Video Poker Bonuses

How to Score Online Casino Bonuses by Playing Video Poker

Introduction

One of the best ways to subsidize your video poker play while chasing those big Royal Flush jackpots is to take advantage of your favorite online casino’s bonus program.

If you’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of online casino bonuses for video poker – or you simply want to learn a little more about this lucrative bankroll booster – the guide below is for you.

What Are Video Poker Bonuses and How Do They Work?

In the online gambling industry, the term “Bonus” typically refers to additional funds put into your account by the house. These funds don’t come from your bank account, credit card, or cryptocurrency wallet, they’re just freebies handed out based on various circumstances.

For the most part, video poker fans will have three basic Bonus types to choose from as they embark on their next jackpot hunting excursion.

Different Types of Video Poker Bonuses

The top online casino platforms out there like to lavish their new players with Welcome Bonuses tied to your initial deposit. The terms and conditions can vary between different sites, but in essence, a deposit bonus takes your initial transaction and multiplies your money so you start off with extra dough to work with.

Let’s say the platform is running a 100 percent Welcome Bonus promotion on first deposits, up to $500. In this case, a player depositing $100 to start their virtual video poker bankroll would have that amount doubled at a 100 percent multiple to begin play with $200. You have the $100 you deducted from your debit card or cryptocurrency account, plus a free $100 match bonus on top for a $200 total starting bankroll.

And if you feel like upping the ante, you could deposit $500 to earn the maximum 100 percent match of $500 – good for a $1,000 total starting bankroll.

So far, so good right?

Well, it gets even better when you’re playing at a top-rated online casino that knows how to treat its regulars like royalty. These sites follow up on first deposit Welcome Bonuses by offering Reload Bonuses, which use the same percentage match system on subsequent deposits.

In other words, when the time comes to top off your bankroll with a second deposit, you can still score a generous match – typically in the 50 percent to 100 percent range.

Reload Bonuses are a great resource for video poker players, because you can restock your arsenal of betting ammunition at a discount. Maybe you know betting parameters require something like $250 at the $1.25 max-bet level to give yourself enough flexibility to survive the swings of variance. Using a 100 percent match reload bonus, you only have to deposit $125 to reach your preferred starting bankroll threshold.

The other form of online casino bonus which has quickly become a fan favorite among video poker enthusiasts is known as a No Deposit Bonus.

In this case, the house simply rewards your regular play with a “comp” just like the brick and mortar casinos in Sin City. When you’ve satisfied certain benchmarks – playing a certain number of hands in a given period of time, perhaps – the site will send you a few bonus bucks out of the blue.

You might be suffering through a particularly tough downswing when it comes to the deck, but opening your account to find $25 from a surprise No Deposit Bonus is always a treat.

What to Watch Out for with Video Poker Bonuses

(some bonuses are only for slots, some have 10 times higher play through, etc.)

Now that you know about the benefits of video poker bonuses, it’s time to delve deeper into the elements of this promotion that players need to watch out for.

Before you make that initial deposit for a Welcome Bonus, or whip out your debit card for a quick Reload Bonus, always be sure to read the online casino’s terms and conditions.

Take a look below for an example of these terms and conditions found on one of the world’s leading online casinos:

  • Once the bonus code has been redeemed, players must meet the playthrough requirements before being able to redeem the code again.
  • Only activity following the bonus code redemption counts towards fulfilling the rollover requirements.
  • The deposit plus bonus amount is subject to a 25X playthrough requirement before the deposit, bonus amount and any winnings can be withdrawn.
  • Forfeiting this bonus will result in this bonus and any subsequent winnings associated with this bonus to be removed.
  • Bonus funds cannot be used for play on Live Dealer games.
  • Craps and Live Dealer play do not count toward meeting rollover requirements for withdrawal.
  • All games, except Craps and Live Dealer, contribute towards playthrough requirements; however, certain games may have a greater contribution than others. For more information please view our wagering contribution.

As you can see, there’s a ton to sort through when it comes to video poker bonus terms and conditions, so I’ll break things down.

The term “playthrough requirement” – which you’ll also see as “rollover requirement” at many online casinos – refers to the amount of wagering a player must put in before their bonus funds are released. That may seem like a classic bait and switch, but when you think it through, requiring playthrough / rollover is common sense for online casino operators.

They’re not giving you the free funds to buy groceries or fill up your gas tank, after all. The bonus funds are designed as an incentive to keep you playing your favorite video poker variants.

You can still withdrawal the funds eventually of course, these aren’t vouchers that can only be used on the site – you simply have to place a sufficient number of wagers to unlock the bonus funds for eventual withdrawal.

Here’s how it works…

Let’s say the playthrough / rollover requirement is listed as 25x, as per the terms and conditions above. That means you’ll take the total amount of your deposit (for the Welcome or Reload bonus types), or the total bonus amount (for No Deposit Bonuses), and multiply that figure by 25.

Thus, for a $100 deposit matched at 100 percent, the $200 total creates a $5,000 playthrough / rollover requirement.

Put plainly, until you place $5,000 in wagers, that additional $100 in bonus money will be “locked in” as playable only funds. You’ll be free to use the money for wagering purposes across the online casino’s menu, but until you satisfy the playthrough / rollover requirement, only your initial $100 deposit and subsequent winnings will be withdrawable.

At first glance, asking a player to bet $5,000 just to unlock $100 in bonus funds might seem a bit ridiculous. But just picture a typical video poker session to see how attainable these requirements really are.

If you’re a quarter stakes Jacks or Better player who max-bets for $1.25 per hand, grinding out 20 hands puts you at $25 in total wagers. And as any video poker aficionado knows well, putting in 20 hands can be accomplished in a few minutes at most.

All told, a $1.25 max-bet player only needs to play 4,000 hands to hit the 25x playthrough / rollover requirement. Assuming you play one hand every 5 seconds – a pace many proficient players can easily sustain while still applying strict basic strategy – you’ll complete 12 hands per minute.

Stretch things out over an hour’s time and you’ll have roughly 720 hands in the books. Thus, a player starting after breakfast can reach their playthrough / rollover requirement in this example by lunch after just 5 and a half hours of play.

Another element of the fine print to watch out for is the different percentages applied to playthrough / rollover requirements for different games.

To get a better sense of how this process works, check out the table below:

Wagering Contributions                                                                   Percentage Contribution

Slots, Specialty Games (all types)                                                       100 percent

Table Games (unless stated otherwise)                                             60 percent

Video Poker (all types) & Blackjack (unless stated otherwise)          30 percent

Single Deck & Double Deck Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat                5 percent

Craps & Live Dealer (all types)                                                           0 percent

As you can see, slot players at this particular online casino platform have it good, as every penny they put in play counts towards their playthrough / rollover requirements. Table game players see 20 cents of every $1 wagered applied, while video poker players will have 10 cents on the dollar applied.

Remember, these contribution rates and other wrinkles in the rules vary wildly from site to site, so never initiate a bonus offer without first reading the terms and conditions page closely.

If video poker is your game of choice, look for the online casino operators that increase the game’s contribution rate to higher levels. And naturally, always avoid the platforms where video poker only contributes a tiny percentage to the requirement needed to unlock a bonus.

The Best Variants for Video Poker Bonus Playthrough

For the most part, when it comes to contributing to playthrough / rollover requirements, online casino bonus programs lump all of the video poker variants together into one category.

But that doesn’t mean all video poker games play the same for bonus hunters…

The name of the game here is speed and efficiency, because the faster you can hit your playthrough / rollover obligations, the sooner your bonus funds – and their associated winnings – will be unlocked for withdrawal.

With that in mind, you’ll want to stick to games like Jacks or Better and “Not So Ugly Ducks” (NSUD) Deuces Wild while pursuing your playthrough / rollover quest.

The reason these two video poker classics stand out from the crowd is twofold.

First, Jacks or Better (99.54 percent) and NSUD Deuces Wild (99.73 percent) carry extremely high payback percentages when you play according to basic strategy. The house edge on these variants comes to a slim 0.46 percent and 0.27 percent, respectively, which means perfect basic strategy players can almost reach the breakeven point in terms of expected return probability over the long run.

And when you’re trying to clear video poker bonus playthrough / rollover benchmarks, the long run is really what counts. Remember, you’ll need to grind through hundreds or thousands of hands – depending on your deposit size and the site’s specific requirements – to unlock video poker bonuses.

Knowing this, identifying games with the highest possible payback rate, and the lowest possible house edge, is the best approach from a strategic standpoint.

And speaking of strategy, that brings us to the second reason why Jacks or Better and NSUD Deuces Wild should be the preferred vehicle for unlocking video poker bonuses.

Both games utilize basic strategy charts that are relatively easy to learn, memorize, and master. In order to realize those theoretical payback percentage rates listed above, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of basic strategy for your favorite video poker game cold. This knowledge serves you well by bringing your payback percentage to their peak, but it also gives you a great chance to stretch your bankroll out over an extended session.

Think about it like this… would you rather memorize the 39-point basic strategy chart for Double Double Bonus video poker, or the chart for Jacks or Better that cuts things down to just 16 guidelines?

When the goal is clearing bonuses by hitting playthrough / rollover requirements, Jacks or Better and NSUD Deuces Wild combine high payback percentages with relatively simple basic strategy charts to form a perfect recipe.

On that note, don’t forget to check out the tables below to learn basic strategy for every possible hand / draw scenario found in Jacks or Better and NSUD Deuces Wild:

Jacks or Better Basic Strategy

RANK              STARTING HAND(S) / DRAW(S)                                OPTIMAL PLAY

1)                     Four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush                    Hold pat hand

2)                     Four cards to a royal flush                                          Draw one card

3)                     Three of a kind, straight, flush, full house                  Hold pat hand

4)                     Four cards to a straight flush                                      Draw one card

5)                     Two pair                                                                      Draw one card

6)                     One high pair (Jacks or better)                                   Draw three cards

7)                     Three cards to a royal flush                                        Draw two cards

8)                     Four cards to a flush                                                   Draw one card

9)                     One low pair (Tens or lower)                                     Draw three cards

10)                   Four cards to open-ended straight                             Draw one card

11)                   Two suited high cards (Jack or higher)                       Draw three cards

12)                   Three cards to a straight flush                                   Draw two cards

13)                   Two unsuited high cards*                                           Draw three cards

*When you have three unsuited high cards, hold the lowest two discard the others

14)                   Suited J-10, Q-10, or K-10                                           Draw three cards

15)                   One high card                                                             Draw four cards

16)                   Five unconnected low cards                                       Draw five cards

Deuces Wild Basic Strategy Chart

STRENGTH      STARTING HAND(S) / DRAW(S)                                OPTIMAL PLAY

Three Deuces             

1)                     Royal flush                                                                  Hold pat hand

2)                     Straight flush                                                               Hold pat hand

3)                     Four-card royal flush draw                                         Draw one

4)                     Four-card straight flush draw                                     Draw one

5)                     Three of a kind, straight, or flush                               Hold pat hand

6)                     Three deuces only                                                       Draw two

Two Deuces

1)                     Pat four of a kind or better                                         Hold pat hand

2)                     Four-card royal flush draw                                         Draw one

3)                     Four-card straight flush draw                                     Draw one

4)                     Three of a kind, straight, or flush                               Hold pat hand

5)                     Two deuces only                                                         Draw three

One Deuce

1)                     Any pat four of a kind or better                                  Hold pat hand

2)                     Four-card royal flush draw                                         Draw one

3)                     Full house                                                                    Hold pat hand

4)                     Four cards to straight flush                                         Draw one

5)                     Three of a kind, straight, or flush                               Hold pat hand

6)                     Four-card straight flush draw                                     Draw one

7)                     Three-card royal flush            draw                                        Draw two

8)                     Three-card straight flush draw                                   Draw two

9)                     One deuce only                                                           Draw four

No Deuces

1)                     Royal flush                                                                  Hold pat hand

2)                     Four-card royal flush draw                                         Draw one

3)                     Three of a kind through straight flush                        Hold pat hand

4)                     Four-card straight flush draw                                     Draw one

5)                     Three-card royal flush draw                                       Draw two

6)                     One pair                                                                      Draw three

7)                     Four-card flush draw                                                  Draw one

8)                     Four-card open-ended straight draw                         Draw one

9)                     Three-card straight flush draw                                   Draw two

10)                   Four-card inside straight draw                                   Draw one

11)                   Two cards to a royal flush; Q-J high                           Draw three

Video Poker Bonus Glossary

Below you’ll find a few need-to-know definitions for commonly used terms and phrases encountered when exploring the world of video poker bonuses:

Deposit Bonus: Any bonus that is awarded after players make a real money deposit. These bonuses are typically issued as percentage matches (50 percent, 100 percent, etc.) relative to the deposit amount.

Playthrough Requirement: A predetermined number of wagers – usually expressed as a multiple (20x, 25x, etc.) of the combined deposit + bonus match amount – that players must make before their bonus funds and associated winnings are “unlocked” for withdrawal.

No Deposit Bonus: Any bonus that is awarded without a deposit being made first. No Deposit Bonuses are often issued when your account balance dips below a certain point, or when you’ve redeemed “Player Points” for bonus funds.

Reload Bonus: A form of Deposit Bonus which is attached to second, third, and subsequent deposits (known as “reloads”) made after you’ve funded your account for the first time. Reload Bonuses often come with smaller percentage matches when compared to Welcome Bonus offers.

Rollover Requirement: See “Playthrough Requirement.”

Terms and Conditions: The fine print page where online casinos tend to explain the intricate details of their bonus program. Players should always be sure to check the terms and conditions page before depositing for a bonus, as important caveats on playthrough / rollover requirements, wagering contributions, and other essential information will usually be found here.

Wagering Contribution: When players are in the process of clearing their playthrough / rollover requirement to unlock a bonus, different game types carry different wagering contribution rates. Slot players might see 100 percent of their total wagers contributed to the playthrough / rollover obligation, while video poker players will only have 30 percent of every dollar bet contributed.

Welcome Bonus: A form of Deposit Bonus offered to new players signing up with an online casino for the first time. When you make your initial deposit with a new site, the Welcome Bonus typically awards a percentage match of 100 percent, but many platforms up the ante to 200 percent or higher on their Welcome Bonus offers.

Resources for Video Poker Bonus Hunters

If you’re a video poker player who loves nothing more than unlocking an online casino’s latest bonus, look no further than the list of useful resources below:

vpFREE2 Video Poker Database (https://www.vpfree2.com/): The fine folks at vpFREE2 have endeavored to build a one-stop shop for video poker players looking to bring their game to the next level. Here you’ll find detailed pay table breakdowns to differentiate between optimal and suboptimal games, strategy breakdowns designed for both beginners and experts, and a handy searchable database tool that helps you locate the best games around.

“Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner” (2009) by Bob Dancer (https://www.amazon.com/Video-Poker-Intelligent-Beginner-Dancer/dp/0929712552): Recognized as the video poker specialist’s “Bible” for a decade running, “Video Poker for the Intelligent Beginner” might just be Bob Dancer’s masterpiece. Dancer is a consummate pro -best known for winning more than $1 million alongside his wife and playing partner during a glorious run in Las Vegas’ video poker heyday – and he lays it all on the line in this well-written, easy to read book for beginners.

Wizard of Odds Video Poker Page (https://wizardofodds.com/games/video-poker/): Run by casino game inventor and analyst Michael Shackleford, the “Wizard of Odds” site is a goldmine for any casino player who appreciates skill and strategy. On the Wizard’s video poker section, you’ll find detailed basic strategy charts for every variant under the sun, along with probabilities for every hand and draw, house edge and payback percentage rates, and so much more.