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Video Poker Variations

By: R. Kingsley, Wednesday September 17th 2008
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If you check out the video poker section in any online casino you will find a number of variants of the game. Taken across all online casinos the number of different video poker games may well exceed 70.

The standard video poker game is jacks or better. All hands that are ranked higher than a pair of jacks, based on usual poker hand rankings are paid out according to a prescribed payout table. Jacks or better is played with a normal 52-card deck. One of the earliest variants of video poker is Joker Poker. Joker Poker is played with a 53-card deck, the 53rd card being a joker that could substitute for any other card. This increased the number of possible combinations that could be made. Firstly it introduced a combination of five of a kind that had four cards of the same rank with the fifth card being a joker. Secondly it differentiated between a natural royal flush and a wild royal flush, the latter being a royal flush using a joker. In order to maintain the balance of the payouts, joker poker usually pays out with a pair of kings instead of a pair of jacks. This philosophy was taken one step forward when a particular card, usually the deuce, was designated as the wild card. Then there was no need of a separate joker. Any deuce served to act as any card in order to make a winning combination. This variant is called deuces wild. Deuces wild in effect has four jokers and therefore many more winning combinations. Hence the payout table begins with three of a kind.

Another way in which variants were introduced in video poker is by splitting certain paylines. Usually it is the four of a kind payline that is split. In jacks or better four of a kind pays out at 25 to 1. In double aces and faces four aces payout at 160 to1, four of the same face card pays out at 80 to 1 and four of a kind of any other card pays out at 50 to 1. These enhanced payouts are sustained by reducing the payouts of other winning paylines. In all these four of a kind combinations the fifth card is inconsequential. There is a variant of double aces and faces in which the fifth card in four of a kind combinations becomes important. This variation is known as 'double double aces and faces'. In this variation four aces with the fifth card being a face card pays out at 320 to 1, whereas four aces with the fifth card being from a deuce to a ten pays out at 160 to 1.

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