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Looks Can Be Deceiving

All video poker games with 9/6 pay tables are not created equal

By Henry Tamburin

 

It’s been widely publicized that being paid 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush (per coin played) is good. So when many players go to a casino and see a 9/6 payout for the full house and flush, regardless of what game it happens to be, they immediately sit down and play. However, that may not always be a smart thing to do.

 

Sometimes, video poker games aren’t quite what they appear to be. This especially applies to the pay schedules of some machines. Here’s an example of what I mean, based on the following question I received from a Strictly Slots reader.

“A friend claims he played a 9/6 Jacks game that paid only even money for two pair. Is there such a game? I always thought if the payout for full house and flush was 9/6 respectively, that two pair pays 2 for 1. “

It’s been widely publicized by me and others that being paid 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for a flush (per coin played) is good. Many players tuck this bit of information in their head so when they go to a casino and see a 9/6 payout for the full house and flush, regardless of what game it happens to be, they immediately sit down and play. However, that may not always be a smart thing to do.

poker Games

For example, look at the pay schedule for the following three video poker games. They all pay 9/6 for the full house and flush. Which game would you play?

        Table 1

PER COIN PAYOFFS

Game A

Game B

Game C

Royal Flush

800*

800*

800*

Straight Flush

50

50

50

Four of a Kind

25

Four Aces with 2-4 kicker

400

Four Aces

160

160

Four 2s-4s with A-4 kicker

160

Four 2s-4s

80

80

Four 5s-Ks

50

50

Full House

9

9

9

Flush

6

6

6

Straight

4

5

4

Three of a Kind

3

3

3

Two Pair

2

1

1

Jacks or Better

1

1

1

*With max coin wagered.

The first columns is the per coin pay schedule for 9/6 Jacks or Better. By definition, a Jacks or Better (JOB) game is defined as one where all the quads (i.e., four of a kind) pay 25 coins per coin wagered, two pair pays 2 for 1, and high pairs (pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Aces) are paid at even money. Finding and playing a 9/6 JOB game is good because the 9/6 pay table (Column A) is the best pay table for a non-progressive JOB game (the Expected Return or ER is 99.54%). (Regarding the subscriber’s comment that his friend said he was playing a JOB game where two pair paid even money, I had this to say: I’ve never seen a Jacks or Better game that pays even money for two pair. If such a game existed, the ER would be very low and I doubt any smart video poker player would play it.)

It’s my opinion that the subscriber’s friend was actually playing Double Bonus (Game B in table) or Double Double Bonus (Game C in table). Both are popular video poker games, and both come in versions where the full house and flush pay 9/6. Quads pay more than they do for Jacks or Better but two pair pays less (only even money as opposed to 2 for 1).

Game B in the table is Double Bonus. The ER for the 9/6 version is only 97.81% and the game is more volatile than 9/6 Jacks or Better because two pair pays only even. The 9/6 version of this game is not the best. If you want to play Double Bonus, you should play the version that pays either 9/7 or 10/7 for the full house and flush. (See Table 2). These versions have a higher ER than the 9/6 version; therefore, playing 9/6 DB would be a mistake, especially if the 10/7, or more likely 9/7 version, exists in the same casino.

Game C is Double Double Bonus. The ER for the 9/6 version of DDB is 98.98%. The payouts for specific quads with kickers (see Table 2) is greater in DDB than it is for DB; however, this is compensated by decreasing the payout for the straight from 5 coins to 4 coins (meaning, DDB is very volatile, more so than DB or JOB). The full pay version of DDB is 10/6 with an ER of 100.07%, which is a better game to play than the 9/6 version. (See Table 2.)

The point I’m making is this: You shouldn’t just sit down at any ole video poker machine that shows a 9/6 payoff for the full house and flush and start playing. Rather, you need to first decide which video poker game you want to play, and then check the pay schedules on the machines at your favorite casino to be sure you are playing the full pay version of that game. (You can also visit www.vpfree2.com to find out if your local casino offers the full pay version of these and other video poker games). Avoid the common mistake of playing any video poker game with a 9/6 pay table.

Table 2

GAME* ER
9/6 JOB 99.54%
9/5 JOB 98.45%
8/6 JOB 98.39%
8/5 JOB 97.30%
7/5 JOB 96.15%
10/7DB 100.17%
9/7 DB 99.11%
9/6 DB 97.81%
10/6 DDB 100.07%
9/6 DDB 98.98%
9/5 DDB 97.87%

*Assumes the payouts for all the other hands besides the 9/6 for the full house/flush are the same as listed in Table 1 for each game.

Tamburin’s Tip of the Month

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How would you play this hand if you were playing Jacks or Better? What if you were playing Double Bonus or Double Double Bonus?

 

With Jacks or Better, the correct play is to hold the two pair (As and 8s) and draw one card. Because the payout for four Aces is much higher when you play Double Bonus and Double Double Bonus (and the payout for two pair is only even money), the correct play for these games is to hold only the pair of Aces (break up the two pair) and draw three cards with one exception … for the full pay 10/7 DB, you should hold two pair over the pair of Aces because the full house pays more.

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Henry Tamburin is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the host of the smartgaming.com website and the editor of the Blackjack Insider newsletter (for a free three-month subscription, visit www.bjinsider.com/free). For a free copy of his Casino Gambling Catalog, which contains books, strategy cards, and software for video poker players, call toll free 1-888-353-3234, or visit the web store at smartgaming.com.

 

All video poker games with 9/6 pay tables are not created equal.

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