Video poker games were introduced to American casinos in the late 1970s, and over the next decade they became among the most popular machines among local gamblers. Today video poker games account for more than 50% of the floor space reserved for slot games. It is easy to understand the meteoric rise in popularity. Video poker games offer the same relaxed, private experience of slot machines, while incorporating strategy and skill related to standard hands of five draw poker. While many video poker games offer a return of more than 100% after an extended period of optimal play (meaning a profit can be made), most players treat video poker as a slot machine and place their bets randomly. For starters, familiarizing yourself with the standard winning hands in a game of poker will be helpful.
The lowest winning hand on most video poker games will be a pair of jacks. In real poker, any pair of cards holds some value, with a pair of 10s falling just below a pair of jacks. A simple pair is rarely a winning hand in any game of poker, however, and jacks, queens, kings and aces are the only pairs that will yield any return on a video poker machine. Better than one pair is, of course, two pair. In this case, neither pair needs to be a face card. While the lowest possible two pair hand, two 2s and two 3s will beat out a pair of jacks. Three of a kind includes any three cards of the same rank.
A straight is the lowest five card hand a player can have, and constitutes any consecutive cards of mixed suits. For example, a three of hearts, four of diamonds, five of clubs, six of spades, seven of diamonds. A flush is similar to a straight, and is made up of any five cards of the same suit. Regardless of rank, five hearts, diamonds, clubs of spades yields a flush. A combination of the two, a straight flush, is the second highest hand in poker and includes five cards ranked in order of the same suit.
A full house will beat a flush, and includes three of a kind and a pair. For example, three jacks and a pair of 5s is a full house. Four of a kind beats a full house and falls below a straight flush. The highest possible hand in all of poker is the royal flush. It is a specific straight flush where the lowest card is a 10 and the highest is an ace. No matter what version of video poker you are playing, a royal flush will offer a huge payout if not a jackpot.