While video poker does not necessarily have the history of the likes of blackjack and roulette, it is certainly held in the same type of regard by land based and online casino players alike. The first games of the type found in modern casinos was released in 1975 and went through many improvements and iterations to make it into the game that players still enjoy to this day. Interestingly, IGT, who’s slots you can find here at Mr Gamez, played a key role in bringing the game to casinos in its current form following the release of their much admired Draw Poker game in 1982. It changed the industry to an extent, as it introduced the concept of reels to the video poker genre, something that had never been tried before and was lifted from slots, but went on to become a staple of many machines.
One of the factors that keeps players coming back to video poker time and time again in the face of stiff competition from slots and other games is that, at its core, the game is simple to learn and fun to play. It can give players the genuine poker rush without the need for any of the aspects of competitive play such as raising or bluffing, while still allowing players to enjoy some of the most common gameplay.
There are many variations of the standard video poker concept – indeed, we offer multiple variations here at Mr Gamez, enough to afford the genre its very own gaming category. However, even new players can get to grips with the basics as there are a number of standard gameplay mechanics that are interchangeable across the range. Some of the different aspects of gameplay to look out for include:
- Five card hands. Each of our video poker games, from Aces and Faces to Deuces Wild, are all based on players receiving five cards. Naturally, each of these cards present an opportunity to form a winning hand and, using the standard hand rankings of traditional poker, players win more for better hands.
- Holding and dealing. One aspect of traditional poker that the vast majority of video poker variations retain is offering players one chance to improve their hand, either by holding certain cards and being dealt replacements or mucking their entire hand in favour of a new one.
- Hand ranking. Different variations of video poker utilise different hands as the lowest that players can make use of, sometimes tied with the name. For example, Jacks or Better require the player to hold a pair of Jacks or more to get paid, while Deuces Wild sets a minimum of three of a kind to compensate for the addition of a wild card. Normally, the Royal Flush sits at the top of the tree of any video poker game.
Getting used to the nuances of different types of video poker is certainly not difficult, but it can be worthwhile spending time on each game to determine which one suits your play style best. Fortunately, you have all of the time and credits you could possibly need when playing for fun here at Mr Gamez and we invite you to try out as many different games as you like for as long as you need.
Of course, playing for fun does not mean that you should not play to win! For such a simple game in its own right, video poker has been the subject of some of the most extensive strategy books and guides of any casino game in history. You will naturally pick up strategies of your own when enjoying our free video poker games, but here are a few of our very own tips that apply to some, if not all of our different variations:
- Always play the maximum bet for your stake level where possible. Most video poker games allow the player to choose from five columns of prizes, with one coin or stake level placed on each to activate more prizes. Generally, the prize values increase linearly, so a hand that is worth two coins with one line active is worth ten with five lines. However, most video poker games add an additional jackpot to the Royal Flush. On Deuces Wild, for example, it is worth 250 coins with one prize board and 500 with two. If the prize was linear, then five would be worth 1,250, but instead it is worth 4000 coins. Naturally, when the Flush hits you want to scoop as much as possible, and the change in prize pattern takes away some of the house edge.
- Don’t be attracted by a “kicker” card when holding a pair. If you have a pair in your hand and the minimum pay-out is for three of a kind, then holding an Ace simply due to its rank is one less chance to improve the pair into a winning hand. Video poker machines rarely differentiate between the rank of hands after the minimum prize winning value, so look for improvements rather than high cards. After all, in a game where two pairs win a prize, Aces and Kings are no better than Twos and Threes.
- Don’t get greedy when looking to improve hands. If you are dealt a straight with four suited cards and the machine pays more for a flush, the odds dictate that you are better off holding the entire hand than looking for the fifth flush card, especially with the difference in prize amounts often being negligible.
There is no such thing as a basic strategy for video poker like there is for blackjack, but the three tips above, when combined with your own ideas, can reduce the house edge. Even though we are all about fun at Mr Gamez, every game is more fun when you’re winning!