Video poker has captured the interest of millions of players across the world which is easy to explain with the game’s relative simplicity, lower house edge, dynamics, and potentially lucrative payouts. Unlike standard poker, the video variation relies on luck but there is also a certain element of skill involved since players can make decisions as well. There are plenty of variations to choose from online and many of those are available in a multi-hand mode where it is possible to play up to a hundred hands at a time.
The game borrows its rules from the most basic form of poker, which is the Five-Card Draw so if you have played this, you most certainly will be able to get a grasp on video poker in next to no time. If not, the first thing to do (after learning the rules, of course) is to acquaint yourself with the ranking of the hands in video poker. This is of essential importance because the payouts are based solely on the type of hands players are holding as well as on the number of credits they have bet.
In the following article, we will go over all the hands one can possibly form in video poker, including the standard hands as well as some others, which are specific to certain video poker variations you can play online, such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Tens or Better, Deuces and Jokers, and Bonus Poker.
The Standard Ranking of Hands in Video Poker
In this section, we have listed all the standard hands in poker which are largely applicable to video poker as well. These are ranked in descending order as we start with the highest, the Natural Royal Flush, and proceed to the lowest or the Two Pair.
Those who are familiar with standard poker may notice that two hand rankings, the One Pair and the High Card, are normally not included in video poker. Depending on the variation, players may be able to form a qualifying One Pair hand but only as long as it consists of Tens, Jacks or above. This is usually the lowest winning hand in this game.
Natural Royal Flush
This is the best-ranking hand and consists of the highest five cards of the same suit like this [A][K][Q][J]. Some variations of the game like Joker Poker are played with one or two jokers which are added to the deck. These are called wild cards and can act as substitutes, helping players complete their hands.
In other variants, no jokers are in play but normally ranked cards play the part of wild cards. Such is the case with many variants of Deuces Wild where the deuces, or the twos, are wilds. A “natural” Royal Flush is a Royal Flush formed without the help of any wild cards.
Since the odds of forming a natural Royal Flush with a 52-card deck are approximately 649,739 to 1, this is the highest paying hand in video poker, but naturally, the payout would vary depending on the game’s variation and the software developer behind it. Normally, players can collect anywhere between 250 and 800 credits for a one-credit bet.
When you play online, you might come across video poker variations with High and Low Royal Flushes being the two highest ranking hands. A High Royal Flush consists of the five cards, listed in the example above, while a Low Royal Flush contains five suited cards of the lowest numerical value, which are also ordered in a sequence, for instance .
In some variants where wild cards are in play, it is possible for players to form the so-called Wild Royal Flush. The wild card will thus substitute whichever card is needed to complete the Royal Flush hand.
Many online video poker games offer players who hit a Royal Flush a bonus provided they have bet the maximum number of credits, which is five in most cases. Then again, there are progressive video poker games where the coveted jackpot is awarded to players who make a natural Royal Flush. On most progressive variations, however, there is an additional condition to form the Royal Flush on the initial deal, instead of after the draw.
The Straight Flush is the second best hand and contains five suited cards in a sequence. These are not necessarily the five cards of the highest value, however, so the following is an example of a Straight Flush – . The odds of forming one such hand are about 72,192 to 1 but players’ chances increase if the draw is included in the calculation. The payouts again depend on the video poker variations but in most cases, you might collect about 50 times your original bet if you have wagered one credit on this hand.
Four of a Kind
This hand is precisely what its name sounds like as it contains four cards of the same numerical value and a fifth irrelevant card, called a kicker. An example of a Four of a Kind would be [Q][Q][Q][Q]. Sometimes it is referred to as “quads”.
The odds of making this hand on the initial deal stand at 4,164 to 1, but will be further boosted if the draw is included in the calculation. The payouts for this hand typically fluctuate between 20 and 25 times the original one-credit bet, but it is possible to come across online video poker variations which pay only 17 times the initial bet for winning Four of a Kind hands.
In some variants, the rank of the cards the Four of a Kind consists of matters since there are different payouts for hands containing four 2s, 3s and 4s, and the quads containing cards with ranks of 5 through King. In some variations of Deuces Wild, a quad with four deuces (twos) is the second best hand.
The fourth best hand is the Full House, which is made of three cards of the same rank (a set) and a pair of two cards of another rank, like this . The odds of forming a Full House on the initial deal are 693 to 1 while the payouts on winning hands normally range betwee n 4 and 9 times your bet per each wagered credit.
The Flush is the fifth best hand in the game and is composed of five cards of the same suit, for example [Q][K]. As you can see, the ranking of the cards is completely irrelevant in this hand. Furthermore, the cards here should not be in sequential order since otherwise, the player will have a Straight Flush, instead.
This hand normally pays out 5 or 6 times the initial one-credit bet but in some variants of Deuces Wild you can find online, the payout is significantly lower at 3 times your stake. This hand pays less because the odds of forming it are higher at 507 to 1.
The sixth best hand in the game is the Straight which is five unsuited cards in consecutive order like in the following example – . If these cards were of the same suit, the player would actually have a Straight Flush, not a Straight.
The standard payout for Straights is 3 or 4 times the initial one-credit bet but of course, there may be some discrepancies in the payouts between different video poker variations, so always make sure you inspect the game’s paytable in detail. The odds of hitting a Straight are estimated to be approximately 253 to 1.
Three of a Kind
As becomes clear by the very name of this hand, it consists of three cards of the same rank (a set) as is the case in the following example – [J]. As you can see yourself, the remaining two cards or the kickers are completely inconsequential here. In many variants of Deuces Wild poker, a set is actually the lowest ranking qualifying hand.
The payouts on winning sets vary but in many cases, this hand pays even money. Then again, it is possible to come across video poker games like Playtech’s Joker Poker where Three of a Kind hands pay 2 to 1 for winning with one-credit bets. The odds of winning with a set are quite significant at 46 to 1, especially when compared to those of higher ranking hands.
Two Pair is the second lowest ranking hand in the majority of video poker variants, available online. The name pretty much speaks for itself – in order to make one such hand, players will need one pair of cards of equal rank, another pair of a different rank, and a fifth, irrelevant kicker like this [Q]. Two Pair normally pays out 2 to 1, especially in widespread video poker games like Jacks or Better and Tens or Better. This hand occurs fairly often as the odds are estimated to be 20 to 1.
Qualifying Pairs in Video Poker Variations
In some variants of video poker you may encounter, when browsing through the catalogues of online casinos, the hands consisting of pairs of equally-ranked cards and three irrelevant kickers do not qualify at all and result in players losing their bets. As was mentioned earlier, the lowest winning hand in games like Deuces Wild is Three of a Kind and even Two Pairs do not qualify let alone a Pair.
However, there are exceptions to all rules and the same is valid in video poker as well. In some of the most popular online variants of the game, specifically Jacks or Better, and Tens or Better, it is possible to collect the lowest payout as long as you have managed to complete a hand containing a pair of Tens/Jacks or higher.
In other variations like Joker Poker, the lowest pair that qualifies for a winning hand consists of two Kings. Such paired hands would normally pay even money – in other words, players receive one credit per every credit they have wagered so if you have bet five credits, you will be awarded five additional credits for a Pair.
Video Poker Cards
Multi-Hand Video Poker
Video Poker Payout
Progressive Video Poker
Video Poker Mistakes
Hand Rankings in Different Video Poker Variations
As becomes evident, the qualifying winning hands may differ enormously depending on the variation of video poker you play. Below, we have explained several non-standard hands which are usually unavailable in regular cash games and poker tournaments, but which can earn you a nice payout if you engage in video poker variants such as Deuces Wild, and Deuces and Jokers.
Five of a Kind
Five of a Kind is similar to Four of a Kind, the only difference being it consists of four cards of equal rank plus a wild card which is considered to be of the same value as that of the quads. An example would be the following hand – [Q][Q][Q][Q][Joker] where the Joker also counts as a Qeen.
It makes sense this hand is common only in video poker variants like Deuces and Jokers, Bonus Deuces, Joker Poker, and Deuces Wild, where wild cards are in play and this is the only way to form it for the simple reason there are only four cards of each rank in a 52-card deck.
In most instances, there is an additional card, the joker, which assumes the role of a wild and enables players to form Five of a Kind hands. In other variants, the deuces can also substitute for the fifth card in a Five of a Kind hand.
This hand is listed in the paytables of video poker variants such as Deuces and Jokers and as its name suggests, it consists of five wild cards. As a matter of fact, Five Wilds is the best possible hand players can form in such video poker games, at least in most instances. It contains the four deuces (twos) in the deck and a joker.
On that note, it is also important to specify that in games like Deuces and Joker Poker, a deck of 53 cards is used because of the addition of the Joker. Both the Joker and the four Deuces are wild cards here and can stand for all other cards, regardless of their ranks or suits to help players complete winning hands.
The highest paying hand here is not the Natural Royal Flush. The ultimate top payer in this game is a hand that consists of all four deuces and the joker, or [Joker]. The hand can earn you an appetising payout of 10,000 coins but only on condition you are playing at the highest betting level.
In some variants of Deuces and Joker like Rival’s, the four deuces with a joker do not yield any payouts if you wager fewer than five coins per round. Microgaming’s version of Deuces and Joker pays for Five Wilds at lower betting levels as you can see from the table below. The game has an average theoretical return of 99.07%.
|Payout Structure for 4 Deuces and Joker Hand in Microgaming’s Deuces and Joker Variant
|500 to 1
|1,000 to 1
|1,500 to 1
|2,000 to 1
|10,000 to 1
As you can see, playing the maximum coins per round is worthwhile thanks to the massive bonus payout you get for your deuces with a joker. The odds of obtaining all five wilds are 2.5 times as low as getting a Natural Royal Flush. There are over 189.8 million combinations for this hand as opposed to 486.2 million for the Royal Flush. Respectively, the likelihood of receiving the deuces and the joker is 0.0008% while that for the royal flush is 0.002%.
Deuces Royal Flush
Some variations of Deuces Wild yield additional payouts for Wild Royal Flushes with a deuce. More specifically, you will find this hand in variants like Microgaming’s Deuces Wild and Betsoft’s Deuces Wild. As we previously explained, the cards with a pip value of 2 (i.e. the deuces) are wild and as such, they can substitute for other denominations to help you complete winning hands when you are short of cards.
A Wild Royal Flush completed with the help of a deuce would look like this [A][K][Q][J] or [A][K][Q]. The player can also form a Wild Royal Flush with more than one wild card as is the case with [A][Q][J]. A Wild Royal Flush with a deuce understandably yields lower payouts compared to a Natural Royal Flush. The most common payout structure for this hand is displayed in the table below.
|Deuces Royal Flush Payout Structure
|25 to 1
|50 to 1
|75 to 1
|100 to 1
|125 to 1
As usual, the exact payout depends on your bet level, i.e. the number of coins you stake per hand. Microgaming’s variation, in particular, has a long-term theoretical return of 96.77% with this payout structure. A Deuces Royal Flush itself has a theoretical return of 0.045915 per dollar wagered. The likelihood of the player obtaining is not very high at approximately 0.18%.
Highest-Paying Hands in Video Poker
Although the hands that qualify for a payout may be the same in almost all types of video poker, the hands that will award some of the highest payouts may differ. If you decide to play a variation that incorporates wild cards, you will notice that there are special hands that bring some of the best, if not the highest, payouts.
Naturally, having Natural Royal Flush will award the highest payout in most types of video poker and it may even bring you a bonus pay or jackpot if you bet the maximum number of coins. If you are playing Jacks or Better, you will have the typical hand ranks with Straight Flush and Four of a Kind being the highest-paying hands after Royal Flush.
If you decide to play Deuces Wild, the second highest-paying hand in the game will be Four Deuces, followed by a Wild Royal Flush. There is also the chance to receive a good payout for Five of a Kind, which is formed with the help of the Wild. Players who pick Bonus Poker as their preferred video poker game will have the chance to receive a special higher payout for Four of a Kind Aces.
If you decide to play Double Double Bonus Poker, you have the chance to win a bonus payout of 4,000 coins for a Royal Flush, provided you have bet 5 coins. Despite that, when you have not wagered the maximum number of coins, the highest-paying hand will be Four of a Kind Aces with a kicker 2, 3 or 4. This hand will return 400 coins for a wager of one coin. There is also a pretty high payout for Four Aces with any other kicker and Four 4s, 3s or 2x with a kicker Ace.
These are just a few special variations of video poker that have slightly altered paytables due to the opportunity to form special hands. Keep in mind that these hands are not the easiest to form either and sometimes it is recommended to stick to Jacks or Better. Despite that, if you are looking for a more thrilling game, you can try some of the variations mentioned above.