From a quick glance, video poker machines may seem interchangeable. After all, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, correct?

Actually, a surprising amount of variation exists between video poker games. One may even say that there is just as much difference between video poker machines (which may look similar, but use a wide variety of rules and features) as there is between different slot machines (which often look very different, but play and payout with considerable similarity).

The basic unit of video poker measurement is the venerable “Jacks or Better”. All video poker fans have encountered Jack, and some continue to lead a long and rewarding relationship with the online video poker version. For those new to video poker, free online video poker offers the chance to play Jacks or Better at any of the best online casinos. Free video poker games are a great way to familiarize yourself with the skills and rules of various video poker games.

Using the basics of five-card draw poker, Jacks or Better makes a perfect transition from “physical” poker games to video poker games, or directly to online poker games. “Tens or Better” is a less-common variation of the ‘or better’ genre (but, unlike “Jacks”, we have not yet seen an online video poker version).

The same rules but different payout structure governs the “Bonus Poker” family. In “Bonus Poker”, four of a kind pay better than in “Jacks”, whereas in “Double Bonus Poker”, four Aces pay even better. In “Double Double Bonus Poker”, there are even more bonus payouts for different types of four of a kind hands. And so on…

Most of the remaining video poker machines only start rewarding hands of three of a kind or better; luckily, fewer winning hands generally implies larger payouts. Online video poker machines use this advantage, as well as the increased payouts and generally better odds that online casinos can offer, due to much lower overhead and a faster growing customer base compared to “real world” casinos.

Nearly as popular as the “Jacks” and “Bonus Poker” machines are the ‘wild card’ machines, such as Deuces Wild. Pairs alone cannot give you a win in these video poker machines, but they balance that lack with wild cards. These can theoretically generate hands such as Five of a Kind, or more frequent Royal Flush and other high-payout hands. “Anything’s Wild” allows the same function, but with a card of your choosing.

“Joker’s Wild” or “Joker Poker” alters the game even more drastically, utilizing wild card and also adding to the total number of cards. There is also a “Deuces and Jokers Wild” which makes possible a total of five wild cards and 53 cards in the deck. These games are quite popular among online video poker casinos, and several types of free online video poker machines with the “Joker” option can be found.