The number of people opting to play what is known as ‘online video poker’ in the various Internet casino establishments has always been high since the game was first offered online. This strongly suggests that this is a highly popular game, which in turn strongly suggests that it is either a particularly exciting game, or a game in which there is potential for spectacular winnings; for it to be so popular. Actually, as it turns out, both situations obtain: online video poker is an extremely exciting poker game, as well as a game in which the potential to get quite spectacular winnings exists; naturally depending on how much of a risk you would be willing to take on.

Online video poker is simply the Internet-based adaptation of the traditional ‘video poker’ we always had. This means that in order to understand the workings of online video poker, we need some basic understanding of video poker in general.

As it turns out, video poker gets its name from the platform on which it is played, which happens to be a computer console that somewhat resembles a video presentation platform. It is one of the games in which a ‘hand’ is made of five cards. It is also one of the games where man gets to play against machine, rather than ‘man against man.’ As with any other poker game played in a casino, the first step in playing video poker is the placement of bets. Seeing that this is a ‘computerized’ form of poker, the betting is done by putting money into the console. This is followed by the drawing of cards, which is usually done via a simple click of a similarly labeled button on the console. Cards are randomly drawn, as in other game of poker. Then the strategy element of the game kicks in, where after an examination of the cards one will have drawn, they make decisions as to which cards they should hold onto, which cards they should discard, as well as which cards they should take as replacements. The ultimate aim here is to increase their chances of ending up with a ‘good hand’ that would subsequently make them the winners in the game.

This perfection of hands is then followed by a moment of revelation – where the computer officiating the game proceeds to check the hand held by the player, to see whether it is the best hand, and if so, goes on to declare the player a winner and hand him or her an appropriate prize. The arrangement is usually one in which the probability of getting some prize is considerably high; since any reasonably good hand (say anything starting from and above a ‘jacks’ pair) qualifies for a prize; with every subsequently better hand qualifying for an even better prize in a progressive manner.
Now what we have been looking at, complete with the insertion of real metallic coins into video poker consoles is the type video poker casino establishments always offered – even before the coming of the Internet. It gives us a background against which to understand the workings of online video poker.

And as it turn out, online video poker is played in exactly the same way – save for the fact that everything takes place over the Internet, and there therefore no tangible video poker console present, but rather a virtual one; presented pictorially on the player’s screen, and accessible by actions such as mouse clicks. Naturally, physical coins can’t be used on this virtual video poker console. Instead, people looking to place bets transfer money from their online casino accounts to purchase betting credits on the virtual console – after which the game proceeds in same way as outlined for traditional video poker.

The beauty of the variety of video poker casino establishments offer online lies in, among other things, its flexibility. In most of these establishments (and mainly due to the fact that it is a ‘man against machine’ game), you get to choose how much you wish to wager: which could be anything from a quarter of a dollar to as much as five whole bucks. It is also a convenient game, as is the case with all online casino games. Since it is a highly mechanized game, it is also one seen as being rather fair. The machine that controls the game can, of course, be programmed and reprogrammed in various ways. But in its default state, it is not given to using underhand tactics to deny players of their rightful winnings – which are very common in fully human controlled poker games.

By Denis Jensen
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