination now and then. The odds of getting Royal Flush is 1 in 649,740. At lower paytables, you will eat through your payroll quickly without winning anything significant.

Fast play equals fast losing.

Apart from a few variations (Double Bonus Poker), all other video poker games have a house edge. It is means the more you play, the more you lose. It is better to play a few hands as possible in an hour to maximize gameplay time. There is no need to rush. One of the ancillary reasons that people visit casinos is to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy society. You won't be able to do that if you burn your payroll within the first hour of play.

Even if you play online, what could you possibly do on a website after burning your payroll? You can at least interact with people at a physical casino. You do not have that option online.

Play games with wild cards

Wild cards are a blessing in poker slots. They increase your chances of winning by manifold. The luck factor decreases, and they give you more control over a game. Always play the Deuces Wild and its variations if the casino has them.

Video Poker FAQs

What is the house edge?

Every time you put a wager on a casino game, the casino receives a part of it. This is known as the house edge. House edge is either expressed in percentage or ratio formats. The house edge is always expressed in percentage format in slot machines and video poker games.

For example, a video poker game has a house edge of 5%. It means if you play this game and you wager $100, the casino will receive $5 from that wager.

What is the best video poker strategy?

The best video poker strategy is to wager the maximum coins(credits). The minimum wager to play a poker slot is one coin, and the maximum wager is five coins. You have the best chance of winning the jackpot if you bet the maximum coins. Let us give you an example; you wager 3 coins while playing a game of video poker. Your final hand shows a Royal Flush.

You could have got the jackpot amount had you wagered 5 coins during play.

Are casino games rigged?

A rigged-casino machine or a game is a bogeyman that has plagued gamblers since the advent of casino culture. It won't be an exaggeration to say that gamblers have nightmares about playing at a rigged machine or a rigged game.

Rest assured that nothing of this sort is going to happen if you play at licensed casinos. A quick check at the “Terms and Conditions” pages of casino websites will reveal their license credentials. Licensed casinos undergo constant surveys and checks conducted by the licensing authorities. These checks ensure that the casinos provide a fair and secure environment where gamblers can play without getting duped.

Video poker machines use RNG or Random Number Generator when dealing so nobody can predict what hand you will get.

Leave a comment