Joker Poker Video Poker Guide

Joker CardJoker Poker video poker stands as one of the most popular variants of video poker that is found in casinos and as part of gambling websites. The basic concept is that a 53rd card is added to the simulated deck. This card is the joker, and whenever you get it in your hand, you can turn it into whatever card in the deck happens to help your hand the most.

There are many different ways to play video poker for real money, which is one of the reasons many gamblers prefer to play it. Many know video poker in terms of Jacks or Better, which was the format in place when video poker first started to spread far and wide to casinos all over the world. But video poker manufacturers have done an excellent job of keeping players on their toes with new and interesting variations.

Some of these variations include special pay tables that change the way certain winning combinations are paid. Others include special features that can be unlocked when a player makes an extra bet. But perhaps the most popular of all these variations are the wild card games like Joker Poker video poker.

Joker Poker and Wild Cards

Wild cards are often used in informal card games. The idea is that whatever card that is designated as wild can be changed into whatever card helps the hand the most. At the completion of that hand, that transformation is made official, and the wild card is changed into whatever makes for the best poker combination.

The two most popular forms of wild card games in video poker are Deuces Wild and Joker Poker video poker. In Deuces Wild, the wild cards are the 2s already in the deck of 52. But Joker Poker contains just one wild card, which is the joker and acts as the 53rd card in the deck.

As a result, Joker Poker video poker allows players to step tentatively into wild card play. Because there is only one joker involved, the pay tables don’t change that drastically from what you would find in basic video poker. But the presence of the joker still gives you a chance at hands like five of a kind or a wild royal flush that couldn’t happen without them.

Higher Threshold for Winning

By adding the joker to the deck, Joker Poker video poker gives players some interesting winning opportunities. But those advantages are balanced out by some adjustments. Specifically, you need to make a higher minimum poker hand to be paid in Joker Poker that you would in non-wild card games.

In the case of Joker Poker video poker, what that threshold is depends on which type of game you’re playing.

The minimum winning hand can vary from a pair of kings to a pair of aces to even two pair. All of those examples mean that it’s a bit more difficult to form a winning hand playing Joker Poker, especially if you don’t actually end up with a joker in your hand.

In the following article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the game known as Joker Poker video poker. We’ll tell you how to play a hand of video poker, then go into how wild card play works. On top of that, we’ll talk about pay tables, payback percentage, and strategy.

Why You Should Be Playing Video Poker

When it comes to casino games, you might not have considered video poker to be anything special, especially if you don’t know a lot about it. Many people possess the misconception that it’s no different than slot machines. But slot machines don’t give you the control or the payback of video poker.

Meanwhile, video poker games like Joker Poker video poker also own a lot of advantages over table games as well. The autonomy you get over gameplay is an important one. And again, payback in video poker often beats out what you could get from top table games.

Let’s take more of an in-depth look at all that video poker has to offer:

  • Video poker is a game to be played by one person. That means, when you settle in at a video poker machine in a casino or at a gambling website to play online, you don’t have to worry about others. This factor creates the ultimate in hassle-free action.
  • Video poker is a varied game. You don’t have to get locked into playing the same way every single time. As a result, you never have to worry about play getting stale, because you can always switch it up if it does.
  • Video poker is really easy to learn for anyone. It should really only take a few hands for you to get the basic rhythm of play down pat. This is true whether or not you have any kind of background in poker or other similar games.
  • Video poker puts you at the helm. By this, we mean that you have some control over whether you win or lose from the decisions that you make. This is the big separating factor between video poker and slot machines.
  • Video poker allows for a completely transparent experience. This is, again, in contrast to slot machines, where you’ll never have any idea how often winning spins might come up. With video poker, everything is based on poker-hand probabilities and the totals on the pay table.
  • Video poker can boast of impressive payback. Games like Joker Poker video poker often minimize or completely eliminate the house edge. That is a rarity among casino games.
  • Video poker is an excellent game for online players. When you play video poker on an online gambling website, you’ll get the same experience that you would enjoy in the casino. That includes the excellent payback.

As you can see, video poker has a lot to offer. There is a reason, after all, that many discerning gamblers insist on playing video poker and nothing else. Once you learn to play, don’t be surprised if you feel the same way.

How to Play Video Poker

Step 1: The Bankroll

When we’re talking about video poker bankroll, we’re referring to the money you use to make wagers so that you can win real money in return. In the case of a video poker machine, all you have to do is insert money to get started. Online players will fund an account at a gambling website, either with a credit card, cryptocurrency or other accepted methods.

The bankroll will be rendered on the screen in units that are often called coins or credits. And the value of these units will be derived from the denomination you’re playing. For example, a five-coin wager at a 25-cent machine will cost you $1.25 (5 times .25).

Step 2: The Bet

When you’re playing Joker Poker video poker, you’ll be able to bet between one and five credits in one-credit increments (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 coins per bet). The size of your bet can be changed every hand. Or you can bet the same amount every time.

You’ll usually see some sort of button on the screen or the machine saying something like “max bet/deal,” which means you can make the max bet and activate the deal all at once. This is actually the game makers trying to help you out, and not just by saving you some time. The max bet is the bet you should be making every hand that you play.

The reason for this comes down to the payback for the royal flush. It is the rarest, highest-paying hand in all of video poker. But the size of the payback is affected by the size of your bet, as you can see here:

  • Royal flush with one through four coins bet: Pays back at odds of 250 to 1
  • Royal flush with five coins bet: Pays back at odds of 800 to 1

That’s a major difference. Granted, getting a royal flush is a rare experience. But those who play video poker with regularity will have them pop up.

To ensure that you get the maximum payback, you should be betting five coins every hand. If you find that’s a little too rich for your blood, so to speak, lower the denomination. Doing that should allow you to keep making the max bet while spending less money on your wagers overall.

Step 3: The Hand

The closest thing to video poker in the table-game world is the card game known as Five-Card Draw. They are similar in that both games feature the pattern of deal, discard, and draw. And in both cases, your goal is to make the best possible poker combination with your final five cards.

There are differences to consider, however. When you play Five-Card Draw, you have to worry about beating multiple players at the table. That can require either a very strong poker hand or some inventive betting to bluff others out of the hand.

In the case of video poker, you are the only one in the hand. The idea is to simply make one of the winning hands that are predetermined on the pay table. For Joker Poker video poker, here are the hands you’ll be trying to make:

  • Pair of kings or better
  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (five cards of consecutive rank, like 3-4-5-6-7)
  • Flush (five cards of same suit)
  • Full house (three of a kind and two pair in the same hand)
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush (straight with five cards of same suit)
  • Wild royal flush (royal flush with wild cards involved)
  • Five of a kind
  • Royal flush (ten, jack, queen, king, and ace of the same suit)

At the top of the list are the combinations that are the easiest to make, and it gets harder from there. (Two pair is harder to achieve than a pair of kings, three of a kind is harder to achieve than two pair, and so on.) The pay also gets higher as you move down the list.

What that means is that you’ll often be confronted by the choice of playing it safe for small payback and risking a losing hand in exchange for potentially high payback. That give-and-take between risk and reward is at the heart of video poker gameplay.

The Deal

Understanding how cards appear on the screen (and in your hand) when you’re playing Joker Poker video poker is important to keep you from straying from proper strategy. Every time you get cards in a deal (or a draw), you should imagine a simulated 53-card deck (the standard 52 plus the joker) in a constant state of being shuffled.

Press the button for the deal, and the top five cards in the deck at that exact moment show up in your hand. The remaining 48 go back to shuffling. When you hit the draw button to complete the hand, the top cards of the 48 show up to replace any discarded cards, the deck is refilled to 53 and the shuffling begins anew.

Random number generator software is responsible for this process. The bottom line is knowing this should remove any notions you might have about cards being “due” or a machine or online game being “hot” or “cold.” Everything on the screen is completely random and independent of anything that has happened before in that video poker session.

The Decision

At this point, once you see your deal on the screen, you’ll have the opportunity to exercise your strategy. This comes in the form of deciding which cards you want to hold and which you want to discard.

Any cards that are held will be a part of your final five-card hand which determines whether or not you’re a winner or a loser. The discarded cards are replaced with others from the deck of 47 (52 minus the five that were dealt). You can’t get any discarded cards back in your final hand.

How do you make that decision when you play hands of video poker? Think of the following two factors:

  • What are my probabilities of forming winning combination from what I have and what still remains in the deck?
  • What are my payback possibilities for the winning combinations I might be able to form?

If you take these two in tandem, you should be able to make solid decisions on your own. And as long as the deal is obvious, you should be able to get away with your own strategic choices. It’s when you get to certain deals where there are many evenly-matched possibilities that it starts to get a bit tricky.

Even for the difficult decisions, you’ll find that you’ll be able to make them faster and faster as you play more video poker. Once you’re up to speed, you’ll usually be able to play several hands of video poker per minute.

The Draw

On the draw, all discarded cards will be replaced by others from the deck. To indicate the cards you want discarded, simply leave them alone. By contrast, make sure to press the buttons, touch the screen, or click on the icons corresponding to the cards you want to hold.

Once you’ve done this and activate the draw, you’ll see your final hand. If it’s a winning one, credits will be added to your bankroll. Your bet will have been deducted at the start of the hand, so any winnings will always include your betting amount.

You can continue playing in this manner by simply repeating the process. If you choose, you can always cash out what remains in your bankroll. When your bankroll is empty, you’ll have to replenish if you want to keep playing.

Explaining Wild Card Play

Now that you know how to play basic video poker, it’s time to explore how the wild card adds to the Joker Poker video poker equation. The process of deal, discard, and draw remains unchanged. But the wild card changes things up in terms of your decision-making just a bit.

Again, any joker that you receive during Joker Poker video poker action will be wild. (That’s why you’ll see some versions of the game called “Joker Wild” or “Joker’s Wild.”) Your strategy with wild cards will come into play when you get one on the deal.

If you do get a joker on the deal when playing Joker Poker video poker, you have to try and speculate how it might come into play. When it arrives on the draw, your work is done. The game will automatically recognize the best way to use the joker.

Sample Joker Poker Video Poker Hand

Let’s take a look at how this process plays out during a hand of Joker Poker video poker. Imagine that you receive the following deal:

Joker, Four of Diamonds, Five of Diamonds, Six of Hearts, Ace of Clubs

In this example, you already have a winning combination on most Joker Poker video poker pay tables. The joker can be imagined as an ace, which would give you a high pair. But you might also want to consider some other alternatives which could lead to a more lucrative winning combination with the right draw.

For example, you might:

  • Hold the joker and the ace. This is the safest play, since you already have at least a pair of aces to at least get you some payback. With three cards coming on the draw, you could conceivably form many other winning combinations.
  • Hold the joker, four, five, and six. Since you can imagine the joker as a two, three, seven, or eight, you would have many possibilities to draw to a straight. Still, going this route would somewhat limit the winning combinations you could make.
  • Hold the joker, four, and five. If you did this, you’d still keep a route open to the straight, but you also open up a chance at a flush. Even better, with the right two cards on the draw, you could end up with a straight flush.

This is definitely one of these difficult hands in terms of making choices. The only easy decision is to hold the joker. It’s what you do with the other cards that will make the difference.

For the sake of following this example of Joker Poker video poker through to the end, let’s say that you went with the last option, holding the joker along with the four and five of diamonds. Take a look here.

Joker, Four of Clubs, Four of Diamonds, Five of Diamonds, Five of Hearts

This is the point where the game decides how the wild card will be used. The most lucrative way for the joker to be transformed in this example is to make it a four or five. Combined with the other four cards, that would give you a full house.

Hopefully, this example shows you how important having a joker in your Joker Poker video poker can be. As you made your decision, you probably wouldn’t have considered the joker needing to be used as a four or five. But the wild card is versatile enough to help you to a lot of winning combinations you might not have considered.

Joker Poker Video Poker Pay Tables

There is a wide variety of pay tables available to you in the Joker Poker video poker family. You should try to sift through them to find the one that gives you the best payback also suits your favorite style of play. That can be something you can only learn through experience playing the game.

It’s always a good idea to get a feel for a basic pay table before comparing it to something more exotic like Joker Poker video poker. With that in mind, here is the pay table for Jacks or Better, the most common of all video poker pay tables:

Jacks or Better Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4,000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four 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
Three of kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

You’ll see when we get to the Joker Poker video poker pay tables that there are some similarities between them and Jacks or Better. But the presence of the wild card requires some adjustments to even out your improved chances of making a winning combination.

Kings or Better

Perhaps the most commonly-found version of Joker Poker video poker is the one known as Kings or Better. The name refers to the minimum winning combination on the pay table. Take a look at the full-pay (highest-paying) version of Joker Poker Kings or Better.

Joker Poker (Kings or Better)

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4,000
Five of a kind 200 400 600 800 1,000
Wild royal flush 100 200 300 400 500
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 20 40 60 80 100
Full house 7 14 21 28 35
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Three of a kind 2 4 6 8 10
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of kings or better 1 2 3 4 5

There are several different things you should notice immediately when comparing this game to Jacks or Better, aside from the different threshold for a winning combination. First of all, you’ll notice that the Jacks or Better has a higher payback for most hands. That’s to reflect the fact that the joker makes things a little easier for players in Joker Poker video poker.

But you might also notice that there are a couple of winning combinations that are only available on the Joker Poker video poker pay table. That’s because they’re only possible with a wild card in the deck. These special hands are the wild royal flush and five of a kind.

The wild royal flush differs from a pure royal flush because it includes a wild card. Take a look at the difference:

Wild royal flush:

Ten of Spades, Jack of Spades, Joker, King of Spades, Ace of Spades

Pure royal flush:

Ten of Spades, Jack of Spades, Queen of Spades, King of Spades, Ace of Spades

As for five of a kind, you can achieve that hand by coming up with four of a kind and a joker. For example:

Ace of Spades, Ace of Hearts, Ace of Clubs, Ace of Diamonds, Joker

The presence of these wild-card-only hands in Joker Poker video poker helps to offset the lower payback for other winning combinations. You’ll find it comes out to a relatively even trade-off once you’ve played both games.

One thing to note: Because Kings or Better is the most common spin on Joker Poker video poker, you’re likely to find many different pay tables. Take a look at one of the alternatives that you’re likely to encounter.

Joker Poker (Kings or Better) Alternate Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4,000
Five of a kind 200 400 600 800 1,000
Wild royal flush 100 200 300 400 500
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 20 40 60 80 100
Full house 6 12 18 24 30
Flush 5 10 15 20 25
Straight 3 6 9 12 15
Three of a kind 2 4 6 8 10
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of kings or better 1 2 3 4 5

Aces or Better Joker Poker Video Poker

Aces or Better is a relatively rare twist on Joker Poker video poker, but you might be able to find it if you look. The name explains what it is: the first winning combination on the pay table is a pair of aces instead of a pair of kings. This raises the volatility level of the game a bit, since you’ll actually have fewer winning hands as you play.

Aces or Better adds some compensation elsewhere on the pay table. Specifically, it is the rare video poker variation that offers more for five of a kind than any other hand. It also features no distinction between a pure royal flush and a wild royal flush.

Take a look at the pay table you might find for Aces or Better Joker Poker video poker:

Joker Poker (Aces or Better) Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 100 200 300 400 500
Five of a kind 640 1,280 1,920 2,560 3,200
Wild royal flush 100 200 300 400 500
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 12 24 36 48 60
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 2 4 6 8 10
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of aces or better 1 2 3 4 5

Two Pair Joker Poker Video Poker

While not quite as common as the Kings or Better version of the game, you should be able to find casinos and gambling websites that give you access to the two pair version of Joker Poker video poker. In this case, your lowest winning hand is two pair, meaning that no high pair gets it done. As a result, this is the most volatile of all Joker Poker variations.

To make up for the higher threshold for a winning hand, Two Pair Joker Poker video poker gives you increased payback for other hands on the pay table. That allows you to boost your winnings in a hurry more than on other Joker Poker games. As a result, this is the version of Joker Poker that jackpot-lovers should be seeking out.

Take a look at the full-pay version of Joker Poker video poker with two pair as the lowest winning hand:

Joker Poker (Two Pair) Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 5,000
Five of a kind 100 200 300 400 500
Wild royal flush 50 100 150 200 250
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind 20 40 60 80 100
Full house 10 20 30 40 50
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 5 10 15 20 25
Three of a kind 2 4 6 8 10
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5

Payback Percentage for Joker Poker Video Poker

Percent Sign in Front of MoneyPayback percentage is the ultimate determining factor for those who want to play video poker with the idea of making money off it over a long period of time. Ideally, those players should be seeking a payback percentage of around 99% or above.

Games like that will keep the house edge down and will give you the chance of making up some of the money you lose through loyalty programs at gambling sites or casinos.

To determine payback percentage, you have to combine the payback amounts on the pay table with the likelihood of achieving those hands. We’ve done the math for you, so here are the payback percentages for the full-pay versions of the different Joker Poker video poker variations:

  • Kings or Better: 100.65%
  • Aces or Better: 98.61%
  • Two Pair: 99.92%

As you can see, Kings or Better offers the best payback if you can find the full-pay version. The two pair version of Joker Poker video poker isn’t that far behind in the pecking order. Aces or Better lags well back, mainly because you don’t have many of those games from which to choose.

If you can find the full-pay version of Kings or Better Joker Poker video poker, you should try to grab a seat and play, whether in a casino or at a online casino site. With perfect strategy, you can expect to make a profit playing the game. And that’s before you even factor in casino and gambling site loyalty rewards which can add to your bottom line playing the game.

Strategy for Joker Poker Video Poker

As we said near the top of this article, you will have the chance to impact your gameplay by the strategic decisions you make. What you might not realize is that there is a definitive right and wrong when it comes to video poker strategy. On any given deal you receive playing Joker Poker video poker, there is one sequence of holds and discards that will maximize your earnings in the long haul.

That phrase “in the long haul” is key. Over a short period of time, good or bad luck on the draw will tend to drive your results. In other words, you could win making the wrong decisions and lose making the right ones.

But, over time, luck will give way to probability. Thus, if you are going to be a long-term Joker Poker video poker, you have to learn perfect strategy. And that means taking into account the wild-card aspect of the game.

Strategizing With Wild Cards

As we showed you above, you have to try to speculate how a wild card might work in your final hand when you get one in a Joker Poker video poker deal. Obviously, you know you’ll be holding on to a joker on pretty much all occasions when one comes on the deal. But what you do with the other cards is what’s important.

Trying to figure out the right plays on your own will inevitably lead to mistakes. Even a math genius would have a hard time processing all the hand probability and pay table information in a matter of seconds. And yet you have to get it right every time to make the most out of your play.

How can you do that? Well, it’s simple, really. Just get some help with your Joker Poker video poker strategy.

Strategy Resources for Video Poker

The good news is that video poker is popular enough that you can find plentiful strategic resources to help you on your quest to perfect play. First, you have to make sure that any instruction you receive is tailored to Joker Poker video poker. If not, you could end up with the wrong plays, especially if the instruction doesn’t factor in the joker.

Once you do that, you just have to get some help from resources available to you. These resources have already done all the heavy lifting in terms of the math involved. All you have to do is drink in the information.

Here are the two methods of learning Joker Poker video poker strategy that we highly recommend:

  • Strategy Charts: These charts, which can be found online, are the best way to learn strategy in a hurry. If you can memorize the charts, you’ll have all the information you need. Each chart ranks card combinations in terms of their value to the hand, which you can then use to identify the cards you should hold in each deal.
  • Video Poker Training Software: Training software is a nice way to learn if you’re just starting out with video poker, because it lets you play sample hands. As you play, the software will tell you which cards you should be holding and which you should be discarding for every Joker Poker video poker deal. In that way, you’ll get the hang of the strategy once you’ve put enough time practicing that the right moves become clear the moment you see each deal.

Joker Poker Video Poker Pros and Cons


  • Wild card play makes you feel like even rare winning combinations are within reach
  • The pay tables give you higher payback for those combination than on Deuces Wild
  • Many pay tables offer excellent payback compared to other video poker versions

  • Forming a winning hand gets difficult without a wild card
  • Learning strategy is a little bit trickier than it would be for non-wild card games
  • Only one joker in a deck of 53 means that you won’t see the card that often


Joker Poker video poker has enjoyed great popularity in the video poker world for many reasons. Even part-time poker players know the concept of wild cards and what kind of excitement they bring to the action. When you factor in the potential for excellent payback from specific pay tables, it’s no wonder that this is a game that many enthusiasts insist on playing.