Online video poker provides thrills even in its most basic formal. But those who are looking to change things up a bit can find many ways to do just that. With that in mind, we’re here to provide you with 10 ways to spice up your online video poker action.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve been taking an in-depth look into the world of online video poker. Hopefully, we’ve shown you just how much fun and how profitable this game can be. And it can all be done from the comfort of your home, which, as we’ve seen these past few months, can be as much a necessity as a convenience.
If you’ve been following along, you know that we often refer to the basic format of the game, also known as Jacks or Better. Jacks or Better was the first format in video poker when it was first created decades ago. In fact, Jacks or Better is still the most popular format in all of video poker, even after all these years.
But it’s true as well that video poker manufacturers have done an excellent job of finding new ways to create twists on that basic format. Many people don’t like to be stuck with only Jacks or Better over and over again. If you’re someone who likes a little variety, you can easily find it these days in online video poker.
A New Spin on Jacks or Better
The good news is that most of these special variations on the game aren’t really played any different. For the most part, you’re still following the same format of getting five cards on the deal, holding or discarding those cards, and then drawing cards to replace the discards. That part of the game really doesn’t change often in the online video poker world.
But what does change is all that happens around it. As we’ll see as we look through the 10 ways to spice up online video poker action, some of these changes come ingrained in the game. And some others require you to make an extra bet.
In addition, you’ll find some online video poker games that incorporate more than one of these concepts. You have to decide how far you want to go as you try to change things up. That’s why you should get a good feel for each of these variations before you go wading in to try one or more of them out.
With that in mind, we’re here to give you some detail on the 10 ways to spice up online video poker action. We’ll take a look at each one and give you an idea of how they work. Hopefully, at the end of this article, you’ll have your online video poker horizons broadened and might be ready to try something new.
#1: Change the Pay Tables
This is the most common method of switching things up from basic Jacks or Better play. You’ll find that many video poker machines in casinos feature many different pay tables and allow you to choose between them. In the same way, it’s not hard to find online versions of all the top casino pay tables.
The basic draw of different pay tables is that they, for the most part, give you more opportunities to win big on a single hand. Take a look at the pay table for Jacks or Better:
Jacks or Better Pay Table
4 of a kind
3 of a kind
Jacks or better
As you can see, the big payout here is the royal flush. The straight flush and four of a kind hands also pay well, although well below the royal flush. Payback in Jacks or Better is strictly based on the probability of attaining hands, as each hand going up the pay ladder is harder to achieve than the one below it.
That leads to online video poker play that’s a bit of a grind, where you have to slowly eke out winnings over a long period of time. For those hoping for a quicker fix, Bonus pay tables were created. The basic characteristic of a Bonus pay table is that it usually awards four of a kind at an equal or higher rate than a straight flush, even though the straight flush is harder to achieve.
Take a look at a common Bonus pay table and you can see the difference:
Triple Double Bonus Pay Table
4 of a kind – aces 2, 3, 4 kicker
4 of a kind – 2s, 3s, or 4s A, 2, 3, or 4 kicker
4 of a kind – aces 5s – Ks kicker
4 of a kind – 2s, 3s, or 4s 5s – Ks kicker
4 of a kind – any other
3 of a kind
Pair of jacks +
You can see how the four of a kind hands pay much more on this table than what you would expect from Jacks or Better. The tradeoff is the low pay for the common two pair hand. But if you want online video poker action where you have a better chance of winning a lot in a hurry, Bonus games are the way to go.
#2: Wild Cards
Those who have played poker with any regularity probably understand the concept of wild cards. When a card is designated as wild, you can change it into any card in the deck that improves your hand the most. As a result, you’ll have more chances to make rare winning hands.
The two most common kinds of online video poker games with wild cards are Deuces Wild and Joker Poker. With Deuces Wild, the four 2s in the deck of 52 are wild. Meanwhile, Joker Poker features just one wild card, the joker, which is added to a deck of 52, meaning you’re playing with a 53-card deck.
Imagine that you ended up with this hand playing Deuces Wild:
Two of spades
Eight of hearts
Ten of hearts
Jack of hearts
Queen of hearts
Normally, this would be a losing hand. But in Deuces Wild, the two can be changed into whatever card best transforms the hand. In this case, the two of spades would become the nine of hearts, giving you a straight flush.
Wild card online video poker games will make the threshold for winning hands higher and will pay back less for common winning hands because the wild cards make everything easier to achieve. But the flipside is that there are hands you can make with wild cards that you couldn’t without them. For example, you could achieve a wild royal flush or five of a kind with a wild card in your hand.
When you play with wild cards and get one or more on the draw, you have to try and speculate how they might end up being used. That makes the strategy a little trickier than if you were playing non-wild card games. Once you get to the completion of the hand, the game will automatically recognize how the wild cards should be changed to make your hand as lucrative as possible.
#3 Multiple Hands
If there is a common complaint against video poker, it might be that it can seem like a grind. And that can be true even if you’re playing a pay table more aggressive than Jacks or Better. It’s still a situation where you’re playing one hand at a time, and it can seem monotonous once you’ve played in that style for a while.
If that’s something you want to avoid, multiple hand online video poker is one way to do it. Basically, you’ll be playing several hands at once, which speeds up the pace of play. You can keep it simple with three-play or five-play video poker, or you can get really ambitious and play 25, 50 or 100 hands at once.
There are two key things to understand about multiple play online video poker. First is the fact that you have to bet on every hand that you play. In other words, if you’re betting five credits per hand and playing 25 hands at once, you’ll have to commit 125 credits all at once.
The other important thing to note is that you’ll be playing from a single deal, as if you were only playing one hand at a time. For example, imagine that you were playing triple play and received the following deal:
Four of spades
Six of diamonds
Nine of hearts
Jack of clubs
Jack of spades
The decision here about what to hold is pretty clear-cut, as a pair of jacks is a winning combination on most pay tables. Those jacks will then be included in all three of your hands going forward. Three different draws will take place from three different decks containing the same 47 cards (the five you were dealt won’t be included.)
The draws could look like this:
Hand 1: two of diamonds, jack of hearts, two of spades, jack of clubs, jack of spades
Hand 2: king of hearts, queen of spades, eight of hearts, jack of clubs, jack of spades
Hand 3: four of diamonds, ace of spades, jack of diamonds, jack of clubs, jack of spades
In Hand 1, you improved to a full house. You couldn’t improve Hand 2, but you still have the pair of jacks. And in Hand 3, you ended up with three of a kind.
You would get paid for all three of those hands according to the pay table you’re playing. As you can see, a good deal in multiple play online video poker can be really lucrative.
The flipside is that a bad deal will tend to hurt your bankroll much more, because you’ll have more at stake. Multiple play video poker really raises the volatility. But it also ratchets up the pace of play a great deal.
Multipliers are one of the most common special features added to basic online video poker play. They can come as a part of many of the methods of changing the game that we’re including in this list. And they’re a pretty simple concept to understand.
When a multiplier is attached to a hand, any winnings that you receive will be multiplied by a certain amount. For example, imagine that you went into a hand with a multiplier of 4x attached to the hand. In other words, any winnings you get are to be multiplied by 4.
Let’s say that you achieve a winning combination that would normally pay you 30 coins. The end result would be a payback of 4 times 30, or 120 coins.
Most games with multipliers are ones where you have to make an extra bet higher than the normal max bet of 6 coins to activate them. Anytime you raise a bet, you are also raising the volatility level.
On top of that, there is no guarantee that the multiplier will pay off for you. For example, you might have a multiplier of 5x attached to a hand. But if you don’t win that hand, the multiplier will go for naught, because 5 times zero is still zero.
But multipliers are a great way to spice up online video poker action if you’re looking to win big amounts all at once. If you can hook up a multiplier to a high-paying hand, your bankroll can soar higher than it ever could in games where you don’t have access to this twist.
#5: Free Hands
Free hands, like multipliers, are usually only available on games where you are making a bet per hand that is higher than the normal amount. In fact, many online video poker games with free hands often include multipliers as a part of those hands.
When you’re playing an online video poker game with free hands involved, you’ll usually get access to them when you achieve a certain triggering hand in normal game play. At that point, you’ll be awarded a certain amount of free hands.
While you have these free hands, you won’t have to make any wagers. But you’ll receive payback if you make a winning combination while playing the free hands. In general, these winnings will be based on the max bet (since you usually have to bet that to put them in play anyway) or whatever amount you were betting before the free hands started.
Free hands can allow your winnings to accumulate quickly. For example, imagine that you played five hands of online video poker and amassed winnings of 35 coins. You would have bet 25 coins in that time, if you were playing the max bet, meaning that your profit would be only 10 coins.
But if you achieved the same amount during free play, it’s all profit. That makes a 25-coin difference in your bankroll.
As we mentioned, free spins in online video poker are often attached to other bonuses like multipliers or special enhanced pay tables. For those who play slot machines, free hands are the online video poker equivalent of free spins. In both cases, everything that you win is gravy.
#6: Wheel Poker
There are many different ways to enjoy wheel poker variations of online video poker. But the end result of all of these games is basically the same. At some point, you’ll be spinning a digital wheel with coin amounts attached to them, and you win the amount where the wheel lands.
The wheel spin will generally happen in between hands of the game. As we said, you’ll find that there are different ways to achieve these spins.
You might be able to get a spin of a digital wheel with just one qualifying hand. This will usually be a rare hand such as four of a kind, since the game won’t want to give up wheel spins for anything. They’re too valuable.
You might also find games where you have to build the pieces of the wheel through various hands that you achieve. Once you’ve filled out all the spaces, you can then make your spin.
No matter how you do it, spinning the wheel will provide a hefty bonus. Just be aware that the wheel is usually weighted. What that means is that, even though it might look like you have an equal chance of hitting any one of the spaces on the wheel with your digital spin, that really isn’t the case.
In most cases, you’ll have a slimmer chance of hitting the highest totals on the wheel than you would of hitting some of the more modest bonus amounts. Even though that’s the case, you’ll still be looking at a quick bonus that will be probably be worth more than all but the highest amounts on the pay table. Most online video poker wheel games require an extra bet on top of the normal amount for you to take part.
#7 Spin Poker
If you’re looking for a video poker game that plays a little like a slot machine, spin poker is the one for you. Just looking at the screen, you can easily see the comparison to a multiline video slot. In both cases, you’ll see three lines with five symbols on each line.
In many ways, spin poker plays like three-hand multiple play video poker. You’ll be basing your play on a single deal. And then you’ll have three different draws take place to fill out your hands once you’ve decided what to hold and what to discard.
One difference is that the draws in spin online video poker takes place from a single deck of 52. As a result, you have no chance of getting the same card on different lines.
The other main difference, and this is where the slot machine comparison really comes into play, is in the way you bet this game and get paid. Not only can you win for the three horizontal lines, but you can win for different zig zag combinations on the screen.
There are up to nine different patterns with which you can win playing spin poker:
First and Second Card in Row 1, Middle Card in Row 2, Fourth and Fifth Card in Row 3
First and Second Card in Row 3, Middle Card in Row 2, Fourth and Fifth Card in Row 1
First, Third and Fifth Card in Row 2, Second Card in Row 1, Fourth Card in Row 3
First, Third and Fifth Card in Row 2, Second Card in Row 3, Fourth Card in Row 1
Of course, you have to bet on these combinations to possibly win them. But the chance of big payback is really amplified when you get an excellent deal.
#8: Streak Poker
If you’ve ever won a bunch of online video poker hands in a row, you might find yourself thinking that you’re on a hot streak. Well, there are online video poker games that allow you take advantage of this concept. These games generally up the multipliers as you continue to win.
Basically, video poker games with a streak aspect are adding multipliers that have been accumulated over several hands in a row.
You might earn multipliers across three subsequent hands based on a triggering hand that you achieved.
If you play the first of those three hands and earn more multipliers across subsequent hands, the others that you’ve earned before are still in place. But instead of pushing the new multipliers to the back of the line, you add them to what you already had.
In other words, if you were already expecting a 2x multiplier on a given hand and earned another 3x for that hand, the multiplier would jump up to 5x (2 plus 3). Keep getting winning hands one on top of the other and the multipliers will continue to add up.
What makes this an even more valuable feature is the fact that it takes winning hands to activate the multipliers in the first place. Which means that, if you’re adding them one on top of another, those multipliers will usually be put to good use. They usually won’t be attached to empty hands.
As is the case with most of the special online video poker features on the second half of this list, streak poker is a feature that usually requires an extra bet. But the chance at rapid-fire winnings might be well worth the increased volatility.
#9: Multi-Strike Poker
This special online video poker feature is similar to streak poker in that your multipliers are going up the more hands that you win in a row. The difference with multi-strike poker is that you get to decide how much of this you want to encounter by the size of your bet. As you raise, your bet, the more levels of multipliers you can unlock.
Most Multi-Strike games give you the option of playing the game normally for a common five-coin wager. For each extra coin that you bet, you unlock a new multiplier level. The levels go up as follows:
As you can see, a ten-coin bet would open up the possibility of a 16x multiplier, which is giant. But the only way that you can get to that level is if you work your way up the ladder. You need a winning hand in the base game to move up to 2x, then a winning hand at 2x to move up to 4x, and so on.
Once you lose a hand, you go back to the bottom and start all over again. You can also move up when a kind of “free pass” shows up in one of your hands. These show up at random and not all that often, but they will allow you to move up a level without forming a winning combination.
Obviously, to have a chance at doing well playing Multi-Strike online video poker, you’ll need to achieve some winning streaks along the way. And you might have to adjust your strategy to make sure that you bank low-paying winning hands to move up the ladder instead of going for high-paying hands and running a bigger risk of losing the hand and dropping all the way down. But the winnings can really add up quickly playing online video poker this way.
#10 Peek and Play
There are a number of different online video poker games with some sort of “peek” format, some of which go by completely different names. But the general idea is the same. You get a chance to see what will be coming on the draw.
When you play video poker, the reason that strategy is difficult and inexact is that you don’t know what cards will come to you on the draw. You have to guess based on probabilities the best that you can.
But games with a peek option, which is usually paid for with an extra bet, give you a chance to work around that. The most common type of this game is one that allows you to look at the first card that will be coming on the draw.
For example, take a look at the following deal:
Four of spades
Five of spades
Six of spades
Nine of diamonds
Nine of hearts
If you were playing normal video poker, you’d have a tough choice to make here. You could hold the three consecutive spades, which give you many possibilities for winning hands, including a straight flush. Or you could hold the pair of nines and hope to draw to two pair, three of a kind, a full house or four of a kind.
If you were playing a game where you could take a look at the first card on the draw before making your decision, your decision would become much easier. For example, if you saw that you were getting another nine on the draw, you’d hold the pair of nines and know that you had, at least, three of a kind coming. But if you saw that the card coming was the seven of spades, it would probably be worth it to hold the four, five and six and go for the straight flush.
Having the option to peek at that first card just makes online video poker a little easier. And you can expect to form a higher percentage of winning hands in this manner than you normally would playing without this option. It can certainly be worth the extra bet to put it in play.
We hope that you now have a good grasp on all the ways you can spice up your online video poker action when you play real money video poker online. Now you never have to let your game play get stale. Just go out and find the game that’s right for you.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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