Online Joker Poker for Real Money
Playing online Joker Poker is easy if you know just two things –how and where to play. Sometimes called “Joker’s Wild,” this video poker variant is popular at both land-based and online casinos.
What Is Joker Poker?
The name “Joker Poker” can be used to refer to two different casino games: a popular video poker variant, and a table game trademarked by Casino Gaming Concepts. For the purposes of this article, I’m talking about the well-known video poker variation.
Video poker gets a bad rap from a lot of casual gamblers because the games are lumped in with slot machines, which are seen as somewhat low-class games for sucker bettors. I happen to love playing slots, but I can see where some snobby types might look down their nose at the loud, flashy machines.
So why should you play Joker Poker? First and foremost, understand that most video poker games offer really great odds to the player. Of course there is variation in player odds between different types of video poker, but taken as a whole, these titles are relatively safe bets, since the casino’s advantage on many games is less than one percent.
I also recommend video poker to people new to online casinos because the games translate really well to computer and mobile device displays. Imagine a video poker game in a casino, then think of how you look sitting in front of your computer or tablet right now. Pretty much the same, right? That’s why I really like online video poker games – the experience is pretty much identical to what you’d play in a land-based casino, and the games look really good because their designs are simple.
How to Play
Joker Poker is played with a deck of 53 cards – that’s the standard 52 plus a Joker. Obviously, the Joker acts as a wild card, substituting for any other card to form a winning hand. The inclusion of the Joker allows for two payouts not normally found in video poker hand hierarchies – five of a kind (that’s four of a kind plus a Joker) and “wild royal,” which is a Royal Flush formed with a Joker.
Like every video poker game, the player gets to interact and use strategy to form a better hand. You can choose to keep all, any, or none of the first five cards dealt, drawing new cards to replace the ones you discard. Payouts are determined by your hand quality after the discard/draw round.
Online Joker Poker games payout starting with a pair of “kings or better.” I haven’t yet found an exception to this rule. The actual amount of payouts varies from one casino to another, but they all follow the same hand hierarchy. Here’s the list of hands by rank (including the prize value, as taken from NetEntertainment’s Joker Poker) from lowest to highest:
- Kings or Better (1)
- Two Pair (1)
- Three of a Kind (2)
- Straight (3)
- Flush (5)
- Full House (8)
- Four of a Kind (15)
- Straight Flush (50)
- Wild Royal (100)
- Five of a Kind (200)
- Natural Royal (800)
Joker Poker Odds
A little caveat here – your actual odds will vary based on the specific game you’re playing. For the purposes of this article, I’m looking at NetEntertainment’s Joker Poker game, mostly because it’s one of my favorites.
According to Michael Shackelford at Wizard of Odds, the NetEnt version of Joker Poker has a payout rate of 97.9%. At 400 hands per hour, and betting $0.50 per hand, I should expect losses of around $4.20 per hour. In my book, that makes online Joker Poker a cheap form of entertainment: less than the cost of a movie ticket plus the potential to win a little cash to boot.
What is your chance of forming different hands? Again, based on Shackelford’s math and the rules of the NetEnt version of the game, they are as follows:
- Kings or Better: 14%
- Two Pair: 11%
- Three of a Kind: 13%
- Straight: 1.6%
- Flush: 1.5%
- Full House: 1.5%
- Four of a Kind: 0.8%
- Straight Flush: 0.05%
- Wild Royal: 0.01%
- Five of a Kind: 0.0093%
- Natural Royal: 0.0025%
Online Joker Poker Games
I’m not going to tell you what software designer produces “the best online Joker Poker game.” I think that’s a subjective judgment that’s best left up to each player.
Instead, I’m going to share some details about two different online versions of the game that I enjoy.
First, my favorite – NetEntertainment. What I like about this game is simple – I like the way it looks. It doesn’t have the best-possible odds or pay table, but it looks the best in my opinion. NetEnt decided to create a video poker game that looks more like a video game than an old-school casino game terminal. The animations are nice, the sound effects not-too-offensive, and I find myself playing for a little longer on this version than any other.
I want to mention the Microgaming variant of Joker Poker because it has better odds than my favorite. Regardless which of the four possible pay tables you look at, Microgaming’s version doesn’t offer anything less than a 98.05% payout percentage. One pay table used at some Microgaming casinos pays out 1,000 credits for a Natural Royal, which is one of the highest payouts for that hand you’ll find anywhere on the Internet.
Whether you call it Joker Poker, Joker’s Wild, or any variation on that theme, the game is the same. This is a simple draw poker variant that’s able to keep me distracted for an hour or more. It may not be the most complex or high-class game on the floor, but Joker Poker offers a lot of value because it’s entertaining and has a decent payout percentage.