Video Poker Variants Explained

If you are looking for the ideal casino game to play, then there is a good chance that video poker is the ideal choice. Unlike some casino games that are purely about luck, when it comes to video poker there is an element of skill involved. In fact, when played with the right strategies, some video poker variants have an RTP of over 100%.

Video Poker was invented in the late 70s and has consistently expanded to include different variants, rulesets, and overall experience. This expansion was massively accelerated by the rise and spread of personal computers, and it shifted into another gear once online casinos began to thrive.

Both of these points severely increased Video Poker's popularity and birthed many ways to play and engage with it. Different rules, payouts, return to player (RTP) rates, and dozens of variants can make anyone's head spin with so many options to choose from. But worry not, we at Spin Rio will help you understand the main variants of Video Poker!

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better, also known as Draw Poker, is by far the most played variant of Video Poker.

This is for good reason: it is a great starting point for new players due to its low variance, and for having a 99.54% payback (meaning you can expect to receive $99.54 per $100 you put in).

The rules of Jacks or Better are simple and mainly follow traditional 5 Card Draw Poker.

The player makes a bet, is dealt 5 cards, and can discard any amount of them to draw the same amount. If you get a good enough hand, you make money, which can result in more than 25 times the return on your investment.

And as the name implies - payoffs start at a pair of Jacks, where you make your money back 1-to-1. The 9/6 variant, also known as full pay Jacks or Better, represents the payoff for full houses/flushes, which means that you get 9 times your bet if you get a full house, and 6 times if you got a flush.

Variants of Jacks or Better include 9/7, 10/6, and others, though they are most commonly offered for promotional or limited events.

Joker's Wild

Just like the name suggests, this form of Video Poker adds a Joker card to the mix, for a 53-card deck. The Joker acts as a Wild Card, which can be considered as being any card you wish when you have it.

To offset this extra advantage, the lowest hand with a payout is higher than the more traditional Jacks or Better variant.

You'll know the lowest paying hand in Joker's Wild by the name of its variants: "Kings or Better", "Aces or Better", and "Two Pairs or Better", with each variant name communicating the lowed hand required to get a payoff.

Because of the Wild Card, you have a hand type not normally seen in other variants: the Five of a Kind, which is the highest value hand ranked just above the Natural Royal Flush, which is a Royal Flush that doesn't have a Wild Card.

Joker's Wild payoff is generally 7/5, but 6/5 is also common. The reason this payoff is lower than Jacks or Better is that even though the lowest hand to payout is higher than Jacks or Better, you're still more likely to get a better hand on average.

Deuces Wild

If you think that Joker's Wild is a fun variant, hear this: Deuces Wild has FOUR wild cards in the deck. However, unlike Jokers Wild, these Wild Cards are not added on a 52-card deck, and instead have 2's acting as Wild Cards.

The lowest paying hand is a Three of a Kind while the highest is a Natural Royal Flush, followed by Four Deuces, and Wild Royal Flush as the 3rd highest hand. In this variant, a Four Deuces hand accounts for roughly 1/3 of the payback of the game, while Four of a Kind hands occur once every 15 hands on average.

If you're good enough at Deuces Wild, you can make a profit out of it, as the estimated return on optimal play is 100.8% ($100,8 gained per $100 invested), though different types of Deuces Wild games can have different returns.

Bonus Poker

Another popular variant, Bonus Poker offers you bigger payouts for Four of a Kind hands, while keeping the lowest paying hand as the pair of Jacks.

Each type of Bonus Poker game will give you extra bonuses for a specific Four of a Kind hands, for instance giving you bigger payouts specifically for Four of a Kinds that are composed of Aces.

One of Bonus Poker's popular variants gives an equal payout rate for every Four of a Kind hand instead of giving a bigger bonus for one value above the others, such as caring more about quad Aces than quad Kings, for instance. This variant offers an 8/5 payout rate and a 99.17% payback rate.

Except for its other version: Double Bonus Poker, which has a 10/7 payout, increases the payout of Four Aces, but reduces the payout of Two Pair hands.

Aces and Faces

The main attraction of this variant is that it gives a greater payout on Four of a Kind hands that are composed of Aces, Jacks, Queens, or Kings. It even ranks Four of Aces hands higher than Straight Flushes, and it pays out other Four of a Kind hands closer to Straight Flushes than traditional Jacks or Better. The lowest paying card is typically a pair of Jacks.

The game generally has an 8/5 payout system and has an expected 99.26% payback. It also has other versions - 7/6 and 7/5 - that result in less value for the player.

Tens or Better

If you want to play Jacks or Better, except you want to win more often, then this is the variant for you. It follows typical Jacks or Better rules, except for the fact that the lowest paying hand is a Pair of Tens, not Jacks, meaning you are paid more often.

To counterbalance this, the payouts are lower, sitting at 6/5 compared to Jacks or Better's standard 9/6. The expected return with optimal play is 99.13%, which is lower than the traditional Jacks or Better, but it gives you more consistent results.

To Conclude

The main thing when playing any version of video poker is to ensure that you are using the best possible strategy. It is not hard to find the optimal strategy for any of these games, and once you have mastered it, hours of fun awaits.

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