For my money, there hasn’t been a gambling activity invented that’s superior to video poker. The category includes a wide variety of unique five-card draw games that offer an even middle between slot machines and casino table games.
Today, video poker machines take up a significant portion of all land-based casino floors and are some of the most popular ways to gamble online and you can find some of the safest betting sites here.
One of my favorite things about video poker is that there’s strategy involved. Unlike slots, which are determined exclusively by luck, a video poker player can improve their odds of winning by following the optimal playing strategy for any given game. This gives the gambler a decent amount of control over their fate, without requiring them to share a table with other players, who may have an impact on their cards.
Another favorable quality of video poker is the speed at which you can finish each hand. This is another instance of these games resembling slot machines. With a digital deck of cards that is automatically randomized (shuffled) in the blink of an eye, and can be dealt just a quickly, it only takes seconds to decide which cards to hold, redraw, and learn whether or not you’ve created a winning hand. Then, you can start the whole process over just as swiftly.
The mix of strategy, speed, and a low house advantage make video poker my go-to form of gambling, both online and otherwise. In this article, I want to take a closer look at the three versions of video poker that I believe are the best.
Now admittedly, declaring something as “the best” is subjective, but I’m a Vegas local who’s been playing video poker during just about every trip to the supermarket or gas station since I turned 21. By now, I’ve got to be approaching my “Malcolm Gladwell” 10,000 hours toward mastery, which I suppose makes me something of an expert (at least in my own mind).
When it comes to playing video poker, Jacks or Better is an all-time classic and the most basic version of the game available. The object of the game is to create a stronger poker hand than a pair of jacks. A single 52-card deck is used, from which you are initially dealt five of them. You may then choose which to hold and which to discard. The digital dealer then deals you a new card for each one discarded.
If you’re new to video poker, or unfamiliar with poker hands, Jacks or Better is an excellent place to start. You’ll quickly grow acquainted with all of the traditional winning combinations and how you should approach trying to build them. These hands make up the foundation of video poker.
Jacks or Better may not be the most complicated or exciting form of video poker, but it’s the original and is responsible for launching this category of gambling. You have to respect the rulesets that paved the way! Plus, using the optimal strategy results in a 99.54% rate of return to players.
To use the optimal strategy for Jacks or Better, start at the top of this list and work your way down until you locate the best available hand from the five cards which you were dealt. Then, hold those cards and discard the rest.
Once you’ve used Jacks or Better to learn the fundamentals of Five-Card Draw Poker, you may be ready to spice things up a bit. Deuces Wild is one of the most popular variations of video poker ever created, both in brick-and-mortar casinos and online. In the rare case that you find a full pay machine, the optimal strategy results in a greater than 100% payback.
As you’ll see in the playing strategy below, the presence of four “wild” deuces in the deck significantly alters both the payouts and recommended tactics. All of a sudden, four of a kinds aren’t all that special, while five of a kind becomes a possible hand. Also, the possibility of a deuce being dealt to replace a discarded card gives the player extraordinary flexibility when it comes to creating winning combinations.
Deuces Wild is the ideal version for relatively conservative video poker players and it’s one that I consider to be one of the best video poker games. The presence of “wild” cards reduces the payouts on all of the best hands, besides a natural royal flush, but it’s easier to acquire the intermediate combos. If you prefer to build up your bankroll more gradually, this video poker variation, with its particularly generous rate of return to players, is the perfect option.
To use the optimal strategy for Deuces Wild, start at the top of this list and work your way down until you locate the best available hand from the five cards you were dealt. Then, hold those cards and discard the rest.
Four deuces dealt:
Three deuces dealt:
Two deuces dealt:
One deuce dealt:
Zero deuces dealt:
Double Double Bonus Poker is my all-time favorite way to play video poker. This is a game for the less conservative gamblers who prefer to swing for the fences. On a 9/6 machine, the optimal strategy only returns 98.98%, making it slightly less advantageous to players than the others. However, it makes up for the larger house edge by offering a wider range of large potential payouts.
This video poker game is all about four of a kinds. In addition to there being several different four of a kinds with unique payouts, there are kickers as well. “Kickers” are an extra card, such as an ace, 2, 3, or 4, that increases the value of a four of a kind combination. So, while four aces pays out 160 credits for each one that you stake, four aces and a two returns 400.
To use this strategy chart, start at the top and scroll down until you find your current hand. Hold the cards that are listed on your line and discard the rest.
If you’re looking for a way to gamble that features the speed and simplicity of slot machines with advantageous returns, and just enough skill involved to keep things interesting, video poker is likely the form of gambling for you! The diverse range of rulesets and paytables ensure there’s something out there for every kind of player and that you’ll never grow bored.
I consider these variations to be the three best video poker games. Jack or Better is the original way to play. And it’s an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of poker and the composition of winning hands. Deuces Wild makes things a bit more interesting with the four available “wilds” and gives players a slight edge over the house when the optimal strategy is used.
Then, you have Double Double Bonus Poker for the home run hitters. In exchange for a slightly lower payback percentage, players have several additional ways to win big hands. Ultimately, the version of video poker you believe to be the best is nothing but a matter of opinion. We all have unique personal preferences regarding how we like to gamble.
That said, these are the three best video poker games, and I’ll never change my mind!
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