Similarities and Differences Between Slots and Video Poker

Similarities and Differences Between Slots and Video Poker online

Slots and video poker are two of the most popular forms of entertainment in casinos worldwide.

Both games are favored by millions for their electronic and fast-paced nature.

They are readily available at almost every online casino and land-based establishment, and at first glance, they look pretty much the same.

However, while they share some similarities, significant differences in gameplay, strategic approach, odds, and potential winnings set the games apart.

Let’s have a closer look at this!

Common Ground

Video poker and slots are both played on electronic machines with interactive elements and display a series of symbols on a screen.

In video poker, these symbols are represented as cards, while slots may feature a wide array of symbols ranging from fruits to fantastical characters, historic objects, and more depending on the game’s theme.

Both video poker and slots are prevalent in online and land-based casinos and come in many different variations that cater to a diverse audience.

Additionally, both games use random number generators (RNGs) to ensure that each outcome is entirely random and fair.

Where They Diverge

Although video poker and slots might appear similar at first glance, they exhibit significant differences in gameplay, strategy, and potential payouts.

Gameplay Differences

Video poker is derived from the traditional game of five-card draw poker.

It’s a simple game where the objective is to make the best possible hand, normally ranging from a pair of jacks or better to a royal straight flush.

Several variations exist, introducing wild cards and a different paytable. However, all in all, the different variations are very similar to one another.

In contrast, slots can be both simple and very complex. These games come in a heap of different variations, some of which significantly changes up the gameplay.

In slots, players spin reels adorned with a variety of symbols, from classic fruits to elaborate thematic icons.

In traditional slots, winning sequences are formed by landing identical symbols on a payline that spans from left to right.

However, win mechanics can vary widely. For instance, in cluster pay slots there are no reels. Instead, you’ll find a grid of symbols where winning sequences are made by having identical symbols connect vertically and horizontally.

Moreover, slots offer hundreds of different bonus games that set the experience apart from video poker where no such features exist.

Strategy and Skill

The strategic depth of video poker surpasses that of slots. It not only involves understanding hand rankings but also mastering the probabilities of drawing specific hands.

This knowledge lets the player influence the game’s outcome significantly. Strategic play in video poker can drastically lower the house edge and increase the chance of making a profit. Thus, it is a game where skill plays a crucial role.

Conversely, slots offer minimal strategic engagement. The player’s involvement is mostly limited to choosing games based on their return to player (RTP) rate or the game’s volatility.

In difference to video pokers, the RTP and house edge in slot machines can rarely be altered as players have no option to play the slots in different ways, such as a hand in video poker can.

Odds and Payouts

Video poker is known for its favorable odds, particularly when players apply optimal strategies. Some video poker variations boast a house edge as low as 0.08%, allowing players with the right skills to nearly break even over time. This is rarely possible in other forms of casino gaming.

On the other hand, slots tend to have higher house edges, typically between 2% and 5%. This range means that players are more likely to lose money over time.

However, the allure of slots lies in their potential for massive payouts. The average slot can pay up to 10,000 times your stake, while some go as high as 300,000x.

Video Poker, on the other hand, normally has a maximum payout of 800x, which is rewarded when a royal straight flush is made – the best possible hand.

Interaction and Engagement

Video poker demands constant interaction and mental engagement from the player. Each new hand poses a different challenge, requiring players to analyze their cards, which keeps the game dynamic and intellectually stimulating.

Slots, however, offer a more relaxed gaming experience. They require little from the player beyond pressing the spin button and waiting for the outcome.

A Closer Look at Both Games

Video Poker

Since its emergence in the 1970s, video poker has combined the strategic elements of poker with the speed of slot machines. Popular variations include Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, and Joker Poker.

To excel at video poker, players must familiarize themselves with the game’s pay tables, which outline the payouts for each hand. This paytable is slightly different between different variations.

For instance, in Jacks or Better, a pair of Jacks is the minimum requirement to win, while Deuces Wild only pays for a three-of-a-kind or better.

By identifying games with favorable pay tables and employing optimal strategies, players can significantly reduce the house edge and improve their long-term results.

This involves learning which cards to hold or discard based on the initial hand’s strength and the probability of drawing certain cards to complete a winning poker hand.

For instance, in Jacks or Better, a flush pays out 6 times the bet, while a three-of-a-kind pays 3x. Depending on the cards dealt to you, you must, based on the probabilities of making each hand, evaluate which is the best hand to go for.

That said, you will find cheat charts online that tell you exactly which the best decision is for each hand you start with.

Slot Machines

Slot machines have undergone a remarkable transformation since their inception in the late 19th century.

Today, they range from classic three-reel machines to cutting-edge video slots featuring five or more reels, unique win mechanics and complex bonus systems. Additionally, innovative designs like grid-like slots break the traditional mold.

The allure of slot machines lies predominantly in their potential for substantial payouts. Progressive jackpot games, for example, can turn a modest bet of $0.20 into a staggering $10 million prize.

Even non-progressive slots, like the Tombstone RIP slot, offer substantial payouts, with potential winnings up to 300,000 times the stake.

While the likelihood of hitting these massive jackpots remains low, the possibility of such life-changing sums continues to draw players.

Despite their reliance on luck, certain factors will shape the slot-playing experience. Understanding the pay tables and the bonus features of each game is crucial to getting the most entertainment out of it.

Furthermore, being aware of a slot machine’s Return to Player (RTP) percentage and its volatility can help players gauge the risk and potential profitability over time.

Players can also maximize their returns and get extended playtime through various slot bonuses and promotions such as welcome bonuses, free spins, and loyalty programs.


While video poker and slots share a digital facade, they cater to different player preferences.

Video poker appeals to those who enjoy strategic, skill-based, and monotonous gameplay with more consistent payouts and lower house edges.

Slots are suited for players who prefer a more varied playstyle and luck-based gameplay with the potential for massive payouts.

Understanding these differences is essential for choosing the game that best fits your gambling style and goals.