If you’re interested in playing poker, you have many versions to choose between. You have for sure heard of peer-to-peer poker, which is often considered the “real” poker game. These are games played against other players, and it’s not a house-banked game. But, you might also have heard about video poker. This is a house-banked game that you play alone and on a machine. But what’s the actual difference between the games? Let’s explore the details.

The Difference Between Poker and Video Poker

The first thing you need to know is that poker is not a game. It’s a game type. Even when you play peer-to-peer poker, there are multiple poker games to choose between. At most online casinos, the most played games are Texas Hold’em, Five Card Draw, and Omaha Poker. Although the rules differ a bit between these, the core concept is the same: you play against other players, and the goal is to win each game round. You do this by having the best hand at the end of the betting rounds.

Video poker machine games, on the other hand, is a game you play alone. There are no other players to beat, and the battle is only between you and the machine. The game rules are simplified compared to peer-to-peer poker but are still based on general poker rules. Getting the best possible hand is the only way to win.

Strategies for Poker and Online Poker Machines

Real poker is considered a game of skill rather than a game of luck. Unless you have a good poker strategy, it’s almost impossible to win. One of the main ways peer-to-peer poker strategies vary from strategies used for video poker is the psychological part.

If you have a good poker hand, you want to downplay this fact by raising the bets just a bit. You don’t want other players to realise just how good your hand is. If you bet a lot every time you have a great hand, other players will fold, and thereby the prize pool you’ll win will be small. The way you want to play it is to raise it enough to increase the pooled prize, without discouraging other players to keep on betting.

The mix of the psychological strategy and the mathematical likelihood of getting the “right” cards is a must for any professional poker player to master.

Then again, when you’re playing video poker, you’re not playing against other humans. Your battle is against a machine, which basically means a random number generator. So all psychological strategies go out the window. The only thing you need to worry about is the likelihood of certain cards showing up next.

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The Rules of Poker Machine Games

Since there are many versions of poker, there are also many versions of video poker machine games. You’ll find that the various video poker machines are all built on the core concepts of a “real” poker game. Typically, Five Card Draw Poker. Now, let’s explore some of the different video poker games you might come across at your online casino.

Jacks or Better

Jacks or Better is one of the most common versions of video poker, and you’ll find it at most Australian online casinos. The poker version it most closely relates to is Five Card Draw Poker. In this poker game, you’ll get dealt five cards, and you can discard the ones you don’t want. You’ll then get new cards to again make up a full hand of five cards. The same rules apply when you’re playing Jacks or Better video poker.

Deuces Wild

Deuces Wild is another version of a video poker game that’s built on the classic Five Card Draw Poker game. It works more or less like the game Jacks or Better, with one major difference. In Deuces Wild, all two’s are wild. This means that two of a kind and one pair is not a hand you’ll get a win from, but then again you can get five of a kind. You’ll also increase your chance of getting a Straight or Royal Flush.

Aces & Faces

Aces & Faces is yet another video poker game that’s very similar to the Five Card Draw Poker game. You start with five cards, and you can discard the ones you don’t want. You’ll then get new cards to make up a full hand. As the name of the game implies, Aces and face cards are a bit special. Hands containing these cards will give you a higher-than-normal payout.

Skill-level Requirement to Succeed

Naturally, playing poker on what’s seemingly a pokies machine versus playing with other people is a huge difference to the gambling experience. But, there are other key differences between video poker games and peer-to-peer poker. Not least in the skill level required. We touched upon this above when discussing strategies, but let’s dive in a bit deeper.

It’s said that only 5% of all poker players end up breaking even. Only 1% actually make a profit. That means that only 1 in 100 poker players win long-term. This is because poker is a game of skill, and the best players will always beat the less experienced ones. This is also why poker is the casino game that has the most professional players – that is players who make a living out of playing poker.

But, no one makes a living playing video poker. These games are made more for entertainment than anything else. Yes, you can be lucky and win long-term, but that’s only due to luck. The only thing you can do to be a good video poker player is to learn the rules of the game, and some basic theory about which cards are likely to show up. Further than that, there are no skills to learn that can help you.

All of this means that video poker has a much lower entry level for players. Becoming a professional poker takes years and years of practice, but you can fully master video poker in a couple of hours. And this is perhaps the true key difference between real poker and video poker games.

Eve Luneborg

Sub-editor & Casino Content Maestro

Eve Luneborg has been a dynamic presence in the online casino industry since 2014, starting at a burgeoning casino in Malta that has now become a leading gambling site. Initially a support agent, she progressed to handling payments and training new staff on processing withdrawals and KYC documents.

In 2016, Eve transitioned from casino operations to become a writer in the iGaming industry.

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