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Is Pick'em Poker the Game for You?

21 May 2022

By Jerry Stickman
Most video poker fans prefer variations of draw poker.

These include Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, Double Bonus Poker, Double-Double Bonus Poker and Bonus Poker Deluxe.

Others prefer video poker games that have wild cards, such as Deuces Wild, and Jokers Wild.

All of these games deal five cards. The player selects which cards to keep, and then draws replacement cards.

Pick ‘em Poker, however, is a distinctly different game.

It is a combination of stud poker and draw poker. The player is dealt two cards that he must play (similar to stud poker). He is also dealt two piles of three cards each, and has to choose one of them to keep (similar to draw poker).

The advantages of Pick ‘em Poker (sometimes called Pick a Pair Poker) include high payback, simple play and low variance.

The long-term payback for the full pay version is 99.95%--one of the best returns you’ll find.

The game is simple to play because you are only concerned about three cards: the two you are dealt that you must keep, and one of the cards on top of the two piles you choose from.

One disadvantage is the relative dearth of royal flushes. On average, only one in about 350,000 hands is a royal flush versus about one in 43,000 hands for jacks or better based games.

The pay table for full pay Pick ‘em is as follows:

Hand 1-Coin 5-Coin
Royal Flush 1000 6000
Straight Flush 200 1199
Four of a Kind 100 600
Full House 18 90
Flush 15 75
Straight 11 55
Three of a Kind 5 25
Two Pair 3 15
Pair of 9’s or Better 2 10

As the table illustrates, there is a bonus for full coin-in on a Royal Flush, Straight Flush and Four of a Kind.

Pick ‘em is easier to play than the usual draw or wild card games because the only choice is between saving pile number one, or saving pile number two.

There is no need to consider saving two, three, or four cards as in draw or wild card games.

Another interesting change from standard video poker is that when you select a pile, it is immediate. Hitting the Draw button is not required to make the selection final. You cannot change your mind once you make a choice, so be careful.

Listed below is a chart that summarizes the proper playing strategy for this game. The hands are listed in decreasing order of value.

The strategy chart is used as follows:
• Start at the top of the chart and check to see if the top card on one of the two piles when combined with the two fixed cards produces the hand in the chart.
• If so, save that pile.
• If both of the top cards produce the same hand, pick either one – it doesn’t matter.
• If neither of the top cards produce the hand in that line of the chart, move down to the next line of the chart and check again.
• If you reach the bottom of the chart, just pick either one of the piles – it doesn’t matter which.

For novices, here are some brief definitions:

Royal flush – Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten of the same suit (spades, clubs, diamonds or hearts)

Straight flush – Five cards of the same suit in sequence (example: 23456 of hearts, 89TJQ of spades)

Flush – Five cards of the same suit

Straight – Five cards in sequence, but not all the same suit

Pair, Three of a Kind, Four of a Kind – 2, 3, or 4 cards of the same rank (3’s, 10’s, J’s, etc.)

Open straight – Cards in sequence, no gaps

Inside straight – Gaps in the sequence of cards

High cards – 9 or higher for Pick ‘em, usually jacks or higher for jacks or better-based games

Pick ‘em Poker Strategy Chart
Three of a Kind
Three of a Royal Flush – No Ace
High Pair (9’s or better)
Three of a Royal Flush with an Ace
Any Three of a Straight Flush, Except Two Gaps With 1 or 0 High Cards
Three of a Flush, All High Cards
Three of an Open Straight (9TJ or TJQ)
Three of a Straight Flush Two Gaps with 1 High Card
Three of a Flush – Two High Cards
Low Pair – (22 through 88)
Three of a Straight Flush Two Gaps with No High Cards
Three of an Inside Straight – Three High Cards
Three of an Open Straight – Two High Cards (89T)
Three of a Flush – One High Card
Three of an Inside Straight – Two Gaps – Three High Cards
Three of an Inside Straight – One Gap – Two High Cards
Three of an Open Straight – One High Card (789)
Three of a Flush – No High Cards
Three High Cards
Three of an Inside Straight – Two Gaps – Two High Cards
Three of an Inside Straight – One Gap – One High Card (679, 689, 78T)
Three of an Open Straight – No High Cards (345 through 678)
Two High Cards
Three of an Inside Straight – Two Gaps – One High Card
Three of an Inside Straight – One Gap – No High Cards
One High Card
Three of an Inside Straight – Two Gaps – No High Cards
Pick Any Pile

That is only 27 lines. One of the shortest strategy charts.

Now, let’s try an example.

You are dealt the 7 and 8 of Spades with the option to pick the 9 of Diamonds or the Jack of Spades.

• If you pick the pile with the 9 of Diamonds, you have a three-card open straight.
• If you pick the pile with the Jack of Spades, you have a three-card inside straight flush with two gaps and one high card.
• Since the latter is higher in the table than the open straight, pick the pile with Jack of Spades.

That’s all there is to it. The next time you are in a casino that offers Pick ‘em (or Pick a Pair), you might consider giving it a go.

Learning to play Pick ‘em is easy. The strategy is simple. And the variance is low. It has all the ingredients you need for a winning session.

As always, may all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

 

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One of the reasons for the popularity of Video Poker is it generally has a high payback – sometimes even more than 100 percent for a skilled player. Regardless of which Video Poker game you play, achieving the long-term payback percentage is dependent on getting your fair share of “natural” (those without the aid of a wild card) royal flushes. ... (read more)

Next 10 Articles >

Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry "Stickman" is an expert in dice control at craps, blackjack, advantage slots and video poker. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. The "Stickman" is also a certified instructor for Golden Touch Craps dice control classes and Golden Touch Blackjack's advantage classes. He also teaches a course in advantage-play slots and video poker. For more information visit www.goldentouchcraps.com or www.goldentouchblackjack.com or call 1-800-944-0406 for a free brochure. You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanGTC@aol.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com