Online Video poker Guide

One of the most popular online casino games played in South Africa is online video poker. Video poker games are a cross between a slot title and a traditional game of poker. Online video poker is an attractive casino gaming option as it combines a low house edge, the element of skill, and the possibility of big payouts.

Charles Fey is credited as the father and pioneer of video poker games. He built the first video poker machine, the Bell Slot Machine, in 1898. Since their inception, video poker machines have evolved to keep up with gambling trends, and this is true in the modern gambling era. Gamblers can play online video poker games and win. Furthermore, video poker bonuses at online casinos have grown in popularity and drawn in a large audience. Although it is a game of chance, online video poker challenges players to employ various survival strategies.

Video poker is one of the oldest casino games available to gamblers, and top casino software providers have continued to give it a facelift.

By Adiela de Bruyn - Updated 2024/02/08 - Estimated reading time: 16 minutes.

Table of contents

Online Video poker Guide

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How does video poker work?

The basics of video poker are derived from the standard poker rules. The purpose of the video poker game is to build the best possible hand using five cards. All the cards in the deck are valued from King down to 2, with the Ace representing the highest or lowest value, according to context.

At the beginning of the game, you place your bets, which usually range between one and five coins. You will be dealt five cards from the deck. In most cases, the deck will be the standard 52 cards, though some video poker game variants include the jokers. When your hand has been dealt, you can choose to keep or discard any of the cards by clicking or not clicking on the hold button beneath each one. When you are ready to proceed, you press the deal button. At this point, the discarded cards are replaced, and if you've won, you will receive the relevant Rand payout based on the pay-table figures and your initial bet.

The hands are ranked in order of value, and in standard video poker, the rankings follow those of the table game. The Royal Flush – consisting of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 from the same suit – is the most valuable, with the One Pair hand being the least valuable.

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Steps to play video poker

Video poker is one of the best strategy games to play because it becomes easy once you master it. To play free video poker or the real money version, you need to learn how to stay ahead. Here are the steps you need to play video poker:

Choose a Video Poker Game

The first step required is to select the video poker game of your choice. There are more than 100 video poker titles that cut across free video poker and paid titles. When you play video poker for money, ensure that you check the RTP (Return to Player) and payout table. Search for video poker casino games with bonus features that suit your taste.

Set Wager

Players are required to select how many credits they want to bet on each spin. The usual range for real money play or free games is within 1 to 5 units. The min. and max. bet limits are determined by the total worth of the pot. Players are allowed to increase and reduce their wager limits by using the arrows next to the wager/bet button.

Deal Cards

Press the "Deal" button for the video poker machine to deal you a hand.

Select the Cards to Keep

Select the cards you want to keep from the cards dealt to form a winning combination. Players can decide to Hold (keep cards), which may give them an edge while discarding those that cannot form a winning hand. Click on the cards you want to keep and select the "Deal/Draw" button to have the discarded cards replaced.

Know the Winning Hands

Wins and losses in video poker are determined by the value of your hand. Before gamblers start playing, they are advised to study the pay table of the video poker game and the value of hands in the poker hierarchy.

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Free video poker vs real money game

Free video poker games allow players to test out a title without using real money. In a real money game, players spend their money in each round, and they have the potential to win money rewards. What do these two types of video poker games offer?

Real Money Play

  • Real-money video poker machines have more varieties that players can choose from.
  • Players of real-money video poker games are eligible to receive various bonuses and rewards.
  • Playing video poker to win money or the progressive jackpot gives players a thrill that is unmatched by free video poker games.
  • Real-money players can try live dealer games and compete directly against professional dealers and other live players.

Free Online Poker

  • Free online video poker machines do not require players to wager real money as it is played for fun.
  • Free games can be played without creating an account at a casino. Free games are also easy to set up as they do not require downloads or special setups.
  • Players can use free games to test their video poker strategy and strengthen their skills. Learn basic strategy, and winning combinations, try new game varieties, and appreciate the odds of getting four aces or a royal flush.
  • Free video poker is available to play at top casinos and mobile gambling websites/apps. Gamblers can start playing their favourite free video poker machine in an optimal way from any online casino of their choice.
Video Poker

Video Poker "Jacks or Better" as found at Springbok Casino.


Video poker variations

There are several interesting video poker variants available at South African online casinos, and it is worth checking them out to find the version that best suits you. Each video poker variant has its own unique set of rules that guide how gamblers play. Here are some of the popular video poker games available at online casinos:

Jacks or Better

The most popular variation of video poker is Jacks or Better. In this game, the minimum hand that pays out is a pair of Jacks, and the player gets an even money payout for a pair of Jacks or higher. Jacks or Better is played with classic cards which contain Ace to Kings in four suits. Deuces Wild is another popular variant, which employs the standard deck. In this game, the deuces (or number 2s) are wild cards and the minimum winning hand is three of a kind. Many players prefer Jacks or Better because of the game's simplicity.

Double Double Bonus Poker

Double Double Bonus poker is a video poker variant designed to offer bigger payouts for lower-value hands. In this variant, you can earn up to 2000-1 win if you line up four Aces with a low-value card. Although this payout is half what you would earn with a Royal Flush, it's still a bigger payout than you would usually find with a Four-of-a-Kind hand in most variants.

Double Bonus Poker

Double bonus poker is similar to the Jacks or Better variant, but it is a bit more complex. The game has an increased variance due to its rules and how the machine pays. Like in Jacks or Better, the lowest winning combination in Double bonus poker is a two pair of jacks, but four-of-a-kind combinations have an increased payout. For instance, four aces have a higher payout than four kings.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild video poker game is played without a joker in the deck. In this variation, deuces (2s) become wild cards and can be used to substitute any card to form winning combinations. The lowest-ranking combination in Deuces Wild is the Three-of-a-kind because of the wild card options available each round. Deuces Wild differs from Jacks or Better because it removes the Joker and makes it a bit more tricky for players to win.

Pick'em Poker

This video poker variant is different from all the other games on this list. Instead of getting 5 cards at the beginning, players receive two cards and have to choose one card each from the next rounds of two cards until their hand is complete. When players pick the cards they want to keep, the second one is discarded. This video poker variant is simpler than the other variations because it does not have wild cards or other complicated rules. It is a casual alternative to the high-intensity of Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild video poker.

Joker's Wild

Joker's Wild video poker game is the direct opposite of Deuces Wild. In this Video poker variant, the joker acts as the wild card that can replace any card in a hand. Players are also expected to get a pair of kings to trigger wins or payouts. With the right video poker strategy, players will increase their win percentage. This video poker variation uses a 53 card deck which contains one joker.

Other Games

Apart from the video poker varieties listed above, there are other game variants available to players. If you're looking for a really big bonus poker payout, look for progressive video poker games. These are generally Jacks or Better variants, in which a small percentage of each bet made goes towards a jackpot pool, which builds steadily over time. Although with these video poker games, the payout for a full house or a flush is lower than with normal versions, players have the chance to land a big jackpot, which can build up to a considerable sum.

Multi-hand video poker games allow gamblers to play multiple hands with some sessions offering as many as 50 hands at a time. Triple play video poker is a milder version of Multi-hand that allows players to participate in three hands at a time. Both the multi hand and triple play video poker variations are available for free play and real-money gambling. You can use the free play mode to learn about triple play and other variations before using your own money.

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Video poker strategy

The video poker strategy chart is a practical guide with immense benefits for beginners and experienced players. It is a visual representation of the optimal decisions to make in various situations during the game. At the core, the charts are on probabilities and mathematical calculations.

Examples include:

  • Starting hand: Royal Flush
  • How many cards to keep: 5
  • How many cards to replace: 0 (Congratulations)
  • Starting hand: Four to a Royal Flush
  • How many cards to keep: 4
  • How many cards to replace: 1 (Good luck)

The standard poker strategy chart contains 20 suggestions in sections. Each cell recommends action based on your current hand, with the most popular actions being to “Hold” or “Discard” cards. As a result, the strategy turns a game of pure chance into skill by providing an analytical edge. Start by selecting the right chart and understanding the column. Then, evaluate your hand, read the recommendations, and follow the priority order.

Use Pay Tables

Pay Tables outline the payouts for each possible winning hand in video Poker. Hence, understanding it allows a player to know which cards to hold or discard, making it a strategic blueprint. Naturally, poker machines with better pay tables boost profitability by increasing potential returns. Jacks or Better is a good example. The full pay table offers a 9/6 payout. In other words, a full house pays nine coins, and a flush coin pays six coins.

If you’re playing video poker on a machine with a lower pay table, adjust your strategy to prioritize certain hands over others. Likewise, focus on high-value hands in games like Jacks or Better. We recommend you practice with a demo game to grasp how pay tables and payouts work.

Study Poker Hand Rankings

The poker hand ranking is another strategy you can incorporate into your gameplay for a better video poker gameplay. Video poker, like its traditional variant, has hands that are categorized based on value. That said, a natural royal flush is the most valuable. Knowing how the cards rank will help you decide which card to keep or discard. The knowledge further helps players to identify potential winning combinations and the likelihood of winning with the remaining deck.

Take a look at the standard poker game hand ranking from the highest-ranking hand below:

  • Royal flush: A, K, Q, J, 10, all of the same suit.
  • Straight flush: five consecutive cards of the same suit minus the royal flush.
  • Quads: Four cards of the same rank.
  • Full house: Three cards of one rank and two of another.
  • Flush: Five play cards of the same suit but not in sequence.
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of different suits.
  • Trips: Three cards of the same rank.
  • Two pair: two sets of pairs of the same rank.
  • One pair: Two cards of the same rank.

Play Free Video Poker Games

We recommend you practise with free games to grasp the dynamics. The advantage of this approach is that you can test various titles without risking your money. On the downside, you cannot withdraw any winnings. Experiment with different games until you find the one that suits your playing style.

Use a Video Poker Budget

A budget is one of the common knowledge areas of gambling. Sadly, most players don’t pay attention to it. Over time, the lack of responsible gaming culminates into addiction, losses, and a host of gambling problems. Budget or bankroll management allows you to minimize losses, extend playing time, and make rational decisions. Beyond setting a budget, you must stick to it. Follow these steps to manage your bankroll with greater efficiency:

  • Determine how much you want to spend on a poker game session. Most importantly, ensure it is an amount you can afford to lose without significant financial impact.
  • Divide the budget into smaller units to avoid burning through the entire pile quickly.
  • Select poker game machines with lower bet requirements.
  • Don’t bet too much on a single hand.
  • Track your wins and losses to know when to take a break or reevaluate your strategy.
  • Don’t chase losses.
  • Cash out a portion of your winnings after a significant win.
  • Take breaks to refresh your mind.
  • Set win and loss limits, and stop playing when you hit either benchmark.

Play Maximum Coins

Playing the maximum coins increases payouts, especially if you do so for a top hand like a royal flush. For example, a game can pay 100x for a royal flush when you bet one coin Vs. 3000x when you bet five coins. That is 600x per coin instead of wagering 100x. When a game offers a bonus for playing the maximum number of coins, go for it. After all, it is a criterion to qualify for jackpots. However, don’t play it to the detriment of your bankroll.

Pick the Right Video Poker Game

Poker games are not created equal. Moreso, since there is a plethora of games in most casino libraries. They include Deuces Wild, Jacks or Better, and more. Bear in mind that each game has its unique strategy. As a result, finding the best fit and focusing on it allows you to hone your skills and understand the nuances.

Understand the variants and consider your skill level. If you’re a beginner, start with simpler games like Texas Hold’em or Jacks or Better. The former is widely played, and there are plenty of learning materials you can leverage. In contrast, the latter has an RTP of over 99%.

Practice Patience

Impatience during a poker game leads to poor decisions and financial losses. Poker is a game of luck, skill, and strategy. Hence, set realistic expectations for yourself. Focus on the long term and stay emotionally detached. Take breaks, practice mindfulness, and study to improve your gameplay. The secret is to wait for your opponent to come to you just like you would in a battle field and deliver the killing blow.

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Gaining an edge with video poker

One of the advantages of playing a better video poker is that it has one of the lowest house edges you will find in the Las Vegas online casino gaming world. For example, the most common version of the game – Jacks or Better – has a house edge of 0.46%. This is only slightly worse than the typical edge for Blackjack and is considerably better than games such as Baccarat.

In fact, with some versions of video poker, you can sometimes have a small edge over the casino if you use an optimal strategy. This element of skill makes video poker a more attractive option for experienced gamers than purely luck-based slot games. By taking the chance to practice in free mode (an option offered by most South African online casinos) you can sharpen your technique. Make sure you do this before switching to real money games.

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Thanks to its combination of the skill-based elements of poker with the speed, fun, and convenience of a slot game, video poker is top-rated. Loved by South African online casino gamblers, its low house edge also helps to make it a smart choice for shrewd players. The sheer number of variations on the standard game also means that is a bonus video poker version to suit any playing style, just like in a Las Vegas casino.

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Frequently asked questions about video poker

Where can I play video poker games?

You can play poker in any South African online or land-based casino that offers it. Be sure to read reviews and check licence information before choosing a website. Explore the gaming library and bonus offerings and test the site’s customer support services. Apart from casinos, try dedicated poker rooms, social poker clubs, and tournaments or events.

What type of video poker games are there?

There are different types of poker, each with its rules and strategies. Popular ones include Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker. You will also find Tens or Better, Progressive Jackpot Games, and more in casino libraries.

Do I need special software to play video poker?

This depends on the platform. Online casinos often allow play on their websites without downloading any app, while physical casinos don't require software. Some casinos offer iOS or Android apps for mobile-optimized gaming. There is no significant difference between playing via a web browser or software.

Can I play free online video poker?

Yes, many online casinos offer free play. It's suggested to play video poker games in free mode before wagering real money. Look for gaming websites or online casinos that support free play.

What is the difference between hold and discard?

To “Hold” means to keep a card for the next draw, believing it may contribute to a winning combination. “Discard” means to remove certain cards from your hand, as they are less likely to contribute to a win. Discarded cards are replaced with new ones in the next draw.

Author: Adiela de Bruyn

Adiela de Bruyn

Adiela de Bruyn, our founder, launched this site in 2016. Since then, she's written over 100 pages filled with crucial info to enhance your gaming experience. Her goal? To provide you with the best, most reliable online casino knowledge.

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Article published 2020/10/01