How To Choose The Best Online Video Poker Game For You

By in Video Poker on
5 Minute Read
Video Poker Online Mobile Screen

Online video poker represents a sector of the casino world that is extremely rich and varied. When you go online to play video poker, you’ll be faced with choices about what kind of game you want to play and what features you’re seeking. We’re here to help you by showing you how to choose the online video poker game that’s just right for you. If you’re someone who likes to get in some gambling action now and again, you know that your choices right now are extremely limited.

Try Video Poker Onine

Luckily, online video poker is an outstanding game at any time, and you can play that at home at top real money online gambling sites with no problem. If you’ve never played online video poker, you’re missing out on one of the most gambler-friendly games that there is. Ease of play, solid payback, strategically challenging but not intimidating, transparency in terms of chances of winning and payback: Video poker has it all.

Another thing that online video poker has going for it is variety. You can find hundreds of different variations on the main game when you visit top gambling websites. For beginning players, this can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it’s great that you’re not limited to single way to play. But on the other hand, you might be intimidated by it all. How can you choose which version of online video poker you want to play?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been providing you with tutorials about how to play the game and how online video poker provides you with so many advantages that other online gambling games can’t. Now it’s time to talk about selecting the version of online video poker that suits you bet. We’ll do that in two ways.

First, we’ll talk about some of the factors that go into your decision. Those factors mean different things to different people, which is why it’s important to check out that section. After all, just because a certain facet of online video poker isn’t that important to some people, it might be important to you.

After that, we’ll talk about some of the basic categories of online video poker games. We’ll talk about how they’re different from each other and look at some of the pay tables attached to them. You’ll be able to get a good feel for how they separate from each other.

At the end of the article, the hope is that some of the dust will clear and you’ll have a better understanding of the different online video poker games and features available to you. If you’re still up in the air, we suggest you try out some of the variations on free video poker sites. You should wind up knowing which game suits you the best.

Factors In Choosing An Online Video Poker Game

Ease Of Play

One of the great benefits of online video poker is how easy it is to play. For people who have a little bit of an association with poker and how winning hands are created, it really won’t be too difficult at all to learn the game. You’re likely to be up and running in no time.

As for complete beginners, you don’t have to worry about feeling completely lost at sea. Check out our video poker section and it will tell you everything you need to know about playing video poker. Then go play some free games online and you should have the gist of the rhythm of play.

That said, if you are just starting out, you might feel more comfortable with the most basic formats of online video poker. If you’re confused while playing, it might lead to poor decision-making. And poor decision-making will lead to reduced payback.

For that reason, make sure that the online video poker game you choose doesn’t exceed your comfort level. It can be fun to play games with all kinds of bells and whistles. But it you don’t know what’s going on, you’re probably not going to be able to play the game to its highest level, which should be the ultimate goal.

Payback

We mentioned briefly above about transparency being one of the hallmarks of online video poker. What we mean is that you are never in the dark with video poker.

You have access to the pay tables which show how much each winning hand pays. And you’ll also know, through the probability found in a deck of 52 cards, how often winning hands will show up during game play. Put these two factors together and you’ll know how much each game pays back.

Of course, you don’t have to do all the math yourself. Simply look online to see how much each specific pay table pays off. Or input the figures on the pay table you’re considering playing into a video poker calculator.

No matter how you get it, you’ll be looking for the payback percentage of a given game. This number will show you how much you can expect to return from what you put into the game. In other words, a percentage of 100 percent would be a completely break-even experience.

If you plan on playing online video poker for the long haul, you should really be looking for the games with the highest payback percentage. A solid payback percentage in video poker is 99 or better.

A payback percentage of at least 99 percent would mean that you’d be expected to lose less than 1 percent of your bankroll over time. But keep in mind that, if you play online video poker often, you can earn rewards from top gambling websites. As a result, you can use those rewards to push your overall return over 100 and into the black.

If you’re only going to play online video poker casually in short sessions once in a while, payback percentage won’t mean as much to you. In those cases, luck will be the determining factor for whether or not you win or lose. For long-term players, that luck will even out and payback percentage will be a determining factor.

Volatility

If you play the stock market, you might know a little bit about volatility. A volatile stock is one that tends to rise and fall often with a great range of outcomes between the hot streaks and the slumps.

Well, online video poker games work the same way. A low-volatility game is one that might make it difficult for you to push your bankroll too high above the level where you started. But it’s also likely that you won’t see too much of a drop-off from that level either.

As for high-volatility online video poker games, they tend to be much more of a bumpy ride. You could be in line for huge spikes in your winnings at any time. But you could also be prone to having your bankroll plummet at any time as well.

How does volatility affect whether or not you choose to play a specific online video poker game? Well, it depends what you’re seeking out of the game.

Are you hoping to play the game for a long time on a relatively bankroll? If that’s the case, you should choose a pay table or type of game with low volatility. If you do, you’ll stand a much better chance of sustaining your original bankroll.

What about if you’re looking for a game where you can win a lot in a shorter period of time? High volatility games would be the way to go. These games put many more jackpot-style payback opportunities within your reach than the low-volatility games.

Volatility in online video poker is more of a concern in the short term. If you give yourself a big bankroll and play a specific game for a long time, you should be more worried about the payback percentage.

Types Of Video Poker Games

Basic Jacks or Better

When video poker was first created, it used the Jacks or Better format. And Jacks or Better is still the most common and popular form of the game. This is the case for both video poker machines in casinos and online video poker.

Jacks or Better is probably the simplest video poker game to understand. First of all, there aren’t any twists to the basic mechanics of play. You get a five-card deal, hold certain cards, discard others, draw new ones for the ones you discarded, all in an effort to form the highest-ranked poker hand.

What makes Jacks or Better simple is also its pay table structure.

Take a look at a common pay table for this game:

Coins/Hands 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a Kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 Pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or Better 1 2 3 4 5

What’s notable about this pay table is the fact that the winning hands pay out in direct relation to the likelihood of you making them. The rarer the hand, the more it pays.

In other words, you have more of a chance of making Two Pair than you do of making Three of a Kind, so Two Pair pays less. You have more of a chance of making Three of a Kind than you do of making a Straight, so Three of a Kind pays less. And so on it goes up the ladder till you get to the Royal Flush, which is the rarest hand in the entire game and pays the most.

Jacks or Better is pretty much the lowest volatility game in the world of online video poker. You can expect to hang tough and play for a while even with a small bankroll. But you’ll probably have to grind out winnings, since your chances of scoring a big payoff with a single hand is slim.

Bonus Pay Table Games

The easiest way to change up an online video poker game is to alter the pay table. And Bonus pay tables are the most popular alternate pay tables around.

Whenever you see the word “Bonus” within the name of a game, you can expect the pay table to pay out Four of a Kind hands at a more generous rate than standard games. The thrust of Bonus pay tables is that they give players more of a chance at a big payoff on a single hand.

Four of a Kind hands are often rewarded on these pay tables at the same level or even more than Straight Flush. That’s the case even though a Straight Flush is a more difficult hand to achieve.

Take a look at a pay table for the game known as Double Bonus Poker:

Double Bonus Poker

Coins/Hands 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal Flush 2000 4000 6000 8000 4000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a Kind (aces) 160 320 480 640 800
4 of a Kind (2s, 3s, 4s) 80 160 240 320 400
4 of a Kind (any other) 50 100 150 200 250
Full House 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 7 14 21 28 35
Straight 5 10 15 20 25
3 of a Kind 3 6 9 12 15

You can see how the payback for Four of a Kind is boosted significantly from the Jacks or Better game above. And you can also see that the payback for Four of a Kind is separated based on the rank of the cards involved. That’s something that doesn’t happen in Jacks or Better.

The drawback to this pay table is a payoff of only even-money (one coin won for every one wagered) for Two Pair. On the Jacks or Better game, the payback is 2 to 1. Two Pair is a hand that will occur often in a video poker session, usually once every ten hands or so. As a result, getting a discount on this hand will hurt.

In fact, that quirk in the pay table is why Double Bonus Poker is a high-volatility game, which is the case for most Bonus pay tables. Because more of the total payback comes from rare hands, you run the risk of your bankroll falling fast when those hands don’t appear. But if those hands do appear, you can expect your bankroll to surge in a hurry.

Wild Card Games

It can be frustrating to play online video poker and rarely achieve some of the biggest hands on the pay table. Wild card games help to rectify this situation a bit. With wild cards in play, you’ll be able to attain winning hands that often seem out of reach in non-wild card games.

For those who are unaware, a wild card is a card that is designated at the start of play. When you receive the wild card, it can be turned into whatever card in the deck improves your hand the most. Deuces Wild, where the four Twos in the deck are wild, and Joker Poker, where the deck adds a Joker as the 53rd card and makes it wild, are the two most popular forms of wild card online video poker games.

Take a look at a common pay table for Deuces Wild online video poker:

Deuces Wild

Coins/Hands 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4000
4 deuces 200 400 600 800 1000
Wild royal flush 25 50 75 100 125
5 of a kind 16 32 48 64 80
Straight flush 10 20 30 40 50
4 of a kind 4 8 12 16 20
Full house 4 8 12 16 20
Flush 3 6 9 12 15
Straight 2 4 6 8 10
3 of a kind 1 2 3 4 5

You’ll see a couple winning hands included on a Deuces Wild pay table that you don’t see in non-wild card games. Five of a kind is a hand that can only be achieved with the help of a wild card, since there are only four of any rank in a deck. And a Wild Royal Flush is a hand that only can be made in a wild card game, as there has to be a wild card involved to achieve it.

You might notice that the lowest-ranked winning hand on the Deuces Wild game is Three of a Kind. Compare that to a Pair of Jacks in the Jacks or Better game. The threshold is much higher in a wild card game because winning combinations are easier to make.

Wild card games tend to be volatile as well because you’re reliant on the wild cards appearing for you to have a fighting chance. If they don’t, you’re essentially playing on a much tougher pay table without any help. Think about that before you commit to a wild card game.

Special Feature Games

All of the online video poker games above utilize the same basic structure for play. But there are games that you can find that add something extra to that structure, if not outright changing it up. These games with extra features are inventive and can be an antidote to those who feel like basic play is a bit stale.

What you’ll usually find is that these games require you to make an extra wager on top of the usually maximum bet of five coins to activate the feature in question. That immediately raises the volatility significantly, since you’ll still usually be using a five-coin pay table as the basic for your payback. But when the special feature kicks in, you’ll see your winnings rise at an extremely fast rate.

Here are some of the features you might find included in online video poker games:

  • Multipliers: They do just what their name implies. If, for example, you have somehow activated a multiplier of 4x, or 4 times, you’ll multiply your normal winnings by that amount. Different online video poker games give you multiple ways of activating multipliers.
  • Free Hands: This is a real bonus in that you get all of the profit of your hands of video poker without having to make a wager. As a result, any winning hands that you achieve during these free rounds is all gravy. It’s a great way to boost your bankroll without losing anything in the process.
  • Wheel Spins: Some special feature games give you ways to activate a digital wheel that you then spin on screen. Usually, each spot on the wheel is adorned with a different bonus coin amount. Land on a certain space and win however much is specified.
  • Special Pay Tables: When you bet extra in some online video poker games, it might unlock special pay tables. These pay tables will generally be much more lucrative than the ones you would normally be playing.

These are just a few of the ways that online video poker creators spice up play with special features. Keep in mind that these games are usually set up so that they return the highest payback percentage to those who bet the most and activate the special features. They sort of force you to raise the volatility to play the game at its highest level.

Conclusion

We hope that this article shows you what kind of variety is available in the world of real money online video poker. More importantly, we hope that we’ve given you the tools to choose your game wisely. Once you have an online video poker game that fits your preferred style of play and budget, you’re likely to return to it for a long time to come.

Jim Beviglia

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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