How To Play Video Poker in New Zealand – Part 4 | Understanding Payback and House Edge

Julie Bowring

Posted On:   OCT - 21 - 2019

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In this part of the video poker guide we will look at what payback, return and house edge mean and how these terms are interrelated to one another.


The term ‘payback’ also referred to as ‘return’ means what the game returns to you or what the game pays back of the money you put into it. If you are logging into an online casino for the first time, then it is doubtful that you will be aware of what the terms mean and more importantly what the paybacks are for the different casino games. Have no fear as you are not alone when it comes to knowing the paybacks of popular games such as roulette, craps, blackjack or video poker.

However, if you want to be a skilled casino player then it is imperative for you to know these terms along with a new one referred to as ‘house edge’. Before you dig deep into how these terms are associated with video poker, let’s look at the paybacks of some other casino games.

Roulette has a payback of 94.74 percent which means that for dollar that you bet at the roulette wheel you will get paid back $0.9474.

For blackjack the numbers is less straight forward and depends on the rules of the game being played as for some games the payback can be as high as 99.65 percent! However, the casinos want to make money as well and most blackjack games will not have such favourable rules and the payback can be reduced to 98 percent with games paying 6 to 5 rather than 3 to 2.

For craps, the payback can vary as there are so many different bets available with almost every bet having a different payback.
Slot machines have paybacks that range from 83 percent to 95 percent. Some online casinos may even offer paybacks up to 98 percent, but this is a rarity in today’s casino environment.

Now onto the game that we have dedicated this extensive guide towards – video poker. Paybacks here can range from 95 percent to 100 percent in rare cases. The good thing about video poker unlike slot machines is that enough information is available to you to determine the payback on offer. Therefore, a smart player (we are looking at you here!) will choose machines with the highest paybacks.

House Edge

We have defined how much money you can expect to recover if play at the different casino games but what about the other side of the coin? House edge is exactly that and refers to how much the casino (house) gets to keep of the money you play. The house edge can easily be calculated for video poker as you know the payback or return of a game. The return is the money you get to keep while the house edge is the money the casino gets to keep, a simple maths equation will show that the sum of these terms must equal 100 percent. The full pay Double Bonus poker game has a return of 100.17 and the house edge is therefore –

100.17 (Return) + House Edge = 100

House Edge = -17, the house edge is negative which is fact defined as the ‘player edge’.

Looking at the payback for Roulette (94.74), the house edge in this case is 5.26 percent

The only case where the house edge is unknown is for the slot machines on a casino floor. A lot of table games have high returns and low house edge. This begs the question as to why one would invest playing a game of video poker?

The best answer that we have managed to get out of video poker players has to do with the pace of the game. Video poker can be enjoyed at a pace that you are comfortable at. It is a relaxing game where you do not have to deal with other players that are playing the same game. Plus it helps that you don’t have to worry about being ejected from the casino for playing it. A relaxing game with fairly high returns makes it a good game to be spending time at on the casino floor.