Ah, video poker. It’s an escape for me. Playing requires just the right amount of skill and strategy, so I’m not mindlessly pushing buttons. But I’ve established a comfort level, so it’s relaxing as well.
I don’t stick to video poker exclusively. When I’m with friends and want to be social, I love to play Texas Hold’em or Pai Gow. But I’m a pretty conservative bettor, so there has to be a $5 table open, or I’ll take a pass.
When I’m on my own, though, there’s nothing like a few hours at a video poker machine. It calms down the monkey mind and gives me something different to focus on for a while.
I don’t rethink my to-do lists or try to make any life decisions. I just escape into the game.
I am pretty discriminating when it comes to video poker, though. I have a few favorites to which I’m loyal, so I thought I’d share a few of them, and maybe you’ll find that you share my taste as well.
Before I get into specifics, I should clarify that I have both a favorite game and some preferred ways to play it.
When it comes to the actual type of poker game, I’m referring to versions with different paytables and slightly different strategies. While I’m particularly partial to Bonus Deuces Poker, and I’ll tell you why in the next section, video poker offers some gaming choices that include the following.
There are others as well, but those ten are some of the most common that you’ll find in land-based casinos as well as online.
While they’re all five-hand draw games, some have wild cards included, and all of them have unique pay tables.
For example, Jacks or Better pays more for two pairs but less for four of a kinds. A game like Super Double Bonus is going to give you a higher reward for four face cards (K, Q, J). Triple Double Bonus pays out the same for four aces with a kicker (2, 3 or 4) as it does for a royal flush.
I have a friend who is a professional poker player, and while he doesn’t play video poker very much, you’d never find him on a wild card game or really anything other than Jacks or Better. Some avid poker players tend to be purists.
They stick to the basic game to get the best payback on every hand and not just on average.
I, on the other hand, am by no means a professional nor am I a poker purist. I bet conservatively and sometimes enjoy the exciting features provided by some of the newer video poker variations.
In addition to having a list of games from which to select, modern video poker games have all kinds of new and innovative features. For the most part, you’ll still be selecting your favorite game like Jacks or Better, Double Double Bonus, or Bonus Deuces, but you also have a creative way of playing it.
The first forays into video poker creativity primarily revolved around adding hands to the game. Triple Play, Five Play, and 10 Play are the most common. But you can also find 50 and 100 play versions as well.
You get dealt one hand, hold the cards you want, and then you get multiple chances to turn it into a winning hand (or several winners).
These multi-hand variations made it more fun as you weren’t just playing one hand to a win or loss.
From there, though, things really started to take off with prize multipliers, prize wheels, virtual dice rolls to increase your winnings, and so on.
The following are just a few of the games with additional features integrated into basic video poker gameplay. There are many more.
It all just depends on if you’re playing online or in a brick and mortar and the particular casino you’re using, as some of the more unique games aren’t available everywhere.
When it comes to THE game of choice, I will typically choose Bonus Deuces Poker whenever it’s available. I am aware that the RTP is lower than its original Deuces Wild counterpart, but I don’t care.
I think it’s more exciting, as the pay table includes higher payouts for hands like five 3s, 4s, and 5s. Five aces is even better, as that hand is worth 400 credits with a maximum five-credit bet in place.
My favorite feature, though, is the possibility to double a “Four Deuces” payout if it has an ace kicker. While the standard four deuces hand pays 1,000 credits, four deuces plus an ace is worth 2,000.
You may wonder why all Deuces Wild players wouldn’t choose that version. Well, you have to sacrifice something to get those bigger prizes. With Bonus Deuces, you’re not getting paid double for a straight, and you typically get a lower payout for straight flushes as well.
The RTPs are not too far from each other, as Deuces Wild has an RTP that comes in at 99.96% or even as high as 100.76% for the full-pay game. Bonus Deuces is more in the 99.5% range.
While it isn’t a vast difference in the long run, Bonus Deuces is more volatile than the traditional Deuces Wild game. Those higher payouts for small hands on conventional Deuces Wild will usually keep you playing for a longer time.
I’ve already shared that my favorite game is Bonus Deuces, but one of my favorite ways to play it is on a Spin Poker machine.
Although this technically makes it a different game, consider this a continuation of my number-one favorite.
Spin Poker has spinning reels like a slot game, but it’s played exactly like a regular video poker game. That may not immediately seem apparent. When you glance at a Spin Poker game for the first time, you may be convinced that it is a slot machine.
I’ve seen many new players put money into a Spin Poker and then immediately cash out when they figure out that they have to play poker instead of just letting the reels do their thing.
Spin comes in a variety of games, including Bonus Deuces, depending on where you play. But I’ve been known to choose something else like Triple Double Bonus if my favorite game isn’t offered on a Spin Poker machine.
So what makes it so darn much fun? All of the possible ways to win, and often, you get a winner without even noticing it at first.
It’s really not complicated to play, as the game’s computer takes care of everything. In fact, you’re really only dealt a regular draw poker hand, five cards across. It’s what happens after when the excitement really begins.
Spin Poker’s screen looks like a grid that’s five cards across and three rows high. Your dealt hand appears in the middle. When make your hold and discard decisions, your hold cards then show up in all three rows.
So, if you’re dealt a pair of aces, you’ll see that same pair of aces in the same position on all three lines.
Once you click the draw button, the open cards will all fill in with individual cards, as there are no duplicates on the redraw. You’re just pulling from the remainder of the deck. Then, you’ll see pay lines light up showing your winning hands.
Even though Spin Poker looks like a grid, your paylines aren’t confined strictly to horizontal action. There are nine winning possibilities, and the paylines are much more like slot games. They zigzag across the five columns in strange configurations.
Unless you’ve played Spin Poker a while, you may not even be sure what you’ve won, and even then, you’ll probably miss a few here and there.
I like the idea of being dealt a big hand and getting paid nine times for it. Or being dealt three deuces and having six open cards to fill in, any of which could complete the “big four.”
Wheel Poker Deluxe is a more recent discovery of mine, but it also has an element of slot play integrated into video poker play. This one is going as down as my second-favorite video poker game.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that it doesn’t come in a Bonus Deuces version. But it is offered in Deuces Wild, Double Double Bonus, Triple Double Bonus, and a few other variations.
It also comes in three-play and five-play, so there are plenty of choices.
I want to stress the “Deluxe” version, as there is a regular Wheel Poker game that gives players a random spin of the wheel whenever a natural four of a kind comes up, but it’s different than the Deluxe version.
While the Wheel can certainly bump up your credit balance, I like the Wheel Deluxe because it adds an entire bonus game to the mix, which is common in slot games but very unusual in video poker.
So, Wheel Poker Deluxe has a custom wheel that doesn’t feature prizes like 200 or 2,000 credits. Instead, it provides three, five, 10, 50, and 100 play games with designated hold cards in place.
So, for example, you could end up on a 100-play spot that’s already filled in with two 7s and two 8s, so you draw for full houses. Or you may get a triple-play bonus game that offers you four cards to the royal flush already in place.
The prize structure is different, though. On a bonus game like the 100-play where you draw for 7s and 8s, you get paid according to the number of full houses you complete. You may not get anything until you get four, and then the numbers go up from there.
So, four may get you 60 credits, eight may bump it to 100, and then the higher you go, you could get 1,000 credits or even higher. It all depends on the bonus game you’re playing.
I like that added feature and have added 4,000 credits to my balance a few times here and there.
The other thing that’s appealing about this particular game over Wheel Poker is that you play the bonus when you’re dealt a natural three of a kind, four of a kind, or full house. With Wheel Poker, you need a four of a kind to activate the prize wheel.
But that four of a kind can be on the draw, whereas Deluxe mandates it on the deal.
When you’re not playing the bonus round, it’s regular Triple or Five Play, but you do have to pay an additional credit per line. That means you have to bet 30 credits for five lines of action and 18 for three.
I know that Wheel Poker Deluxe isn’t available everywhere. But if you can find it, give it a try. I can see why slot players enjoy their games, as those bonus rounds can be a lot of fun!
Now that I’ve mentioned a few crazy twists on video poker, my third favorite is a bit of a curveball. It’s good, old-fashioned one-line Bonus Deuces Poker.
You might be wondering why I’d include such as simple game after showing a great affinity for slot-like video poker. The reason lies within the bet.
Whereas I play nickels or dimes on Spin Poker and Wheel Poker Deluxe as they’re multi-hand games that require anywhere from 18 to 45 credits per game, I like to play a single-handed Bonus Deuces game at a .25 or .50 denomination. It may not be as exciting, but the prizes become much more substantial.
A nickel royal flush is $200, but a quarter royal flush (maximum bet in place) is $1,000!
The problem with some of the enhanced poker games like Spin is that you’re betting 45 credits. You may only get paid on one line depending on how the cards are lining up for you.
I play Spin and Wheel Deluxe for the fun and the possibility of multiple wins. But if I’m only winning significantly on one line at a time but paying for nine lines or adding an extra credit to hands like in Wheel Deluxe, it’s not a great return on investment.
So, every so often, I like to get back to basics and play quarters at $1.25 per hand hoping to hit four deuces for $250, or even better, a royal at $1000.
Playing at a higher denomination can also pay off well with the bonus version of Deuces Wild. If you recall, I’ve mentioned that an ace kicker with deuces doubles the prize, so that’s $500.
Five aces isn’t too shabby, either. That’s a 400-credit winning hand, or $100.
There are some multi-game machines at the Station Casinos in Las Vegas that include a Bonus Deuces game that pays double for five aces (800 credits). Also, if you get three 3s, 4s, or 5s, you get 250 credits.
That’s a big jump from the standard 75 credits that a regular Deuces Wild game provides for five of a kinds.
Just like everything else in life, your favorite game is just a personal preference. I wanted to share a few of mine, especially if you’ve never played anything aside from the conventional one-hand game, which I also included in my top three.
Before closing, I will give you a quick tip, though.
If you’re new to a game, make sure you read through everything, including the maximum bet information. There are many twists on traditional video poker, and they each come with different wagering requirements.
I have sat down at a game, not even noticing that there was something different about it. I pressed maximum bet, and instead of five credits, I had bet 50! Yikes!
Throughout our guide to video poker games, we include maximum bets whenever possible, but I’d still advise reading through the help guide and looking over the game thoroughly first. Some casinos will have different imposed maximums than others.
I do recommend trying some of these new games, though. As long as you’re playing within your means, it can be fun to shake things up a bit now and then.