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Why Does “Retro” Video Poker Remain So Popular?

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Video Poker remains one of the most ubiquitous casino games, both online and offline. While many casino games, like roulette and blackjack, can stretch their histories back for decades, it does remain remarkable that video poker remains so popular.

If you find yourself having a drink at the bar at a Vegas casino, you’ll probably see a video poker machine embedded into the bar top. And, of course, online casinos worth their salt will always carry a large selection of video poker games in their repertoire.

But let’s face it: video poker is unashamedly retro. Some of the graphics of the games, particularly those you find in land-based casinos, look like they have been created for a 1980s Atari gaming system. The games are literally two-dimensional.

And yet, that is also part of the attraction. Video poker games are appealing due to their simplicity. That’s one of the reasons those games are placed in the bartops away from the main casino floor. There is no need for a complicated strategy or even to think too much. Just have a drink, relax, and play a few hands.

Classic games never go out of fashion

Of course, we can point to more tangible reasons for its popularity, but it’s hard to let go of the fact that players do enjoy the simplicity. In much the same way as people still enjoy Tetris or Candy Crush when more sophisticated gaming experiences are available. Simple ideas that are well executed never really go out of fashion.

As mentioned, there are more tangible reasons for video poker’s continued popularity. For a start, the games usually have a much higher RTP (Return to Player) than typical ‘virtual’ casino games. All titles vary, of course, but you can often find video poker games with an RTP of over 99%. By comparison, online European roulette has an RTP of 97.30%, and most slot games have a lower RTP than that.

Now, while it’s agreed that a higher RTP is better for players, it’s not the only thing that determines their choices. Video poker can have huge prizes, sometimes deceptively so. Most often, the top prize in a video poker game is a ‘natural’ royal flush, and it can be worth anything from 250X to 10,000X your bet, depending on the variant. You can’t really get those kinds of payouts with games like roulette or blackjack. And, in fact, it’s even difficult to find slot games with 10,000X potential, with the exception of progressive jackpot slots.

A good starting point for new poker players

Can video poker be used for training for the real deal, i.e., real live poker? If you are an experienced player, you’re probably not going to learn much. But for newbies who don’t know their Aces from their Deuces, well, it might be worth playing a few hands, even in demo mode if you don’t want to risk any real money. It can help players get familiar with the rhythm of the game, and teach them something about risk management.


For balance, we should say that a lot of newer online casinos are eschewing video poker, and it’s not abundantly clear as to why. Established casinos will have had video poker games from the get-go, and there’s likely to be an army of players loyal to the games. But if you check out newer casino sites, so much of the focus goes on slots, and there is often a lot to be desired when it comes to virtual table and card games.

But for our money, video poker is here to stay. The 2D graphics might look like they have been programmed in the 1980s, but it’s a game that keeps things simple, and that can really pack a punch. We will probably be playing it 20, 30 years from now, and we guess that a lot of folks will be doing the same.

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