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Video Poker for You?

9 July 2022

The very first video poker game was called Draw Poker.

It wasn’t very popular, though. The game required a hand with two pairs or better to win anything. There were not enough winning combinations to seduce gamblers into playing the game.

Then someone had the brilliant idea of offering an even money payout for a hand containing a pair of jacks or better. This simple change meant that about half the hands returned something, even if it was just the player’s bet.

The strategy worked and video poker became one of the most popular casino games.

Today there are scores of video poker variations from which to choose. Most of these game variations have good returns if played using the proper strategy.

However, playing characteristics vary dramatically and every game is not for everyone.

This article explores the characteristics of several popular video poker games so you can determine for yourself which game might best suit your playing style.

Jacks or Better:

This was the first popular video poker game.

• The playing strategy is fairly straight forward, having relatively few decisions to make.
• Though not as common in today’s casinos as it once was, the full-pay (9/6 - 9-for-1 for a full house and 6-for-1 for a flush) version returns 99.54 percent with proper play.
• The variance is low at 19.5, making it among the least volatile of any video poker game.

This game is good for a beginner due to the straight forward playing strategy and low variance. It is also the choice of many of the more conservative video poker players.

Bonus Poker:

Similar to jacks or better but it pays a “bonus” for four aces, and four 2’s, 3’s, or 4’s.

• The strategy is similar to jacks or better – straight forward with fewer decisions.
• The full-pay (8/5) version returns 99.17 percent with proper play.
• It is more common than the full-pay version of jacks or better.
• The variance is just under 21.

This is also a good game with a low variance and a good return. It is also available in more casinos. This game might be favored by those who enjoy some bigger pays for some winning hands, though there may be longer losing streaks.

Double Bonus Poker:

Also similar to jacks or better except it pays a “bonus” for any four of a kind – 5’s thru kings (at 2 times that of jacks or better), 2’s, 3’s or 4’s (at 3.2 times jacks or better), and aces (6.4 times jacks or better).

• The strategy is slightly more complex than jacks or better.
• The fairly uncommon full-pay (10/7) version returns 100.17 percent.
• The more common 9/7 version returns 99.11 percent, while the 10/6 version returns 98.88 percent.
• Due to the larger jackpots and the reduced pays for two pairs (1-for-1 instead of the normal 2-for-1) the variance increases to over 28 for the 10/7 version, 29 for the 9/7 version and 30 for the 10/6 version.

For those players who like large winning hands at the expense of larger bankroll requirements due to sometimes very longer losing streaks, this game is ideal. It is a combination of good payoffs on quads, a manageable volatility and potentially over 100 percent return.

Double-Double Bonus Poker:

Similar to double bonus poker, but with larger wins for hands containing four 2’s, 3’s or 4’s with an ace thru 4 “kicker,” and hands having four aces with a 2, 3, or 4 “kicker.”

• The strategy is more complex than any of the previously mentioned games.
• The full pay (9/6) version returns 98.98 percent with proper play.
• Due to the several large payoffs in this game the variance jumps to almost 42.
• Bankroll requirements are significantly higher than any of the previous games.

This game tends to be popular with those who play for the thrill of hitting the big wins. They care less about the overall return. They have an adequate bankroll and don’t mind long losing streaks.

Deuces Wild:

This game is different from all the previous games. It has wild cards (the four 2’s). Because of this, it plays quite differently.

• The strategy is quite different. It is based on the number of 2’s in the initial hand.
• It is quite simple.
• Returns are usually very good and can be over 100 percent (though very scarce).
• Variance is moderate – in the upper 20’s.

While the strategy is slightly more complex than Jacks or Better and a larger bankroll is required, there is an additional opportunity to hit a jackpot for 4 deuces. This is a preferred game for beginner and conservative players who enjoy the thrill of an additional jackpot opportunity.

Pick ‘em Poker – also called Pick-a-Pair:

This game is dramatically different from almost any other video poker game. Two face-up cards and two piles of three cards with the top card face-up are dealt. The player must pick one of the two piles to go with the two cards.

• Royal flushes are very infrequent – about once every 350,000 hands on average versus about once every 40,000 to 50,000 hands.
• Other winning hands tend to pay more than in other video poker games.
• The full pay version returns 99.95 percent and has a variance of 15.
• The strategy has very few decisions.
• This game can be difficult to find.

Due to the simple strategy, high return and low variance this is a great game for beginners and conservative players who are content to play for very long periods without a major jackpot. This assumes, of course, that the game can be found.

What kind of player are you?

Do you prefer a high-return game with a simple strategy or do you prefer the thrill of winning jackpots even though it means a lower long-term return and a larger bankroll?

Whichever type of video poker player you are, one of the above games should satisfy your desires.

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
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