Video poker can be a great way to combine the exciting man-versus-machine gameplay of slot machines with the rules and skills of poker. Any of the best online casinos feature video poker, which is a testament to its enduring and essentially unchanged design.

Video poker is based on the classic poker variation Five Card Draw, in which you are dealt five cards (obviously), and can choose to replace one or more with additional cards drawn from the deck. Unlike classic poker rules, you may even replace all of your cards on most video poker machines.

Standard poker hand values apply; a Royal Flush is the highest and rarest hand (without use of a wild card) and pairs are the lowest and most common. Most video poker machines do not regard non-face card pairs as a winning hand, and the single most popular video poker machine is “Jacks or Better” — named after the lowest hand that rewards the player, usually with a replay.

Deuces Wild and Joker Poker are two other common variants, both employing wild cards to change the amount and probabilities of payouts. Joker Poker further alters the odds by adding another card (the Joker, of course) to the deck. Bonus Poker (and Double Bonus Poker, and Double Double Bonus Poker!) is another popular version that provides increased payouts for certain hands.

The Internet has allowed the machine to evolve somewhat, though the popular format of video poker remains a favorite in its nearly unchanged state. Progressive video poker jackpots, relatively uncommon in the “brick-and-mortar” casinos, have become a regular feature at online casinos. Multi-hand video poker machines now exist which bring some of the extended-game feel of Texas Hold’em tournament poker to video poker fans, as well as providing for bigger jackpots.

Learning the basics of five card draw poker is relatively simple and easy, and very little adjustment needs to be made to play video poker. As with all games that draw upon skill, your experience and knowledge will only increase your success, so a free online video poker game from one of the best online casinos would be the best way to get your skills into good shape.