Video Poker Versus Slot Machines Comparison Information

Video Poker Versus Slot Machines

Video poker and slot machines are the most-popular forms of machine based gaming. That said, these two games are often compared in a variety of aspects.

Many players who take a beating on slots become curious about video poker due to its strategic element.

Likewise, those who don't want to bother with video poker strategy become interested in slot machines due to their simplicity.

If you fit into either of these categories, or you'd just like to know how slots and video poker compare, keep reading as we break down all of the important aspects.

Later, we'll also discuss how video poker and pull tab machines compare since the latter is also a popular machine game.

Difference Between Video Poker and Slot Machines

# 1 Difference: Video Poker has More Strategy than Slots

One key difference between slot machines and video poker is that the latter involves intricate strategy.

You begin every video poker hand with 5 cards, and you decide what to keep and discard. Each decision you make has a long-term impact on pay back.

Let's look at an example:

  • 1You're playing 9 / 6 Jacks or Better
  • 2You're dealt: 10c, Js, 9c, 4s, 6s
  • 3The correct move is to keep Js and discard everything else.

In the situation above, the only correct strategy decision is to keep the jack of spades. Anything else results in a higher house edge and lowers your chances of winning.

Contrast this to slot machines, where the biggest strategy aspects involve bankroll management and choosing games with high pay back.

Once you accomplish these two goals, there's literally nothing else to do besides hitting the spin button.

Some of the newer slot machines feature skill-based bonus rounds. But these bonuses only account for around 5% of overall pay back.

Video poker contains far more skill than this, and there's no comparison to a skill-based slot.

# 2 Difference: Slots Offer Bigger Progressive Jackpots

Slot machines are well known for offering progressive jackpots worth millions of dollars.

Of course, only a small percentage of slots offer this much money. But the point is that you can make a fortune by winning a slots jackpot.

Below you can see some historic online and land-based slots jackpots.

  • $39.71 million

    Won by a 25-year-old software engineer at Las Vegas' Excalibur Casino.

  • $34.56 million

    Won by cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay-Brennan at Vegas' Desert Inn.

  • €17.88 million (approx. $22m)

    Won by British soldier Jon Heywood at an online casino.

  • $22.62 million

    Won by Johanna Huendl on her way to breakfast at Bally's Las Vegas.

  • €17.86 million ($22m)

    Won by a Finnish player at an online casino.

These are just . But they show you the type of fortunes that are available when a progressive prize grows large enough.

Most video poker games offer a royal flush payout worth 4,000 coins, although some have progressive jackpots too.

The largest progressive video poker jackpot that we've seen is a $670,000 payout. Poker pro Huck Seed won this prize in 2011 while betting $500 per hand.

This is definitely a big payout, but it doesn't come anywhere close to the largest progressive slots.

# 3 Difference: Video Poker Offers Higher Pay back

While video poker machines don't give you the opportunity to get rich, they do offer much higher pay back than slots.

Below you can see some of the highest-paying variations in video poker:

  • Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% pay back
  • Full-pay Joker Poker = 100.64% pay back
  • 10 / 7 Double Bonus = 100.17% pay back
  • 10 / 6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07% pay back
  • 9 / 6 Jacks or Better = 99.54% pay back
  • 8 / 5 Bonus Poker = 99.17% pay back

Even if you play 8 / 5 Bonus Poker, you'll earn higher pay back than any slot machine can offer.

The best slots pay back is typically found in online casinos, including the following games:

  • Mega Joker - 99% pay back
  • Jackpot 6000 - 98.8% pay back
  • Blood Suckers - 98.0% pay back
  • Megaspin Break Da Bank - 98.0% pay back
  • Fishy Fortune - 97.90% pay back
  • Kings of Chicago - 97.80% pay back
  • Hot Ink - 97.50% pay back

These games offer a far better return than what you'll find in brick-and-mortar casinos. But they still don't offer as high of pay back as video poker games.

If you want a better chance of winning, then video poker is your best bet.

# 4 Difference: Slots are More Relaxing to Play

Earlier we discussed how video poker features a lot more strategy than slots. But on the reverse side, slot machines are more relaxing for people who don't care about strategy or a higher return.

To illustrate this point, let's look at the process for playing both slots and video poker:

Slots Slots
  • 1You select your bet size.
  • 2You spin the reels.
  • 3Sometimes you'll trigger a bonus round or free spins.
Video Poker Video Poker
  • 1You select your bet size.
  • 2You receive a 5-card hand.
  • 3You decide what cards to keep and discard.
  • 4You click Draw to complete your hand.

Even if we include free spins or a bonus round, which only happen occasionally, the slots playing process features one less step. Compare this to video poker, where you may spend 5-10 seconds thinking during the draw round (third step).

Again, if you're just a casual gamer who wants to relax and play some casino games, then slot machines are a good choice.

# 5 Difference: Video Poker Pay back Is Easier to Figure Out

You can find pay back for plenty of online and land-based slot machines through research. But what if you can't find pay back for the particular game you're playing?

This would involve looking at the paytable, playing countless spins, and trying to figure out the frequency of each payout.

Obviously nobody wants to do this because it would cost a fortune and require endless hours.

Video poker paytables, on the other hand, are much easier to understand. You just need to know what payouts change the pay back for specific video poker variations.

With Jacks or Better, you need to concentrate on the full house and flush payouts. Here are some examples:

Game Pay back Coins for Full House Coins for Flush
9 / 6 Jacks or Better 99.54% 9 6
9 / 5 Jacks or Better 98.44% 9 5
8 / 6 Jacks or Better 98.39% 8 6
8 / 5 Jacks or Better 97.30% 8 5
7 / 5 Jacks or Better 96.15% 7 5

Some video poker variations have more than two differing payouts on the paytable. But as long as you know what payouts to look for with any given game, there's no mystery involved in the pay back.

# 6 Difference: Slots Offer More Comps

The big downside to slot machines is that you're dealing with a larger house edge. But the upside is that slots offer you more comps too.

Let's illustrate this point with comp examples for both slot machines and video poker:

Slots Slots Comps
  • 1You earn a 2% comp rate on losses.
  • 2You're playing a slot with a 5% house edge.
  • 3You bet $2,000.
  • 4Your theoretical losses are $100 (2,000 x 0.05).
  • 5You'd receive $2 in comps.
Video Poker Video Poker Comps
  • 1You earn a 2% comp rate.
  • 2You're playing 8 / 5 Bonus Poker (0.83% house edge).
  • 3You bet $2,000.
  • 4Your theoretical losses are $16.60 (2,000 x 0.0083).
  • 5You'd receive $0.33 in comps.

A common casino gaming tip is to never play strictly for comps. After all, you can see that your video poker losses would be $83.40 less than slots under these circumstances.

But the good news is that you'll at least receive more comps to soften the blow.

# 7 Difference: You can Win Long-Term Profits in Video Poker

It's not easy to find video poker machines that offer positive expectation (+EV). But you can still find +EV video poker in certain parts of Las Vegas.

Contrast this to slot machines, where you won't find a single game anywhere that offers over 100% pay back.

As for +EV video poker games, let's review the four that were mentioned earlier:

  • Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% pay back
  • Full-pay Joker Poker = 100.64% pay back
  • 10 / 7 Double Bonus = 100.17% pay back
  • 10 / 6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07% pay back

Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus don't offer a very big edge, even with perfect strategy. But full-pay Deuces Wild and Joker Poker offer noticeable profits to skilled players.

Here are win rate examples when perfect strategy is used on the following games:

  • Deuces Wild

    You'd win $7.60 for every 1,000 hands played.

  • Joker Poker

    You'd win $6.40 for every 1,000 hands played.

  • Double Bonus

    You'd win $1.70 for every 1,000 hands played.

  • Double Double Bonus

    You'd win $0.70 for every 1,000 hands played.

None of these win rates will earn you a full-time living. But pro players can make a living with Deuces Wild and Joker Poker when they take advantage of double and triple point promotions.

Assuming you don't care about being a video poker pro, then you can earn profits through Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus while also entertaining yourself.

# 8 Difference: Slots Pay More Online than in Land-based Casinos

In point #3, we mentioned how online slots normally pay more than those in brick-and-mortar casinos.

While there aren't any uniform figures on these differences, here are some estimates:

  • Online slots = 96% return to player (RTP) on average.
  • Land-based slot machines = 93-94% RTP on average.

Compare this to video poker, which doesn't change when moving from online to land-based casinos.

If you're playing a 9 / 6 Jacks or Better game, it's going to offer 99.54% pay back in both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. If you're playing a 9 / 7 Double Bonus game, it'll pay back 99.55% anywhere.

The one caveat is that you're more likely to find 9 / 6 JoB in online casinos than in land-based venues. The reason why is because internet operators don't have to cover as many overhead costs, and they can offer more high-paying games like 9 / 6 JoB.

# 9 Difference: Video Poker Requires Max Bets for Top Pay back

The golden rule of video poker is that if you want max pay back, then you need to make the max bet (5 coins). The reason why is because you're eligible for a much-larger royal flush payout when you wager 5 coins.

You can see this below:

  • 5-coin bet = 4,000-coin royal flush
  • 4-coin bet = 1,000-coin royal flush
  • 3-coin bet = 750-coin royal flush
  • 2-coin bet = 500-coin royal flush
  • 1-coin bet = 250-coin royal flush

The 3,000-coin jump in the top royal flush payout is why you should bet 5 coins on every hand.

Some slot machines also require that you make specific bets to quality for the jackpot and / or bonus rounds. Here's an example: you're playing a 50-payline game and you need to play all 50 lines in order to qualify for the progressive jackpot.

But this is the exception, rather than the norm. You're not required to make qualifying bets on most slots - especially online - to qualify for bonuses and jackpots.

Similarities Between Video Poker and Slot Machines

# 1 Similarity: Both Operate through a Random Number Generator

Random number generation involves creating a sequence of numbers that can't be predicted. And both slot and video poker machines use a random number generator (RNG) to ensure that every round is based on random chance.

Many video poker and slots myths arise because players don't understand how an RNG works. Certain players think there's a pattern or strategy that will result in guaranteed profits.

But the RNG ensures that every outcome is totally independent of the last.

# 2 Similarity: Video Poker and Slots are Good Alternatives to Table Games

Picture this scenario:

  • 1You visit a casino and you're new to table games.
  • 2You sit down to a blackjack table because you've heard it has a low house edge.
  • 3You touch your cards on the first hand, and the dealer warns you not to touch them.
  • 4You make a few strategy mistakes and are lectured by the player next to you.
  • 5You take too long to make decisions on most hands, drawing groans from the table.

Based on this experience, chances are that you won't be thrilled to play any more table games. Of course, you may also be too intimidated from the beginning and avoid the tables altogether.

This is where video poker and slots become perfect alternatives in land-based casinos. If you don't want to deal with the pressures of learning table games, you can sit down to a video poker or slot machine and play at your own pace.

# 3 Similarity: The Same Video Poker and Slots Games can Offer Different Pay back

Earlier, we covered how the same video poker variant has different pay back based on the paytable. Slot machines are also this way because casinos can order different pay back for a specific game.

This is mostly the case in land-based casinos, where the same slot machine might offer 92% pay back at one casino, and 89% pay back at another.

Online slotsmakers normally offer a uniform payout percentage with each individual game, no matter the casino. But some internet slots can also feature different pay back as you move between casinos.

One example is Microgaming's Mega Moolah, which can offer anywhere from 88.12% to 95% pay back.

# 4 Similarity: Both Games Have Betting Options

You can change betting options to your preferences in both video poker and slot machines.

Let's check out some wagering options that you'll see in video poker:

  • Bet 1 to 5 coins per hand.
  • In online casinos, you can change the coin denomination (ex. $0.05 to $0.25).
  • Play multiple hands per turn (in triple play).
  • Make side bets for multipliers (special video poker variations).

Now let's look at slot machine betting options:

  • Change coin size (ex. $0.01 to $1.00).
  • Adjust paylines (ex. 1 to 20).
  • Change coins per line (ex. 1 to 5).
  • Use double-up option after wins (in certain games).

Some betting options in video poker and slot machines are nearly the same, including the coin denomination and coins per hand / pay line.

Video Poker vs. Pull Tab Machines

What are Pull Tab Machines?

Pull tabs are special gaming tickets that involve pulling open perforated windows on the ticket's backside. The goal is to pull open symbols that match the winning combinations listed on the frontside.

Most pull tabs cost $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, $3, or $5 per ticket.

Pull tab tickets can either be sold by hand or through machines. The latter is similar to video poker or slots because you put money into a machine, then receive your ticket.

Electronic pull tabs are another option, allowing you to play through a tablet device. Electronic pull tabs offer everything that physical tickets have, except that you don't physicallypull the tabs - you merely swipe them.

What are the Similarities between Video Poker & Pull Tabs?

  • Machine-based Play - Both video poker and pull tabs are played through machines. Pull tabs can also be distributed physically by vendors (normally through charities).
  • Transparent Odds of Winning - Video poker paytables are transparent and allow you to easily figure out pay back. Pull tab players can see how many available prizes (predetermined) and tickets are left through a tally sheet or electronic display.
  • Varying Prizes - Video poker and pull tabs feature varying payouts, with the royal flush or highest-symbol combination (pull tabs) offering the biggest prize
What are the Differences between Video Poker & Pull Tab Machines?

  • Pull Tab Payouts are Predetermined - Each pull tab game is released with a set number of payouts and tickets (ex. 5k prizes for 50k tickets). When the prizes are all won, distributors can either offer another round, or get rid of the game completely.
  • Video Poker Payouts are Totally Random - Each video poker payout offers specific odds of winning, just like a pull tab game. But the key difference is that video poker prizes aren't predetermined. Even though a royal flush payout (4,000 coins) happens roughly 1 in 40,000 hands, it could theoretically happen 4 in 40,000 hands.
  • Pull Tab Games Don't Involve Much Strategy - The biggest strategy to pull tab machines is finding out how many prizes are left versus tickets. This gives you an indication of whether or not you should play based on the odds. Video poker strategy, as covered before, is far more involved.
  • Every Video Poker Outcome is Independent of the Last - Given that video poker payouts are based on an RNG, past results never determine future hands. Contrast this to pull tabs, where every loss removes one losing ticket from circulation, thus improving your future odds.
  • Pull Tab Machines Play More Like Slots than Video Poker - Considering that pull tab machines involve matching symbols with winning combinations, they're similar to slot machines. Meanwhile, video poker is an electronic-based version of draw poker.


While video poker and slot machines share similarities, they're also different in a variety of aspects too.

We highlighted nine differences, but the key ones that stand out include the following:

  • 1Video poker has far more strategy.
  • 2Slots offer bigger jackpots.
  • 3Video poker offers higher pay back.
  • 4Slots deliver more comps (due to high house edge).
  • 5Video poker has +EV games.

These differences define each game and make them appeal to specific crowds.

Those who enjoy using skill to improve their chances of winning will appreciate video poker. Meanwhile, players who want to chase big jackpots and / or play without considering strategy will like slot machines.

These comparisons don't prove that one game is superior to the other. Instead, they highlight the aspects you want to consider when deciding what to play in casinos.

The same goes when pitting video poker and pull tab machines against each other.

Pull tabs are like a hybrid between slots and the lottery because you buy tickets and try to match symbols. This offers another luck-based game that appeals to a different crowd than video poker lovers.

Of course, nothing is stopping you from dividing your play up between video poker, slots, and / or pull tab machines. We find that this is a fun way to enjoy a variety of gaming experiences.

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