American Poker Video Poker

American Poker is a misleading name because this video poker machine isn’t
found in America, but rather Germany.

Austrian gamemaker Novomatic likely came up with this theme because the
American novelty appeals to German casino goers.

If you’re ever in Deutschland, you may be interested in American Poker due to
its unique format.

Specifically, you must make separate bets on both the deal and draw round.
This differs from other video poker games, where you only bet before the deal.

American Poker is more expensive than the average video poker variation. But
does it have any wrinkles that make it worth the extra cost?

Find out as we cover how to play, American Poker payback, pay tables, where
to find this game, and strategy.

The Basics of Playing American Video Poker

American Poker comes in different variations, but the main process is the
same: you make separate bets on the deal and draw.

This is similar to blackjack, where you can double down or split hands – both
costing extra bets – after receiving your initial hand.

This game is also similar to Joker Poker because it has a joker wildcard and
53 card deck.

One more aspect worth mentioning here is that some American Poker variants
offer a mini bonus. The bonus is paid for certain hands on the deal, which we’ll
discuss in this section.

Playing Hands

Below you can see the rules for how to play American Poker:

  1. Select your bet

    These aren’t standard bets like in American
    casinos, where you wager 1 5 coins on each hand. The online version we tried
    plays like a slot machine, where coin sizes range from $0.10 to $100.00, and
    paylines (hands) range from 1 to 5.

  2. Choose deal

    You receive your initial 5 cards and can form
    automatic wins on the deal. You can either choose to take a win, or refuse the
    win and hold specific cards while placing an extra wager.

  3. Draw round or re deal

    After receiving your hand, you have two
    options: hold cards and make an extra bet during the draw round, or re deal
    without betting.

  4. Choose to play another hand

    Once the deal / draw round is
    over, you can start a new hand by clicking the deal button. You’ll also have the
    option to change your bet at this point too.

American Poker is certainly different from other video poker machines. This
is especially the case if you’re playing in Germany, where the betting options
and buttons are written in German.

But after you’ve played a few dozen hands, American Poker will feel as
natural as any other video poker game.

Mini Bonus

Most American Poker variants offer a “mini bonus,” which is listed on a
separate line in the pay table. This is a progressive bonus that increases
whenever a pair of jacks are dealt on the draw.

You win the mini bonus by being dealt a pair of queens on the initial deal.
You can accept the bonus and start a new hand, or you can make another bet and
try to improve your hand on the draw.

Sometimes it makes sense to give up a small bonus, hold the queens, and chase
a 3 of a kind or better. Other times you’ll definitely want to take the mini
bonus when it has grown larger.

Display & Graphics

We played an online American Poker game and studied machines found in
Germany. In both versions, the games are filled with American patriotic images.

Novomatic’s land based version features an American flag going across the
game name. It also has fireworks in the background along with blue and red

The online version from Wazdan opens with a bald eagle calling while gold
stars encircle its head. On the games screen, you’ll see an American flag
blowing in the background along with Mount Rushmore.

In either case, these games offer players more to look at than the average
video poker machine.

Other aspects of these machines are mostly similar to regular video poker.

Betting options are found on the lower portion of the screen, cards are in
the middle, and the pay table is at the top. The online game differs slightly
because you need to click a button to see the pay table and other information.

Difference Between American Poker and All American Poker

American Poker isn’t to be confused with All American Poker. The latter is a
standard video poker machine that’s based on a Jacks or Better pay table.

Here’s a look at key differences between both games:

  • All American is
    characterized by paying 8 coins for a full house, flush, and straight.
  • American Poker differs on
    its full house, flush, and straight payouts.
  • All American’s lowest
    payout is a pair of jacks; American Poker’s is usually a two pair.
  • All American has standard 1 to
    5 coin betting options; American Poker has unusual options.
  • American Poker requires
    bets for the deal and draw rounds; All American Poker only has one betting

All American has its quirks when compared to other video poker variants,
namely the full house, flush, and straight payouts all offering 8 coins.

But this makes for a good comparison on how general video poker games differ
from American Poker.

Difference Between American Poker and Double Pay Poker

One more game that American Poker gets confused with is Double Pay Poker. And
there’s good reason for this: Double Pay Poker also requires bets on the deal
and draw.

But you’ll find key differences too:

  • Double Pay offers payouts
    on both the deal and draw rounds.
  • American Poker only offers
    one payout, yet you’re paying twice as much.
  • Double Pay Poker offers
    huge prizes on the deal round; ex: a dealt royal flush pays 12,000 coins.
  • Double Pay pays out for as
    little as a pair of 5s on the deal.

While these games feature similar betting structures, Double Pay has very
different payouts from American Poker.

Pay Back and Pay Tables in American Poker Video Poker

At first glance, American Poker looks like a dream machine where the
gamemaker screwed up on the math.

As discussed by Michael Shackleford (a.k.a. the Wizard of Odds), paytable
calculations show players having a 46% advantage per bet. Putting this into
perspective, an expert card counter only has a 1.5% edge over casinos.

This should send professional gamblers scrambling for the next flight to

But here’s the problem: you don’t really have a 0.46% edge.

In fact, you won’t even know American’s Poker’s payback. We’ll explain why
throughout this section.

American Poker Rules Are Gaffed – Unlike US Casinos

Many US gaming jurisdictions have laws requiring video poker machines to be
programmed like a normal card game. In other words, the hand results must have
the same probabilities as a 52 card deck (53 in this case).

This is especially true in Nevada, where all video poker machines are
programmed like regular card games.

German casinos have different laws that machines must meet. Allow us to
explain with an example of how regular video poker probabilities work:

  • You’re dealt two kings.
  • You discard the other three
    cards, hoping to improve to a 3 of a kind.
  • This means 2 out of the
    remaining 47 cards can make your hand.
  • Your probability of getting
    one of these cards during the draw round is 12.77% (2 / 47 x 3).

You know your chances of forming a 3 of a kind because this game is dealt
just like a physical card game.

American poker, on the other hand, has “gaffed” rules. This means the rules
are changed to meet German gambling laws, which set max win and loss limits for
each hour.

Going further, the card probabilities are changed to whatever the casino and
gamemakers agree upon. You’ll see disclaimers on American Poker machines that
warn players about the probabilities being adjusted.

American Poker Pay Back Is Impossible to Determine

No casino willingly puts a game on their floor that pays over 40%. If they
do, it’s an accident and will be quickly pulled off the floor.

American Poker is still on German casino floors and in online casinos,
meaning probabilities are gaffed so that casinos still makes money.

The bad part is that the true probabilities aren’t known to the player. This
means it’s impossible to figure out actual payback figures for American Poker
variations (unless probabilities are stated).

Even Shackleford admitted that when he ran calculations on different American
Poker pay tables, he incorrectly figured that each card was programmed fairly.
Of course, his tipoff was the 46% player advantage he wound up with.

Long story short, until Novomatic publishes their American Poker
probabilities, the land based game’s payback is unknown.

2 Unit Losses Possible

One more point before we get into the pay tables is that you can lose two
units, instead of one per hand.

The deal and draw bets create higher risk because you’re laying out two
wagers per round.

At $1 per bet, for example, you now stand to lose $2 if you
continue past the draw.

Of course, anybody who’s used to playing multi line video poker won’t be
fazed. But low rollers will find it more nerve wracking to risk multiple bets in
a round.

Pay Tables For Different American Poker Games

Below are pay tables for several versions of American Poker.

As you can see, there are two entries for each payout. The reason why is
because if you go into the draw round, you’ve already lost one payout on the

Also remember that the probabilities of each payout aren’t representative of
a real card game (see above).

Novomatic American Poker w / Mini Jackpot

Hand Return / Pays Hand Return / Pays
5 of a kind 600 coins 5 of a kind 599 coins
Royal flush 300 coins Royal flush 299 coins
Straight flush 80 coins Straight flush 79 coins
4 of a kind 40 coins 4 of a kind 39 coins
Full house 12 coins Full house 11 coins
Flush 9 coins Flush 8 coins
Straight 8 coins Straight 7 coins
3 of a kind 5 coins 3 of a kind 4 coins
2 pair 3 coins 2 pair 2 coins
Mini Bonus Variable Mini Bonus Variable

Novomatic American Poker Jacks or Better w / Joker

Hand Return / Pays Hand Return / Pays
5 of a kind 1,000 coins 5 of a kind 999 coins
Royal flush 500 coins Royal flush 499 coins
Wild royal flush 500 coins Wild royal flush 499 coins
Straight flush 200 coins Straight flush 199 coins
4 of a kind 50 coins 4 of a kind 49 coins
Full house 12 coins Full house 11 coins
Flush 9 coins Flush 8 coins
Straight 7 coins Straight 6 coins
3 of a kind 5 coins 3 of a kind 4 coins
2 pair 3 coins 2 pair 2 coins
Jacks or Better 1 coin Jacks or Better 0 coins

Wazdan American Poker Gold w / Joker (Online)

Hand Return / Pays Hand Return / Pays
5 of a kind 1,000 coins 5 of a kind 999 coins
Royal flush (w / ace) 600 coins Royal flush (w / ace) 599 coins
Royal flush (w / no ace) 200 coins Royal flush (w / no ace) 199 coins
Straight flush 200 coins Straight flush 199 coins
4 of a kind 50 coins 4 of a kind 49 coins
Full house 15 coins Full house 14 coins
Flush 10 coins Flush 9 coins
Straight 5 coins Straight 4 coins
3 of a kind 3 coins 3 of a kind 2 coins
2 pair 2 coins 2 pair 1 coin
Jacks or Better 1 coin Jacks or Better 0 coins

Wazdan American Poker Joker Poker (Online)

Hand Pays Hand Pays
Natural royal flush 1,000 coins Natural royal flush 999 coins
5 of a kind 500 coins 5 of a kind 499 coins
Wild royal flush 800 coins Wild royal flush 799 coins
Straight flush 200 coins Straight flush 199 coins
4 of a kind 50 coins 4 of a kind 49 coins
Full house 12 coins Full house 11 coins
Flush 10 coins Flush 9 coins
Straight 8 coins Straight 7 coins
3 of a kind 4 coins 3 of a kind 3 coins
2 pair 2 coins 2 pair 1 coin

Where to Find American Poker – Online, Offline, Free, and Real Money

Some unique video poker games that we review can only be found in brick and
mortar casinos. But the good news about American Poker is that it can be found
in both land based and internet casinos.

Regarding German casinos, Shackleford stated that he played American Poker at
both Casino Mirage (Bremen, Germany) and Spielbank Casino (Berlin).

You can visit Wazdan’s website to play the game free. You can also visit any
Wazdan supplied online casino to look for both free and real money play.

American Poker Video Poker Strategy

The problem with American video poker strategy is that it’s not a widely
played game. Therefore, we can’t find any English based strategy charts that
cover any American Poker variations.

Another matter is that Novomatic gaffed the probabilities in the house’s
favor to meet German gaming regulations.

One more point is that both Novomatic and Wazdan use strange pay tables that
aren’t discussed in the video poker strategy world.

The best we can do is offer you a strategy list for Joker Poker, which is
covered by both Wazdan and Novomatic. When looking at this list, note that
there’s separate strategy for when you do and don’t have the joker wild card.

Joker Poker Strategy List

No Joker Strategy

  1. Royal flush, straight flush, 4 of a Kind
  2. 4 cards to a royal flush
  3. Full house, flush
  4. 4 cards to a straight flush (open ended)
  5. 3 of a Kind
  6. 4 cards to a straight flush (inside draw)
  7. Straight, two pair
  8. 3 cards to a royal flush
  9. Pair of aces or kings
  10. 4 cards to a flush
  11. Low pair (2s through 10s)
  12. 3 cards to a straight flush (open ended)
  13. Unsuited K Q J 10
  14. Suited ace and king
  15. 4 cards to a straight (non sequential order)
  16. 2 cards to royal flush
  17. Ace or king
  18. Discard everything else

With Joker Strategy

  1. 5 of a kind
  2. Royal flush with joker
  3. Straight flush, 4 of a kind, full house
  4. 4 cards to a royal flush w / joker
  5. 4 cards to a straight flush (open ended)
  6. Flush, 3 of a Kind
  7. 4 cards to a straight flush (inside draw)
  8. Straight
  9. 2 cards to a royal flush w / joker
  10. 4 cards to a flush (high cards)
  11. Suited K 9 w / joker
  12. Suited A 2, A 3, A 4, or A 5 w / joker
  13. Ace w / joker
  14. 4 cards to a flush (no high cards)
  15. 4 cards to a straight (non sequential) w / joker
  16. 6, 7, or 8 w / joker
  17. 10, 5, or 9 w / joker
  18. Joker

Practicing American Poker With a Video Poker Trainer

Given the limited amount of strategy on American Poker, you can use a trainer
to help you. These programs alert you to mistakes so that you eventually
recognize different hands / situations and make the correct play each time.

Here’s an Example

  • You’re dealt: 5s Qs 9h Kc Ks
  • You keep Qs Kc Ks
  • The trainer alerts you to this mistake; the best play is to only keep Kc Ks

Again, the goal is to practice making the correct play in each situation. As
you develop repetition, it becomes easier to play winning video poker.

You can find free video poker trainers across the internet. And these allow
you to practice popular games like Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Jacks or
Better, and Joker Poker.

The latter variant is key because we found Joker Poker featured in two
versions of American Poker.

You can also purchase more extensive video poker trainers that allow you to
input specific pay tables. This is ideal for American Poker because it has
exclusive pay tables.

Of course, this practice may not yield optimal results due to American
Poker’s murky probabilities.


The most interesting thing about this game is that it’s an American themed
video poker variant offered in Germany.

Going further, you get to view patriotic graphics like a bald eagle and stars
in a video poker game. Considering that 99% of these machines have a plain blue
screen, American Poker offers a refreshing break.

The only problem is that you don’t gain much from this game beyond its
inviting theme.

The pay table and return make American Poker seem great with regard to
winning. But this is fool’s gold because the gaffed rules / probabilities give
the edge to casinos.

The larger dilemma is that you don’t even know what payback you’re facing.

Novomatic programs these machines to meet German gaming laws, rather than to
meet actual probabilities of a 52 or 53 card deck. This means you’re out of luck
when trying to figure out your chances of winning.

We assume that American Poker won’t completely rip you off. But be aware that
your odds of winning aren’t as good as they appear.

In Summary

American Poker is worth a few hands either online or if you ever
visit Germany. But don’t expect to actually know where you stand with regard to