Free Video Poker Online Guide
Playing free video poker online makes a lot of sense because video poker offers all the excitement of traditional draw poker with a few new wrinkles added in. Because the land-based version uses a gaming machine and RNG, online video poker games recreate the brick-and-mortar game experience quite closely. The graphics and rules are easy to replicate in online and mobile casinos.
New players should not overlook free video poker games. Unlike free slots, playing free video poker lets you practice strategy. A gambler playing optimal strategy changes the results of the game, which is why so many dedicated gamblers opt for video poker machines instead of slots. Mastering basic strategy is key, so playing free online video poker helps you learn the game without losing cash.
Traditional Poker vs. Video Poker
Video poker is a solo game, meaning you don’t have to bluff other players or read into their decisions. Instead, you play against a pay table. In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of video poker, as well as list the wide variety of free games available.
Each video poker game has a real money and a free version. Once you’ve picked a suitable online casino, you’ll be able to play free video poker online with minimal effort.
While you enjoy the free video poker games, though, remember that each new game has its own subtle strategy differences. Print off a strategy chart specific to Jacks or Better, Joker Poker, or Deuces Wild when learning how to play.
Types of Free Video Poker Games
Even if you’re going to play online video poker for free, it still helps to know about the available game types. The following are the most popular types of video poker, although the selection varies from one casino to the next. Our reviewers list the video poker games available in our casino reviews.
- Jacks or Better Video Poker – The most common variety of video poker, this game is also referred to as “draw poker.” Players receive a payout based on the strength of their poker hand, and they must have at least a pair of jacks before they can finish in the money. The most coveted hand is the royal flush, and the game will offer a return of 4000 credits if you make the maximum wager. Playing five credits (the maximum) yields a theoretical return of 99.5% while playing with fewer credits offers a possible return of 98.4%.
- Double Bonus Video Poker — A variation of Jacks or Better, this video poker machine offers an additional payout for getting a hand with four aces. The 10/7 version of the game–meaning 10 times your bet for a full house and 7x for a flush—offers a theoretical return of 100.2% when combined with expert strategy. The lowest payout is one credit for getting a pair of jacks on a one-credit wager, while the highest is the royal flush (4000 credits on a 5-credit bet). The bonus for four aces pays 800 credits for a five-credit wager and 160 credits for a wager of a single credit.
- Bonus Poker – Another video poker game based on Jacks or Better, but this time a higher payout percentage is offered for a hand with four of a kind. Different versions offer varying levels of payouts, so always search for the one that gives you the best chance of a big payday.
- Double Double Bonus Video Poker – Another variation of Jacks or Better, but this time the game offers additional payout based on various four-of-a-kind hands. The royal flush remains the top payout with a maximum jackpot of 4000 credits, while the biggest four-of-a-kind bonus is awarded for four aces combined with a two, three, or four.
- Deuces Wild Video Poker – All twos are wild in this version of video poker, and a four of a kind hand occurs at an average rate of once every fifteen hands. A royal flush comprised of non-wild cards offer the top payout of 4000 credits, while a royal flush made up of one or more wild cards offers a 125 credit payout for the maximum wager. The lowest hand that pays is three of a kind while playing maximum coins with perfect strategy yields a theoretical return of 100.8%.
- All American – One of the highest return versions of video poker, this Jacks or Better variant offers increased winnings for straights, flushes, and straight flushes. It also reduces the payouts for pairs and full houses.
- Tens or Better – This free online video poker game is like Jacks or Better, except it begins to offer payouts with a pair of tens or better.
- Loose Deuces – Loose Deuces is another popular version of video poker. In this case, it’s a game of Deuces Wild that pays out more for a four of a kind built with 2s. If you can find a 15/7 or full-pay version of Loose Deuces, play it. If not, you’re better off playing Deuces Wild.
- Progressive Video Poker – Slots aren’t the only gaming machines with progressive jackpots. Progressive video poker exists, though the house edge is higher than flat-top video poker games.
- Ultimate X Video Poker – Ultimate X Video Poker introduces multipliers to draw poker. Instead of being a single gaming machine, Ultimate X is a variant rule that you’ll find on several different video poker games: Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Jokers Wild (Joker Poker), Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker. Besides that, it offers players the option of single-hand video poker or one of two multi-hand options: three-play video poker (up to 3 hands) or 10-play video poker (up to 10 hands).
- Triple Play Draw Poker – Triple Play Draw Poker is a multi-hand version of video poker distributed by IGT. Besides being a multi-hand video poker, it also offers the ability to play 9 different game variants: Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Deuces Wild Bonus, Joker Poker, Bonus Poker, Bonus Poker Deluxe, Double Bonus Poker, Double Double Bonus Poker, and Triple Double Bonus Poker.
Playing Video Poker in Practice Mode
Playing video poker in practice mode lets players test the game out before spending their hard-earned money. If you still haven’t figured out how to read video poker pay tables, it helps you get a feel for the game anyway.
How Video Poker Pay Tables Work
While the full-pay versions of video poker can give the player an edge over the house, casinos also have plenty of low-pay versions designed to offer lesser payouts and therefore greater profits for the house. Luckily, you can spot these machines by looking at their pay tables, and it’s always wise to steer clear of them in favor of the more generous machines.
The full-pay version of Jacks or Better, for example, offers nine times the player’s bet for a full house and six times the wager for a flush. This would be expressed as 9/6 Jacks or Better. Short-pay versions of the game range from 9/5 Jacks or Better to 6/5 Jacks or Better. Since a large number of players won’t bother to look at the pay tables, they’re likely to play one of these games instead of their more generous counterparts. This results in bigger hauls for the casino, which makes up for any losses they might suffer on the full-pay versions.
Practice Managing Your Video Poker Bankroll
Just remember: managing your bankroll and utilizing optimal strategy is a part of a responsible gambling strategy. This maximizes your opportunity to win real money and walk away a winner.
Now that you understand the basics of the game, you can play video poker for real cash online just like a pro. Even though you won’t increase your bankroll this way, it will prepare you for the day when you decide to visit your favorite casino and put some real money on the line
Video Poker History
Video poker got its start in the 1970s thanks to Si Redd, who was then working for Bally. He pitched company executives the idea of a game based around draw poker, but they were more interested in slot machines at the time. Si Redd took out a patent on the game and partnered with the Reno-based Fortune Coin Company. Together, they started the enterprise known as Sircoma – which sounded like a disease but actually stood for “Si Redd Coin Machines”.
The game of video poker got off to a slow start, but it began to pick up momentum in 1981. Electronic video poker allowed for bigger jackpots and more variety in pay tables, which increased interest in the game. With his newfound success, Si was able to take Sircoma public.
The company is now known around the globe as IGT, short for International Game Technology. IGT is one of the biggest gaming companies on the planet. While IGT is best known for slot machines, its land-based and online video poker games are still going strong. A visit to any casino will reveal dozens of variations and even more pay tables, while online video poker is its own category on most casino sites.
Free Video Poker FAQ
Yes, but they tend to be short-term promotions. More often, you'll find online casinos with table games bonuses that include video poker. While video poker is in its own category, the game's house edge tends to be in the same range as blackjack, baccarat, and craps. Therefore, the bonus requirements are often similar.
Multi-hand video poker is a form of the game that allows you to play 2 or more hands of draw poker at once. Many players feel like this increases their thrill by exposing them to more hands of poker at once. Unless you adjust your bets to account for the multiple bets, though, this typically exposes a player to the house edge more often. Since the casino tends to have the house edge, we recommend playing the single-hand versions of real money video poker games.
These stats change periodically, but a few online casino operators offer consistently good RTPs. The following statistics are a bit dated, but the best online casino brands tend to be consistently excellent year after year, so read our report on the best RTPs at online casinos.
Full Pay Deuces Wild Video Poker offers a 100.8% return to player, so it's one of the best games. Double Bonus Video Poker offers a 100.17% RTP for the 10/7 version. Readers should keep in mind two things about these expected returns: (1) you must study strategy and play optimally to achieve this RTP and (2) it's quite rare to find full pay video poker machines outside Las Vegas.
Jacks or Better was the original version of video poker, so it's the baseline gaming machine for this game. More importantly, Jacks or Better still has some of the best odds, so players flock to the game. Also, more strategy advice has been studied and written for Jacks or Better, while its strategy is a bit easier to follow than the bonus games or variants with wild cards. All in all, it's a solid place to start playing free video poker games.