Countries across the Pacific Rim are opening casinos, and gambling continues to be a favorite form of entertainment for many Asian cultures. Baccarat is the number one table game in both land-based casinos and online websites, but slot machines and video poker are gaining in overall popularity. Video poker especially is seeing a large increase in play as betters find that they do have some input on their overall success.
Although casinos have a larger house edge at video poker than a table game like roulette, video poker does have a smaller edge than most of the bets at Sic Bo and Dragon Tiger. In addition, players also like the prospect of winning a substantial amount of money on a Royal Flush or Four Aces. Those top hands hit more often than jackpots on slot machines, and the many forms of video poker add variety while staying with the 5-card poker theme.
Many Asian-themed online casinos offer traditional table games like Pai Gow, as well as new offerings, like Asia Poker (a variation of Pai Gow and the Chinese game of 13-cards). Video poker games often carry a Samurai or Dragon theme, but the game is essentially the same: make your best 5-card draw hand to win with a minimum of a pair of jacks.
Unlike slot machines that are set to pay off a certain amount based on a software program, video poker is designed to offer all possible hands (using a Random Numbers Generator) and the house percentage is derived from the payouts for each winning hand: pair, two-pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush. Because of this, a player will nearly always keep a pair of jacks or better, except when a monster hand can be made such as a straight flush, four aces, or a royal flush, by drawing just one more card. Playing well leads to more payoffs, playing poorly leads to a more expensive experience.
Single-line video games in all varieties such as Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and even Joker Poker (where a Joker is added to the 52-card deck and is a wild card) require a minimum of one credit to play, and any winning hand has a payout multiplied by the number of credits played to reach the payoff. However, the maximum payoff for a royal flush is not offered except when a minimum of five credits are played (higher on some machines). A royal flush traditionally pays 100 units per credit bet. However, at the five-coin threshold the jackpot is paid: 4,000 credits, or 800 to 1.
Care should be exercised when playing any video poker machine to make sure you qualify for the higher pay off on any royal flush. Playing a lesser amount obviously reduces your pay off, but it also significantly increases the house edge! With this in mind, it is wiser to play for a smaller per-credit amount to get the full 800 to 1 payoff than to play a higher per credit amount and not play enough credits to qualify and be stuck with a 100 to 1 payoff when you hit that elusive royal!
These days there are many varieties of video poker games, but one of the most popular is the original Jacks or Better game. At this game a player is paid 1 to 1 (you get your bet back) for minimum hand of a pair of Jacks and two pair pays 2 to 1. Higher hands are also paid, and any four of a kind pays 125 credits.
Bonus poker usually pays 1 to 1 for jacks or better, but the same for two pair. However, certain four of a kind hands (usually 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s) pay 250 credits. Double Bonus machines often follow this pattern, but also pay 1,000 to 1 for four aces.
Joker Poker is another popular game, but the lowest payoff is usually a pair of aces, since the added joker is wild. A royal flush using the joker usually pays 250 units, but a five of a kind pays 1,000.
Deuces Wild offers a standard 52-card deck, but the 2’s are wild. This game requires a minimum of three of a kind for a 1-1 payoff, and a royal flush with deuces pays 25 to 1. A royal flush without deuces still pays 4,000 total credits
Some video poker games offer multiple lines of play, starting with Triple Play. The games are the same, but the wagering is tripled. In this game, a 15-credit bet will cover 5-units on three lines. The usual five cards are dealt, but the player will be holding or drawing cards to all three lines. If the first hand has a pair of aces and the player draws three new cards, the aces stay at the start of all three hands, and new, different cards are drawn for each line (the first, second, and third hands).
Obviously this game is three-times as expensive to play, but three-times more exciting when a good starting hand is dealt. On rare occasions a completed hand is dealt and the player will hold all five cards on all three hands. Imagine the fun of being dealt a four of a kind and hold it on all three lines! Triple the payout!