Video poker has always ranked among the best-value games at traditional casinos, and it’s no different when you gamble online. The top Australian casino websites offer numerous versions of electronic poker, including standard single-play editions, multi-hand games and even progressive jackpot titles.
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While they do require a certain amount of skill, these variants are very easy to learn and tend to favour the house by a much narrower margin than most online casino games. We’ll take you through the rules, strategy and various gameplay options, and show you how and where to play the best video poker games online.
How to play online video poker
Video poker is heavily influenced by five-card draw. The run of play is dead simple: players receive five cards each and may then throw out and replace (discard and draw) any or all of those cards in search of the best possible poker hand. This is among the easiest poker styles to learn, and was probably one of the first card games you were taught as a kid.
Internet video poker follows that very same premise, but with one big difference: instead of playing against other people, the aim is to qualify for one of the listed payouts. Most games follow the Jacks or Better format, where you need at least a pair of Jacks to win anything, but specific hands can earn different rewards from title to title.
Almost all digital poker games go a little something like this:
Deal – Place your bet and hit the ‘Deal’ button to receive five cards. Most games use one standard deck of 52, although some variants add in one or more Jokers.
Discard and draw – Decide which cards you want to hold and which you want to discard, then click/tap on the ones you wish to keep and hit the ‘Deal’ or ‘Draw’ button. The held cards will remain in place, while the rest will be thrown out and replaced with fresh ones.
Payouts – If your final hand matches one of those listed on the paychart, you win according to the odds shown. If you fail to qualify, you get nothing.
Many real money video poker games also come with the option to gamble your winnings, much like on a traditional Australian pokies machine. This is a double-or-nothing wager where you must either pick red or black, or beat the dealer’s card. Choose correctly to double your win, but miss the mark and you will lose the whole lot.
Paycharts & betting options
The vast majority of video poker games allow you to stake one, two, three, four, or five coins per hand, with payouts listed for each bet size. In truth, however, there is usually only one option which offers real bang for your buck.
Beginners might not realise it at first glance, but just about every Australian video poker game offers significantly better odds when you play the maximum five coins per hand. This is usually due to a jackpot bonus on the royal flush, as shown here on the pay scale for Microgaming’s Jacks or Better release:
|Hand||1 coin||2 coins||3 coins||4 coins||5 coins|
|Four of a kind||25||50||75||100||125|
|Three of a kind||3||6||9||12||15|
|Jacks or better||1||2||3||4||5|
While every other hand pays the same odds regardless of coins wagered, the royal flush jumps from 250 for 1 to 4000 (or 800 for 1) when you bet five units. This has a big effect on the house edge, reducing the casino’s mathematical advantage from 1.63 per cent down to just 0.46 per cent.
Other, more exotic variants can offer jacked-up payout odds on certain other hands, too. Bonuses on fours of a kind are very common, for instance, but they often result in subtle shifts to the values of other hands in order to balance the books and ensure the house retains a slight advantage.
Video poker strategy
In order to achieve the lowest possible house edge on real cash video poker, you need to employ the correct strategy for your game of choice. The idea is very similar to basic blackjack strategy: a series of set plays covering every potential combination of cards. Each play is ranked by priority, and all you have to do is make sure you take the highest-ranked option possible every time.
We will bring you strategy charts for all the most popular online video poker games. They are easy to follow and shouldn’t take long to master once you decipher the poker lingo. The great thing about playing at Internet casinos is that you don’t have to learn all the moves by heart – you can simply keep a chart open in your Web browser, or print it out if you prefer, and use it as a kind of cheat sheet.
Games Available at Internet Casinos
Video poker is available at every online casino worth its salt. Our top-ranked video poker sites for Australians carry dozens of varieties, including games which feature some of the most player-friendly odds you will find at any real money casino on the Web. Here are just a few of our favourite titles.
All Aces Poker (Microgaming) – When it comes to value for money, All Aces video poker is as good as it gets. The version found at Casino-Mate and other trusted Microgaming sites holds a house edge of only 0.08 per cent – which, to the best of our knowledge, is the lowest of any virtual casino game out there.
Jacks or Better Double Up (Net Entertainment) – Jacks or Better video poker is the bread and butter upon which all the most common variants are based, but this multi-hand release takes it to another level. Available at NetEnt casinos like Guts.com, the Double Up series comes with a five-stage gamble feature and a simple selector switch that allows you to play one, five, 10, or 25 hands at a time.
Split Way Royal (BetSoft) – This quirky video poker variant offers two shots at the royal flush: the traditional 10 J Q K A, as well as a 6 5 4 3 2 lowball hand. Both combinations pay 800 for 1, the pay scale is consistent whether you bet one coin or five, and the house edge comes in at just 0.21 per cent, which makes it a great option if you’re looking for value on a tight budget.
Mobile video poker
Besides mobile pokies and real money blackjack, video poker is one of the most widely available Australian casino games for smartphones and tablet computers. Top titles from leading developers like Microgaming and NetEnt can be played on Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry products, featuring intuitive gameplay optimisation and simple touch interfaces which are perfectly suited to the hold/draw function.
Download a dedicated mobile casino app from one of our trusted sites, play straight through your device’s Internet browser, or create a nifty Web application for your home screen. Whichever path you take, you get easy access to real money Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Joker Poker games and more – all on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Hints & tips
Always bet five coins. As we mentioned earlier, the royal flush jackpot means most video poker games are better value when you stake the maximum five coins per hand. There are a few exceptions (read Split Ways Royal), but the five-coin bet is almost always the safest way to go.
Look out for short pays. A bonus on one hand usually means a reduced payout on something else, while two different versions of the same game can often have contrasting pay charts. Make sure you’re getting the best odds available.
Take the gamble on small wins. It’s a random 50/50 wager with no house edge, so there is no real harm in going for the double-up option. Definitely take the risk on smaller payouts, where you can potentially turn $5 into $10, $20, $40, $80…
Play within your means. Like all forms of real money gambling, Internet video poker can become an expensive habit if you don’t set some boundaries. Stick to your bankroll and never bet what you can’t afford to lose.