Real Money Video Poker Online

Real money video poker games are some of the best bets in the casino. The only other gambling games that compare, in terms of offering good odds for the player, are the various blackjack games available.

This page offers a table listing some of the best sites on the Internet where you can play video poker for real money. It also includes an analysis of the pros and cons of video poker versus other types of gambling, as well as guidance about free video poker, different games that are available, and how to learn the most appropriate strategies for maximizing your winnings and minimizing your losses.

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Real Money Video Poker VS Slots

We've seen video poker called "the thinking man's slot machine". That's not a bad description at all. In fact, if you're not aware of the difference when you walk into the casino, no one would blame you for thinking that video poker games and slot machine games are the same thing.

In many ways, they work in the same manner. Most of them are, in fact, designed and manufactured by the same companies (International Game Technology is the largest). You can usually find video poker games which offer progressive jackpots, just like slot machines often do. And physically, slot machines and video poker games are remarkably similar—they're the same shape and size, for the most part.

But savvy gamblers also notice the differences between video poker and slots. Two of these are especially significant.

1Decision Making.
2Payback Percentages.
Decision Making

The most important difference is that video poker players make decisions which might actually affect their outcomes. When you're playing a slot machine, the odds are based on the random number generator, and no decision you make affects your odds. But since video poker duplicates the action of a real deck of cards, some playing decisions are better than others.


Suppose you're playing a Jacks or Better game that offers a progressive jackpot for a royal flush. You have the following hand:

You have a pair, which is a guaranteed even money payout. But if you keep the pair and throw away the other cards, you miss your chance at winning the progressive jackpot. Since your odds of winning the progressive by going for the royal flush are 1 in 47, and the progressive jackpot probably pays out at 10,000 to 1 (or something similar), the difference between those two playing decisions is huge.

Some gamblers prefer to have a little control over their destinies. Others would rather not have to think about their decisions. The former would clearly prefer video poker over slots, while the latter would clearly prefer slots over video poker.

Payback Percentages

The other major difference between slots and video poker is the difference between payback percentages.

What's a payback percentage?

That's the mathematical average amount of each bet that you can expect to win over the long term.


Suppose you're playing a slot machine with a payback percentage of 96%. That means that over a long enough period of time, you'll win about 96 cents every time you bet a dollar on that game as 96 cents is 96% of $1). Another way of looking at it is that you'll lose an average of 4 cents every time you bet a dollar.

Most slot machines offer a payback percentage of between 90% and 95%, although you can find extremes in either direction. The airport slot machines in Las Vegas offer notoriously low payout percentages, for example. Some of the high roller slots on the Las Vegas Strip might offer payback percentages as high as 97% or 98%.

But none of those payback percentages compare to what you'll find on video poker games, especially the ones with the favorable pay tables. But not all games of the same name offer the same payback percentages.

Take Jacks or Better for example. This is the most popular video poker game, but different machines (sometimes even machines that are sitting right next to each other) often have different payouts for various hands. In the case of this game, the two key hands to look at are the full house and the flush.

A so-called "full pay" Jacks or Better game offers a 9 to 1 payout for a full house and a 6 to 1 payout for a flush. If you play with the optimal strategy, the payback percentage for this version of video poker is a phenomenally high 99.56%

With a payback percentage of 99.56%, you're going to lose less than a penny for every dollar you bet over the long run that's easily one of the best gambles in any casino.

But most Jacks or Better games aren't that generous. Another common payout structure has an 8 to 1 payout for a full house and a 5 to 1 payout for a flush. That kind of machine is called an 8/5 Jacks or Better game, and the payout percentage for that game is only 97.3%. That's still better than most slot machines, but it's a whopping average loss per bet of 5 times what you'd have if you stuck with a full pay game.

Free Video Poker VS Real Money Video Poker

The title of this section asks whether you should play for real money or not.

Our answer is simple.

If you like to gamble for real money, video poker is one of the best bets in the casino. If you're going to gamble for real money anyway, you should play the games with the best odds. That means blackjack and video poker.

If you don't gamble for real money, but you like to play free casino games online, then you can play any game that you find entertaining. For some that might be video poker, but for others it might be craps or roulette. Since you're not risking any money on the free versions of these games, we have no guidance about which games are better than others.

In fact, our best advice regarding free casino games is to play all of them and stick with the ones you find most entertaining.

Another great way to use free casino games, especially free video poker games, is to use them as a means of trying out a particular casino's software to see if you enjoy the sights and sounds associated with their casino. Not all online casino software offers the same playing experience. Savvy internet gamblers shop around and stick with software that looks and feels right to them.

Video Poker Games

The world of video poker games is dominated by 2 games in particular:

1Jacks or Better
2Deuces Wild.

Those are by no means the only video poker games available, but they're the basis for almost all of the other games you'll find.

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better was one of the first video poker games to be released in casinos, and it's still the most common. It's a simple enough game, too. You're dealt five cards, and you get one chance to discard and replace the cards you've been dealt. You get paid based on how good a poker hand you wind up with. The game is called Jacks or Better because the lowest possible payout is a pair of jacks… or better.

We discussed the different payback percentages for this game in the section above about payback percentages, but we'll go into a little more detail here. We'll start by including a full pay table for a 9/6 or full pay game below:

With all video poker games, you have the option of betting between one and five coins per hand. That's why there's a different payout listed for each of those five options.

Savvy readers will notice that, proportionally, the payouts are the same regardless of how many coins you bet. For example a straight flush pays 50 to 1 whether you're betting one coin, three coins, or five coins.

There's one important exception though, and that's the payout for the five con max bet on the royal flush. If you bet between one coin and four coins, the payout for that hand is 250 to 1. There's nothing wrong with that kind of payout, either, but it doesn't compare to the payout for a five coin bet.

The payout for a royal flush on a five coin bet is 4000 coins, which is 800 to 1.

That bonus amount on the payout is there for a specific reason. It's there to encourage you to place the five coin bet every time you play.

And, in fact, that is one of the fundamental aspects of correct full pay Jacks or Better strategy. You should ALWAYS make the max coin bet, because otherwise, you're playing the same game but with worse odds. You'll only see a royal flush once every 40,000 hands or so, but when you do, you want to get the full payout.

Most Jacks or Better games come in denominations starting at a quarter and going up to $5 or more. That means a five coin bet on a quarter game is $1.25 per hand. A more common game might be a dollar game, which means you're wagering $5 per hand.

How much does that mean you stand to lose per hour on average playing Jacks or Better?

Assuming you play with the correct strategy and stick with full pay machines, you can calculate your hourly expected loss easily. You multiply the amount you're wagering per hand by the average number of wagers per hour you're placing. Then you multiply that by the house edge, which is just the payback percentage subtracted from 100%.


Most skilled video poker players get in 500 hands per hour. If you're betting $5 per hand, you're putting $2,500 per hour into action. But you only expect to lose 0.54% of that. (100% minus the payback percentage of 99.46%.) 0.54% multiplied by $2,500 is $13.50.

Compare that $13.50 hourly loss with what you might expect to lose playing slots. Let's say you find a pretty good slot machine with a payout percentage of 95%. That sounds like a good deal, and compared to most slots, it is.

But you'll make at least as many bets per hour on the slots as you will on video poker—maybe more, since you presumably won't ever have to stop to make a decision. So now you have $2,500 multiplied by 5%. That's $125/hour.

Would you rather lose $13.50 per hour or $125/hour?

Which game sounds like the better gamble to you?

Of course, most Jacks or Better games aren't full pay machines. But the payouts for all of the hands remain the same except for the following two.

  • Full house
  • Flush
Jacks or Better games are defined by the payouts for those 2 hands by video poker experts, and they refer to them as such. A full pay game, for example, is referred to as "9/6 Jacks or Better", or "96JoB". The next step down from there is the 8/5 Jacks or Better game, but you'll also find machines that offer 7/5 and 6/5 payouts for those 2 hands.
As the payouts for those 2 hands go down, so does the payout percentage. Here's a table listing the payback percentages for the common variations of Jacks or Better:
Jacks Or Better Variation
9 / 6
8 / 5
7 / 5
6 / 5
Payback Percentage

Other variations do exist, but they're rare. The table above makes it clear that you should stick with 9/6 Jacks or Better when possible. You'll often run into casinos which have no full pay machines at all. In that case, if 8/5 is the best you can do, it's still better than most slot machine games.

Jacks or Better Video Poker Strategy

The correct strategy for Jacks or Better is easier than you think. You use the same strategy regardless of the pay table. Here's how it works.

Below, we've listed the possible hands you can get initially. Start at the top of the list and go down. When you find a hand the applies to you, hold on to those cards and draw. You'll notice that some of these hands are 5 card hands—in that case, you just keep that hand and take your payout, drawing nothing.

  • Royal flush
  • Straight flush
  • 4 of a kind

Notice that those are the 3 best possible hands, and if you get one of those hands, you don't draw to anything—you just hang on to that hand and take your payout.

  • 4 cards to a royal flush

This is the first drawing hand on the strategy list. You'll notice that you might have other potential payout hands, but you'll throw them away in order to get a shot at that royal flush. That's because the payout for that hand is so large.

  • Full house
  • Flush
  • 3 of a kind
  • Straight

Notice again that these are not drawing hands. They're all hands with a payout that you'll hang on to.

  • 4 cards to a straight flush

This IS another drawing hand.

  • 2 pair
  • A pair of Jacks or Better

Once you get past this point, you start to get into the more speculative hands—most of the strategy list up to this point has consisted of either guaranteed payout hands or drawing to a royal flush or a straight flush.

  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • 10JQK, unsuited
  • Any pair less than a pair of jacks (You're hoping to hit 3 of a kind)
  • 910JQ, unsuited
  • 8910J, unsuited
  • 9JQ, suited
  • 910Q, suited
  • 4 cards to an open straight draw
  • 3 cards to a straight flushwith 2 high cards and 2 gaps
  • 3 cards to a straight flush with 1 high card and 1 gap
  • 3 cards to an open ended straight flush draw with a high card
  • 3 cards to an open ended straight flush draw with no high cards
  • JQKA unsuited
  • 2 cards to a royal flush
  • 3 cards to a straight flush with a gap and with 3 high cards
  • 3 cards to a straight flush 2 gaps and no high card
  • JQK unsuited
  • 2 unsuited high cards
  • 2 cards to a royal flush with a 10 and no ace
  • A high card
  • 3 cards to a straight flush with no high cards and 2 gaps
  • None of the above—draw a new hand

You'll notice the emphasis on high cards. That's in order to give you an opportunity of at least breaking even by getting a pair of jacks or better.

You can simplify some of this advice by thinking about the most important parts of the strategy in the following ways.

  • You'll always keep a 4 of a kind or better.
  • You'll always keep a straight or better UNLESS you have 4 to a royal flush.
  • You'll always keep a pair of jacks or better UNLESS you have 4 to a straight flush.
  • If you don't have a pair of Jacks or Better, you'll always keep 3 to a royal flush.
  • The rest is just details.

Jacks or Better is one of the most fun games in the casino, and it's also probably the best bargain for low roller gamblers who want to play a game with a low house edge. We can't recommend Jacks or Better video poker too highly.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is the 2nd most popular video poker variation in the world. It plays just like Jacks or Better in a lot of respects—you're dealt a 5 card hand, you decide which cards to keep and which cards to throw away, and you get paid based on the quality of your final poker hand.

But there's an important difference:

Deuces (the 2s) are wild cards, which means they can stand in for other cards that you need in order to make a higher ranked hand. This changes things dramatically. For one thing, your strategy is different. For another, the payouts for the hands are also dramatically different.

The floor in Jacks or Better (the lowest possible hand with a payout) is just a pair of jacks. Ut in Deucees Wild, you need at least 3 of a kind to get a payout. The wild cards have that great an effect on your outcome.

The ceiling is the same in both games, though—the royal flush is the best possible hand.

4 of a kind becomes a lot more important and a lot more common in Deuces Wild, though. In fact, you'll see 4 of a kind about 6% or 7% of the time. That means during an average hour of play, where you're seeing 500 hands per hour, you'll see 30 or 35 4 of a kinds. That's exciting. In fact, the 4 of a kind is so important to Deuces Wild that it accounts for fully one third of the payback percentage in the game.

Unfortunately, Deuces Wild pay tables aren't as easily defined as Jacks or Better pay tables. Casinos and video poker manufacturers use a wider variety of payouts for various hands, so it's not as easy as looking at the payouts for 2 hands.

Most experts suggest looking for one of the following 2 games, although the first is almost as rare as hen's teeth these days:

  • Full Pay Deuces Wild
  • "Not So Ugly" Deuces Wild

Full pay Deuces Wild is one of those rare casino games which offers an edge to the player rather than the casino. The payout percentage for that game, when played with perfect strategy, is 100.76%, which means that the player actually has an edge over the house of 0.76%. That's comparable to the edge a player might see if he's a skilled card counter.

With an edge like that, a player can average winnings per hour instead of losses per hour. The calculations are handled the same way as in Jacks or Better.

500 hands per hour. $5 per hand. That's $2500 per hour in action. But now, instead of losing an average of $13.50 per hour, the expert Deuces Wild player has an expected win rate per hour of $19. That's not a bad income for a professional video poker player, but you won't get rich, either. And, frankly, it's all but impossible to find a full pay Deuces Wild game. The casinos aren't in the business of offering players bets where the player has an edge over the casino.

"Not So Ugly" Deuces Wild, on the other hand, offers a better payback percentage than Jacks or Better, but not such a great payback percentage that you could go pro. The payout percentage for this version of the game is 99.73%. Some players refer to this game by its abbreviation, too: NSU Deuces Wild.

Deuces Wild Strategy

The easy way to learn strategy for Deuces Wild is to start by memorizing a few basics:

  • Never hold onto a high card. In Deuces Wild, there's no such thing—the only time you'll hold on to a single card is if you have a deuce.
  • Never throw a deuce away. Some players make the mistake of throwing away a deuce when they're trying to draw to a natural royal flush, but even that's a mistake. Always hand on to your deuces.
  • Never hold a deuces one card. You'll either hold a deuce by itself or a deuce will 2 cards or more.
  • You should always hold onto a pair over a flush draw or over a straight draw.
  • Never hold on to 2 pair. Throw one of the pairs away. It doesn't matter which one, either. (This isn't Jacks or Better).

If you keep those rules in mind, you'll do pretty well at real money Deuces Wild video poker.

But if you're looking for a more detailed and accurate strategy, here's one to use. It's organized according to how many deuces you have in your hand. (You'll always have between 0 and 4 deuces.)

If you have 4 deuces...

  • Draw one card

If you have 3 deuces...

  • Wild royal flush
  • 5 of a kind
  • 3 deuces and draw two cards

If you have 2 deuces...

  • Wild royal flush
  • 5 of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a wild royal flush draw
  • 4 cards to an open ended straight flush draw
  • 2 deuces and draw 3 cards

If you have 2 deuces...

  • Wild royal flush
  • 5 of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • 4 of a kind
  • 4 cards to a wild royal flush draw
  • Full house
  • 4 cards to an open ended straight flush draw
  • 3 of a kind
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • 4 cards to a straight flush with a single gap
  • 4 cards to a straight flush with 2 gaps
  • A34 suited, A35 suited, or A45 suited, but keep the deuce, too.
  • 3 cards to a royal flush (without an ace)
  • 3 cards to a straight flush with no gaps
  • 3 cards to a royal flush with a single ace
  • A deuce and draw 4 cards

If you have no deuces at all...

  • Royal flush
  • 4 cards to a royal flush
  • Straight flush
  • 4 of a kind
  • Full house
  • 3 of a kind
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • 4 cards to a straight flush
  • 3 cards to a royal flush
  • A pair
  • 4 cards to a flush
  • 4 cards to a straight (no gaps, and not 3456, either)
  • 3 cards to a straight flush
  • 456 suited
  • 345 suited
  • 10J suited
  • 3 cards to a straight flush with 2 gaps
  • 10Q suited or JQ suited
  • 346 suited or 356 suited
  • 4 cards to a straight with a single gap
  • Draw 5 cards

The simple strategy tips combined with the fuller strategy list above should get you through most Deuces Wild video poker games. We want to close with one final tip about selecting Deuces Wild games, though.

Since you're going to see 4 of a kind about once in every 15 hands, you should look for games which offer a payout of 5 to 1 or more for that particular hand. 4 of a kind is THE critical hand in this game, and since it makes up more than a third of your potential payouts, it's just smart to find a game which will reward you for that hand.

We'll now take a look at some other video poker games.

Bonus Poker

Bonus Poker is best described as a variant of Jacks or Better. The difference is that Bonus Poker offers a bonus payout for a 4 of a kind. You'll find different versions of Bonus Poker available, but the none of these versions offer wild cards.

Depending on which variation of Bonus Poker you find, the payout percentage is good, but not always as good as Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild. Some versions offer a payback percentage of 99.17%. The pay tables vary significantly from machine to machine, too.

The most common pay table you'll find for Bonus Poker offers the following payouts.

  • 80 to 1 payout for 4 aces
  • 40 to payout for any 4 of a kind of 2, 3, or 4
  • 25 to 1 payout for any 4 of a kind of a 5 or higher
  • The full house pays out at 8 to 1
  • The flush pays out at 5 to 1.

The rest of the pay table mirrors that of a standard Jacks or Better pay table—the main difference is the extra payouts for the 4 of a kind. The payback percentage for this variant is 99.17%.

You'll find other Bonus Poker variants with lower payouts for their 4 of a kinds. In those cases, the payback percentage goes down accordingly. One common variant offers a 30 to 1 payout on all 4 of a kind hands, and the payback percentage on that version is only 98.48%.

Bonus Poker Strategy

Here's the correct strategy for Bonus Poker. It's organized like the strategy tables for the other games, from best possible hand to worst. Start at the top, work your way down, and when you find a hand that matches what you have, keep what's listed.

  • 4 of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • Royal flush
  • 4 to a royal flush
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • 3 of a kind
  • 4 to a straight flush
  • 2 pair
  • A high pair
  • 3 to a royal flush
  • 4 to a flush
  • KQJT unsuited
  • A low pair
  • 4 to an outside straight draw
  • 3 to a straight flush draw with 1 gap
  • AKQJ unsuited
  • 2 suited high cards
  • 3 to a straight flush with 2 gaps
  • 4 to an inside straight draw (with 3 high cards)
  • Unsuited JQK
  • Unsuited JQ
  • KQ, KJ unsuited
  • JT suited
  • AK, AQ, AJ unsuited
  • Any ace
  • KT, QT suited
  • Any face card
  • Start over—throw everything away and draw a new hand

You'll notice that the strategy for Bonus Poker is VERY similar to the strategy for Jacks or Better. That's to be expected, as the game is basically Jacks or Better with a minor change to the pay table.

Pick'em Poker

Pickem Poker is one of our favorite video poker variations. Unlike Bonus Poker, which is just Jacks or Better with a different pay table, Pickem Poker is actually a different game entirely. It's not the most common game in the casino world, but it's not usually hard to find. Your best bet is to look for Pickem Poker on one of the various multiple-game machines (like GameKing).

But the main reason that Pickem Poker is one of our favorite games is the high payout percentage of 99.95%. As with all video poker games, that payback percentage can only be realized if you're playing with perfect strategy.

Another reason we like Pickem Poker is because of its low volatility. A pair of 9s or better offers a payout, which means that you won't see a lot of large swings in your bankroll as you wait for a royal flush that might never come.

Here's how the game works.

You're dealt eight cards (NOT FIVE). Two of those cards are dealt face up on the left hand side of the screen. On the right side of the screen are two stacks of three cards each. The only visible card in those stacks is the top card. So you have four visible cards, total.

The two cards on the left are yours whether you like them or not. You don't have an option of discarding them.

But you do get to choose which of the 2 stacks of cards on the right you're going to keep. When you choose, the two cards under the top card of that stack are revealed, and your hand is made up of the 2 cards on the left the 3 cards you picked from the stack on the right.

Here's the most common pay table for Pick'Em Poker:

You'll find other pay tables out there, but this is the most common one.

Pick'em Poker Strategy

Here's the proper strategy to use for this game. It's actually one of the easiest video poker strategies to learn, too. Like the other strategies on this page, start at the top and work your way down until you find the correct match. It's easier than it looks.

  • 3 of a kind
  • 10JQ suited
  • JQK suited, 10QK suited, or 10JK suited
  • Any pair of 9s or better
  • QKA suited, 10KA suited, 10QA suited, or 10JA suited
  • 910J suited
  • 8910 suited
  • 789 suited
  • 9JQ suited, 910Q suited
  • Any 3 to an open ended straight flush draw with no high cards
  • 810J suited, 89J suited, or 7910 suited
  • 9QK suited, 9JK suited, or 910K suited
  • 7810 suited, 689 suited, or 679 suited
  • Any 3 to a straight flush draw with 2 gaps and 2 high cards
  • 3 cards to a flush draw IF they're all high cards
  • 3 cards to a straight flush with 1 gap and no high cards
  • 910J or 10JQ unsuited
  • 3 to a straight flush draw with 2 gaps and only 1 high card
  • 3 to a flush draw with 2 high cards
  • Any pair of 8s or lower
  • 3 to a straight flush draw with 2 gaps and no high cards
  • 3 to a straight draw with 1 gap and 3 high cards
  • 8910 unsuited
  • 3 to a flush draw with a single high card
  • 3 to a straight with 2 gaps and 3 high cards
  • 3 to a straight with 1 gap and 2 high cards
  • 789 unsuited
  • 3 to a flush draw with no high cards
  • 3 high cards
  • 3 to a straight draw with 2 gaps and 2 high cards
  • 7810 unsuited, 689 unsuited, 679 unsuited
  • An open ended 3 card straight draw with no high cards
  • Any 2 high cards
  • A 3 card straight draw with 2 gaps and a single high card
  • A 3 card straight draw with 1 gap and no high cards
  • Any single high card
  • A 3 card straight draw with 2 gaps and no high cards
  • Nothing
Other Variations

You'll find countless other video poker variations available, especially if you look on the web. Future pages on this site might cover other games in more detail.

Here are a few examples of the other variants out there:

Anything's Wild

This is a fun variation where you get to choose which card is wild before each game. One of the crucial strategies for this game is to avoid choosing 10 as your wild c ard, as it reduces your expected value on every bet by several percentage points.

Double Double Bonus

This is a variation of Bonus Poker which offerws an additional bonus for a 4 of a kind based on what our kicker is. It's hard to find, but the payout percentage is usually excellent. This was the first video poker game in which kickers actually mattered, too.

Joker Poker

This one is common enough. It's similar to Deuces Wild, only the Joker acts as the wild card. You might think of this game as being a compromise between Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better, as it has similarities to both.

That's just a sampling of the dozens (if not hundreds) of different games available. Keep in mind that most of the differences are superficial at best. Bonus Poker, for example, isn't really a different game—it's just Jacks or Better with a bonus payout added. Double Double Bonus is just Bonus Poker with a bonus payout for your kicker. And so on.


Video poker is the single best casino game that a low roller can play in a casino. It combines strategy with randomness to a perfect degree. Smart players can reduce the house edge to practically nothing by learning some basic strategies. The most important of these is recognizing which games to play in the first place.

The number of real money video poker variations available is staggering. But most of them can be boiled down to variations of three different games.

1Jacks or Better
2Deuces Wild
3Pick'em Poker

All of them have their pros and cons. Our suggestion is to try several of the online versions to see which playing style best suits your personality. We've known dedicated Jacks or Better players who would never even consider Deuces Wild. The opposite is also sometimes true. Either way, you won't find a better game for the money in most casinos.

If you'd like to learn more, please take a look at our complete video poker guide.
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