Video poker has been a favourite of Canadian casino gamblers for decades. Super high return-to-player percentages and ease of play make for the game’s unwavering appeal. It’s an exciting amalgamation of slots and poker that juxtaposes elements of skill and luck.
All video poker games are based on five-card draw, one of poker’s simplest variations. The rules are easy to pick up and understand, even for an absolute novice. However, it takes time to master the optimum strategy necessary to achieve an RTP of over 99%.
There are different versions of video poker, each with a distinct set of rules and pay tables that may change the ideal strategy. The information on this page can be a jumping-off point to learn about each variation. We’ll also recommend some online casinos where you can practice your newly acquired knowledge for free.
How to play video poker for free
There are several platforms where you can play video poker without spending a dime. By playing for virtual money, you’ll have a no-commitment option to scope out the game’s nuances and work out the strategy. Here’s a quick run-through on how to play video poker for free:
- Go to an online casino that offers demo mode. Most top-tier gambling sites that operate in Canada have this option available, including DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars.
- Sign up for an account. In most Canadian online casinos, you’ll need to register and log in to play for free. You can set everything up within minutes.
- Open the game library. When you enter the game lobby, go to the page that lists video poker options. When you hover your cursor over a title, you’ll see the buttons for launching the game for real money or in demo mode (if available).
- Fire up the practice mode. Clicking or tapping the demo button will bring up the instant-play demo mode. Once the game loads, you’ll receive some site (demo) credits that have no monetary value. When you use them all up, just reload the page, and the amount will reset.
Alternatively, you can visit sweepstakes casinos like Chumba, Funzpoints and LuckyLand, although their video poker selections will be less diverse (if available at all).
Free video poker games
Over the years, numerous variations of video poker have emerged, each adding twists to the classic version from Dale Electronics in the 1970s. Some offer multiple denominations based on their flush and full house payouts. It would take an eternity to go over each type of video poker, so we’ve whittled it down to the six most common variations:
- Jacks or Better — Jacks or Better is the original video poker variation, and it’s the most prevalent version in online casinos. It’s based on regular five-card draw poker. As the name suggests, the player needs to achieve at least a pair of jacks to score a payout. The better the hand, the bigger payout. The full-pay variant (9/6) comes with a theoretical RTP of 99.54%, but it’s rarely available nowadays.
- Deuces Wild — In a popularity contest, the Deuces Wild video poker game would come in as the runner-up. In this version, the four 2s act as wilds that can substitute for other cards and help form winning combinations or improve existing ones. The trade-off comes in lower returns. For instance, if your royal flush includes one or more wild cards, the payout will be lower than a natural royal flush (without the wilds). Full pay Deuces Wild offers a 100.9% RTP for perfect play, but this is a calculation based on a vast number of hands.
- Double Bonus Poker — All “bonus” variants offer boosted payouts for specific hand combinations. The Double Bonus version offers an extra payoff for four of a kind. It awards 160x the stake for a hand of four aces. The RTP percentage in the 10/7 iteration of Double Bonus Poker is 100.17%, with optimal strategy.
- Ultimate X Poker — Ultimate X is IGT’s video poker mini platform that consists of several game variations in standard and “Ultimate X” modes. With the latter, you’ll have the option of activating the bonus feature, which will multiply any winning hands. It is more suitable for high rollers since there is a premium — you have to pay a double stake to qualify for the multiplier.
- Joker Poker — A Jacks or Better spin-off with a few tweaks. Most notably, the joker card is part of the deck, counting as a wild card. To qualify for a payout in this version, you need to form at least a pair of kings. The potential RTP on the full-pay variant reaches 100.64%.
- Game King — Game King is a multi-game video poker console available in retail and online casinos in Canada. This one-size-fits-all platform consists of nine video poker variants, including niche options like Triple Double Bonus Poker.
What are the benefits of playing video poker for free?
While you may not get the same thrill playing free video poker as you would with real cash, there are some advantages:
- Learn the fundamentals: The sheer number and variety of video poker games can be overwhelming. Each version comes with specific rules and paytables and requires a different approach to realize the maximum RTP. This information can be a lot to take in for a rookie. With free play, you can work on the strategy at your own pace without committing any cash.
- Understand the payouts for each variation: As previously stated, each video poker variation demands a different strategy. Depending on the provider and casino in question, you may be offered the full-pay version of the game or some auxiliary format that pays out less. You won’t be able to identify the one offering the highest RTP in the rare instances when it’s available if you’re not familiar with how the odds work in different video poker variations. Playing the demo mode can help you get acquainted with payout formats.
- Try out the casino: A few rounds of free video poker can help you get a feel for your chosen casino. Mobile users can experience the platform’s UX and whether it operates smoothly on their devices.
Casino apps with free video poker
Almost every casino site in Canada offers a demo version of its video poker games — both on its website and app. If you want to play on the go, you can do so via the casino’s browser-based version or the standalone iOS or Android app. Demo mode buttons should be visible in the game lobby in either case. Here are the top four casino apps for playing free video poker in Canada:
- DraftKings Casino: DraftKings’ video poker offering consists of seven games, including the Game King collection. On top of this, you’ll find lots of proprietary and exclusive titles — games that aren’t available elsewhere. Best of all, you don’t have to be a registered member to access the demo mode.
- BetMGM Casino: BetMGM is as good a pick as any for playing free video poker. The casino features several video poker variations and a slew of other games. Additionally, it offers a couple of game versions exclusive to the brand; you can find them under the exclusive section (see 10s or Better).
- Caesars Online Casino: Caesars is one of the select online casinos in Canada that offers Destiny Poker, an exciting offshoot that comes with a second chance flush bonus. What’s more, the site offers Ultimate X Poker, Game King and a few exclusive options from Spin Games. You can get started for free without signing up.
- FanDuel Casino: The DFS and sportsbook giant also boasts one of the best-designed casino apps in the industry. From Triple Play Draw Poker to Game King, there’s a good variety of video poker games.
Other free casino game guides
If video poker isn’t your cup of tea, there are loads of other games you can try out in Canadian online casinos for free. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Free slots — Free online slots stand out as the most abundant category of games you’ll find at Canadian online casinos. There are hundreds of titles available from various software providers on every site. It can be challenging to keep up with so many different games and their respective features. This is where demo mode comes in handy.
- Free roulette — Playing free roulette will provide you with an insight into the different rules and side wagers associated with the various options available at Canadian online casinos.
- Free blackjack — With a house edge of roughly 1%, blackjack is the game of choice for many Canadians. A degree of skill is necessary in blackjack, and playing for free can help you sharpen your strategy before playing blackjack online for real money.
Free online video poker vs. real money video poker
Playing free video poker has its charms but lacks the thrill element. We’ve put together a comparison that sums up the pros of free and online video poker for money.
|Free Online Video Poker||Real Money Video Poker|
|You can play risk-free.||It offers real money prizes.|
|You can try your favourite game without committing in any way.||You can use bonuses to extend you bankroll.|
|It's a great way to learn the nuances of each variant.||It can be more exciting than free play mode with real money on the line.|
|Playing for free allows you to experiment with some strategies that you might be hesitant to try if you were playing for real money.||Given the high RTP, you'll have more bang for your buck.|
|You can play as much as you want.||It's available in every online casino.|
Tips for switching to real-money play
Here are a few tips that will help you start off on the right foot if you take the leap from free to real money play:
- Select the best-paying version: If possible, always play the full-pay version of the game. These are rarely available, so you may need to settle for the second- or third-best.
- Avoid breaking up winning combos: Generally, breaking up first winning hands to form a better one in the next draw isn’t a winning strategy in the long run. The odds of getting the top combos are seldom high enough to justify the risk.
- Bet the maximum whenever you can: The only way you can win the jackpot is by playing with the maximum coins.
What is the best video poker game to play?
The choice of the best video poker game is a matter of personal preference. The table below rates different variations based on their availability and payback percentage:
|Variant||Rating||Free Mobile Game||Best Casino|
|Jacks or Better||4||Yes||Caesars|
|Ultimate X Poker||3||Yes||DraftKings|
Will I need to download a casino app to play video poker for free?
No, you can play directly from your browser without downloading any plug-in, client or app. Some casinos require that you register before accessing the demo mode, such as FanDuel.
What is the best game to learn how to play?
You should probably start with Jacks or Better, as this is the most prevalent and most accessible video poker variation.
Can I win real money playing free video poker online?
No, you can’t win real prizes when playing video poker in demo mode. You can depart from this rule only when you’re using funds from a no deposit bonus. In this case, you should pay attention to the caveats regarding wagering requirements and check whether video poker contributes to meeting the requirement.
Is free video poker rigged?
No. The game is exactly the same as the real money version.
Can I play Deuces Wild or Jacks or Better for free online?
Yes, these two versions of video poker are the most popular in Canadian online casinos, and they’re nearly always available in free play mode. Along with these, there’s also Bonus Poker, Joker Poker and a bunch of other variations.
Is there a strategy for video poker?
Using mathematically correct moves and strategies when playing video poker can significantly increase your chances of winning at video poker.
Can I play free video poker on my phone?
Yes, you can try video poker for free on the go, regardless of whether you’re using an iOS or Android device.