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# Ask the Slot Expert: Should I double this hand in Double Down Stud Video Poker?

8 March 2023

Question: Was just introduced to double down video stud. Would it make sense to pull on an A high inside straight or looking for a one out straight with a missing ten to the ace high? That way, if you miss the inside draw or 10, you have 3-4 ways to double on a pair. Was curious if it makes mathematical sense.

Answer: One of the quirks of taking Humanities courses at an engineering college is that none of the Humanities professors expected insightful analyses of the books we read or deep insights into the human condition. None of us were going to graduate with B.A. degrees.

Making an effort was all that really mattered. One professor even shared the secret to passing a Humanities exam, a secret that doesn't work at all for math, chemistry or physics exams. He said, "If you don't know the answer to a question, answer a question that you do know the answer to."

I don't understand what you're asking when you wonder whether it makes sense to "pull" on a certain hand. Your only choice in Double Down Stud Video Poker is whether to double your bet after the deal. I admit that I don't know poker room jargon and the only video poker jargon I know is ducks and dirty royals.

The question I'll answer then is whether it makes sense to double down when you're dealt unsuited A-K-Q-J.

In Double Down Stud Video Poker, the machine deals four cards and then gives you the opportunity to double your bet. After you press the Double or Draw button, the machine draws and displays the fifth card.

Let's start by looking at the possible outcomes and the number of ways to achieve each outcome. First, we could get the straight we're hoping for. There are 4 tens in the deck that will complete the straight.

We could get the consolation prize of a high pair. There are 3 aces, 3 kings, 3 queens and 3 jacks that could give us the pair for a total of 12 ways. The remaining 36 cards of the 48 left in the deck don't help us at all.

Next, let's calculate the expected value (EV) of not doubling. We can do the calculations with an initial bet or either 1 coin or 5 coins. Most mathematicians use 1 coin even though they have to calculate a per-coin return on royals and any other hand that pays a bonus for full coin. We're not going to get a royal unless there is some sort of massive machine malfunction, so I'll use 1 coin too.

How much does the machine pay us for each outcome? A straight pays 6 coins, a high pair pays 2, and nothing pays, well, nothing.

The EV calculation for not doubling is: (4/48)6 + (12/48)2 + (32/48)0, 0.5 + 0.5 + 0 = 1.

Now let's double down. How much does each outcome pay? The paytable says we get 12 coins for the straight, but we have to account for the additional bet we had to make. Out net payout on the straight is 11 coins. Similarly, the net payout on the high pair is not 4 but 3, and the net payout on nothing is -1.

The EV calculation for doubling down is: (4/48)11 + (12/48)3 + (32/48)-1, 0.92 + 0.75 + -0.67 = 1.

The EV is the same for doubling and not doubling. It doesn't matter whether you do.

The Wizard of Odds says that there is "zero house edge" on unsuited JQKA. His page on Double Down Stud is a bit of a mess because the text doesn't appear under the proper headings. The Wizard has you double on this hand. (Double Down Stud)

On December 13, 2001, I published a column called Expert Strategy for Double Down Stud Video Poker I have absolutely no memory of writing this column. In any case, the strategy in that column does not have you double down on this hand.

The strategy Jerry Stickman published in his column Double Down Stud Video Poker on this site also excludes this hand from the list of hands on which you double down.

Doubling on this hand won't affect your results in the long run. Doubling will, however, increase your volatility. Don't do it.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots