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Some people consider video poker the thinking person's slot machine game. And indeed, it does have similarities to slot machines, but since it's not a game that consists of spinning reels, it's not really a slot game.

You might also think of video poker as being a poker game played versus a machine, and  the game certainly was inspired by traditional poker. But the differences between video poker and traditional table poker are as significant as the differences between video poker and slots. 

How Video Poker is Like Slots

Video poker has a LOT in common with slots machines:

  • Video poker and slot machines are generally manufactured by the same companies. (Mostly IGT.)
  • Both video poker and slots offer progressive jackpot versions to play.
  • The machinery for both games is similar, especially in terms of shape and size.

How Video Poker Differs from Slots

The distinctions between video poker and slots are significant:

  • Slot machines offer no decision making opportunities; video poker offers the opportunity to make decisions that affect the payback percentage of the machine. Strategy< matters.
  • Slot machines use a random number generator that determines outcomes based on a predetermined payback percentage (more about payback percentage you can read at wikipedia). Video poker uses a random number generator that determines outcomes based on a shuffled deck of playing cards. The payback percentage is derived from the pay table of the video poker game.
  • The payback percentage on video poker machines is almost always higher than any slot machine, and in some cases, with perfect strategy, a video poker machine can actually have a positive expectation over the long term. ( Deuces Wild< with the right strategy and pay table has a positive expectation.) Slot machines NEVER have a positive expectation for the player.
  • Even Jacks or Better< has a very small house edge of 0.5% if played with perfect strategy.

How Video Poker is Like Poker

Video poker also has much in common with traditional poker:

  • Playing video poker< well means making good decisions.
  • Hand rankings of video poker hands< use traditional poker rankings.
  • Expert players can achieve a positive expectation in both traditional poker and video poker.

How Video Poker Differs from Poker

The distinctions between video poker and traditional poker are also significant:

  • You cannot bluff in video poker.
  • Reading people doesn't matter in video poker.
  • Beating another hand never happens in video poker; you're trying to hit a certain payout based on having the best possible hand on the payout chart.
  • You can't use any of the winning systems at video poker not like at card games that have many systems to help win - poker bluffing, blackjack strategy, etc.

So Why Play Video Poker?

The main reason to play video poker is because it's a fun and satisfying alternative to slot machines. Not only will you lose less money in the long term by playing video poker, you'll probably have more fun because you actually have some control in your gambling destiny when playing video poker. If you play well, you'll win more. (Or lose less.)

If you like regular poker, you might also enjoy video poker even though you'll probably experience a bit of loneliness at first. One thing that keeps many people away from the poker rooms in most casinos is the presence of all the other people at the tables. Playing video poker at online casinos gives you the opportunity to gamble by yourself, if that's your thing.

To summarize why playing video poker is worth learning to do:

  • Video poker is fun.
  • Video poker is a game of strategy.
  • Video poker offers higher payouts than slots.
  • Some video poker games offer positive expectation situations.
  • Video poker, like slots, is a mostly solitary activity, so no one will give you a hassle about how you play your hands.

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