Video poker games offer all the excitement and entertainment of regular poker, but you don't have to worry about beating other players – you simply press one button to deal, choose which cards you want to keep, then press the same button to replace your discards. If your online video poker hand is a winner, you're paid out automatically, unless you're playing free video poker, in which case your only reward is the thrill of winning. Of course, the advantage of free video poker games is that they allow you to get to grips with the game without any risk.
Multi-hand video poker
Multi-hand video poker allows you to play more than one hand at a time. Different machines allow you to play different numbers of hands – up to 100 hands at a time in many casino – but are the odds of winning on a multi-hand machine any different than when playing regular video poker?
Before we answer that question, let's look at the game itself. You begin by choosing the number of hands you wish to play by clicking one of the numbers across the bottom of the video poker screen: usually 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 or 100. Next, you place a bet. Because these machines are multi-denominational, they accepts bets ranging from pennies to pounds. When the bet is selected, you click the Deal button. If you decide to play the maximum coin amount, just click Bet Max for five credits for every hand you choose to play.
After you have pressed the Deal button, you will be presented with five cards. On the screen, each hand you are playing (from the 1st to the 100th) will contain these same five cards. Just as in conventional online video poker, you choose your keepers. All of the favourable cards you choose to hold from the initial hand are copied to each remaining hand played. When you are ready to draw new cards, click the Deal button again.
For each hand you have paid to play, a random set of replacement cards is drawn. In order to show 100 hands on a video screen, each hand has to be quite small, making it all but impossible for anyone to keep track of what's going on as 100 hands simultaneously play out at high speed. Fortunately, when all of the hands have been dealt the machine will highlight all of your winners and display both the amount returned and the total accumulated credits. In addition, at the bottom of each winning hand, a colour-coded bar will appear, indicating the type of hand and coins won. On many machines a corresponding chart is displayed in a bottom corner of the screen, and this shows you how many of each type of winning hands you have hit.
The odds for multi-hand video poker are the same as for the single-hand version. Playing each hand multiple times magnifies how much you win or lose, but only because you turning over more money per game – the odds themselves don't change. This means that any strategies you use for optimising your return at a single hand game will carry over to multi-hand video poker games, as long as you shop for the best pay tables.
So, is there a downside to multi-hand video poker? Unfortunately, yes. The more hands you play per hour, the more you subject your gambling funds to the house edge. Though you are only playing one hand of video poker, you are getting 100 different results on the draw, each subject to a built-in casino advantage. And although multi-hand video poker can increase your earning potential on good hands, it also magnifies your losing potential on bad hands, evaporating your bankroll very quickly.
If you are playing 5-coin single-handed video poker at 25p a throw and your are dealt "junk", all you have at stake is 25p. With multi-hand play you would have much more invested in those same awful cards. Even if you were betting pennies, you could be losing £5 per play with 100 hands, and that's a lot more than 25p on a single-hand machine.
For those of us who like to play video poker, multi-hand video poker gives us the ability to play many more hands per hour than we could with a single hand machine. However, whether that works for or against us all depends on the cards we are dealt and how we choose to play them.
Video Poker Gamble Features
Many video poker games have a built-in gamble feature of some type which gives players the chance to risk the prize won from a given hand in order to try and increase its value. The format of the gamble feature varies from game to game. Some require players to predict whether the next playing card in a series will be higher or lower than the previous one. Others require the player to predict the colour or suit of a playing card.
The odds paid for a successful prediction obviously vary according to the type of prediction made, but typically the video poker player can double or quadruple his winnings with each successful gamble.
Whilst many casual players are quite happy to risk modest wins in the hope of parlaying them into something more substantial, serious video poker enthusiasts should think more carefully about whether or not gambling prizes is a sensible idea. When playing strategically a video poker player can minimise the edge that the house has over him, but if he then gambles his modest wins he may well be undoing all of his hard work in a matter of moments.
Consider a player who manages to win £20 in an hour by playing video poker in a strategic and thoughtful manner and refusing all opportunities to gamble his prizes. If that same player had taken advantage of the gamble feature then although he would have given himself the chance to win even more he could just as easily have lost quite a few of his prizes, and that in turn would have had a negative impact on his overall performance.
It could be argued that the gamble features embedded into video poker games are nothing more than ancillary games of chance which are designed to help the casino hold onto as much cash as possible. That said, would you be happy to make a profit by playing video poker for an hour and then risk all of that profit at the Roulette wheel or the Craps table?
If your answer to this question is yes then you are probably someone who plays video poker primarily for its entertainment value and so you should feel free to take advantage of the video poker gamble features as you see fit. However, if you would hate to make a profit only to risk it on a pure game of chance then you probably shouldn't use any gamble features, because you would effectively be risking your hard-won profit on nothing more than the flip of a Random Number Generator.
Of course, you can explore this matter further by playing free video poker games and seeing how you would fare taking each approach. Play several one-hour sessions in which you take advantage of the gamble opportunities offered to the same extent as you would if playing for real, but at the same time keep track of what your profits or losses would have been without gambling at any point. If gambling modest wins really does help you to make more profits then feel to do that in the real cash games, but if risking modest wins decreases your bottom line the gamble features would be best avoided.
Video Poker Practice
Practicing video poker can help you to make better decisions when you come to play the game for real money in a casino environment. Although video poker depends a lot on how lucky you are when the cards are dealt, making the right decisions about which cards to hold and which to discard is something that also plays an important role.
Some video poker players like to run practice hands using a real deck of cards – perhaps on a kitchen or dining room table. The main problem with this method is that play in a casino on video poker machines is much faster.
The best way to acquire video poker skills without the expense of a live game is with a computer. In many ways a computer can be far superior to a human instructor for both training and drilling. The benefit of computer training is the ability to test your strategies along with money-management progressive win formulas at no financial risk, even with simulated high speed play.
Whether at high speeds or at a live game pace, computers allow you to accumulate data for later review. This enables you to spot costly trends that you might be making on an online video poker machine, and information like this would take you years to accumulate dealing hand after hand on your kitchen table. And of course, any knowledge obtained without the expense of actually playing will be useful.
Many of the better online casino gaming software programs are either free or shareware, making computer simulation inexpensive, accessible and even fun. These software programs can be downloaded from any of the major online services on the internet.
If you don't have a computer, you can still create a Las Vegas experience with a handheld video game. We have seen small hand-held video poker computer games at Toys R Us and similar outlets for less than £10, and these can be very useful – especially if you like the idea of getting in some video poker practice whilst you're out and about.
Video Poker Tips
The video poker tips that we are about to share with you could help any online video poker player to improve their performance and, hopefully, the number of profitable sessions that they have. Whether you play Deuces Wild, Aces and Faces or any other video poker game, these video poker tips are sure to be useful.
Set a Hand Limit
Most video poker players think in terms for playing for a certain length of time, but our first tips is for you to set a hand limit instead. For example, instead of saying that you will play for an hour, limit yourself to playing 100 or 200 hands. Why? Because if you do this then you will be able to directly compare your results from one session with the results you obtained in the previous session. You will also be able to avoid the common mistake of not limiting your session at all – something that usually results in the session ending with the total loss of the initial bankroll.
Assuming that you take our previous tip on board, you should also get into the habit of keeping records of every session you play. Note down the date, time, the type of machine you played, the online casino you were playing at, the number of hands played, how long you played for in minutes, the stake sizes you used and how much money you won or lost. Keeping such records will allow you to analyse your performance in the future and identify areas in which you can improve.
When deciding which type of machine that you want to play, assess returns rather than the number of winning hands. Look back over your records and see which type of machine has given you the most profit (or the smallest loss) and don't allow yourself to play a game just because it has one or more Wild cards and therefore makes it easier to get a winning hand.
Instead of playing your chosen game making random decisions as you go along, try to play smart by adopting some kind of strategy. Knowing in advance what cards you will hold or discard in various situations will help you to get more consistent results, and if you adopt a proven strategy for the game you play you can effectively reduce the size of the edge that the house has over you. Taking time to improve your game through video poker practice is highly recommended.
These four video poker tips won't result in you winning a video poker jackpot on your first attempt (or ever, come to that) but they will help you to play more effectively and, all other factors being equal, to fare better over the long term.