Free video poker is a fantastic form of entertainment. You will often find many different forms of this game at the majority of online casinos. If you’ve never played before, this guide is for you. We’ll tell you all you need to know about free video poker.
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The basics of free video poker
Unlike in a poker tournament, online video poker is a single player game. It is played against a machine and is just one hand per game. There are different versions of free video poker, but the rules are always fundamentally the same.
The game starts when the player decides on their stake and hits the ‘deal’ button. The player is dealt five playing cards. They then must decide whether they want to keep any of them. Cards can be held by clicking on the ‘hold’ button beneath each card. It is possible to discard no cards if you have a good hand, or all five cards if you have a terrible hand. Most online video poker games allow you to let the machine hold the best cards for you automatically.
The cards which were held remain in place and new cards are dealt in the place of those the player threw away. At this point if the player has a winning combination they will win. The hands in free video poker have the same ranking of any poker game. They are from lowest to highest:
- High card – not all online video poker games have a payout for this.
- One pair – two of a kind usually need to be picture cards or aces.
- Two pair.
- Three of a kind.
- Straight – five cards that form a sequence, such as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 6, 7, 8, 9, 20. Cards can be of any suit.
- Flush – five cards of the same suit.
- Full house – a pair plus three of a kind.
- Four of a kind.
- Straight flush – as in a straight, but the cards must all be of the same suit.
- Five of a kind – this is possible in multi-deck games or if there are wild cards.
- Royal flush – a straight flush that is always 10, J, Q, K, A.
Different versions of free video poker
All versions of online video poker are played according to the same basic rules. There are a number of different games of free video poker and some different features apply.
It is incredibly unusual for a high card to have any kind of payout. In the few instances where there is a potential win for a high card, it is often only an Ace. And the payout is generally equivalent to a return of the player’s stake.
Any pair will not necessarily see the player win. In Tens or Better a player must have a pair which is 10s or greater in order to win. And in Jacks or Better, the same rule applies but with Jacks. The majority of free video poker games will not reward a player for a pair at all.
A wild card is a card which can take the place of any other card in order to form a winning poker hand. For example, 2, 2, wild is three of a kind with 2s, and 8, 9, wild, J, Q is a straight using a wild. The wild card in online video poker games can differ. In Deuces Wild, all 2s are wild, and in Jokers Wild, the joker card is the wild one. There are other variations where there is simply a card with ‘wild’ written on it. Games involving wild cards make it possible to achieve a five of a kind combination.
A royal flush is not a hand a player will experience many times in their lifetime. It is the highest ranked hand in pretty much every version of online video poker, as well as in traditional offline poker games. In some free video poker games there is an enhanced payout for a royal flush if a player bets the maximum stake. Be aware that this in no way makes the combination any more or less likely to present itself.
Before you play a game of free video poker, it is advised to check the rules. Reading these closely can help you avoid any mistakes when playing. They will tell you about things such as wild cards and whether or not there is a payout for two of a kind.
Where to play online video poker
In order to become more familiar with the game, it is recommended that you play free video poker first. This can be done at the majority of online casinos. Casinos will generally allow free play of most of their online video poker games in practice mode. This enables players to become familiar with the game before investing any of their own money. There is often no obligation to create a playing account to play free video poker.
Once you have practiced using free video poker in demo mode you will be ready to play for real. Most casinos offer several versions of online video poker and you will need to make sure you choose one which is reliable, legal, and trustworthy. If the casino is operating legally, with a valid gaming license, and it accepts UK players, then it is a very good place to start.
Another thing to look out for is the welcome bonus. Some casinos offer no deposit bonuses, and many will double your first deposit into your playing account. This kind of offer is designed by casinos to tempt new players into joining.
Before you join an online casino or accept any of their bonuses, you should read the terms and conditions thoroughly. Bonuses generally have playthrough requirements. It is good to be aware of these before you accept a bonus and start playing online video poker.