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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.

Here are the latest Covid data. There is a difference in the hospitalization data for US versus NV. The CDC reports total number of Covid hospital admissions. Nevada reports current hospitalizations, not total admissions.

All data comes from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-/-*tracker/#cases_totalcases, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#new-hospital-admissions), except for Nevada current hospitalizations (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/).

Totals Weekly Changes
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths  Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths
03/07/23   103,499,382   6,014,796   1,117,856   888,983   166   11,916   230,974   22,379   2,219   1,180   (8)   5
02/28/23   103,268,408   5,992,417   1,115,637   887,803   174   11,911   270,394   25,528   2,383   1,107   (16)   8
02/21/23   102,998,014   5,966,889   1,113,254   886,696   190   11,903   261,195   24,400   2,890   1,271   26   9
02/14/23   102,736,819   5,942,489   1,110,364   885,425   164   11,894   289,381   26,880   3,540   1,236   3   27
02/07/23   102,447,438   5,915,609   1,106,824   884,189   161   11,867   275,794   25,897   3,209   1,275   (87)   (8)
01/31/23   102,171,644   5,889,712   1,103,615   882,917   248   11,875   297,914   27,653   3,749   1,419   29   41
01/24/23   101,873,730   5,862,059   1,099,866   881,498   219   11,834   355,501   34,382   4,717   1,263   (73)   11
01/17/23   101,518,229   5,827,677   1,095,149   880,235   292   11,823   423,559   34,014   3,965   4,117   (18)   45
01/10/23   101,094,670   5,793,663   1,091,184   876,118   310   11,778   472,614   47,332   2,703   0   6   27
01/03/23   100,622,056   5,746,331   1,088,481   876,118   304   11,751   405,073   43,313   2,284   2,001   (23)   46
12/27/22   100,216,983   5,703,018   1,086,197   874,117   327   11,705   511,888   35,600   2,918   2,473   (18)   28
12/20/22   99,705,095   5,667,418   1,083,279   871,644   345   11,677   463,446   42,585   2,807   3,014   (14)   20
12/13/22   99,241,649   5,624,833   1,080,472   868,630   359   11,657   464,429   28,934   3,169   4,224   19   27
12/06/22   98,777,220   5,595,899   1,077,303   864,406   340   11,630   295,669   34,108   1,524   2,660   55   6
11/29/22   98,481,551   5,561,791   1,075,779   861,746   285   11,624   307,187   27,584   2,664   2,209   31   24
11/22/22   98,174,364   5,534,207   1,073,115   859,537   254   11,600   284,712   24,272   2,168   2,064   (2)   20
11/15/22   97,889,652   5,509,935   1,070,947   857,473   256   11,580   284,889   22,561   2,280   2,771   92   10
11/08/22   97,604,763   5,487,374   1,068,667   854,702   164   11,570   274,976   24,829   2,316   1,741   23   15
11/01/22   97,329,787   5,462,545   1,066,351   852,961   141   11,555   266,430   23,562   1,199   1,661   15   11
10/25/22   97,063,357   5,438,983   1,065,152   851,300   126   11,544   260,881   22,914   5,111   1,096   (12)   8
10/18/22   96,802,476   5,416,069   1,060,041   850,204   138   11,536   267,788   22,644   2,537   1,005   6   6
10/11/22   96,534,688   5,393,425   1,057,504   849,199   132   11,530   285,222   23,034   3,061   1,322   14   21
10/04/22   96,249,466   5,370,391   1,054,443   847,877   118   11,509   330,300   24,415   3,054   702   3   15
09/27/22   95,919,166   5,345,976   1,051,389   847,175   115   11,494   366,858   26,055   2,857   1,042   (28)   48
09/20/22   95,552,308   5,319,921   1,048,532   846,133   143   11,446   400,929   29,165   2,973   1,839   0   19
09/13/22   95,151,379   5,290,756   1,045,559   844,294   143   11,427   506,189   34,540   2,978   1,758   (40)   16
09/06/22   94,645,190   5,256,216   1,042,581   842,536   183   11,411   534,380   30,772   3,526   1,762   (8)   20
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