Peek and Play Video Poker

For gamblers who wish they could have an extra advantage and get a look at cards that they can’t normally see, Peek and Play video poker is the perfect game for you. It provides a twist on regular video poker if you bet a little bit more than usual. That twist is the chance for you to see the first card that you will receive on the draw, which will really help you out when it comes to choosing the cards from your deal that you want to hold or discard.

Playing Card in Hand

Video poker is played pretty much the same no matter which machine you’ve found or what online game you’ve discovered. Some machines add different amounts to the pay table to create the chance for bigger jackpots for rare hands. Others add wild card elements to allow you to reach hands that you normally couldn’t hope to achieve.

But there are some video poker games which give you a chance to play the game just a little differently. Peek and Play video poker is certainly one of those games. As is the case with most of these video poker games with extra features, you need to make an extra bet for the feature to be in play.

In the case of Peek and Play video poker, that extra bet is two coins past the usual maximum of five. For the seven coins bet, you can get a “peek” at the first card that will be coming your way on the draw. That will allow you to assess the cards that you have received on the deal with that knowledge in hand.

Imagine the advantages of knowing what that card on the draw might be. It will often change your strategy from what it might have been had you been playing the game in normal fashion. And it will greatly bolster your chances of succeeding on a hand-to-hand basis enough that the extra feature can be well worth the extra money that you have to pay to acquire access to it.

In the following article, we’ll give you a look at how to play Peek and Play video poker by first showing you how to play video poker in its most basic form. Then we’ll look at how the extra feature affects play and show how different pay tables from across the video poker spectrum can be applied to the game. Finally, we’ll assess how to develop a strategy for the game and also talk about the game’s benefits and drawbacks.

Basic Video Poker Game Play

As we mentioned above, a background in basic video poker play is all you really need to know to get started playing Peek and Play video poker. And, luckily, video poker is an extremely easy game to learn. And that’s the case whether you have a solid background in table-game poker play or have never played the game in your life.

Once you learn how to play video poker, don’t be surprised if you never want to play another game in a casino, physical or online, again. Video poker is beloved because of how it combines the strategic nature of table games with the you-versus-the-machine aesthetic of slot machines. On top of all that, the payout that you can expect from the game, on an average basis, is as competitive as it comes in the casino world.

As we said, you can play video poker games all on your own with no pressure from any other casino patrons or employees. You can also play at your own pace. And the nature of the game translates very well to an online experience since your computer or tablet screen can be made to look exactly like an actual video poker machine’s screen.

But video poker is far from the random experience that slot machines are. You get a chance to influence your outcomes by the decisions that you make while playing. And you can also expect certain outcomes based on the probabilities of making poker hands, meaning that you sort of know what to expect from each machine that you play.

Knowing all that, it’s a good idea to get a firm hold on the rhythm of basic video poker before you branch out to some of the more complex versions such as Peek and Play video poker. To that end, here is a step-by-step look at how to play from the time you walk up to a machine to the moment you want to quit playing.

Step 1: Putting in Your Money

The money that you insert into the machine, via cash or a redemption ticket, is known in video poker as your bankroll. And that bankroll is registered on the machine as credits or coins. Each of these units is equal to one unit of the machine’s base denomination.

Some machines allow you to choose between several denominations, while others have a set denomination. You might choose to play for a small amount like a nickel or go for a higher total like a dollar. Remember that you can bet multiple credits, up to seven at a time on a game like Peek and Play video poker.

All you have to do to figure out how many credits you have to work with is divide the amount you put into the machine by the denomination. If you put $10 into a 25-cent machine, you’ll have 40 credits to start (10 divided by .25). Try to insert enough money to allow you to play for the amount of time you wish, taking into account that video poker hands can fly by very quickly once you learn how to play.

Step 2: Deciding on Your Bet

In most cases, you are always better off making the maximum wager of five coins per hand. As we mentioned above, you go even higher in Peek and Play video poker and bet seven coins per hand to activate the “Peek” feature on the game. But you still have the option of betting less.

There are several problems with playing one through four coins on Peek and Play video poker machines. First of all, you can only get the maximum payout for the royal flush hand by playing at least five coins. That means that you are short-changing yourself by playing less.

In addition, we will show you how the extra feature in Peek and Play video poker will actually add to your payback percentage on the average. Therefore, your best chance of making the most out of your game is to bet seven coins per hand. If you find that this is a bit too expensive for you, you can always switch to a game with a lower denomination.

In any case, to toggle between the coins you want to bet, use the “Bet” buttons up and down. Or you can simply hit the “Max Bet” button. Hitting this button will automatically trigger the deal, as will the button that says something like “Bet Previous Amount,” which is recommended if you want to stay with the same bet on a consistent basis.

Step 3: Playing out a Video Poker Hand

Once you have triggered the deal, five cards will appear on your screen. This is the beginning of a process that is essentially the same as the card game five card draw. You will be getting a deal and a draw to make the best possible hand.

When you’re playing five card draw, you’re usually trying to make a hand that is better than the other players at the table. But in the case of video poker, all you’re trying to do is make a winning hand as determined by the pay table of the game that you’re playing. Pay tables can sometimes differ in terms of what the winning hands are, but here are ones that you’ll encounter the most, in order of most common and least valuable to least common and most valuable:

  • Pair of jacks or better
  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight (five cards in consecutive order)
  • Flush (five cards of the same suit)
  • Full house (three of a kind and a pair in one hand)
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush (straight with cards of the same suit)
  • Royal flush (ten through ace of the same suit)

When you see the initial five cards that you receive on the screen (your deal), you have to assess and see if any of the combinations of cards make a winning hand. Or you can look to see if you have at least the seeds of a winning hand. Remember that you’ll have a chance to improve upon it on the draw.

For the moment, we won’t get into the “Peek” version of Peek and Play video poker, sticking instead to the basic video poker game. And you can play the basic game if you bet five credits or less. Here is a sample deal you might receive:

Poker Hand for Peek and Play Poker

Taking a look at this hand, you can see that you already have a winning hand with the pair of kings. You also have four clubs, which puts you one short of a flush. And you have the three through five of clubs, which puts you in the ballpark for a straight flush.

You have one opportunity to discard any or all of the cards in your hand and have them replaced with cards from the same deck that gave you the original deal. That means that there are 47 possible cards that you might draw, minus the five that you were already dealt. You can also keep all five cards from your deal if you think that you can’t improve upon them.

When you are faced with a hand like this with many possibilities in terms of directions you can go, you have to weigh your choices. Do you go for the long shot of drawing just the right two cards for the royal flush, knowing that your reward for drawing the right cards will be great? Or should you play it safe and stick with the two kings, knowing that you’ll at least get your original wager back and can possibly improve it with three cards to draw?

Or you can go for the middle ground, trying for the flush. In that case, you would need to draw one of the 10 remaining clubs in the deck, which has 47 cards remaining. That would get you a better payoff than the pair of kings, but not as lofty as the straight flush.

This hand is a particularly difficult example of the choices that you face on a video poker hand. There will be hands that are much simpler to dissect. When you make your choice, hit the buttons directly underneath the cards you wish to hold.
Once that is done, hit the “Draw/Deal” button to see what cards you receive. That completes your hand. Any winnings will be added to your credits; the initial bet will have been deducted at the start of the hand.

Step 4: Playing Again or Quitting and Cashing Out

You can continue to play at your video poker machine as long as there are credits left in the machine. Or you can hit the “Cash Out” button and take a redemption ticket to be used elsewhere in the casino (or cashed out). Once you lose all of your credits, you will have to replenish your bankroll before you can continue.

Playing Video Poker Online

As far as gameplay is concerned, the mechanics of online real money video poker is pretty much the same as it is at an actual casino. The only difference comes in terms of how you create a bankroll. To do that on a gambling website, you’ll have to create an account.

Creating an account usually means providing personal information and some sort of credit card. Or the sites in question might allow some sort of alternative such as cryptocurrency. In any case, you just have to allot some of your account money as a bankroll for the video poker game you’ve chosen and you can go from there.

Now that you have all the details on playing basic video poker, both online and in casinos, you’re ready to check out Peek and Play video poker. And by that, we mean that you’re ready to take a “Peek” at the fascinating twist to the game.

The Peek and Play Video Poker Extra Feature

Peek and Play video poker is a game that can be played like normal video poker if you only bet one through five coins at a time. But you can play the game with an extra twist by betting seven coins per hand. This is not cheap, of course, but it can make you a winner in the long run thanks to the “Peek” option being activated.

As we showed you in the tutorial above, you know what cards you get on the deal, but you can’t possibly know what’s to come on the draw. That’s what it makes it so hard to decide which cards to discard and which to hold with each hand. But Peek and Play video poker gives you a way to aid in that decision-making process.

With the extra bet, you can get a look at the first card that will come to you on the draw. That takes a lot of the guesswork out from how you should play your deal. And it very easily could have an effect on how you play the hand.

Let’s go back to that deal that we showed you above. As you recall, it was:

Poker Hand for Peek and Play Poker

Now imagine that you have activated the Peek and Play video poker twist. On the left side of the screen, a card separate from the deal will show up peeking out of a little pocket. This is the first card that you will receive on the draw.

As we mentioned above, you have a lot of different choices about what to hold and discard here. The “Peek” could very easily point you in the right direction. For example, imagine that the “Peek” card is:

Peek Card - 9 of Spades

You know that this card will make a flush for you if you drop the king of hearts. Therefore, your decision is made a lot easier.

Let’s try another one. Imagine that the peek card is:

Peek Card - 7 of Spades

When you see that card, you’ll know that you can’t make your flush or your straight flush. At that point, it’s clear that the best way to go forward with the hand is to stick with the two kings. They are already a winning hand and can easily be improved to something even better on the draw.

Alas, Peek and Play video poker won’t always make your decision easier. Let’s say that your “Peek” card is the following:

Peek Card - 6 of Clubs

On the one hand, you know that you can have a flush if you just drop the king of hearts. But you also know that the six of clubs gives you an open-ended draw to a straight flush. If you were to drop the two kings, you could then make the high-paying straight flush with either the two of clubs or the seven of clubs.

Here is another fun example of what a “Peek” card can do. Imagine you get the following deal:

Peek and Play Poker Hand

Normally, this would be a no-brainer decision. You would keep all of the cards and take the straight flush with glee. With the Peek and Play video poker option, you might just see this as the “Peek” card:

Peek Card - Ace of Spades

That means that you could drop the nine of spades, replace it with the ace of spades, and you’d have the royal flush. The most lucrative hand in the game opens up to you only because you had the chance to take a look at that first draw card. Obviously, this would be an extremely lucky turn of events, but it shows how rare hands become much more likely in Peek and Play video poker.

You have to weigh the tradeoffs of playing with the extra feature. A seven-coin wager is pretty hefty, especially since you will only get paid for a pay table based on five coins. If you go several hands without a winner, you could find your bankroll falling quickly.

But the Peek and Play video poker option can improve your payouts on the short term, if not the long term. It achieves this by putting the possibility of bigger hands much more in play. However, if you want to play this game on a serious level, you might be better off sticking with the basic form of the game and the higher overall payback percentage.

Pay Tables in Peek and Play Video Poker

Peek and Play video poker allows you to choose from a variety of pay tables that will mimic the pay tables of some of the most popular video poker variations. You can choose pay tables that give you more chances at big scores in a short amount of time. Or you can go a more conservative route with games that allow you to grind out winnings and play for a long time with less of a chance of blowing out your bankroll.

Here is a sampling of the pay tables that you might encounter when playing Peek and Play video poker. These pay tables are all full-pay, which means they represent the best possible payouts you can receive from them. Keep in mind that you might come upon other pay tables that fall short of the full-pay level depending upon where you find the game in a casino or online.

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 35 70 105 140 175
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flsuh 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Bonus Poker Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 200 400 600 800 1,000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind (aces) 90 180 270 360 450
Four of a kind (2s, 3s, or 4s) 50 100 150 200 250
Four of a kind (any other) 40 80 120 160 200
Full house 8 16 24 32 40
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Double Double Bonus 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 aces without any 2,3,4 400 800 1,200 1,600 2,000
Four 2s, 3s, 4s without any A,2,3,4 200 400 600 800 1,000
Four aces 200 400 600 800 1,000
Four 2s, 3s, or 4s 110 220 330 440 550
Four 5s through Ks 66 132 198 264 330
Full house 10 20 30 40 50
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
Three of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
Two pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Pair of jacks + 1 2 3 4 5

Deuces Wild Pay Table

Coins/Hand 1 Coin 2 Coins 3 Coins 4 Coins 5 Coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1,000 4,000
Four deuces 200 400 600 800 1,000
Wild royal flush 30 60 90 120 150
Five of a kind 17 34 51 68 85
Straight flush 14 28 42 56 70
Four 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
Three of a kind 1 2 3 4 5

Payback Percentages for Peek and Play Video Poker

One of the trickiest things about Peek and Play video poker is trying to figure payback percentages. Although the pay tables don’t compensate enough for the extra two coins wagered to make up the difference, it is also hard to mathematically judge how much the extra “Peek” adds. Still, even the most conservative estimates put this full-pay tables of the games above at over 98%.

While normally we would only recommend games at a level of 99% or above, Peek and Play video poker might be an exception. After all, the examples we showed you above showed how it can really make a big difference in steering you into winning hands that you might otherwise lose. You have to decide if it is worth it in the long haul to have hands like that be part of your video poker experience.

In the short term, it is much less important to worry about payback percentages. When you’re playing a short session of video poker, it doesn’t matter as much what the averages say. Your play will be determined more by luck than anything else.
In that case, it will come down to whether or not you like the twist in Peek and Play video poker. If you do, you’re likely to give it a shot. And if not, you can always play the game without the twist involved.

Determining Strategy for Peek and Play Video Poker

Normally, we would recommend the following two methods for learning video poker strategy:

  • Video Poker Trainers: This is software that is meant to mimic how you might play on an actual video poker machine. The software tells you when you make a mistake in terms of playing a hold or a discard based on probability math. After playing with the software for a while, you will have the right choices pretty much drilled into your gameplay.
  • Strategy Charts: These charts are found online for the various video poker pay tables and they rank the combinations of cards you might receive on the deal. By comparing your combinations to the ones on the chart, you’ll be able to tell which ones to hold. Memorizing a strategy chart can guarantee you perfect play.

The problem is that the Peek and Play video poker twist throws a monkey wrench into normal strategy directions. Take the following hand in Jacks or Better video poker:

Peek and Play Poker Hand

Normally, the strategy for this hand would be to hold the four straight diamonds and go for the straight flush or flush. But what if you have the twist activated and get the following card:

Peek Card - 6 of Hearts

Obviously, the flushes are out the window, but your pair of sixes becomes much more valuable to you. You would hold your pair, knowing that you have at least three of a kind waiting and maybe more if the other two cards on the draw go your way. The normal strategy is completely upended.

Still, you shouldn’t completely disregard your normal strategy preparations when playing Peek and Play video poker. Knowing good strategy will give you the background you need to choose correctly after you see the “Peek” card. And that ultimately will be the best way for you to maximize your winnings in the game.

Pros and Cons of Peek and Play Video Poker

Benefits of Peek and Play VP

  • Improved decision-making ability with the extra feature of the “Peek” card
  • Better chances of making big hands by knowing what is coming on the draw
  • Many different pay tables from which to choose
Drawbacks of Peek and Play VP

  • Strategy becomes a bit more confusion than normal video poker
  • Expensive game to play with the extra two coins required to get the “Peek” card
  • Extra feature doesn’t necessarily improve payback percentage

Final Words on Peek and Play Video Poker

Peek and Play video poker, whether you’re playing in a casino or trying it out at an online casino site, gives you that chance to do a little legal cheating by seeing what’s coming on the first draw card. It’s hard to say if it is worth the extra bet to do it. But it certainly makes for a great challenge for those who like something a little fun and different from their video poker games.