Video poker is one of the many legal casino games available in Florida. Unlike traditional poker in which players play against one another, video poker is a one-person game in which players play against the house, much like when they play slots or other electronic table games.
Video poker challenges players to make the best possible five-card poker hand. Players who possess some knowledge of poker probabilities can use that to their advantage, meaning that video poker contains a genuine skill element.
Here’s a rundown of video poker in Florida, including information about where and how to play video poker and a few tips to help improve your chances.
Is video poker legal in Florida?
Yes, in Florida video poker is legal and available everywhere that slots are legal. That includes the six Seminole Tribe-owned casinos plus a selection of pari-mutuel gambling venues in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The tribal casinos are able to offer a variety of Class III games under a tribal-state compact. Meanwhile, those two southern Florida counties also allow pari-mutuel venues to operate slots, including the facilities being able to offer video poker. Most of those locations have poker rooms, too, providing another option.
How to play video poker online in Florida
Online gambling for real money is not legal in Florida, so you aren’t going to be able to play video poker for cash on your computer or mobile device. However, there are a couple of alternatives for Floridians wishing to play video poker online.
Social and sweepstakes sites with video poker
One option is to play video poker on social and sweepstakes casino sites. These sites use virtual currencies rather than real money and in some cases, provide players a chance to redeem their winnings for cash prizes.
Chumba Casino is an example of such a site that, besides offering slots and other table games, also has one video poker game, Jacks or Better, which we explain below. At Chumba, you are therefore able to play free video poker in standard mode.
Pulsz, meanwhile, offers a Texas Hold’em Poker title. The game plays a bit like video poker, with 3D graphics suggesting an Old West setting. However, it is not a “classic” video poker game such as you see in legal online casinos or elsewhere.
Video poker on Seminole social casino apps
You can also play online video poker on a couple of social casino apps that the Seminole Tribe of Florida operates:
- Seminole Social Casino
- Hard Rock Blackjack & Casino
Both of these social casinos feature a variety of slots and table games that you can play on a computer or on an Android or iOS mobile device using one of the apps.
Among the available games is Multi-Hand Video Poker, which plays a lot like traditional video poker. There’s also another poker option that allows you to play against other players. While the Seminole apps are strictly for fun and not real money, you can accumulate casino rewards for playing them by linking to your Seminole Wild Card account.
Where to play video poker in Florida
In Florida, you’ll find video poker games for real money everywhere that slots are legal. That includes six Seminole Tribe-owned casinos:
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood
- Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa
- Seminole Casino Brighton
- Seminole Casino Immokalee
- Seminole Casino Coconut Creek
- Seminole Classic Casino Hollywood
The two big Hard Rock casinos — the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood — feature the highest number of video poker games. And the smallest of the casinos — Seminole Casino Brighton — has the fewest.
You’ll also find video poker among the slots and other electronic table games at eight pari-mutuel facilities in and around the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area:
- The Big Easy Casino
- Calder Casino
- Casino Miami
- The Casino @ Dania Beach
- Gulfstream Park Casino
- Hialeah Park Racing & Casino
- Isle Casino Pompano
- Magic City Casino
Isle Casino Pompano and The Big Easy Casino are the largest among those eight, although you won’t have too much trouble finding video poker in all of them.
Popular video poker games in Florida
As is true of slots and other electronic table games, there are certain popular game types and “brands” in video poker that fans have come to know and love. Each has its own features and special traits, although in truth there is a lot of overlap. Here are some of the video poker brands you’ll find in Florida:
- All Star Poker
- Game King Video Poker
- Super Star Poker
- Ultimate X Poker
There are others, too, including some that combine poker with other table games or add a dice roll to give the game an added twist.
When you sit down at a video poker machine, you’ll often find it doesn’t just offer one single type of game to play, but many different titles from which to choose. This is often true no matter the specific brand of the machine.
Most games play similarly across these different variations by having players play single-draw poker hands. You receive an initial five-card hand and must select which cards to hold and which ones to discard. You then draw your new cards and see what your final hand value is.
A pay table typically shows you the payout for each hand, often as a multiple of the bet amount. For example, many games list a royal flush — the highest-ranking poker hand — as the highest payout. The pay table will show that if you’re playing one credit, getting a royal flush wins you 250 credits (i.e., 250x what you wagered).
Here’s a list of the most popular video poker variants you’ll typically see among your choices when playing at video poker machines in Florida:
- Jacks or Better — The lowest hand that pays is a pair of jacks.
- Tens or Better — The lowest hand that pays is a pair of 10s.
- Deuces Wild — The four deuces are wild cards.
- Joker Poker — Includes a joker (a wild card) along with the standard 52-card deck.
- Bonus Poker — Features increased payouts for certain hands (select four-of-a-kind hands, for instance).
- Double Bonus Poker — Increased payouts for four aces and a straight flush.
- Bonus Poker Deluxe — Increased payouts for all four-of-a-kind hands.
There are others, too, many of which often also involve boosted payouts for certain hands.
Also, for all of these variations, you’ll often have the choice to play single-hand or multi-hand video poker. Multi-hand variations include Triple Play Draw Poker (three hands at once) and Five Play Draw Poker (five hands at once). There are even multi-hand video poker games that let you play 100 hands simultaneously.
Is it possible to ‘beat’ video poker?
Like traditional poker, video poker is a game that combines luck and skill. Anyone who has ever sat down in a poker game knows that sometimes you can play a hand perfectly and lose, and you can also play a hand badly and still win.
In video poker, the luck is in how the software that randomizes the cards happens to deal out your hands. Your first five cards are always going to be the product of chance. However, when it comes to deciding which cards to hold and which ones to discard, if you understand poker probabilities, you will make better drawing decisions than if you don’t.
In video poker, it is possible to learn what the best drawing decisions are and to always make them. Of course, you are still subject to the game’s luck element even then. Royal flushes — the highest paying hands — will always be rare, no matter how smart you are with your drawing decisions.
Also relevant here is the fact that certain video poker games have higher return-to-player percentages than others (although all are pretty high). That means if you use a “perfect” strategy to play the games with the highest RTP percentages, you can “beat” the game to the extent that you should come out ahead over a sufficient sample size, although that is perhaps easier said than done.
In any case, we can say with even more confidence that if you play video poker and use the correct drawing strategy, you have a better chance of winning than you do when playing casino games that are entirely chance-based like slots or roulette. In those games, the RTP percentage never changes no matter what you do, and they never get close to as high as in video poker.
Is video poker rigged?
This is usually the flip side of the “Can you beat video poker?” question. If video poker games are rigged to ensure the house always wins and/or to prevent players from earning the largest payouts, then there would be no way to beat the game, would there?
In order for casinos and eligible pari-mutuel facilities to offer video poker, they have to ensure the games are regulated just like slots and all other casino games. The Florida Statutes covering slot machines specifically require at least an 85% payout percentage. For the purposes of the law, video poker machines must meet the same requirement.
On average, though, Florida slot machines have a higher RTP than that, usually somewhere between 90% and 93%, depending on the game. Video poker variants, meanwhile, typically have even higher RTPs. Combine that with the correct strategy, and you can create returns approaching 100% and even more in rare instances. That’s as true in Florida as anywhere else video poker is available.
All of which is to say, you needn’t worry about video poker games being rigged if you play them at licensed and regulated locations in Florida.
Basics of video poker strategy
You can learn the basics of video poker strategy very quickly, and with a little more work can even equip yourself with an understanding of how to draw in every situation. A quality video poker strategy guide can further explain all about probabilities and drawing decisions.
That’s our first video poker tip. Here are a few other general strategy recommendations that can be useful:
Bet the maximum
Most video poker games allow you to bet one, two, three, four or five units per hand. If you look at the pay tables, you’ll see it is almost always the case that you win more for the highest hands if you bet the maximum of five. For instance, in Jacks or Better, a royal flush usually pays 250 for one coin and 1,000 for four coins. But you win 4,000 for five coins (800x instead of 250x). That’s a massive difference.
Don’t break winning hands
Say you’re playing Jacks or Better and you’re dealt Jc-Jh-4h-8h-2h. What do you do? It might be tempting to break your winning hand (i.e., a hand that is already going to earn a payout) by tossing the jack of clubs and going for a flush, but in truth the better play is to keep your two jacks and draw three. That’s often the case, except for spots where you have a legitimate shot at hitting a royal flush or straight flush (i.e., you can draw one to either, but you have to break a high pair to do so).
Don’t play hunches
You know drawing to an inside straight is mathematically not the best strategy. But you have a feeling that this time it will work. Try not to give into that feeling. Once out of every 11 or 12 times, you will fill that straight. But all of the other times you’ll be following your hunch with a worse feeling — the one associated with losing.
Seek out progressive jackpot games
You’ll discover in many casinos that just like with slots, some of the video poker games will feature progressive jackpots. These games feature larger-than-usual prizes for hitting a royal flush. Multiple video poker games are connected in a network (as in slots), and the longer players go without hitting a royal, the more the jackpot increases. Be aware, though, that you have to be betting the maximum to qualify for the jackpot.
Practice smart bankroll management
This is general advice applicable to all casino games. Video poker can be fun, but also somewhat addictive, consuming your time and money very quickly. Don’t fall into the trap of playing longer or for more money than you intend. Give yourself limits, if you have to, and always practice responsible gambling.