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THE basics of vIDEO POKER: More than your television's poker game

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THE basics of vIDEO POKER: More than your television's poker game

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In 2003, Tennessee accountant Chris Moneymaker and the lipstick camera made poker popular culture. That year, Moneymaker became the first online qualifier to win the World Series of Poker. The Moneymaker David-vs-Goliaths story and the newfound televised access to hole cards transformed televised poker from an unwatchable mess to a riveting drama. From that moment emerged an entire industry. From that moment onwards, poker was everywhere. That leads us to this article.

Let us tell you about video poker.

Video poker doesn’t have a Moneymaker-style story attached to it. You still have the hand rankings everyone knows and loves, but there’s no player to play against. Unlike blackjack, baccarat, or casino war, you’re not competing with players or dealers. It’s just you and your choices.

The goal in video poker is very simple: Finish with the best hand you can. The better the hand, the better the payout, with the game’s biggest hands paying off in more than just the excitement of winning a pot you needed to under bet just to get a caller. Hitting a royal flush or four of a kind is like winning a small lottery, and if you have the low end of a straight flush, there’s no wondering if the other player has the high end because there is no other player. You just win.

The Hand Rankings

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Every poker variant is built around the same hand rankings, built in order of likelihood of finding hands based on card value, suit or both. You probably know this, but we’re duty-bound to include the list because everyone needs to learn it somewhere. If you know this part, feel free to skip to the next section:

  • The higher the card value, the better.
  • Each suit is equal.
  • The higher your hand is on the below list, the better.
  • Card order doesn’t matter: The dealer will automatically read your cards and pay you for your highest ranking hand.
  • Aces are the highest card, but can be used with the lowest in sequences detailed below:

Hand name

Hand description

Example

Royal Flush

A-K-Q-J-T of the same suit. There’s nothing better.

As-Ks-Qs-Js-Ts

Straight Flush

Five consecutive cards of the same suit.

Kh-Qh-Jh-Th-9h

Four of a Kind

Four cards of the same value, one of each suit. The fifth card is irrelevant.

2s-2c-2h-2d-Kc

Flush

Five cards of the same suit

Kd-Qd-8d-4d-2d

Straight

Five consecutive cards in value. Note: Aces can be either high (T-J-Q-K-A) or low (A-2-3-4-5)

10c-9d-8d-7s-6h

Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same value. The fourth and fifth cards are irrelevant

8d-8h-8s-Qh-6c

Two Pair

Four cards, with two each sharing identical numerical values.

9c-9h-5s-5d-8s

One Pair

Two cards sharing identical numeric values.

Js-Jd-9s-6s-3h

High Card

When you have none of the above, the quality of your hand has nothing left to be judged by except the value of your highest card.

Ac-9d-8c-5h-2d

Payouts

In video poker, we use those same hand rankings with a few quirks. One is that there is no opponent and winnings are based on a multiplier of your bets:

Hand

Payout for $100 wagered

Royal Flush

$80,000

Straight Flush

$5,000

Four of a kind

$2,500

Full House

$900

Flush

$600

Straight

$400

Three of a kind

$300

Two pair

$200

One pair, jacks or better

$100

So, when you start landing some of those high hands on bigger wagers...we’re talking a lot of money. It’s important to note that if you want your pair to pay off, it needs to be with jacks or better. A pair of tens is a losing hand.

Five Card Draw

Another quirk? In video poker, we play a variant called five-card draw. The rules are simple: You get five random cards, decide which ones to keep, discard the rest, and then the dealer gives you new cards to replace the ones you discarded. That’s it. Those are the quirks. That’s how the game is played.

Multi-hand Variants

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One cool element of playing games in the endless space of the online world is how the potential for variations on a theme is endless, which brings us to multi-hand variants. You’ll find them by clicking here.

The idea is simple: You’re playing multiple hands at a time as one hand. You get dealt five cards and choose which ones to keep, just like in single-handed video poker. That’s when things get a little crazy, in a fun way.

Video_Poker2.png

When the dealer deals your replacement cards, it also replaces cards for each extra hand you’re playing, which can bring your total to three, five, or ten hands. Each deal comes from a complete deck, minus your initial five cards, resetting after each deal. Each deal creates its own five-card hand, each of which can earn you payouts (your bet is divided ten ways). So, if you’re dealt a pair of kings (as in the example on the left), all ten hands are winners; the question is whether you get dealt anything that makes the winnings even bigger. There isn’t a much better feeling than hearing ten consecutive ding sounds as hand after hand is declared a winner and watching each one pay off.

If you’re playing ten hands, what you need to understand is that you’re lowering your variance. Just like poker pros “running it twice” on an all-in, the math is more likely to even out than in a single hand. As an example, in single-hand play, if you’re dealt a pair of fours, you might try to find the third one and enjoy the payoff; in multi-hand variants, the more hands you play, the less hitting a four matters, since that only counts for a tenth of the payout (in ten-hand). The lesson? If you like to play on gut instead of math, stick to the single-hand variants. If you like to play by strict mathematical ROI though? Multi-hand can add a lot of fun and action to your game.

Is Video Poker for You?

If you’re looking for pure gamble—like slots or roulette—instead of strategy, this may not be the game for you, but if you like a little odds calculation mixed in with chance, this is right up your alley. It’s quick (games can last as little as 5 seconds), includes the fun part of poker, and offers potentially huge payouts. Sound like your kind of thing? The next step is a simple one: Head to DraftKings video poker, choose your table, and have some fun. If you want to learn more, check out our guide and learn how to play video poker.

Authored By: Gary Wise

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