Video Poker is probably the simplest interactive gambling game now available. It is an interactive game because you can choose which cards you will keep and which cards you will throw away in the draw. Its simplicity lies in the easy-to-understand rules of the Five Card Draw poker game. I will therefore begin with a short explanation of Five Card Draw, and then expand on how this applies to Video Poker.
In the Five Card Draw poker game you are first dealt five cards. You then have the choice of keeping any or all of them, or throwing away any or all of them. For each card you throw away, you get another to replace it. The object is to improve your "hand" [the final set of five cards you decide to keep] and make it into a winning hand. This is the format currently used as the basis for the computer program that runs virtually all Video Poker machines.
On such Video Poker machines, you begin play by inserting your coins in the slot. Almost all Video Poker machines take from one to five coins. The only exceptions are $5, $25 and $100 Video Poker machines, which can take two or three coins as "maximum". You can only win the jackpot, the top prizes by playing the maximum coins allowed on the machine you are playing.
Once you deposit the maximum coins, the machine automatically deals you the first five cards, displaying them on the machine's screen. If you play fewer than maximum coins, you must hit a lit button labeled "deal". The machine will then deal you the same five cards you would have been dealt if you had played the maximum coins, because that set of cards is determined by the machine's program immediately after the first coin is deposited in the slot. Depositing further coins will not alter these five cards, therefore further coins are played solely to increase the potential amounts of money to be paid out by the machine if a winning hand is achieved after the draw.
After you receive the first five cards, a row of buttons on the machine lights up, usually with the word "hold" written on each button. These buttons are used to keep the cards you wish to hold. There are five of these hold buttons, one for each of the five cards you have been dealt.
Normally, these hold buttons are directly underneath each card, making it easy to see which cards you are selecting. By pressing any one of these hold buttons, the word "held" will appear above or below the corresponding card. This means that you have selected to retain this card as part of your hand, and when you take the next step in playing this hand, the machine will keep this card on the screen. In effect, you have selected to keep this card. Pushing the button simply tells the machine what your decision is.
You can hold any one, two, three, four or all five cards, as you wish. Once you have selected the cards you wish to hold, you must press the deal button to continue the hand. The machine then keeps the cards you selected and throws away the rest, immediately dealing you replacement cards for the ones you didn't hold. If the combination makes a winning hand, the machine pays you automatically and the hand is over. Most modern machines pay on "credits", with the number of credits you have won typically displayed either at the bottom right hand corner, or the top left hand corner of the Video screen. For instance, if your win is five coins, these machines will indicate the win by displaying the word "winner" and running up the amount of five coins on the "credit meter".
After the credits are paid, the words "player paid five" will usually appear on the screen, and this message will stay displayed until the next hand is played. Of course, if you win 30 coins, this message will say "player paid 30", and so on. You can then play the next hand by using your credits. Simply press the "bet" button, once for one coin, twice for two coins, and so on; or you can touch the "play maximum coins" button, in which case the machine will automatically take five credits, the normal maximum bet for most machines, and automatically deal the next game. The whole process is then repeated over and over each time you press this "play credits" button until your credits are gone, or until you decide to collect them.
With the credit meter option, the machine will pay the amount of your win to the credit meter each time you win. Each time you lose, the credits you used to play with are gone, lost in the same way your coins would have been lost on a losing hand if you had inserted coins in the slot. If you have credits left on the credit meter and wish to collect them, you can do this at any time after the current hand is completed simply by pressing the button marked "collect". The machine will pay you by dropping your coins in the tray mounted below the machine.