Video Poker Glossary

In the following article, I’ve attempted to create a comprehensive video
poker glossary that features all the essential terminology and slang. While such
knowledge isn’t essential to playing the game, it does make a major difference
when reading about the subject or discussing it with fellow VP (“video poker”)
enthusiasts. Each entry is listed alphabetically, and I’ve taken great pains to
make the explanations as concise as possible.

For players seeking every possible advantage, digesting this list of video
poker terms should provide an immediate increase to your gambling IQ. Written
material about VP will be easier to process, and fellow gamblers are likely to
be amazed by your grasp of the topic. In short, this information is meant to
take you one step closer to becoming a true master of video poker.

Before we get started, though, let’s take a look at the most important
definition that you’ll need to know as a beginning player:

Video Poker

Similar in design to draw poker, VP games deal the player five
cards after their wager is made. The participant can then choose to keep any
number of these initial cards, with the rest being replaced. Once the final hand
has been created, the player receives a monetary prize based on the strength of
their cards. In most versions of video poker, a pair of jacks or better is
required for a payout.

Now that you know what VP is all about, let’s take a look at some of the
finer points of the game.


86: This refers to a player being banned from a brick-and-mortar casino.
While the cause usually involves counting cards during blackjack, the casino
technically reserves the right to refuse service to anyone. VP players shouldn’t
have to worry about this, and it’s never an issue at online casinos.

Action: The amount of money you’re wagering.

Bank: At land-based casinos, a bank of machines are located next to one
another and often have a similar theme or design. For example, there might be a
bank of video poker machines or a bank of progressive slots.
Bankroll: The total sum of money that the player has designated for
gambling. If their bankroll is depleted, the smart gambler stops playing instead
of dipping into their personal savings.
Bob Dancer: Gambling author who specializes in video poker. Has written
newspaper columns on the subject, as well as producing numerous radio
broadcasts. The novel Million Dollar Video Poker is his best-known work.
Bust: A VP hand that doesn’t improve after drawing additional cards.

Cash Out: By pressing this button on a land-based machine, the player’s
credits are converted into money and awarded via the coin tray. In some cases, a
printed ticket is generated and must be taken to a cashier in order to receive a
Card counting: When a player is “catching cards,” they are being dealt
cards that help them assemble winning hands.
Coins: On a VP game, coin payouts are included on the paytable and range
from one to five. The value of each coin is determined by the denomination of
the game, so a $1 machine would have a single coin worth $1 and five coins worth
Comps: These are freebies awarded to frequent players or high rollers in
order to assure continued patronage. The most common comps include meals,
airfare, hotel accommodations, and tickets to shows.
Cowboy: A slang poker term for the king card.
Credits: When you deposit money into a video poker machine, the amount you
have to play with is listed as credits. If you put $100 into a $1 machine, for
example, then you’ll have 100 credits to play with.
Cycle: Also known as a “royal flush cycle”, this is the number of hands
required for a VP machine to deliver a jackpot payout. The average rate of
occurrence is around 40,000 hands, but the random number generator ensures that
the exact rate always remains a mystery.

Denomination: This term can apply to the value of the cards. However, it can
also be used for the value of the coins wagered by the player.
Deuce: Another name for the cards displaying only the number two.
Discard: After the initial cards have been dealt, the player can get rid of
one or more of these cards by pressing/clicking the button marked “Discard.”
Once this occurs, the missing cards are replaced by new ones, and the strength
of the final hand is calculated.
Draw: If the player chooses to discard one or more cards from their original
hand, the replacements are known as the “draw”.
Drawing Hand: f the player’s initial hand needs to be improved in order to
achieve a payout, then it’s known by this term.

Expected Return: The amount of money the player can expect to receive from a
VP machine over the long term. If you want to calculate the expected return in
terms of dollars, find the expected return percentage, move the decimal two
places to the left, and drop the percentage sign. Next, multiply this amount by
the player’s total wager to determine how much money should be received.
Expected Value: Each play during a game has an expected value, which is the
likelihood of it resulting in a payout. If more than one option presents itself,
then the smart gambler chooses the play with the higher expected value (or “EV”). This is why strategy cards are useful, as they list the best EV for all
possible hands.

Face cards: These are cards that display faces on their pictures. These cards include the king, queen, and jack.
Fish Hook: A slang term for the jack card. Also known as “boy” and “hook”.
Five of a Kind: Five cards of the same rank. This is only possible in video
poker when a wild card is present in the deck and can be substituted for other cards.
Flush: This hand contains five cards of the same suit, although they’re not in consecutive order.
Fool: Slang term for the joker card. Also known as the “old maid,” “trump card,” and “fly”.
Four of a Kind: Also referred to as “quads,” this type of hand contains four cards of identical value. For Example, four kinds and a five
Full House: Also known as “tight” or a “full boat,” this is a poker hand
comprised of two cards of one rank and three cards of another rank.
Full Pay: This refers to a VP machine that’s using the best possible pay
table for a specific type of game.

Garbage Hand: A poor hand that’s unlikely to result in a payout for the player.

Hand: The hand is made up of the five cards displayed on your video poker screen. The objective of the game is the make the best hand possible.
Hand Pay: Used at land-based casinos, this term applies to winning payouts where the player receives money directly from a member of the casino staff.
Heads up: Playing with the dealer and no other players at the table.
High Card: This is the least valuable poker hand, as it contains no pairs, flushes, straights, or anything else worth noting.
Hold: The act of keeping one or more cards after the initial deal.
Hopper: Located inside land-based machines, the hopper holds the coins and releases a specified amount when it’s time for the player to cash out. If the machine issues a paper ticket to be redeemed by a cashier, then it won’t have a hopper.
House: Another term for the casino, whether real or virtual.
House Edge: Normally expressed as a percentage, this is the long-term advantage that the house holds over the player for a specific game.

Inside Straight: A straight is comprised of five cards in consecutive order.
In the case of an inside straight (also known as a “gut shot”), the player must get the proper middle card in order to successfully complete the hand.

Jackpot: The top payout offered by a video poker machine. Some require a
royal flush, while others might differ depending on the rules of the game. The most popular titles offer ever-growing jackpots known as progressive, while
others have a top prize that remains static (known as a “flat top”).
Jacks or Better: The most popular form of video poker. In order to qualify for a payout, the player must obtain a hand with at least a pair of jacks.
Jean Scott: A gambling author known for her video poker software and books such as The Frugal Gambler.
John Grochowski: A gambling author and columnist, he became the first to write regularly on the subject of casino gaming for a major American newspaper.

Kicker: A side card that’s not involved in the overall rank of the hand. If
you had four aces and a three, the three would be the kicker. While often
ignored, these cards do act as tie-breakers.

Lady: A slang term for the queen card. Also known as a “cowgirl” or “dame”.
Low Pay: A VP machine that doesn’t use the best possible pay table.

Max Bet: Pressing or clicking this button wagers the maximum number of coins
on the upcoming hand. On games with progressive jackpots, a max bet is often
required in order to be eligible for the top prize.
Maximum Coins: The uppermost limit of coins that can be wagered during a
single game of video poker. The standard limit is five coins, but there are
always a few machines that fall outside of the norm.
Multi Hand: In this form of video poker game, the customer is allowed to
play multiple hands at the same time. Smaller versions allow for two or three
hands, while larger examples may go all the way up to 100.

Odds: The mathematical chance of obtaining a specific hand.

Pair: A VP hand containing two cards of the same value.
Pat Hand: A hand that can’t be improved after the initial deal (such as a full house or royal flush).
Payback Percentage: The average percentage returned on a player’s wager. If
a game has a 100% payback percentage, then the player could expect (on average)
to get back all the money wagered on a game. Most casino games have a payback
percentage well below 100%, but video poker can actually exceed this number
under the right circumstances (depending on the pay table).
Payout: The amount offered by a video poker game for a particular poker hand.
Paytable: This table indicates the various payouts for hands in a video poker game. The best possible table is known as “full pay,” while anything less
is dubbed “low pay.” Always check the pay table before playing (especially at brick-and-mortar casinos), as even games sitting beside one another can vary a
great deal on their respective payouts.
Perfect Play: If the gambler engages in perfect play, then they’re consistently taking actions that give them the highest expected value during
each hand. This method of play drops the house edge to the lowest possible level for a specific game, although it requires memorization or a strategy card.
Pocket Rockets: A slang term for a pair of aces. Other terms include “bullets,” “snake eyes,” “Alan Alda,” and “American Airlines” (among others)
Progressive Jackpot: With this form of payout, a small percentage of each wager is added to the jackpot. This causes the potential prize to climb
progressively higher, until someone finally satisfies the conditions necessary for a win (usually a royal flush). Once the jackpot is hit, it drops to a base
amount and begins to climb once again.

Rag: A card that does nothing to help your final hand.
Random Number Generator: Present in all forms of slots and VP machines, the random number generator (or “RNG”) ensures that each spin or deal of the cards is
independent of the previous one. This means that a player has a chance to get back-to-back royal flushes, although the odds of doing so are slim.
Rank: The numerical value of a card in both poker and VP.
Royal Flush: This hand is often the most desirable in video poker games and frequently triggers a progressive jackpot (when available). It’s comprised of
the ace, king, queen, jack, and ten cards, all of which are the same suit.

Sequential Royal Flush: Like a regular royal flush, this hand is made up of a ten, jack, queen, king, and ace, all of which are the same suit. The
difference, however, is that the cards are actually displayed in order from lowest to highest on the screen. The on-screen order doesn’t matter on most
games, but some offer an additional payout for such a feat.
Sign-Up Bonus: In order to attract customers, online casinos offer a sign-up
bonus for opening an account. While this appears to be free money, there are actually a number of strings attached. For starters, the player must wager a
multiple of the bonus before it’s eligible to be withdrawn, and not all games count the same towards meeting this requirement. A time limit may also be
present, which means the player loses the bonus amount if all conditions aren’t satisfied within a period of weeks or months.
Si Redd: The former head of game designer IGT, Redd is credited with first bringing video poker to casinos back in the 1970s. A charter member of the Video
Poker Hall of Fame.
Spot: A slang term for the ace card. Also known as the “bullet,” “rocket,”
and “alas”.
Straight: A hand that contains cards in consecutive order but are comprised of different suits.
Straight Flush: To randomize a deck or pack of cards.This poker hand is made up of five cards of the same suit in
sequential order.

Strategy Card: A card, often created by the player, showing the correct play for every possible hand. Most land-based casinos don’t mind players openly using
such cards, but there are always a few exceptions. Of course, there are never any restrictions when playing at a virtual establishment.

Three of a Kind: This hand contains three cards of the same value, as well as two other unconnected cards.
Two Pair: A hand consisting of two pairs.

Volatility: This measures the ups and downs of your bankroll while playing a slot or video poker machine. A game with low volatility tends to offer smaller,
more frequent payouts, while a high volatility option features larger, but less common, prizes.

W2-G Form: If a player wins more than $1,200 at a land-based casino, they’re required by law to fill out this form for income tax purposes.
Wild Card: If a card is wild, it can be substituted for any other card on a
specific game. The deuce is the most common card to receive such a designation.
Wild Royal Flush: A royal flush hand comprised of at least one wild card. While still valuable, such hands tend to offer a smaller payout than a natural
royal flush. Also known as a “dirty royal”.
Winning Hand: In order to be classified as a winning hand, the final cards must be strong enough to result in a payout for the player.