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Sitting at a table with your friends and hearing the tap of chips hitting the table is an experience most of us have – but for those who are new to the game, it can be daunting trying to play with those who’ve been at the game for many years. Enter video poker as a way for old-hats and new players to enjoy the game by themselves.

Video poker has been around since the early 1970’s and while the machines are often compared to slots, due to their ease of use, they’ve got something that slot machines don’t have – the ability for players to exercise their free will.

The Basics

Based off the standard five-card draw poker, almost all video poker machines today employ a Jacks or Better game variety which is offered to players. In this the player will not encounter any other hands to beat – not even a dealer’s hand is available. Instead, payouts are done in accordance with the pay table posted on the machine – and the player will need to meet this minimum hand in order to win (which is usually a pair of jacks – or better). While there are other variations available within the standard 5-card draw video poker games, such as Deuces Wild and Jokers Wild, these are less commonly encountered.

The video screen that shows the hand of cards which the player is dealt will also display the credit that the player has available to them – and players can cash this credit out at any given time. For some machines, the pay table will also be shown on the screen or found showcased nearby to ensure the player is aware of what the payout and paytable is.

Just below the screen will be the players console with numerous buttons available (or in some cases on newer machines, the screen is a touch screen with a similar layout to the below). Buttons available always includes a ‘bet one’ and ‘cash out’ option, along with a ‘draw/ deal’ option and a ‘bet max’ option. There will also be 5 options available which correspond to the five cards the player has available, each with a ‘hold/cancel’ choice on them.

Getting Started

In order to start the game off, the player will need to insert their money and push a button to bet. If the player chooses to, they can bet the max amount available. Once a bet has been placed, the player will have five cards appear on the screen, in a faceup position. In order to hold the cards, the option to use the ‘hold/cancel’ button should be pushed below or on the card on the screen that will be kept.

Once the choice is made, it’s time to pushing the ‘deal/draw’ button and any cards not kept will be discarded, with new cards dealt to take the place of those that have returned to the deck. This round of cards is the final hand, and the machine will compare the players hand to the pay table and make a credit addition to the meter accordingly, provided the player has met the minimum requirement.

Most machines will only pay out for the value of the highest hand you hold, be it a royal flush or a pair of threes, and your other cards won’t count towards your winnings. The ability to cash out when required is a good way to quit while you’re ahead.

Once you’ve had a turn or two on the machine, it’s easy to find a good rhythm and sit back, relax and enjoy a hand or five.