Posts Tagged ‘Tens or better’

Video poker rules

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Video poker is a very popular game at casinos and online casinos. The rules are rather simple, but it requires to apply a strategy, unlike games purely based on chance such as roulette or craps.

This game is played by one player with one machine like with a slot machine. Depending on the cards you are dealt, you can make money. The game of video poker is based on draw poker: at each hand you are dealt five cards, and you can discard any number of your cards in an attempt to draw to a better hand, as your cards will be replaced with other cards.

The hand ranking is the usual poker hand ranking, royal flush, straight flush,…,down to one pair and high card. Depending on what hand you get, there is a predefined payout.

There are many variations of video poker, the most common being “Jacks or Better”. In Jacks or Better and for one unit of betting, a royal flush pays 800, a straight flush pays 50, four of a kind pays 25, a full house pays 9, a flush pays 6, a straight pays 4, a set pays 3, two pairs pays 2, and Jack or Better pays 1. The rarer the hand, the higher the payout, with the royal flush paying massively more than the next best hand, the straight flush. This game only gives approximately a 0.50% edge to the house.

Other variations of video poker follow the same principle, what changes is the hands that have a payout, and the payouts themselves. For instance in Ten or Better, the lowest hand to pay one is a pair of tens instead of a pair of jacks, but some of the other payouts change also.

In another version called “Double Bonus”, the rules are the same as Jack or Better, with the addition of four aces paying a special bonus. The payouts are not identical in all “Double Bonus” video poker machines, but in the most attractive ones, the house has a slightly negative edge of -0.2%.

This is a great situation for gamblers, but note that in order to benefit from this advantage, a player must play “perfectly”, which is far from obvious. Playing perfectly means following an optimal strategy with respect to drawing hands. It is required first to find the optimal moves and then to follow them strictly, and this is the tough part.

Anyway the point is that video poker is a very entertaining gambling game where the casinos do not rip off the players with an outrageous statistical advantage. Two good reasons to give it a try if you have not yet done so.