There are dozens of different forms of poker. Some are slammed by the purists for dumbing the game down. Some others are feared by beginners for being impossibly complicated.
Yet, there's one basic axiom on which all parties can agree. Everyone loves video poker.
It's simple, ubiquitous, and a great place for absolute beginners to learn the basic poker rules.
However, it’s also a great training tool for honing your skills at making the statistically best choices every time.
It’s also a game that comes in many, many forms. Novices can find this frightening, but the only real differences are where certain cards act as wilds and variations in the pay tables.
These do have an impact on overall payouts and long-term results, so what video poker version you go for does matter. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most popular variations of the game to see what each one of them has to offer.
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is probably the best-known and most popular of all video poker formats out there. You’ll find it in live venues and online casinos alike available across various stakes.
We have to start here, as it’s the game that beginners choose when they first start to explore poker games, as there are no complications or distractions.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it is just there to extract money from the newcomers, however. Jacks or Better can also deliver more than respectable returns, as long as you play the full-pay game.
Before you start playing, check the pay tables. A full house should yield at least 9 to 1 and a flush 6 to 1. If it says anything less, try a different game – or a different casino.
The bottom line is, you should never play a Jacks or Better version with a bad paytable. Since there are plenty of places offering games with full pay tables, there is absolutely no reason to settle for anything less.
Most moderately experienced video poker players opt for Deuces Wild. The fact that wild cards are in play adds a little complexity and also makes it easier to form winning hands.
However, this comes at a price, as the lowest paying hand is three of a kind, so you get nothing even for a two-pair.
The full-pay version delivers 5 to 1 for four of a kind, and if you play with optimum strategy, the RTP is more than 100 percent. However, you should know that Deuces Wild is one of the most volatile versions of the game, so while you can enjoy some great winning streaks, the losing ones can be brutal as well.
In the long run, the full pay version of Deuces Wild video poker is the most lucrative version of the game you can find. Recently, it's become harder to find these machines, especially in live casinos, but you can still do it if you put some effort into it.
This is a fun version of the game with the added twist of having an extra joker in play as a wild, so you are playing with a deck of cards containing 53 cards.
This also means there is an additional winning hand, five of a kind. The joker makes it easier to form better hands, which is obviously reflected in the pay tables.
To check you are playing the best-paying version, consult the paytable for four of a kind and full house. These should be 20 to 1 and 7 to 1, respectively.
Joker Poker is another game where the overall payout percentage is more than 100 percent if you play with a perfect strategy. This makes the game a perfect choice for video poker fans, especially if you also get to enjoy added benefits from the casino loyalty program or VIP scheme.
Aces and Eights
Finally, this is a version that has grown in popularity over the past year or so. As the name suggests, you get special payouts for four-of-a-kind poker hands involving aces or eights.
The paytables can vary significantly on this game, though. To ensure you are getting the best deal, find a game that pays 25 to 1 and 8 to 1 for four of a kind and the full house, respectively.
Aces and Eights is definitely a fun video poker version, but it’s not as favorable as the other ones listed here.
Video poker is one of the rare casino games where players' skills and strategy can make a big difference. If you pick the right version of the game, you can even have a slight edge over the house, which is really a dream scenario for any gambling fan.
However, if you want to take on the casino, you should first take the time to learn various video poker strategies for different formats. Only after you had perfected your play on these machines should you put your money on the line and not a moment sooner!