Dream Card Poker

Dream Card Poker

Dream Card Poker is another in a long line of video poker games which layer an additional feature on top of an existing variation. In this case, the additional feature is a "dream card", which is sort of like a wild card but not really.

To activate this feature, you're required to wager twice as much money as usual - 10 coins instead of 5 coins.

This page intends to offer a complete guide to Dream Card Poker. Even if you've never played video poker before, you should be able to read this page and play Dream Card Poker intelligently.

The Basics of How to Play Dream Card Poker

Before you can play Dream Card Poker, you need to understand the basics of video poker in general. Here's how almost all video poker games work:

They're similar to slot machine games, but instead of having spinning reels with arbitrary symbols on them, the screen on a VP game has spots for pictures of playing cards. This is more than just a cosmetic difference, too.

The computer that runs the game uses the same probabilities to deal the cards as you'd see if you were playing with a regular 52-card deck of playing cards.

The importance of this is hard to exaggerate. On a slot machine, you have a pay table, and you can see how much the various combinations of symbols are worth.

But you have no way of knowing the odds of getting any specific symbol on any specific spot.

With a video poker game, though, you know the odds and the payouts. Given that information, you can compare one video poker game with another to see which one offers the better payback percentage. We'll cover payback percentages in detail in the next section, but for now, just understand that the payback percentage measures how good the game is, odds-wise.

To play a video poker game like Dream Poker, you start by inserting money into the machine. Depending on the denomination of the machine, this money is converted into credits. Common denominations for video poker include quarter games and dollar games.

For example, if you insert $100 into a quarter machine, you get 400 credits. Insert that same $100 into a dollar machine, and you only get 100 credits.

You then choose how many "coins" you want to bet. In video poker games, coins are the same thing as credits. It's traditional for a video poker game to allow you to choose between wagering 1 and 5 coins, but you should always wager 5 coins.

That's because the top jackpot in almost any video poker game is a royal flush. The payoff for this hand is 250 for 1 if you bet 1, 2, 3, or 4 coins.

But if you bet 5 coins, the payout for a royal flush jumps to 800 for 1.

That has a big effect on your bottom line.

After you've chosen how many coins to bet, the computer deals you a 5-card poker hand. You then have the choice to hold or discard each of those 5 cards and have them replaced.

You do this by pressing the hold button that corresponds to each card, or by touching the touchscreen on the cards you want to keep.

Once you've made your selection, you press the draw button. The computer deals replacement cards for the ones you've discarded, and you get paid off based on the poker hand ranking for your final combination.

In many games, payouts start at 1 for 1 for a pair of jacks, queens, kings, or aces - "jacks or better". You might see a payout of 2 for 1 for 2 pairs, 3 for 1 for 3 pairs, and so on up to the best hand in the game - the royal flush.

With all that in mind, let's talk about the difference between Dream Card Poker and other video poker games.

The First 2 Things to Understand Are These:

  • 1You don't get a dream card on every hand. They're awarded randomly.
  • 2To get a dream card, you must play for 10 coins instead of 5 coins. The extra wager activates the feature.

The dream card resembles a wild card, but you choose which card it is when you're dealt your initial hand. The card counts as that other card after the draw, too.

The machine suggests an appropriate card for you to choose, but you can override that choice.

Also, the dream card is one of the 5 cards in your initial hand.

Here's an Example of How the Dream Card Works:

The machine deals you a hand with a jack and 4 other cards, all of which are off-suit small cards. You have a slim shot at a flush or a straight, but those are LONG odds indeed.

Your best bet in this situation is to take one of the low cards and convert it into a jack of another suit. Now you have a pair of jacks, which pays off even money in most games. It also gives you a fighting chance of hitting a 3 of a kind, a full house, or a 4 of a kind.

When the machine replaces the 3 discards, the dream card continues to be a jack of whatever suit you chose. If it were an actual wild card, you could change the card's value to anything you'd want to complete a straight, a flush, or a royal flush. But that's not how Dream Card Poker works.

We like to think of the dream card as a "sorta-but-not-really wild card".

Now let's talk about the pay table and payback percentage for these games.

Dream Card Poker Odds, Pay Tables, and Payback Percentages

One thing to remember about Dream Card Poker is that it's a feature added to an existing video poker game. The pay table for the Dream Card Poker game you're playing is based on the pay table for that existing video poker game.

The Following Games Are Available in a Dream Card Version:
  • 1Bonus Poker
  • 2Bonus Poker Deluxe
  • 3Deuces Wild
  • 4Double Bonus Poker
  • 5Double Double Bonus Poker
  • 6Jacks or Better
  • 7Triple Bonus Poker
  • 8Triple Double Bonus Poker

Here's an Example of a Pay Table For Dream Poker Jacks or Better:

Hand/Coins 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full house 9 19 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 pair 2 4 6 8 10
Pair of Jacks+ 1 2 3 4 5

This is an example of a 9/6 Jacks or Better pay table. If you're familiar with video poker in general or JoB specifically, you'll recognize that this is a generous but not terribly unusual pay table. The 9/6 refers to the payoffs for the full house and the flush.

The payback percentage for this pay table, if you're using the mathematically optimal strategy when choosing which cards to discard, is 99.54%. The house edge is that number subtracted from 100%, or 0.46%.

The payback percentage, also called the expected return, is the mathematically predicted long term amount you can expect to get back in winnings from the game. It's a percentage of how much you wager.

Here's an Example:

You're playing for $5 per hand on a dollar machine for 4 hours. You play 600 hands per hour. That's 3000 hands multiplied by $5, or $15,000 in action. If the payback percentage is 99.54%, you expect to win back $14,931. That's a loss of $69.

Keep in mind, though, that this a mathematical expectation. Your actual results can vary widely. The casino is banking on the long-term expectation, because they field thousands of bets per hour. Individual players sometimes walk away winners, and they sometimes walk away as bigger losers than expected.

Here's how that number is calculated, by the way:

You take the probability of getting each of those hands and multiply it by the payoff for that hand. Add all those possibilities up, and you get the overall payback percentage (expected return) for the game.

Here's an Example:

You'll get a pair of jacks or higher about 21.5% of the time. Since that pays off with 1 unit, that adds 21.5% to the expected return for the game. You'll get 2 pairs about 12.9% of the time. Since that pays off at 2 units, the expected return for that hand is 25.8%. You continue this process through all the hands, add those numbers up, and voila! You have the payback percentage for the game.

But the payback percentage above doesn't account for the randomly activated dream card, which obviously increases the payback percentage. The difference in payback percentage changes based on how often you get a dream card.

And that number changes based on which game you're playing.

Here's how often you can expect to get the dream card for the following variations:

Game Dream Card Frequency
Bonus Poker 46.70%
Bonus Poker Deluxe 31.30%
Deuces Wild 59.00%
Double Bonus Poker 33.70%
Double Double Bonus Poker 31%
Jacks or Better 50.50%
Triple Bonus Poker 27.00%
Triple Double Bonus Poker 26.70%

In every case, having the dream card option available increases your overall expected return for the game, but the amount of the increase varies from game to game. It also varies based on the pay table for each game.

At the low end, the increase in expected return is only 0.02%, but at the high end, it's 1.55%.

Here's a List of the Best Dream Poker Variations Along With Their Expected Returns:
  • 8/5 Bonus Poker

    99.27% - This represents an increase of 0.11% over the normal payback percentage.

  • 9/6 Bonus Poker Deluxe

    99.67% - This represents an increase of 0.03% over the normal payback percentage. (Bonus Poker Deluxe is pretty loose to begin with.)

  • 25/15/9/4/4/3 Deuces Wild

    99.12% - This represents an increase of 1.00% over the normal payback percentage.

  • 9/7/5 Double Bonus Poker

    99.17% - This represents an increase of 0.07% over the normal payback percentage.

  • 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker

    99.04% - This represents an increase of 0.06% over the normal payback percentage.

  • 9/6 Jacks or Better

    99.55% - This represents an increase of 0.15% over the normal payback percentage.

  • 10/7 Triple Bonus

    98.54% - This represents an increase of 0.02% over the normal payback percentage.

  • 9/6 Triple Double Bonus

    98.21% - This represents an increase of 0.05% over the normal payback percentage.

We always recommend to our readers that they should stick with video poker games offering a payback percentage of 99% or more. Most of these variations of Dream Card Poker qualify.

Even less desirable pay tables for Dream Card Poker can be worth playing. For example, 9/5 Bonus Poker Deluxe normally has a payback percentage of 98.5%, but when you add the dream card, the payback percentage increases to 99.05%.

Dream Card Poker Strategy

As we mentioned earlier, achieving the listed return for each of these games requires playing the hands with the correct strategy. If you make the wrong decisions about which cards to hold and which cards to throw away, you'll achieve a significantly lower payback percentage for the game.

To top that off, with Dream Poker, you must decide what value to assign to the dream card. The game does provide you with a suggestion when you get the card.

And most of the time, this suggestion is mathematically correct.

Therefore, the simplest strategy for Dream Card Poker is to memorize the correct strategy for the base game. Then follow the computer's suggestion for what to use as your dream card. You can find detailed strategy guides for all the base games on our individual pages for those games.

If You've Never Used a Video Poker Strategy Card Before, Here's How it Works:

You're given a list of possible hands in descending order of desirability. You stop when you get to a hand that matches something in your hand, and those are the cards you hold. You discard the rest.

Where to Find Dream Card Poker Online for Free or Real Money

The only option for Dream Card Poker on the Internet is VideoPoker.com. It's only available in a free play version there. This kind of free video poker game has its pros and cons.

  • On the pro side, you can't lose any money playing Dream Card Poker for free there.
  • On the con side, you can't win any money playing Dream Card Poker for free there.

We're of the opinion that if you want to gamble, you should gamble. That means accepting the risk of losing some money in exchange for the possibility of winning some money.

If you're playing in land-based casinos, you have plenty more options. Almost 2 dozen casinos in Nevada offer the game. Most of these are in Las Vegas.

The biggest concentration of Dream Card Poker games can be found at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. They have 10 machines there. Other major casinos, like Ballys, Bellagio, and the Mirage have 1 or 2 games each, too.

A handful of casinos in other states offer Dream Card Poker, too. You can find 1 or 2 casinos in California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and Michigan. offers a comprehensive list that's updated frequently with locations.


Dream Card Poker is a fun and interesting variation of standard video poker, but it's not cheap. Being required to wager 10 coins instead of 5 coins on each hand will put this game out of most low rollers' budgets.

But it's a fun game, and unlike many new features tacked on top of existing games, Dream Card Poker offers better odds than the original game.

You're just looking at higher volatility because of the double-sized bet you're required to place.

Sadly, you can't play Dream Card Poker online for real money, but you can find at least one free version. Our recommendation, if you're looking for real money video poker online, is to look for some of the base games that Dream Card is tacked onto. We offer recommendations for multiple reputable casinos on our site.

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