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Learn the correct way to play some tricky hands

By Henry Tamburin


In my previous columns, I reviewed the common blunders made by video poker players when playing Jacks or Better and Double Bonus. This month I’ll review the common blunders in Double Double Bonus (DDB).

DDB is the most popular video poker game in the country. That’s because of the extra bonus payouts that you could get when you are dealt four-of-a-kind in Aces, 2s, 3s, and 4s accompanied with a “kicker.” (The latter is the fifth card in your hand; if it’s an Ace, 2, 3, or 4, that’s when the bonus payoff kicks in.)

Here’s an example of a bonus payout. If you were to end up with four Aces accompanied with either a 2, 3, or 4 kicker, the payoff with max coins wagered is a whopping 2000 coins, or one-half the payoff for the royal flush. (That’s a nice $500 payout on a quarter denomination machine, half of the $1,000 you could win for a royal flush.)

There are a variety of pay schedules for DDB that will find in casinos; the most common ones are summarized below. Notice that the best pay schedule is 10/6 DDB (meaning the full house and flush pay 10 and 6 coins times the amount of coins wagered respectively). The Expected Return (or EV) for 106 DDB is 100.07%, which means a player would have a slight edge if every hand were played perfectly. Unfortunately, the 10/6 pay schedule for DDB is rarely offered outside of Las Vegas (and a few Reno) casinos. The second best pay schedule is 9/6 DDB (98.98% ER), which is available in many casinos around the country. I would strongly recommend that you avoid playing a 9/5 or 8/5 DDB game because of the lower ERs (97.87 % and 96.79% respectively).

The playing strategy for 10/6 and 9/6 DDB is virtual identical; however, most players blunder when they play DDB because the playing strategy is more difficult to master than either the strategy for Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, or Double Bonus. Here are some common blunders. (I’ve assumed playing 9/6 DDB.)

How would you play the above hand? The vast majority of players would hold the three Aces and the 3 kicker in the hopes of drawing the fourth Ace for a 2000-coin payoff. But that’s a common blunder. The hold that has the most value is the three Aces. (For the math inclined, the ER for holding the three Aces plus the 3 is 59.15 while it’s 62.45 for holding only the three Aces.)

You have a paying full house; would you hold it? If you do, you would be making a blunder. In DDB, you should always break up a full house if your three-of-a-kind is A-A-A. (That’s because of the high value of the Ace in DDB.)

This is a hand that most players blunder, especially if they are accustomed to playing Jacks or Better (JOB). In JOB, the correct hold is the two pair; however, because of the higher value of the Ace in DDB, the correct hold for the above hand is the pair of Aces.


How would you play these two hands? Most players blunder on one or both hands. In 9/6 DDB, you should hold a three-card royal flush over a four-card flush with one exception. If your three-card royal is composed of an Ace plus 10 plus either J, Q or K, the better hold is the four-card flush.

The reason the three-card royal flush containing an Ace plus 10 is less valuable than four-card flush is because it contains only two high cards and two gaps. This results in less potential straight flushes, flushes, straights, or even a high pair. The general rule for 9/6 DDB is this: hold any three-card RF (except one containing A plus 10) over four-card flush and the latter over a three-card RF containing an Ace plus 10.)

Many players opt for holding the inside straight (8-9-10-J) but this would be a mistake. When you play DDB, you should never hold an inside straight if it contains a single high card because the latter has more value. (The correct hold for this hand is the Q).

Tip of the Month

If you are going to play DDB, be sure you know the playing strategy for this game and you’ve practiced it at home. You can get a strategy table for DDB on the video poker page at You should practice the strategy at home on your computer and take along a strategy card when you play in a casino. (I recommend the Video Poker for Winners and Optimum Video Poker software training products and the Dancer/Daily strategy cards. They are available on my web store at The other important point to keep in mind about DDB is it is a very volatile game compared to Jacks or Better, Bonus Poker, and Double Bonus. You’ll need more bankroll playing DDB because of the game’s higher volatility.

Henry Tamburin, Ph.D. is a blackjack and video poker expert. He is the author of the Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide (, editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter (, lead instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, and host of For a free three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to To receive his free Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit


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