Video poker has been in the casino gaming world for a long time. This game remains popular enough to still be around decades after it first graced casinos. Of course, video poker’s heyday came in the 1980s and 90s, when numerous gamblers embraced it. But it began losing popularity starting in the 2000s.

This isn’t to say that you can’t still find lots of video poker machines in casinos. But its prevalence has slowly faded over time. Why isn’t video poker as popular as in the past? Find out as I discuss some reasons why this game’s fame has diminished and discuss if it’s still worth playing today.

Reasons Why Video Poker Popularity Has Fallen

Again, video poker is still widely found at casinos across the globe. You can enjoy many variations of this game in most gambling venues. But video poker certainly isn’t growing in comparison to other casino games throughout the industry. And there are several reasons why this is the case, which you can check out below.

Video Poker’s Structure Hasn’t Changed

Video poker hasn’t undergone much innovation since its inception in the 1970s. Most machines still feature the same basic setup, including a royal blue background and basic playing cards with low-quality graphics. Of course, video poker has never been about special effects or impressive graphics. But the game looks dated when compared to other machine-based games.

Video poker definitely carries a nostalgic feel for those who care about this aspect. However, not all gamblers are old enough to have played the game back in the 1990s and before. Many gamblers walk into casinos today and see video poker as a relic, rather than something that they want to work into their gaming session.

I’m not saying that video poker is absolutely void of changes. I’ll discuss unique variations later that include bonuses and other interesting features. But video poker certainly has kept up with the times in terms of graphics and animations.

Slot Machines Have Become More Appealing

Slot machines are the opposite of everything I discussed in the section above. Slots have steadily improved over the decades in terms of graphics, animations, special features, and bonus rounds. Many players are attracted to the fun themes, 3D visuals, and vibrant sound effects found in slot machines. All of this combines to make slots more appealing than video poker to the average player.

Slots now dominate casino floors, with many North American casinos dedicating around 80% of their gaming areas to these machines. It’s worth mentioning that you can also find plenty of video poker machines too. However, the number of video poker games pale in comparison to the numerous slots.

Fewer Games Offer Over 100% RTP

One of the most alluring aspects of video poker is that it offers games with over 100% return to player (RTP). Here’s a quick look at games that deliver are over 100% RTP with the right strategy:

  • Full-pay Deuces Wild = 100.76% RTP
  • Full-pay Joker Poker = 100.64% RTP
  • 10/7 Double Bonus = 100.17% RTP
  • 10/6 Double Double Bonus = 100.07% RTP

Some gamblers instantly become interested in video poker when they find out that certain variations offer serious profit potential. But the catch is that you’ll have a very difficult time finding any of these machines. This isn’t to say that Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, Double Bonus, and Double Double Bonus are hard to find. But you certainly won’t spot the best-paying versions (a.k.a. full-pay)too often.

These machines are only featured in Nevada casinos. You can refer to to search which Nevada casinos offer video poker with over 100% RTP. You’ll notice that the largest concentration of these games are in Las Vegas. If you don’t live in or around Sin City, then you’ll only be able to play these versions when you visit Vegas.

It’s certainly not worth moving to Sin City just to profit from these games either. The following illustrates how little you can expect in terms of hourly rate:

  • You play full-pay Deuces Wild (100.76% RTP).
  • You play 800 hands each hour.
  • You wager $1.25 per hand.
  • 800 x 1.25 x 0.0076 = $7.60 hourly profit
  • You earn 0.1% cashback.
  • 800 x 1.25 x 0.001 = 1$ cashback.
  • $7.60 + $1 = $8.60 net hourly profit

These calculations assume that you find the best video poker game, use perfect strategy, and play at a fast rate. You won’t even make $10 per hour under the best conditions. One more aspect to consider is that video poker is a volatile game. Even if you do make a profits in the long run, they’ll come inconsistently due to the low frequency of big payouts.

The Best Pay Tables Are Harder to Find

You don’t have to play the games I mentioned above just to have a good shot at winning in video poker. Instead, variations like Jacks or Better and Bonus Poker also give you a stronger chance to win than most casino games. Again, though, you have to play the right versions of these games in order to boost your odds of winning. And this means looking for the full-pay versions.

9/6 Jacks or Better – which pays nine coins for a full house and six for a flush – is the best-paying version of JoB. But not every casino offers the top pay table, especially land-based venues. 9/5 JoB – which pays nine coins for a full house and five for a flush – only features 98.45% payback. This is a noticeable difference from the 9/6 version.

It’s not difficult to spot full-pay versions of each video poker game by looking at their pay tables. For example, you only have to check out the full house and flush payouts in JoB. But spotting the differences in pay tables isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. You also have to play at casinos that offer the full-pay versions of your favorite games. This usually isn’t a problem at online casinos. However, brick-and-mortar venues are notorious for featuring worse pay tables.

Video Poker Just Isn’t Trendy

Slot machines have experienced an upward climb over the years thanks to their innovations. These upgrades have made slots as trendy as ever. The same can’t be said of video poker, though, because it’s just not fashionable to play these games today.

Video poker was looked at as a revolutionary game when it first hit casinos in the mid-1970s. Computer technology was still in its infancy at this point, and players were impressed with how advanced these games were. Of course, there were still skeptics who didn’t trust gambling on a machine. But video poker really exploded in the 1980s when many players overcame these fears. Today, video poker is far from cutting edge when compared to slots. The basic blue screen and simple background don’t draw many new fans.

Will Video Poker Ever Experience a Popularity Resurgence?

Lack of innovation is the biggest reason why video poker doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as in past years. But is there a chance that this game could ever regain a dominant place on casino floors? I don’t see video poker experiencing a resurgence that would make it near or equal to slots in terms of popularity. A huge gap exists between slot machines and video poker in terms of presentation and overall entertainment. Somebody who enjoys playing slots with high-quality graphics and the latest features isn’t going to suddenly switch to playing video poker full-time.

I don’t even see video poker becoming trendy again for most nostalgic players. Slot machines are already breaking into the retro category by introducing unique bonus rounds, such as those seen in Space Invaders and Centipede. These bonuses allow gamblers to play classic arcade games during the bonus round and improve their chances of winning through skill. Video poker, on the other hand, just looks old in comparison. I’ve mentioned multiple times already how the screen and background haven’t changed in decades.

Nevertheless, I still see a place for video poker moving forward. This game has something that the vast majority of slot machines don’t – skill. Video poker is one of the most-strategic games in the casino. You need to know how to play each hand in order to boost your chances of winning and achieve top payback for any given variation. Slot machines like Space Invaders and Centipede feature some skill in the bonus round.

But 99.9% of slots are still completely void of skill-based play. All you do in the average slot is spin the reels and let luck do the rest. However, it seems that the average gambler is more interested in being entertained without having to think much. This is why slots will continue being the dominant machine game, while video poker retains more of a niche following.

Why You Should Still Play Video Poker

Video poker may not be experiencing any popularity boom in the coming years. But that’s not to say you should overlook this game. Video poker has a lot to offer in several categories. You can check out the best reasons to play this game below.

Great Payback

Few casino games can rival video poker in terms of payback. I discussed several variations that give you a great chance to win when you use sound strategy. Many common video poker variations offer over 99% payback with their top pay table. The biggest challenge is finding the full-pay versions, which is worth doing when considering your odds of winning. If you can’t find high-paying video poker machines in your local casino, then you can always play online. Unlike a land-based venue, you don’t have to travel to gaming sites.

Here’s a look at some of the industry’s top video poker games:

  • Microgaming All Aces (Double Bonus) = 99.92% RTP
  • RTG 8/5 Aces & Eights = 99.78%
  • Bovada Double Jackpot = 99.63%
  • RTG 7/5 Aces & Eights = 99.63%
  • 9/6 Jacks or Better (offered by many providers) = 99.54%

All you need to do is find a casino with good video poker, then sign up and make a deposit. You can even play free video poker at online casinos. You don’t even have to register for an account in some cases.

Lots of Game Variety & Unique Variations

Video poker hasn’t changed much in terms of its look. But there are more variations to choose from than ever before these days. Video poker games differ in terms of their payout structures. Some variants pay more for low hands and less for high hands, while others are the opposite. If you want to pick up lots of wins – no matter how small they may be – then you’ll enjoy games that pay more for low hands. If you’re instead a player who wants to maximize your chances of hitting big payouts, then you’ll like the “bonus” variations.

Here are examples of different games throughout the casino world:

  • Aces & Eights
  • All American
  • Bonus Poker
  • Bonus Poker Deluxe
  • Deuces Wild
  • Double Double Bonus
  • Double Jackpot
  • Joker’s Wild
  • Loose Deuces
  • Super Aces
  • Tens or Better
  • Triple Double Bonus

The variety doesn’t end here, because there are also some totally unique video poker variants with special features. International Game Technology (IGT) has made a number of games in recent years that include bonus elements. One example is Peek and Play, which lets you see the first-available draw card before making your discards. This provides an obvious advantage in that you get some help during the draw round.

Another example is Hot Roller Poker Multiplier. This game features dice that randomly roll after wins to determine a win multiplier. The only downside to playing these games is that you’ll need to bet more to activate the features. But this is a small price to pay if you enjoy video poker and want to try something new.

You Can Win Big

You can fully appreciate video poker if you love chasing big payouts. This game offers you the chance to win prizes worth as much as 4,000 coins.

Check out the 9/6 JoB pay table below for reference:

Hand 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 250 500 750 1000 4000
Straight flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 of a kind 25 50 75 100 125
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 pairs 2 4 6 8 10
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Making the five-coin maximum bet allows you to earn 4,000 coins for a royal flush, 250 for a straight flush, and 125 for a four of a kind.

If these payouts aren’t large enough for you, then you can always play a bonus variation that offers more large prizes. See the 9/6 Double Double Bonus pay table for example:

Hand 1 coin 2 coins 3 coins 4 coins 5 coins
Royal flush 400 800 1,200 1,600 4,000
Straight Flush 50 100 150 200 250
4 aces + 2-4 400 800 1,200 1,600 2,000
4 2s-4s + A-4 160 320 480 640 800
4 aces 160 320 480 640 800
4 2s-4s 80 160 240 320 400
4 5s-Ks 50 100 150 200 250
Full house 9 18 27 36 45
Flush 6 12 18 24 30
Straight 4 8 12 16 20
3 of a kind 3 6 9 12 15
2 pairs 1 2 3 4 5
Jacks or better 1 2 3 4 5

Certain video poker games even offer progressive jackpots. Each wager contributes a small amount to the jackpot, which makes for a larger top prize. You won’t find any progressive video poker prizes that are as big as the largest slots jackpots. But you can still look forward to some payouts that are worth thousands of dollars.

Another bonus to playing for progressive video poker jackpots is that you have stronger odds of winning the big prize. Your odds of getting a royal flush are approximately 1 in 40,000 with the average video poker game. Contrast this to slots jackpots, which usually only give you 1 in X million odds of hitting the top prize.

Video Poker Is a Skill Game

I’ve discussed how video poker involves a great degree of skill. Not everybody is a fan of using complex strategy to beat casino games. But there’s certainly a market for games that require in-depth strategy to improve your odds. Video poker definitely fits this billing, because every decision you make on the draw affects your long-term chances of winning.

You should be able to win a good deal of money simply by using your own instincts. For example, it doesn’t take much thought to keep a dealt pair and discard three low cards. But there are also times where you should discard your made hands in order to pursue larger payouts. For example, you’d want to dump a pair in Bonus Poker if you have four cards to a royal flush. Your odds of getting a royal are still low even with four of the necessary five cards. But the payout makes it worth ditching the low-paying pair.

Nobody’s going to automatically know the exact cards to keep in every situation. But you can learn the correct moves by studying strategy charts and/or using video poker trainers. A strategy chart shows what hands you want to keep in order of their importance. All you do is scan down the chart and look for your hand (if it’s listed).

Video poker trainers, which are available online, see you play hands like normal. But these programs point out your mistakes and help you learn through repetition. Trainers are excellent for practicing games that offer over 100% payback. Improving your playing speed while using (near) perfect strategy can lead to bigger profits.


Video poker is long past its glory days. And I don’t ever see this game recapturing its peak popularity again. Reasons why include the lack of innovation, boring game backgrounds, fewer games offering over 100% RTP, and the rise of slot machines. All of this combines to make video poker far less appealing to the average gambler.

However, I’m certainly not saying that you should completely avoid video poker. This classic game offers some of the best payback in the casino if you’re willing to learn the strategy. You can also look forward to playing a wide variety of video poker variations. This game offers dozens of variants that differ based on how much they pay for each hand.

The decision on whether or not you want to play video poker and its many variants comes down to preference. Do you want a strategic  game that focuses on strategy, rather than cool special effects and graphics? If so, then don’t let video poker’s lack of popularity bother you. This game gives you a stronger chance to win money than almost anything in the casino.

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