Is Video Poker A Game of Skill?

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Poker is considered one of the casino games where skill can influence outcomes. Slots are casino games where you have no control over an outcome. So, what of video poker – the game that combines the mechanics of both of these types of games?

Is video poker a game of skill or luck?

The short and unnuanced is that it is a game of luck because all gambling games are based on luck. Also, the game uses a random number generator. As such, previous outcomes don’t forewarn you about potential future outcomes, such as in blackjack or poker.

Still, you need to know how poker hands work to play video poker effectively. Is knowledge of a game’s rules enough to say that it is somewhat skill-based?

Let’s investigate!

is video poker a game of skill

Daniel Heighton /

Poker Vs. Video Poker Gameplay


There are three major ways poker allows for skill to influence outcomes. Firstly, if you are good at reading other players, you will regularly make accurate assumptions on the strength of their hand. Secondly, there are several betting rounds in regular poker. You can choose to cut your losses at any time if you think the game is going to end badly.

Finally, depending on the variation you play, there are certain inferences you can make with the cards publicly visible to all players about how the game might end.

The above gameplay dynamics highlight how you have to make decisions in poker that could influence the game’s outcome. The only way to get better at making these decisions is to practice, which means skill is a factor in regular poker.

Video Poker

In video poker, none of the above-mentioned poker gameplay dynamics exist. You click on the “deal” button and let the computer randomly spit out cards. Then, you have a moment to swop out some cards before pressing “deal” again to have those cards replaced. Your final payout is calculated based on your final hand.

There are no opportunities for strategic early exits or ways to manipulate your opponent. Once you have locked in your bet, there is no way of increasing or decreasing it. The fate of that bet is entirely dependent on the cards the computer gives you.

However, you are not completely at the mercy of an algorithm when deciding on your final hand. The fact that you can swap out cards gives you a chance to increase the winning hands you see in a game session.

video poker luck or skill

How Understanding Poker Rules Helps You in Video Poker

In video poker, you don’t have as much control over a game’s outcome as you do in regular poker. However, this does not mean that you don’t have any chance of increasing your gains via strategy.

Understanding how poker hands work and the rules of the video poker game you are playing is essential in giving yourself the best chance of winning.

Many people take this to mean that you won’t make dumb, rookie mistakes where you throw away a good hand because you didn’t know what poker hand combinations were. But this is not the only way that knowing poker rules helps you.

Knowledge of the rules allows you to recognize patterns in the game that may help you devise better playing strategies. You may learn that you have more success sticking to lower combinations than trying to hit big payout hands regularly.

You may also learn when you should be aiming to complete a full house or straight at the cost of losing your bet. Either way, a good knowledge of the rules can help you make better decisions, leading to more winning game sessions.

So, Is Video Poker a Game of Skill?

We wouldn’t outrightly say that video poker is a strong game of skill. At the end of the day, you’re still going to be at the mercy of a random number generator.

If the algorithm deals you a bad hand, a good knowledge of the rules won’t be able to turn a High Card into a Straight magically. You need to hope that the machine does that for you when you press “deal” again.

However, knowledge of the rules can definitely improve your chances of creating more winning hands, even if only slightly. But you only need to influence a game slightly to say that there is at least a small degree of skill involved. Not enough to say that the game isn’t gambling or luck-based, though.