5 Minute Guide to Video Poker for Non Gamblers

5 Minute Guide To Video Poker

As a non gambler the choices of what game to play can be overwhelming. But you can quickly eliminate most of the options with just a little bit of information.

Video poker is 1 of the best casino games because when you play it using the right strategy and play on the right machines, the house edge is lower than almost every other game in the casino.

This article shows you what you need to know to find the right pay table, and how to know exactly how to play when you do.

1. Video Poker Pay Tables

Because this is designed for non gambler I’m going to start with a few simple basics. Video poker games are usually based on 5 card draw poker. Your goal is to get the best 5 card hand and get paid more than you have to bet.

The list of hands that pay, and how much they pay, is called a pay table.

And the pay table is the most important thing when it comes to playing video poker. The video poker machines that have the best pay tables are the ones that offer the highest return percentages and the lowest house edge.

Now, there are a few other things that are important when you play video poker, but I’m going to cover them in other sections in this article. For now, focus on video poker pay tables.

The truth is that the combinations of video poker games and pay tables are huge. You should learn more about all of the possible pay tables for every type of video poker game that you play. But this article is designed for non gamblers so I’m going to give you the best place to get started.

The machine that you want to find is called a Jacks or Better machine.

The pay table you want to find is the table that pays 9 coins for a full house and 6 for a flush. Or if you look at the far right column on the pay table, it pays 45 and 30.

Please Note:
If you can’t find a machine with this pay table you shouldn’t play. But if you want to play a few hands anyway, find the machine with a pay table as close to this as possible.

2. Using a Strategy Card

The other important thing to do when you play video poker is use a strategy card. You can play without using a strategy card, but if you do you’re going to make mistakes.

These mistakes are going to cost you money.

A video poker strategy card costs a few dollars, and it’s going to be worth a lot more than that to you because you’re going to lose less money when you use it. Every video poker machine has a unique video poker strategy card that you need to use.

For example:
You need to find a strategy card specially designed for Jacks or Better if you play Jacks or Better or for Deuces Wild if you play Deuces Wild. Strategy cards are easy to use. When you get your hand you look for the hand on the strategy card that matches it or is closest to it. You start at the top and stop reading as soon as you find a matching hand. Then you simply keep what the card says and discard everything else.

When you use a video poker strategy card you’re always going to make the play that pays the highest amount on average in the long run. You’re still not going to be a winning video poker player, but you’re going to get a much higher return than you can get playing slot machines.

In fact, with the right pay table you can get a better return than any other game in the casino.

3. How Many Coins?

Video poker machines have an option that gives you a choice of how many coins to play on each hand. Almost all machines have the option to bet 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 coins. When you play most casino games the best strategy is to bet the smallest amount that you’re allowed to bet.

But when you play video poker you need to bet 5 coins.

The short reason why you need to bet 5 coins is because it’s the way to get the highest return percentage. The reason why this is true is because you get a larger amount of money when you bet 5 coins when you hit the best hand.

Look at a pay table for a Jacks or Better machine to see what I mean:
For a royal flush you win 4,000 coins when you bet 5 coins. This is far more than 5 times what you get when you only bet 1 coin. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to play on a video poker machine that costs a lot to play. As long as the pay table is the same, you should play on the video poker machine that has the smallest per coin amount available.

If you can find a nickel machine, a 5 coin wager only costs .25 per hand. A quarter machine costs $1.25 for each hand to play. Find the machine with the best pay table with the smallest per coin cost. It’s easier to find video poker machines with these combinations at online casinos and in mobile applications than land based.

4. Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild

As a new gambler you need to keep things as simple as possible. In order to do this you should focus on only 1 or 2 types of video poker.

I already told you a little bit about Jacks or Better.

It’s the best game for most new video poker players because it’s really easy to play and the strategy is fairly easy too. But if you’re looking for a video poker game that uses wild cards you can consider playing Deuces Wild.

Pick up a strategy card for each of these 2 video poker games before you gamble. If you have time, do some research about the pay tables for each of these games. This way you can be prepared when you start playing video poker.

As you gain some experience you can start investigating other variations of video poker, but for now stick with these 2 popular variations.

5. Online, Mobile, or Live Video Poker Games

In an earlier section I explained that it’s easier to find video poker machines with good pay tables and small bet limits in online and mobile casinos. You can also get a bonus in some online and mobile casinos for video poker players.

This might lead you to believe that video poker apps are the only way to go.

But this isn’t always true. While it’s true in some cases, in other cases you’re better off playing in a land based or live casino. The first problem is that many new gamblers jump at every online bonus they can find. This is fine as long as you know what you’re getting into.

What you need to know is that every online casino bonus isn’t the same. In fact, some of them are so bad that you’re better off without them.

While you can’t get a bonus to lay video poker in a live casino, you can usually earn rewards through the player’s club. These rewards aren’t usually big, but they still can add up over time.

No matter where you play video poker you have control over the speed of play.

This is important because if you play slower you don’t bet as much money overall. And when you don’t bet as much money overall you lose less money in the long run.

Please Note:
What this means is that you should play slow when you play video poker. This helps you avoid making mistakes that are costly, and reduces your long term losses.


Video poker isn’t as easy as playing slots, but with just a few important pieces of information and a little help, video poker offers much higher returns than slot machines. In fact, other than a few real money blackjack games, video poker offers the best return in the casino.

All you need to know is how to identify the best machine, which boils down to the pay tables.

When you find the right pay table, the only thing left to do is use a strategy card so you get the highest possible return. You need to start by learning more about Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better, the 2 most popular forms of video poker.

Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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