What Is Joker Poker?

As the title of this incredibly popular version of video poker suggests, jokers are present. Well, one joker, that is. That pesky little court jester, clad in ridiculous garb and a funny hat, isn’t here to hinder you. A joker can be the difference in making a hand worthy of a nice, big payout. The joker’s presence in this game means that there are 53 cards in the deck. The joker acts as a wild, however, making it a potentially valuable card to have.

You should be very happy to hear that the potential payout on full-pay Joker Poker is an incredible 100.64% when played with five coins and using the optimal strategy. The full-pay machines are also known as 7/5 machines as they pay 7 coins for a full house and 5 for a flush. Given the potential of significant payouts, Joker Poker has been a big hit in casinos across the globe for several years. It is still considered one of the heavyweights of video poker and has not really shown any signs of falling off in popularity.


The version you are most likely to find at a casino these days is the Kings or Better (meaning a pair of kings is the lowest winning hand) variety. At one point, the Twos or Better versions were very popular but are considered rare today. Depending on your location, you may find it difficult to find a full-pay table. That doesn’t mean that the game is ultra-rare, but some casinos won’t provide it given the 100%+ payout.

Winning at Joker Poker

There are some casinos that simply do not want to provide the game to players for this reason. The high payout means that you, the player, have a strong chance of making consistent wins when playing with the full-pay table. Experienced video poker players will, of course, gravitate to full-pay tables for this reason.

In this guide, we will cover what you need to do to maximize your chances of winning at Joker Poker. The strategy will help you play in a manner where you minimize mistakes and make the right choice each time. If you are an experienced video poker player, this is the information you need.


Conversely, if you are new to video poker – and have recently defected from slots with your tail between your legs, for example – we will explain why you have made the right choice. Experienced players may not need this info, so they can move past this section straight to the strategy if they wish to.

Video Poker vs. Slots

It sometimes helps to make a comparison between slots and video poker to emphasize just why the latter is so popular among players. Where many slots are considered the sucker’s way to bet, video poker is quite often regarded as the opposite. That would certainly be the best way to begin such a comparison.

Slots are often varied in the amount they return to player (RTP), meaning that there is little way to know what to expect when playing them. Where low-variance slots pay out regular, smaller wins, high-variance slots pay infrequent but bigger wins. Given that slots are designed to be big, loud, and colorful, many players do not even know if a slot is low or high variance when playing.


As slot machines are designed for the casual player, there is more emphasis on graphics, sounds, theme, and the like. There is pretty much zero skill level involved. Players put money into a machine and press a button. That is it, for the most part. There is a point when some slots players – probably after losing a pretty large amount of money quite fast – move over to video poker.

Why Video Poker?

The transition from games like slots to video poker can feel a little underwhelming at first. If you have been playing slots for a long time, you will be used to bright, flashing lights, loud sounds when you win, and a general sense of excitement. Video poker is quite often the total opposite. You could win a considerable amount of money, and there would be no accompanying celebratory sights or sounds.

And that’s how most seasoned players like it. The game is based on five-card draw poker and requires more skill than simply hitting a button or two. The greatest comparison between video poker and slots is found in the house edge. The majority of games have a much lower house edge than slots, with some – like full-pay Joker Poker – giving you, the player, an edge over the house!


Video poker machines are far from the shiny and brash slots you will find inside casinos across the globe. They are probably the only games you can find where you actually have an edge over the house, however. In order to have this advantage, players will need to learn strategies which contribute to the increase of the house edge.

This guide will explain everything as we go along, breaking down the full-pay Joker Poker strategy for players. First things first, let’s run through how the game works.

How to Play Joker Poker

The first thing to know about Joker Poker is that it is usually a Kings or Better-style game. As we mentioned above, you will need at least a pair of kings in any one hand to win your wager back. While it may not seem like a major win, think of it this way: you haven’t lost anything and can keep yourself in the game long enough to land a big win. If you are hoping to land a royal flush in every five hands, you won’t. It’s that simple.

Where Joker Poker differs from standard Jacks or Better-style games is the presence of a joker. This joker acts as a wild, which can help you put together a strong hand. If you have a 2, 3, 8, K, Joker, the best hand is two kings, which will pay you at even money. If you have 2, 2, 2, 7, Joker, you now have four of a kind. This is also an attractive feature for players who like the surprise factor of the joker popping up now and again.


In simple terms, your role as a player is to put together the highest-scoring hands according to the pay table on the game. You should look for full-pay tables, which will give you a greater chance of winning. We cover the full-pay table for Joker Poker below, so be sure to always compare it to the machine you are playing on before you play.

Your First Game of Joker Poker

It is crucial that you are aware of the importance of playing the maximum bet in Joker Poker. You will have five options when choosing your bet, which are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 coins. Choosing the maximum bet – which is usually represented as “Bet Max,” or “Max Bet” – will ensure that you are in with a shout of winning the maximum payout on the game. In Joker Poker, this is the royal flush at a payout of 4000 coins or 80x your bet.

Playing at a lower amount will play against you in the long run. In a standard game, you will bring down the favorable edge over the house by around 2%, giving the casino the edge over you. This is not what you want to do. Once you have chosen your coin denomination, you are then ready to play.

The Deal

Your next step is to hit that “Deal” button to get your first five cards. Unless you have a high pat hand, you will be aiming to make the best hand possible from what you have. This is where the strategy below will be very valuable to you. In order to make the best hand, you will need to know the best possible winning combination from the cards you have. The cards which will make this happen should be held, with the others discarded.

With most video poker machines, there is an “Auto-hold” function which will automatically hold the strongest cards you have. This will – for the most part – be something which is in the default settings of a game. If it isn’t, you can turn it on in the machine’s options or settings. We would advise novice players to play with the “Auto-hold” turned on, as there may be some things you will miss otherwise.

Knowing When You Have Won

You will know when you have won. That is unless you have a giant box over your head and have stuffed your ears with cotton. Which would be pretty silly altogether. Just because this game is called Joker Poker doesn’t mean you should act like a clown when playing it.

You will be happy to know that the pay table does illuminate any win on the screen, which will be of help to players who have limited experience playing video poker. The pay table is located above the five cards on most machines and usually draws a line through – or highlights – the particular winning combination of cards you have put together. As for that pay table…

The Pay Table

It is always a good idea to study the pay table when playing any Joker Poker game. Not all will be the same. As we mentioned above, you should be looking to find the (7/5) full-pay version when playing the game, as this will help you increase your chances of winning. The strategy – which we will cover in detail – will also depend on the pay table you are playing with.

There are very few (if any) surprises when it comes to the full-pay Joker Poker pay table. As with pretty much every video poker game out there, a royal flush is the highest payout a player can expect to get their hands on. In the full-pay version, the prize is typically 80x your bet, with 4000 available to those who play with 5 coins (we covered above why you should play with maximum coins).


As the joker is wild, you should know that there are two potential royal flushes you can put together. These are:

  • Natural royal flush: unaided by a joker
  • Joker royal flush: four cards to a royal flush with a joker making up the missing card

As you will have probably guessed, the natural royal flush has the lowest probability of the two, so it pays higher. The natural royal flush has the lowest probability of any hand in Joker Poker.

You can see the payouts of all winning hands on the full-pay joker poker is listed below:

  • Natural Royal Flush: 800
  • Five of a Kind: 200
  • Wild Royal Flush: 100
  • Straight Flush: 50
  • Four of a Kind: 20
  • Full House: 7
  • Flush: 5
  • Straight: 3
  • Three of a Kind: 2
  • Two Pair: 1
  • Pair (Kings or Better): 1

The full-pay Joker Poker table above shows us that a pair of kings or two pair are the lowest requirements for a win. Three of a kind will double your bet, while a straight and flush are 3 to 1 and 5 to 1, respectively.

In the upper tiers (from natural royal flush down to wild royal flush), there are some pretty impressive payouts. The natural royal flush pays 800 to 1, but the five of a kind on the full-pay table is also pretty nice at 200 to 1. Then, the wild royal flush at 100 to 1 rounds it up for the top three wins on the table.

You can find other versions of Joker Poker that are not as generous. The 99.98% payout version is similar to the full-pay version but pays 150 for a five of a kind rather than the 200 we can see above. Additionally, the wild royal flush pays 80 in comparison to the 100 on the full-pay version.


This is just one example of the importance of making sure you pick the right pay table when playing Joker Poker. The payouts decrease according to the variant you choose. Some of the lower end of short-pay machines may increase the royal flush payout but drastically decrease the payouts for the smaller wins. This will undoubtedly have a major effect on your bankroll, so it pays to be vigilant.

Joker Poker Strategy

Your strategy for Joker Poker is your bible. It is the absolute reference point and go-to guide when faced with any kind of confusion when it comes to drawing or discarding cards. The fulcrum of the Joker Poker strategy is the presence of the joker. This changes the standard 52-card deck to a 53-card deck, creating a new winning hand when compared to Jacks or Better or any game that doesn’t feature a wild card. That hand, of course, is the five of a kind, which is second in rank only to the natural royal flush on this game.

The fact that there is a joker in the deck is what your strategy should be built on. To work out the probabilities of hands in Joker Poker, you must factor in the joker card. Therefore, you must account for what to do when you are faced with a decision to make where there is a joker – and when there is no joker – in your hand.


This may sound complicated at first, but it is far from anything which should cause too many headaches. The Joker Poker strategy chart below will explain what you should do when making such choices in the game. We have broken down your options when you have a joker and no joker.

Joker Poker Strategy Charts

In video poker, you should always use strategy charts when unsure of what decision to make. These charts are very easy to understand. They list the best potential outcomes and should be followed from top to bottom until you reach the option to discard.

As we covered in the section above, Joker Poker is played with an additional card (the joker), so you should follow the appropriate chart when playing. To put it another way, if you have a joker in your hand, follow the “when playing with a joker” chart. When you have no joker, you should follow the “when playing without a joker” chart. It is really that simple.

Always remember two things: never discard a pat royal flush (obvious, we know), and never discard a joker.

When Playing with a Joker

  • Retain pat royal flush (royal flush on the first deal). This is the highest hand on the pay table
  • Retain 5 of a kind (joker included)
  • Retain 4 of a kind and discard the unmatched card
  • Retain four to a wild royal flush with king
  • Retain full house
  • Retain four to a wild royal flush with an ace
  • Retain four to a straight flush with no gap unless it is A-2-3 or 2-3-4
  • Retain flush
  • Retain four to a straight flush with up to two gaps which includes both A-2-3 and 2-3-4
  • Retain 3 of a kind
  • Retain a straight
  • Retain four to a flush with either one or two kings or better
  • Retain four to a straight flush with no gaps or one or two kings or better
  • Retain three to a wild flush with no gaps or one or two kings or better
  • Retain three to a straight flush with one gap
  • Retain joker and any unsuited 10-J-K or 10-Q-K or J-Q-K
  • Retain jokers plus A or K
  • Retain three to a straight flush with two gaps
  • Retain four to an outside straight
  • Retain four to a flush with no high card
  • Retain joker

When Playing Without a Joker

  • Retain pat royal flush (royal flush on the first deal). This is the highest hand on the pay table
  • Retain four to a natural royal flush
  • Retain four of a kind
  • Retain a full house
  • Retain a flush
  • Retain four to a straight flush
  • Retain three of a kind
  • Retain a straight
  • Retain three to a natural royal flush with a king or queen
  • Retain two pair
  • Retain three to a natural royal flush with ace high
  • Retain A-A or K-K
  • Retain four to a flush
  • Retain three to a straight flush with no gap
  • Retain any pair
  • Retain unsuited 10, J, Q, K
  • Retain three to a straight flush with a high card and up to two gaps
  • Retain suited K-A
  • Retain four to an outside straight
  • Retain three to a straight flush with two gaps
  • Retain suited 10-K or J-K or Q-K
  • Retain suited 10-A or J-A or Q-A
  • Retain ace or king
  • Retain suited 10-J or J-Q or 10-Q
  • Discard all

By following the strategy tables above – and playing with maximum coins – you will increase the chances of frequent wins while keeping the edge over the house. It is important to know that this is no guarantee that you will be walking away with millions every time you play the game. It does not work that way. It will help you minimize losses and make the choices that can help you in the long run, however.

Joker Poker: The Verdict

Joker Poker is one of those video poker titles that just sounds so right. The name rhymes, it is fun, and all of the advocates of the game surely cannot be wrong. A full-pay Joker Poker table gives players a 0.64% edge over the house, which makes it even more attractive.

What we covered in this guide is that – in order to play with this edge – players must use the maximum bet of five coins while using the strategy above. Using the example of comparing video poker titles like Joker Poker against slots, we can see why so many players seem intent on giving slots a wide berth altogether. After all, if you have the option of playing a game where you hold an edge over the house, it makes sense.

Please Note:

This house edge will depend on a player sticking to the strategy we have laid out above and playing smart. Joker Poker is the same as any other game out there in the sense that foolish decisions will see a player and their cash soon parted. Understanding the importance of bankroll management and employing a strategy when playing are both crucial to the overall chance of walking away as a winner.

But what about the game itself? It is one of the most enjoyable video poker variants out there. While everything is subjective when it comes to experience, the addition of a joker in the pack really makes things interesting. It adds a sense of unpredictability, knowing that there could be a joker card just waiting to pop up to turn a decent or mediocre hand into something worth celebrating.

Playing Joker Poker – or any other video poker title, for that matter – isn’t just about winning strategies. It is also about having fun and spending a little time enjoying yourself at the casino. There is no doubt that Joker Poker allows for both, however, and this gives it a giant thumbs up from us.

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