Poker and video poker are the favorites of most gambling enthusiasts and always attract a huge player base. This is no surprise, as both games are fun, entertaining, and come with their unique features.
But, while they might sound the same, these two casino games couldn’t be more different in many vital aspects.
If you can’t decide which of the two is the better choice for you, continue reading to learn the top five differences between Texas Hold’em and video poker.
Six Major Differences Between Regular and Video Poker
Although they are relatively similar at first glance, regular poker and video poker have many contrasts in many key gameplay areas.
Here are the six most significant dissimilarities between video poker and standard poker played with cards and actual poker chips.
When you mention poker, you think of a game played against other players. In all traditional poker variants, your goal is to outplay and outsmart your opponents. It's the game that involves more people, at least two, and usually more.
Video poker is the complete opposite. It's just you, a single player, against the machine. While there is still some strategy involved, you can't count on any mistakes on the part of your “opponent.”
The machine will not and cannot make any mistakes unless it malfunctions, in which case your winnings will probably be voided.
So, clearly, these two games feature completely different formats, even though they share some similarities as far as basic rules and poker hand rankings are concerned.
Game of Chance vs. Game of Skill
Arguably the most notable and most significant difference between these two types of poker is that one is a game of skill, and the other is mostly a game of chance.
Video poker is much more contained, and you cannot use many strategies to make sure you come out on top.
It’s much simpler to play than regular poker, but it also means that you can’t affect the outcome in any significant way.
While you’re not only pressing a button as you would be in slots, your hands are still tied compared to the gameplay options you have in regular poker.
That said, you would still do good to learn some basic video poker strategies before you start playing for real money. You can hone your skills at places like FanDuel Casino as the operator will let you play their games in the demo mode without risking a single cent.
On the other side, your success in regular poker heavily depends on your card skills and mental capabilities.
If you’re skilled and tactical, you can win even with a bad starting hand. But, if you’re facing a more prolific poker player sitting across from you, luck or good cards won’t help you much when you get outplayed.
The simple takeaway for regular poker? You should try to always be the best player at the table. In traditional poker, the only way to be profitable in the long run is to improve your game continually.
In video poker, your bets and betting limits are calculated similarly as in slot games. You make your bets in betting credits.
The number of credits you bet directly corresponds to how much you’ll win, as there’s always a pre-set paytable that multiplies your stake with the combination you hit on the screen.
For example, a Royal Flush is always 250:1. So, if you bet one coin and line up this combination, you’ll get 250 coins in return.
Oppositely to this, in regular poker, limits can vary significantly depending on the game’s specific variation.
For example, in No-limit Texas Hold’em, you can risk any amount of money you have in front of you at any point.
The strategy of such play aside, this is an option you simply don’t have in video poker games.
That said, some other popular poker variations, such as 7 Card Stud, for example, often come with a fixed betting limit, so your options are much more limited.
Video Poker is Not Just Poker
When playing a regular poker game, you know that you’re going up against other players in a game of strategy. Since you’re not playing against the casino itself, there’s no such thing as the house edge in regular poker.
How much you win or lose depends on your poker skills and the ability to beat other players around the table.
You’re not giving anything to the casino, aside from a small fee known as the poker rake, if the casino you’re playing at has such rules.
On the other hand, video poker looks much more like a poker-themed slot machine than a pure poker game. In line with that, every video poker game is created to provide profit for the house in the long run.
Similar to video slots, you can expect video poker games to have a house edge of at least a couple of percent. This is nothing to worry about but something you should be aware of if you plan on sticking to video poker games.
The Promise of Progressive Jackpots
Many video poker games come with built-in progressive jackpots. This is a reward feature that builds over time, amounting to a huge jackpot prize that can hit at any time.
Depending on how long it takes the progressive jackpot to trigger, you can win hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of dollars.
Progressive jackpots are an integral aspect of many video poker games that casinos frequently advertise when their video poker machines reach a particular amount to attract more players.
In contrast, there’s no such thing in regular poker. Every single hand has its pot which is distributed in its entirety before another round begins. Of course, some games do feature bad beat and high hand jackpots, which are similar to video poker progressives in some aspects.
The Social Aspect
Although not a deciding difference by any means, the social aspect, or the lack of it in the case of video poker, is something you should factor in when choosing which game you want to play.
Video poker is a computerized game where you’re only looking at the screen and playing against the house.
Poker, especially popular mainstream versions such as Texas Hold’em, is very social, as you’re potentially going up against eight other players.
The social aspect of regular poker makes it so fun and entertaining, as you’re playing and interacting directly with other people who share the same passion for the game.
Regular Poker vs. Video Poker – Which is Better?
Regular poker and video poker may use the same cards and combinations, but they are worlds apart in terms of complexity and the skill required to play.
Video poker is simple, straightforward, and you're leaving your chances entirely to the gods of luck. In contrast, regular poker requires control and composure and is not almost solely luck-based, unlike the former.
Ultimately, it’s on you to decide what type of game suits you the best. There’s no right or wrong answer on which is better. If you like to unwind and play without thinking or strategizing, video poker is a great choice.
But, if you want to go up against other players, test your skills, knowledge, and mental game, regular poker is the way to go, as the skill will prevail in the long run.