Those who are even remotely familiar with poker rules will have no problem in playing video poker and having a minimal experience with slot games also helps. Video poker is a hybrid between the aforesaid games, as the mechanics are very similar to slots but players are in control and can improve their profit margin by playing optimal strategy.
The similarities to poker are numerous, because the hand strength is virtually identical, with a royal flush being at the top of the food chain while a pair is the weakest hand. Since most of the video poker games follow the rules of Jacks or Better, you will need at least a pair of jacks to cash in. In order to avoid any suspicions about the money players are eligible for, both brick-and-mortar and online casinos have potential payouts clearly displayed in a table.
Players bet in the same manner they do at slot games, by choosing the stakes before the hand is dealt and then decide which cards to keep and which to discard. This is where strategy kicks in, because players are supposed to keep three of a kind while discarding the other two cards in an attempt of making four of a kind. It is widely accepted that pairs shouldn't be folded as the main concern for players should be to offset the initial investment and win small pots often rather than aiming for the top payouts.
Breaking flushes or straights for a chance to make a royal flush is usually a mistake with the exception being provided by those occasions when you have four connected cards. Some video poker variants have progressive jackpot, which makes it worthwhile to take a leap of faith and hope to hit the only out left. On the other hand, it is always a mistake to draw for an inside straight and risk-averse players are also advised to avoid open ended straights.
Video poker games are rather linear and once you decide what strategy to follow, there won't be any differences between consecutive games. Players can choose to bet the same amount all the time or they can readjust the stakes after each game. Those who stick to the optimal strategy and don't take unnecessary chances are very likely to decrease the house edge to less than 2%. Over the Internet, casinos run video poker games that pay above 95%, but the profit margin can be further boosted.
Depending on your game of choice, you might be provided with the opportunity to double up after winning a hand. Essentially, players can choose to collect their winnings or continue with a double or nothing play.
If they choose the latter, they will be asked to pick a card out of five and hope that its value will be higher than the dealer's corresponding card. At least in theory the odds for this to happen are 50%, so it is entirely up the player whether to pursue bigger profits or collect a smaller, yet certain amount.