How to Mix Skill and Chance with this Online Video Poker Rundown

Searching for the elusive Royal Flush
The game of video poker has been around since the mid-nineteen seventies and is one of the most popular online casino games in Canada today. The game is a cornerstone game for most online casinos and virtually all of the top online casino game software providers design and produce interesting versions of the game.

One of the main reasons for the consistent popularity of video poker lies in its ability to cross the boundary between simple and highly accessible online slot games and more complicated casino games such as Texas Hold’em and other casino table poker variations. Video poker offers the ease of play and fun of online slots and indeed, shares a similar structure and format. At the same time, video poker takes things up a notch by offers a bit of basic poker strategy in every round or hand of video poker. Let’s take a closer look at how video poker works and also look at how you can use some strategy to win at video poker.

Joker poker power video poker

Online video poker is a great option for all sorts of online casino gamers and is very easy to play. The game format offers an interesting alternative to slots fans who could easily transition from slots to video poker, and benefit from the additional strategy angle required. Table game fans including blackjack players and table poker players will also find the format refreshing and fun. You can find great video poker games at any of our top recommended online Canadian casinos right now!

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Rules of Video Poker

Video poker explained in 5 easy steps:


Step 1:

There are tons of great online video poker games to choose from at our recommended Canadian online casinos. For our step by step guide, we’ve chosen a popular version of Jacks or Better which is available from NetEnt as well as a number of other online casino game software providers.

Step 2:

Once you have chosen your preferred version of video poker, take a moment or two to see how that particular game works. In our example, you can clearly see that there are a number of options available to you. Starting on the left, you can select how many hands you want to play and you can select your bet level. As you increase your bet level, you will notice at the top of the screen that the payout per winning hand combination also increases. In the middle of the screen is the deal button along with an option to bet the maximum amount on each hand. This particular video poker game also offers a side bet feature to increase your potential winnings.


Step 3:

After you have selected your bet level, you can go ahead and click on the bet button or on the bet max button if you prefer the high roller approach. Clicking on the bet button will produce a 5 card hand as can be seen in the above example. You can now decide which cards to keep and which cards to discard. Clicking on the hold button at the bottom of the card will hold the card and, when you click on the deal button again, cards without a hold will be replaced.

Step 4:

As you can see in the above screenshot, we have chosen to hold the two 5’s in hopes of creating a good hand with a pair. The game has now replaced the cards that we did not want to keep.


Step 5:

Unfortunately our aim to create a winning hand with a pair came to nothing and we lost the hand.

Our next hand produced a good selection of cards and, since the game is called Jacks or Better, the game automatically detected the two jacks present in our initial hand. This is a great feature of NetEnt video poker, making it fun and easy even for absolute beginners to enjoy. Since our two jacks were now on hold, we could deal again, discarding the remain three cards in this hand.

The result after two rounds shows a win with our two jacks and the game proclaims a “Jacks or better” win. You can now click on the bet button again which has transformed into a winnings collect button, very handy indeed.


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Online Video Poker Strategies

video-poker strategies

Unlike other online casino table games strategies, video poker strategies can be applied to specific video poker games. Video poker offers one of the lowest house edges of any online casino game and also offers a return to player of 98%-100% in some cases. As video poker borrows a lot from conventional five card table poker, similar strategies can be employed in how cards can be selected by value to make a winning video poker hand. Let’s take a look at some video poker games and their accompanying strategies.

Jacks or Better Poker Strategy

Jacks or Better is one of the most popular of all video poker games and offers a range of easy bets and card combinations. As the name implies, you need at least two jacks in your hand to a win. Some versions of Jacks or Better, the jacks can also be wild, meaning they can replace other cards for easier wins. Top winning hand combinations in Jacks or Better include:

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details about this strategy, it is a good idea to know what is the average payout scale for various hands on a Jacks or Better machine:

  • Jacks or Better: 1
  • Royal Flush: 800
  • Two Pair: 2
  • Straight Flush: 50
  • Three of a Kind: 3
  • Flush: 6
  • Four of a Kind: 25
  • Straight: 4
  • Full House: 9

Of course, you would want to obtain a hand with the highest value. After all, that is where the big money can be made. However, let’s face it – aiming to construct the best possible hand for yourself isn’t always easy!

The Jacks or Better Strategy revolves around a simple decision: keeping up to five of your cards, or discarding them to receive new ones. At times, though, your choice is made easy – for instance, if you were dealt ‘four of a kind’, you really would not want to swap any of those cards, with the exception of the fifth.

However, things may not always be so straightforward. Let’s suppose, for instance, that your five-card hand has a face card, such as a King, and includes a pair of 3s. While holding onto that pair will ensure a payout, keeping the King and discarding your other four cards would actually give you a higher average payout.

In the end, it’s the decisions you make that will get you close to even odds with the machine, and give yourself the best possible chance to win in video poker.

Getting any of the winning hands in your first hand is good and you should certainly hold those cards and discard any others that don’t fit in to the combo. Let’s take a look at some potential hands that you may be dealt in Jacks or Better and what the appropriate strategy should be:

First hand:

You get: a jack of hearts, a 4 of diamonds, a 5 of spades, 8 of clubs and a 9 of clubs

You should: keep the jack of hearts (the game is Jacks or Better), the rest of the cards won’t really help your winning hand so it is best to discard all of them. Your next hand might contain another jack in which case you will have a winning hand.

Second hand:

You get: 2 of clubs, 7 of diamonds, jack of spades, queen of hearts, and ace of spades

You should: you have an automatic pair of same suit cards in the jack and the ace of spades. This could potentially turn into a royal flush or at least a flush which is a winning hand. Discard the remaining cards and deal again.

Deuces Wild Video Poker Strategy

The strategy for Deuces Wild is pretty much the same as Jacks of Better. However, the fact that all the deuces (the 2s) are wild cards adds an extra layer to the game. If you aren’t dealt any 2s, the game fundamentally remains the same. However, once you bring a 2 into the mix, things may end up getting a little crazy.

If you are dealt five 2s, you would obviously want to keep them all as this creates a payout for a five of a kind. If you get three 2s, on the other hand, you are generally better off keeping them, if you are not dealt a royal flush. Things tend to get more complicated, though, when you are dealt either one or two 2s.


In Deuces Wild, you can substitute any other card with a two card which can make winning hand combinations much easier to get. Let’s look at some basic five card hands in Deuces Wild and the appropriate response to each.

First Hand

You get: queen of diamonds, 2 of spades, 6 of diamonds, 7 of diamonds, 8 of diamonds

You should: you already have what is known as a pat flush but can use the 2 to create a 4 card straight flush.

Joker Wild Strategy

The strategy for Joker Wild and Deuces Wild Poker are quite similar. The only key difference is that there are four deuces and just two Jokers in a standard deck of cards. As you can probably guess, this means that your ROI isn’t going to be as strong as in Deuces Wild. However, the infrequency at which the Jokers turn up does make the game more interesting.

If a Joker doesn’t show up in your five-card hand, however, you should refer to the table above for Deuces Wild, and follow that to the letter. This is because when you aren’t dealt a Joker, it’s as if you are playing a regular game of Jacks or Better.

Double Bonus Strategy

The Double Bonus Strategy is quite similar to Jacks or Better, but there’s a little twist: A, 2, 3 and 4 cards have a slight extra value. You can get real specific with your hand preferences, but if you already have the Jacks or Better table memorized or table handy, you would be better off giving hands that feature multiple A, 2, 3, or 4 cards a bump up.

More on Video Poker Odds

All video poker games work on a five card hand combination and these different card combinations are based on standard poker hand values.

Video poker hand values range from:

  • Royal Flush: suited 10, K, Q, J, A
  • Straight Flush: Sequence of 5 suited cards
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards all with the same number value
  • Full House: Three of a kind + a pair
  • Flush: Five cards all of the same suit
  • Straight: Five cards in a straight sequence
  • Three of a kind: Three cards of the same number value
  • Two pair: two different pairs of two different card values
  • One pair: a pair of the same card value

Winning odds on most video poker machines are good as most machines will require a simple minimum hand such as a pair (jacks or better for example).

Reasons to love online video poker:

  • Video poker is very easy to learn to play compared to most casino games online
  • Video poker offers the fun and excitement of online slots with the challenge of poker strategy
  • Top Canadian online casinos offer great video poker games with great bonus and promotions to play them

Some things you may not love:

  • Online video poker is a solo game with no interaction with dealers or other players
  • Video poker is a fast game and it can be easy to lose track of your playing budget

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Last Updated: June 27, 2023