Video Poker and Slots: Similarities and Differences

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Video poker and slots are two of the most popular casino games, enjoyed by millions of players worldwide. While both games share some similarities, such as their electronic and fast-paced nature, appearance, and presence in online and land-based casinos, they also have distinct differences in gameplay, strategy, odds, and payouts.

In this article, we’ll explore the nuances of video poker and slots to help you understand what sets them apart and which game might suit you the best.


At a glance, video poker and slots may appear quite similar. Both games are played on electronic screens with interactive elements and a row of symbols. In Video Poker, these symbols are cards, while slot machines can have any imaginable type.

Furthermore, they can be found in both online and brick-and-mortar casinos, offering a variety of themes, variations, and stakes to cater to different players’ interests and budgets. Moreover, both games rely on random number generators to determine the outcome of each round, ensuring fair and unbiased results.


Despite their surface-level similarities, video poker and slots have several fundamental differences that set them apart.


Video poker is based on the classic game of five-card draw poker. Players are dealt a hand of five cards and must decide which cards to hold or discard to create the best possible poker hand. The game requires knowledge of poker hand rankings and the ability to make strategic decisions.

In contrast, slots are based on the simple concept of spinning reels with various symbols. Players win if the reels form a winning combination of symbols, with no skill or decision-making required.


While both games involve elements of chance, video poker allows for a significant degree of skill and strategy. Players can use their knowledge of probability, poker hand rankings, and optimal play to reduce the house edge in the game and increase their chances of winning. By making informed decisions about which cards to hold or discard, players can minimize their losses and maximize their winnings over time.

Slots, on the other hand, are primarily based on luck, with no real strategy involved beyond managing your bankroll and choosing games with favorable payout percentages.

Odds and Payouts

One of the most significant advantages of video poker is its relatively low house edge compared to slots. With perfect, strategic play, some video poker variations like All Aces by Microgaming can have a house edge as low as 0.08%. This means that skilled players can expect to lose less than a tenth of a percent of their bets on average.

This is in stark contrast to slots, which typically have house edges ranging from 2% to 5%, depending on the specific game and casino. As a result, video poker often offers better odds and chances of ending a gambling session in profit for players who take the time to learn and employ optimal strategies. Like everything in the world, these optimal strategies are, of course, readily available to be found online.

However, it’s important to note that the maximum win potential in video poker is generally much lower than in slots. In most video poker games, the highest payout is usually 800 times the player’s bet for a royal flush, which occurs approximately once every 40,000 hands on average.

In comparison, slot machines often have maximum win potentials that are significantly higher, ranging from 1,000 times to over 100,000 times the player’s bet, depending on the game and its features.


Video poker is a highly interactive game that requires constant decision-making and engagement from the player. Each hand presents a unique puzzle to solve, keeping players mentally stimulated and invested in the outcome. This level of interaction can make video poker more appealing to players who enjoy a challenge and the opportunity to exercise their skills.

Slots, in comparison, are largely passive and require no interaction beyond pressing the spin button. While some players may enjoy the simplicity and relaxation of slots, others may find them less engaging or rewarding.

Video Poker: A Closer Look

Video poker has been a staple of casinos since the 1970s, combining the strategic elements of poker with the convenience and speed of slot machines. The most common video poker variation is Jacks or Better, where players need at least a pair of jacks to win.

Other popular video poker variations include Deuces Wild (where twos act as wild cards), Bonus Poker (which offers higher payouts for certain hands), and Joker Poker (which includes a joker as a wild card).

To excel at video poker, players must familiarize themselves with the game’s pay tables, which outline the payouts for each winning poker hand. 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 strength of the initial hand, as well as understanding the probability of drawing certain cards to complete winning hands.

For example, in Jacks or Better, a royal flush (the highest possible hand) typically pays out 800 times the bet for a five-coin bet, while a straight flush pays out 50x. By understanding these payouts and the probability of making each hand, players can make decisions about which cards to hold or discard, maximizing their expected value over time.

Slots: A Closer Look

Slot machines have come a long way since their invention in the late 19th century. Today, casinos offer a dizzying array of slot games, from classic three-reel machines to modern video slots with five or more reels, multiple paylines, and elaborate bonus features and mechanics. Not to mention grid-like slots and other innovative designs that go beyond the conventional slot machine.

One of the main appeals of slots is their potential for big wins, particularly in progressive jackpot games where a small stake of $0.2 could result in a $10 million jackpot prize. However, there are also many non-jackpot games that can pay stunning amounts these days, such as the Tombstone RIP slot which can pay 300,000 times the amount you bet.

Of course, it’s important to remember that the odds of hitting a progressive jackpot or any other massive win are extremely low. But it does happen.

While slots are primarily a game of chance, there are a few tips that can help players make the most of their experience. First, it’s crucial to understand the pay tables and bonus features of each game, as these can greatly impact the overall entertainment value.

Secondly, knowing the slot machine’s return to player percentage and volatility will help you understand the risk versus reward ratio of it and how profitable or money-draining it is in the long run.

Players should also take advantage of slot bonuses and promotions, such as welcome bonuses, free spins, and loyalty programs, which can provide extra value and extend playing time.


In conclusion, while video poker and slots share some superficial similarities, they are fundamentally different games that cater to different types of players. Video poker appeals to those who enjoy a more strategic, skill-based experience, with the potential for lower house edges and better long-term payouts. Slots, on the other hand, are ideal for players who prefer a simpler, more relaxed gaming experience, with the chance of hitting big wins in a short period.

Ultimately, the choice between video poker and slots comes down to personal preference, goals, and playing style. Some players may enjoy the challenge and interactivity of video poker, while others may prefer the laid-back, entertaining nature of slots. By understanding the key differences between these two popular casino games, you can decide which game best suits your needs and expectations.