There are an almost endless number of different variations in normal poker these days. The original 5 Card Draw Poker is hardly ever played in casinos or online poker rooms. Instead, the most popular form of poker these days is Texas Hold’em. Here the player only receives 2 instead of 5 cards and has to put together his strongest 5-card hand from his own cards and 5 community cards. Other popular variations of poker are Omaha, Stud, and Razz. Other variants of Draw Poker are still very popular, such as 2-7 Triple Draw or Badugi.
However, if you want to play the classic variant of 5 Card Draw today, you will often run into a problem: the game is almost nowhere offered. It’s a shame, after all, many of us grew up watching movies like Maverick, which featured unforgettable scenes in Draw Poker. Aside from home games with friends, there is only one other way for real poker fans to play this classic game on the Internet today: online video poker.
In this form of poker you don’t play against human players, but against the casino. The object of the game is still to make the best possible 5-card hand. Since there are no bets and raises from the players, the showdown is not about the pot in the middle of the table. Instead, a fixed table determines the payouts for each hand. Bluffing is also not an issue in this game, after all, there are no other players who could be pushed out of the pot.
In principle, all forms of video poker are played with the variant of 5 card draw poker. The only difference between the different variants of online video poker is which hands are paid out and how much the player gets for each hand. For example, there is the Jacks or Better variant, in which only hands with a pair or more of jacks are paid out.
Tens or Better
In this variant, the player gets a payout for any hand that is stronger than a single pair of tens. Hand strengths less than a pair of tens are almost never paid out. To even out the payouts for the weaker hands, stronger hands like a flush, full house, or straight flush are paid worse.
This form of video poker thus offers the player a lower variance, since weaker hands are hit much more often than stronger hands. In other words: the player wins smaller amounts more often, while in other variants he wins less often, but all the more.
Jacks or Better
With Jacks or Better everything works the same as with Tens or Better, only that a pair of jacks is the weakest hand for a payout. This is the classic variant of video poker and is used in most online casinos.
Bonus poker is a variation on Jacks or Better. Again, a pair of jacks is the lowest hand that the player will receive a payout for. The difference with bonus poker is that a four of a kind is rewarded with a higher payout. Depending on the casino, different types of quadruples are rewarded with different bonuses. For example, a four of a kind jack might be paid more than a four of a kind kings.
Strategically, it is very important for the player to be aware of these payouts. With the example of the bonus for a four-of-a-kind jack, it makes sense in the long term to keep two or three jacks and exchange all other cards.
The variant of the double bonus is similar to that of bonus poker. Here, however, a four-of-a-kind aces is always rewarded with the bonus. The ace four of a kind brings twice as much money as any other four of a kind, hence the name of the game. To make up for this extremely high bonus, flushes and full houses are paid worse.
Here is an example payout table for Double Bonus Poker: