Is Video Poker a Game of Skill or a Game of Luck?

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Video poker is a hugely popular type of casino game that you can find in land-based casinos and nowadays also online.

It gives a quick, simple way of playing a card game where you only need to try and make a winning combination of cards to get a prize. Plus, there are a ridiculous number of game variations, helping the player to keep engaged and never bored.

Do you need to use some skills to win money, or is it purely a game of chance where there is no way of influencing the outcome?

So, let’s take a look at the different parts of the game, to understand how to play it and how much luck is needed to win.

However, first let’s go back in time and see who came up with the idea of a video poker game.

When Did It Start

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Poker is played in Europe since the 17th century, but video Poker only became a thing in the 1970s. When the first computers were produced, some primitive versions of the slot machines tried to combine poker with the popular casino game.

The first official video poker slot was called Draw Poker and was patented by a brand called SIRCOMA in 1979.

It combined a television-like monitor with a solid-state central processing unit, something that turned possible after the computer revolution. With modern technology constantly updating, video poker is now possible to be played in VR and even from the comfort of your home, online or through smartphone apps.

Although calculating odds is a popular strategy to increase chances in this game, it is more often known as a game of luck. So, what prevails? Is it a card game or a slot operated machine game only? Find out below.

What Do You Need to Know?

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Very few skills are needed to start playing this game. In fact, you could easily give it a go without knowing a single thing about poker or casino games. Hit the button to get the cards dealt and you will see whether you have won or not.

However, you will be leaving it up to chance if you do this, as you won’t know what each combination pays out, so you won’t be able to take full advantage of the chance to hold some cards and change others.

This means that the best idea is to understand what cards are needed to make the best hands in poker. Terms like royal flush, straight flush, and full house are easy to understand and this will allow you to make good decisions on which cards to change.

The paytable lists these powerful hands, with a note of how much each one is worth. You should check this before playing, as the values vary between different versions of the game, with specific rules used.

The Skills Needed

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We can now see what skills are needed to play video poker, based on the previous point covering the things you need to know. The truth is that the skill element is limited, but it does play a part in the game.

You need to quickly assess the cards you are given and work out which ones to hold onto for the best chance of a win, bearing in mind the specific rules of the version of video poker you are playing.

For example, if you are playing a variant of deuces wild you will probably want to hold onto any 2 you get, as this card acts as a joker to replace any other. On the other hand, jacks or better pays out on any pair of face cards, so you may want to hang onto any of these cards that you are dealt.

As with any casino game, you will also need to understand how to manage your bankroll wisely. As a game with a low house edge, you should expect to get regular wins, so working out how much to stake is crucial. Will you play with larger stakes and hope for a big prize, or play is steady with smaller bet amounts?

Other poker skills such as reading other players and deciding whether to raise or fold aren’t needed in video poker. Click here to learn more:

This makes it much simpler to play and suitable for newcomers who don’t want to spend a lot of time learning strategies but who still want a degree of control over the outcome.

The Element of Chance

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Video poker games are played using a random number generator (RNG), which ensures that each hand dealt is completely unpredictable. The RNG is rigorously tested by the developer and by third-party testing agencies, so you can be sure that each hand is completely fair and random.

This means that you never know what cards will come up, making this sort of game similar to slots. However, unlike slots it also involves the skills we looked at earlier in terms of understanding which cards to choose to have the best possible chance of success.

Of course, you could be dealt a poor hand and then be given equally unwanted cards when you choose which ones to change.

Or you could get a royal flush in the first five cards given to you. This is the same element of chance that you will come across in any version of poker, as some hands are almost impossible to win with.


For a lot of players, this game hits the sweet spot between skill and chance. It gives you an unpredictable game where you never know if a big win is coming, but it also lets you make some decisions that could help you to make money.

Since this is a very easy game to start playing, it is attractive to players who like the idea of giving poker a try but aren’t yet confident with the rules of the strategies that are needed.

It may also appeal to someone who knows how to play poker but prefers a simpler, speedier version of the game at times.