Online gaming of all types has exploded in the last several years. Virtually any machine-based or dealer-based game that could be played in a casino can now be played online. From table games such as poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, or pai gow poker to machine-based games such as slots and video poker, they are all available to play for real money online.

Playing online is dramatically different from playing in a live casino. 

  • The environment in the home is different. There are none of the normal casino sights, sounds, and people to distract you (though there may be different distractions).
  • The atmosphere is normal – more relaxed and familiar.
  • The method of play is different. All play is from a screen – not chips on a table or coins or tickets in and out of a machine.
  • The financial processes are different. Bets are placed and winnings received from and to an online account.

This article focuses on how to play video poker, but many of the insights presented here are equally valid for other online games. Let's begin.


  1. Key one: Play on a reliable, safe site
  2. Key two: Play the best game(s)
  3. Key three: Know the proper strategy
  4. Key four: Have a predetermined gambling budget
  5. Key five: Play the proper denomination
  6. Key six: Use bonuses and perks
  7. Key seven: Discipline, discipline, discipline
  8. Summary

Key one: Play on a reliable and safe site

There are dozens, even scores, of online casino sites offering video poker play. Doing business with any online site is risky. It can be an even bigger risk when gambling online.

While there are federal regulations for online casino betting, states are also allowed to have their own regulations. 

All states except for Hawaii and Utah allow social casinos. Social casinos are those sites offering free play games but no play for real money – also called sweepstakes casinos.

There are currently only seven states where online casino betting is legal. They are Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Rhode Island.

The anonymity provided by the Internet makes it easier for unsavory types to commit fraud. Make sure you protect yourself. Make sure the online casino site you choose is regulated. Check reviews of the site. Know with whom you are dealing. 

Key two: Play the best game(s)

As with playing video poker in a live casino, choosing the best game to play is a critical key to successful play.  Choose a game with high a return. A game with a high return pays more to the player. Winning is easier. Losses are less. 

Look for games with low variance. Variance is a measure of the amount bankrolls grow and shrink. Low variance games are like riding a kiddie roller coaster. High variance games are like riding Millenium Force at Cedar Point Theme Park.

The most important key is the return. Variance impacts the size of the bankroll required for play.

Key three: Play the proper strategy

Playing the proper strategy for the chosen game and pay table is critical for successful video poker play – whether playing online or in a live casino. There is a big difference between playing in a live versus online casino, however. 

Some live casinos frown on players referencing strategy charts. Virtually all live casinos outlaw using “devices,” such as smartphones, to be used while gambling in a casino. There is no such issue when playing online video poker. 

Therefore, there is no requirement to memorize the proper playing strategy when playing online. Players are free to reference anything they choose while playing online. It is much easier to play perfect strategy.

Using reference material for every hand can significantly slow down play, however, so it is a good idea (though not necessary) to have a good familiarity with the strategy and use the reference materials only as needed.

Video poker strategy

Key four: Have a predetermined gambling budget

This is a very “key” key to successful online video poker (or any online casino) play. It is much easier to stick to a gambling budget with live casino play. Simply by bringing only the cash that the player can afford to lose to the casino (and not visiting an ATM while there) sets a hard limit on what can be lost.

It is also highly recommended that a separate, dedicated account with only money that the player can afford to lose bet set up. The same cannot be said about online casino play.

  • The player NEVER has physical cash in hand.
  • All bets are made from the player’s account.
  • All winnings are placed into the player’s account.

There is no “cash in hand” when playing online. There is no point where the players pocket becomes empty. The account can only be replenished by a credit or debit card (or similar transaction). All that changes while playing is the account balance. If or when it hits zero, another reload takes care of the problem. 

Like having a separate dedicated account for live casino gambling, a separate, dedicated account should be maintained for online gambling.

Keeping track of the gambling budget and sticking to it is much harder in online play. Even if the player has a separate dedicated account for online gambling, the entire balance in the online casino account is at risk while playing.

Be very careful that play does not consume more than the budgeted amount for each session played.

Key five: Play the proper denomination

As with live casino play, make sure to choose the proper bet size. For smaller budgets, a five-cent (25 cents for the five-credit bet for full royal flush payout) is in order. The bet for a quarter game would be $1.25 per hand. For a dollar game, the bet is $5. Make sure you do not overplay your budget. Losing streaks can gobble up your budget quickly.

Key four indicated that online play is more risky than live casino play. Thankfully, playing the proper denomination can be better when playing video poker online.

Live casinos generally have video poker in nickel, quarter, dollar, and higher denominations. Some online casino video poker sites have many more denominations available. Some allow denominations in increments of 10 cents. That means a five-credit bet to get the full royal flush payout goes up in increments of 50 cents.

Should you find a site offering these denominations, take advantage of the flexibility. Another related point: check the returns for the various denominations. Sometimes the lower denominations also have a lower return percentage.

Key six: Use bonuses and perks

Like live casinos, taking advantage of what the online video poker site has to offer will improve the player's chances of success. Take advantage of any casino bonuses, promotions or offers. Make sure, however, that you read the terms and conditions. Do not be surprised – know the rules before committing to the offer.

Video poker tips

Key seven: Discipline, discipline, discipline

The final key is probably the most important key of all. Playing online video poker has many advantages such as fewer distractions and the ability to reference strategy while playing. The huge disadvantage is the possibility of wiping out the account balance. 

If discipline is a problem, only load the account with only what you can afford to lose in the current session. Once that is gone, the session is over. Quit playing.


  • Use a reliable and safe online site.
  • Choose the games with the highest return and a low variance.
  • Play the proper strategy. It is easier to play perfect strategy online because you can reference strategy information.
  • Have a predetermined gambling budget for each session. When that amount is lost, stop playing. 
  • Make sure to choose a denomination that your budget supports. Do not overplay that budget.
  • Use any perks the casino offers.
  • Always maintain your discipline while playing onine video poker.

Playing online video poker is very different from playing it in a casino. There are additional pitfalls when at home. Following these seven keys will greatly improve your chances of winning – and of being a successful online video poker player.

Jerry “Stickman” has been involved in casino gambling for nearly 30 years. He is an expert in blackjack, craps, video poker and advantage slot machine play. He started playing blackjack in the late ‘80s, learned several card counting systems and used these skills to become an advantage blackjack player and overall winner of this game. He also acquired the skills necessary to become an overall winner in the game of craps, accomplishing this by a combination of throwing skill and proper betting techniques. Stich is also an overall winner playing video poker.