Free Video Poker | How to Play and Top Games April 2024

Video poker's popularity remains strong even 40 years after its heyday on the Las Vegas Strip. While higher house advantage slot games have retaken much of the space on the floor, tens of thousands of video poker machines are scattered across the Las Vegas Valley and the rest of the country.

Much of video poker's main appeal is the trance state that one can often get from it—the feeling of everything else falling away as you concentrate on the hands dealt and hold or throw away the appropriate cards as efficiently as possible. Unlike slots, where your mind might wander, video poker requires enough brain power to keep you focused on the game but not enough to keep you there in the moment.

Many people find this quite relaxing and don't necessarily need the highs and lows of wagering real money to be their primary driver, thus the rise of free video poker games on your computer or phone. Check out this guide to learn more about how to play for free, what titles are the best, and more.

CONTENTS

WHAT IS FREE VIDEO POKER?

Free video poker is a card game in which you wager on your best hand according to the variation's rules.

Since there is so much demand for free video poker, many different ways to play have evolved. For instance, you could register an account with one of the big online operators, such as BetMGM or Caesar's Palace Online Casino. While these sites offer video poker for cash in legal online gambling states, you can play their popular video poker games for free in demo mode no matter where you're located.

Another option for free video poker is the app stores or online sites that allow you to play different video poker games. Some even teach you the best strategy without you ever gambling a dime. Sites may allow you to play some games for free, while others require a monthly subscription of a few dollars.

Some so-called social casino sites also offer free video poker that you can play with gold coins. While you can buy GCs, you can also earn them via welcome or ongoing bonuses. Should you choose, you can also wager sweepstakes coins for a chance to win real money. You can find a free game like this at social gambling sites like Pulsz or High 5 Casino.

HOW TO PLAY ONLINE FREE VIDEO POKER

While there are now hundreds of video poker variants, the basic game is five-card draw poker.

First, make your bet and push the deal button.

free video poker screen with the instructions "press deal to start"

You receive five cards. Look them over carefully, and remember that in the basic game, we need our hand to have a pair of jacks or better to win.

Select the cards you want to keep (or "hold"). You can throw away up to all five if you wish.

video poker screen with a hand of a pair of aces being held

In this example, we're choosing to hold the pair of aces since we already have better than a pair of jacks. When we hit "Draw," the computer will replace the jack, four, and nine.

video poker screen with a final hand of a pair of aces

We didn't get a much better hand by trading in the latter three cards, but we're still a winner with a pair of aces! With free video poker online, it's easy to repeat this process and keep playing with site credits by continually hitting "Deal."

ONLINE VIDEO POKER FREE VS. ONLINE REAL MONEY VIDEO POKER

Video poker is a great game, and honestly, there is a time and place for both keeping things risk-free and wagering a few bucks. Let's look at the pros and cons of free versus real money online video poker and when you might find yourself playing one or the other.

FREE ONLINE VIDEO POKER

The most obvious time we want to play free video poker is when we learn a new variant or want to practice our basic strategy on an older version. There is no sense in paying for learning, especially as mistakes will be made.

Wagering real money adds excitement and tension, but that isn't always what the player wants. Maybe they just want to chill and not overthink for a bit; that's a time for playing for free.

If you've already played your allotted bankroll for the day or week, it's time to play for free. Always set limits within your budget and stick to them. You can play for free, so do that rather than ever going beyond your bankroll.

REAL MONEY ONLINE VIDEO POKER

The beauty of online casinos is that we can play whenever we wish. No long drives to the casino. No searching for the right machine or sitting at a smoky bar under blaring basketball games on the TVs.

If you get the itch to wager real money on a game of Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better, you can pull out your phone wherever you are. Stuck for an hour in the doctor's office waiting room? Have a 45-minute train commute? There are plenty of video poker games that can make the time fly.

Another good time to lean into online video poker for real money is when you are 90% or better at Jacks or Better or other games with your online software or basic strategy card. Once you hit this threshold, you should be ready to start playing at real money online casinos. Remember to play slowly and pay careful attention to which cards you want to hold or throw away.

FREE ONLINE POPULAR VIDEO POKER GAMES

In the five decades or so since video poker was invented, many other variants have sprung up. The vast majority of them have come and gone, but the ones that found an audience are present at brick-and-mortar casinos, online casinos, or video poker apps. Here's a list of the top video poker variants.

DEUCES WILD

Wild cards are popular in real draw-poker games, and video poker is no different. By making the deuce wild, we increase the chances of hitting the big hands (especially a royal flush). But because it is so much easier to hit a royal flush this way, a natural royal flush still pays better.

You will need at least three of a kind to win even money. While hard to come across, the best version of this game pays 15x for a five-of-a-kind, 9x on a straight flush, and 5x for a four-of-a-kind. Deuces Wild requires a new strategy card due to the introduction of all of the wild 2s.

DOUBLE BONUS POKER

What if we made things interesting by paying more for four of a kind? The lower the four-of-a-kind, the better it pays. That's the premise of Double Bonus Poker. Aces get 160x, 2s through 4s get 80x, and the remaining four-of-a-kinds get 50x.

The fact that so much of the paytable is now concentrated in four-of-a-kinds means we need to learn an entirely new way to play when we choose to play Double Bonus Poker.

TRIPLE PLAY

Triple Play from IGT isn't so much a video poker variation; it's just a way to play your favorite game on three hands at once. This element adds to the fun while increasing the amount the house gets you to wager.

You can play your three hands in different games, from Deuces Wild and Jacks or Better to Double Double Bonus Poker. Once you've made your choice, you are dealt your hand. Choose which cards to keep, and your decision is played out across three different hands dealt from different decks.

Playing Triple Play, you would just use the strategy for the underlying game you've picked, but make sure you know it well cause you'll have three times the money at risk.

JOKERS WILD

Jokers Wild is another wild card variant, but as you might've guessed, we get one wild joker instead of four wild deuces. This means the game plays and looks a bit like regular Jacks or Better, except for when it doesn't. While many hands can go by without seeing the joker, we need to play our hands differently when he turns up.

You need kings or better to get even money, and even two pairs only get you 1x. Since more of the money is concentrated in the higher hands, you'll need a strategy different from the one you would use for regular Jacks or Better.

DOUBLE DOUBLE BONUS POKER

Legend has it that the creator of Double Double Bonus Poker said, "Wait, you want to start paying crazy bonuses for a four-of-a-kind made with low cards, but you're stumped after the original Double Bonus Poker concept? Hold my beer."

In most paytables of this game, we see four aces get 400x IF the kicker card is a two, three, or four; otherwise, it is just 160x. If you are dealt a four-of-a-kind with four 2s, 3s, or 4s with an ace, 2, 3, or 4 kickers, you get 160x. For any other kicker, you only get 80x.

This obsession with four kinds made with low hands or with low kickers once again changes the basic strategy chart. However, in the game with the paytable that pays 9x on the full house and 6x on the flush, the house edge is only 1%.

MULTI-PLAY

The casinos quickly learned that players loved the three-hand version of their favorite video poker games. Not really known for their restraint, online casinos soon had games with 100+ hands. While these can take some serious coin to play, they can reduce volatility since playing 100 hands at a time can get you much closer to the average RTP. Of course, if you're playing for free, there's no harm in trying out this fun variant.

ultimate X poker 10 hands of jacks or better
Ultimate X Poker on Golden Nugget Online Casino allows users to play video poker variations like Jacks or Better with 10 hands for free!

BEST FREE VIDEO POKER STRATEGIES

One of the most important strategies is also the easiest. Due to the quirks of video poker design, almost all games pay the Natural Royal, or whatever the top jackpot is, more with five coins in.

In most games, this five-coin bet is the max bet, and we need to bet that to win either the increased jackpot or the progressive jackpot. If you only have the bankroll to bet two dollars, bet the 25-cent machine at $1.25 rather than the dollar machine at $2.

You might say we aren't betting for real money, but we will still need to use free coins to keep playing, so monitor your bets and bet max coins to win the most on the Royals or other top jackpots.

PRACTICE GAMEPLAY

When it comes to Jacks or Better, we've listed some starting points below. But we are big believers in strategy cards for video poker. Keep them on your phone or print one out when playing. You will feel better knowing you have played each hand perfectly.

  • If you are dealt garbage and one card jack or higher, keep the high card and throw away the rest.
  • Break a pair if you have four to a straight or royal flush.
  • Always keep a straight or flush EXCEPT when you have four to a royal.
  • Three cards to a royal, keep and draw two if you have nothing else.
  • Keep your high pair over a four-card straight or flush.

As you might expect, many of the most popular free video poker games are the same as the real money ones. Many people are drawn to them because they know them from brick-and-mortar casinos and have played them for years.

JACKS OR BETTER

As mentioned above, this is the OG of the video poker games. It is relatively straightforward to learn, and the payouts are spread nicely along the hands without being too concentrated on the four-of-a-kinds or the royals. Plus, when the paytables are set to 9x on your full house and 6x on a flush, the house edge is super low at less than .5%.

DEUCES WILD

Deuces Wild retains its popularity because those four wild 2s juice the gameplay. You never know what even a crappy hand might turn into when you draw three cards. The odds on a "full-pay" Deuces Wild are about .7% in your favor, and while these games can be extremely difficult to find in the wild, they are much easier to find when you are playing for free on an app or at a social casino.

ACES & FACES

This popular free video poker game is similar to the Bonus and Double Bonus Poker variants in that it increases the paytable for four aces to 80x and the four-of-a-kind for any face card to 40x. It has a simple strategy chart, which helps explain its popularity. The house edge is about .7% when played with the full pay 8/5 paytable, which is what most free video poker sites offer.

OTHER FREE CASINO GAMES

We would be remiss if we didn't tell you that you can play many of your favorite casino games for free online. Opt for demo mode at real money casinos or simply search for apps that offer these games for free, either strictly for entertainment or as a way for you to practice the proper strategies.

FREE SLOTS

Many of the BetMGM, FanDuel, or Caesars online slots can be played for free. This includes many brand-new titles you would see on the floor at beautiful Las Vegas resorts, along with some of your favorite games you may not have come across in years.

Since online casinos don't need floor space or the budget to build and maintain real slots, they can offer a wide variety of slots you would never find in a land-based casino. Their ties with slot manufacturers mean that slots apps can feature new titles before they even make it to the casino floor.

FREE BLACKJACK

Unlike slots, blackjack is a strategy game where your decisions substantially affect your performance. Because there is an absolute correct way to play each hand based on the overall rules and structure of the game, many sites offer blackjack games that will inform you of the correct play for the overall basic strategy.

If you are simply looking to play free blackjack for relaxation purposes, you will again find the demo mode at online casinos or even social casinos to be your best bet because they offer so many blackjack variations.

FREE ROULETTE

The free versions of roulette are the perfect way to try out the game's various strategies. Trust us—playing with free chips is the best way to understand how strategies like Martingale, D'alembert, and Fibonacci can go quickly and horribly wrong.

Besides strategy testing, free roulette games are a great way to learn the game if you've never played it without risking the rent check. They also allow you to observe the differences in American, European, and French Roulette and the many variations that have sprung up in the past few years.

FREE VIDEO POKER FAQS

We've got the answers to your free video poker questions, including how to improve your game, whether it's safe, and how you might be able to play these free games for big prizes.

HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO PLAY FREE VIDEO POKER?

The answer depends on where you want to play. Most large online operators won't even allow you to play demo mode video poker, let alone a real-money game, without being at least 21. Social casinos usually allow play at 18.

HOW DO I GET GOOD AT ONLINE FREE VIDEO POKER?

Practice, practice, practice. Some sites will show you the best cards to keep and walk you through each hand you're dealt to improve your game. You can also print out video poker strategy cards from the internet that will show you how to play each variant. Remember, the optimal way to play your hand boils down to math. Learn the basic strategy, stick to it, and trust us when we say that hunches are best left to sports bettors.

IS ONLINE VIDEO POKER RIGGED?

Rigging free online video poker seems cruel at best and pointless at least. If you are playing at online casinos for real money, you should ensure you only play with licensed and heavily regulated U.S. casino operators. Do that, and you'll have nothing to worry about.

HOW DO I WIN AT FREE VIDEO POKER?

This may sound like an odd question upfront, but you can win something other than bragging rights. Even playing the demo mode games may get you on an email list for cheap rooms in Atlantic City or free buffets in Las Vegas. Sometimes, these online casinos may have free contests that allow you to win a trip to their properties.

Social casinos often have promotions, drawings, and other giveaways for people playing free online slots or video poker. You might win a car, a cruise, or some branded casino swag.

WHAT DO I WIN WHEN PLAYING FREE VIDEO POKER?

Depending on where you play, you might win free room nights in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. We've seen jet skis and motorcycles given away. Cash is also a popular prize in these contests, as are concert tickets and trips.